The Watching Angel.

A poem by Victor Marie Hugo

("Dans l'alcôve sombre.")

[XX., November, 1831.]

In the dusky nook,
Near the altar laid,
Sleeps the child in shadow
Of his mother's bed:
Softly he reposes,
And his lid of roses,
Closed to earth, uncloses
On the heaven o'erhead.

Many a dream is with him,
Fresh from fairyland,
Spangled o'er with diamonds
Seems the ocean sand;
Suns are flaming there,
Troops of ladies fair
Souls of infants bear
In each charming hand.

Oh, enchanting vision!
Lo, a rill upsprings,
And from out its bosom
Comes a voice that sings
Lovelier there appear
Sire and sisters dear,
While his mother near
Plumes her new-born wings.

But a brighter vision
Yet his eyes behold;
Roses pied and lilies
Every path enfold;
Lakes delicious sleeping,
Silver fishes leaping,
Through the wavelets creeping
Up to reeds of gold.

Slumber on, sweet infant,
Slumber peacefully
Thy young soul yet knows not
What thy lot may be.
Like dead weeds that sweep
O'er the dol'rous deep,
Thou art borne in sleep.
What is all to thee?

Thou canst slumber by the way;
Thou hast learnt to borrow
Naught from study, naught from care;
The cold hand of sorrow
On thy brow unwrinkled yet,
Where young truth and candor sit,
Ne'er with rugged nail hath writ
That sad word, "To-morrow!"

Innocent! thou sleepest -
See the angelic band,
Who foreknow the trials
That for man are planned;
Seeing him unarmed,
Unfearing, unalarmed,
With their tears have warmed
This unconscious hand.

Still they, hovering o'er him,
Kiss him where he lies,
Hark, he sees them weeping,
"Gabriel!" he cries;
"Hush!" the angel says,
On his lip he lays
One finger, one displays
His native skies.

Foreign Quarterly Review

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