A poem by Victor Marie Hugo

("L'enfant chantait.")

[Bk. I. xxiii., Paris, January, 1835.]

The small child sang; the mother, outstretched on the low bed,
With anguish moaned, - fair Form pain should possess not long;
For, ever nigher, Death hovered around her head:
I hearkened there this moan, and heard even there that song.

The child was but five years, and, close to the lattice, aye
Made a sweet noise with games and with his laughter bright;
And the wan mother, aside this being the livelong day
Carolling joyously, coughed hoarsely all the night.

The mother went to sleep 'mong them that sleep alway;
And the blithe little lad began anew to sing...
Sorrow is like a fruit: God doth not therewith weigh
Earthward the branch strong yet but for the blossoming.


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