To M. Louis Blanc, in Blois

Victor Hugo

Leave the chateau behind you, black and strong,
With blood upon its front and all along
The tower eight-sided, where are Gorgon heads
Agape. Pass on, leave tower and town,
Climb the steep hill luxuriantly green,
On whose fresh summit one tall tree alone
Leans, as on shining helmet-top doth lean
A stately plume; a chestnut-tree that spreads
Its arms so far you see it as you come
Dreaming towards it from the antique city's gloom.
The plain below in a blue mist doth lie;
The town like a vast amphitheatre piled
Climbs to the church; the river many-isled
Moves with the sails whose noiseless white wings fly
On the soft wind, and far beyond, Chambord
Shines with its hundred towers. Before
Your thoughts like birds light on the distant spires
And your keen glance admires,
Close at your feet look down upon
An old stone mansion roofed with slate, that white
And square stands at the green hill's base alone,
Holding itself aloof from stranger sight.
But mid the orchard's bloom expanding bright
With joyous freedom. 'Tis my father's roof;
Hither he came after the wars to rest,
And many a time my verse has given proof
To you, dear friend, of how I loved him best.
As you, if you had known him, would have loved!
Think there in precious, thankful ecstasy,
Of all who love you, — mother, sister, proved
And kind; and there for love's sake say of me :
"For the dear friend I weep.
Who sees no more his father, fallen asleep;
Who has lost the sacred strength that did defend
With sure protection all his days.
The truest friend,
Best loved always!

"No more august old age with glory crowned.
Nor beautiful white hair by sons caressed,
By little children loved. No trumpet sound
Of warlike stories! He doth calmly rest.
And the son mourns, of life's great pride bereft!"
To the true hearts that loved him naught remains
Of the stern veteran saved from bloody plains,
When war was weary, but an empty tomb
And this the orphaned home.
That white below the hill
Stands emptied of his love, although
It wears a kindly air of welcome still.
As a vase keepeth fast and sweet
The odor of the perfumes gone from it.

Main Location:

41000 Blois, France