The Lesson Of The Patriot Dead.

A poem by Victor Marie Hugo

("O caresse sublime.")

[April, 1871.]


Upon the grave's cold mouth there ever have caresses clung
For those who died ideally good and grand and pure and young;
Under the scorn of all who clamor: "There is nothing just!"
And bow to dread inquisitor and worship lords of dust;
Let sophists give the lie, hearts droop, and courtiers play the worm,
Our martyrs of Democracy the Truth sublime affirm!
And when all seems inert upon this seething, troublous round,
And when the rashest knows not best to flee ar stand his ground,
When not a single war-cry from the sombre mass will rush,
When o'er the universe is spread by Doubting utter hush,
Then he who searches well within the walls that close immure
Our teachers, leaders, heroes slain because they lived too pure,
May glue his ear upon the ground where few else came to grieve,
And ask the austere shadows: "Ho! and must one still believe?
Read yet the orders: 'Forward, march!' and 'charge!'" Then from the lime,
Which burnt the bones but left the soul (Oh! tyrants' useless crime!)
Will rise reply: "Yes!" "yes!" and "yes!" the thousand, thousandth time!

H.L.W.

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