The Exile's Choice

Since justice slumbers in the abysm,
Since the crime's crowned with despotism,
Since all most upright souls are smitten,
Since proudest souls are bowed for shame,
Since on the walls in lines of flame
My country's dark dishonour's written;

O grand Republic of our sires,
Pantheon filled with sacred fires,
In the free azure golden dome,
Temple with shades immortal thronged!
Since thus thy glory they have wronged,
With 'Empire' staining Freedom's home;

Since in my country each soul born
Is base; since there are laughed to scorn
The true, the pure, the great, the brave,
The indignant eyes of history,
Honour, law, right, and liberty,
And those, alas! within the grave:

Solitude, exile ! I love them !
Sorrow, be thou my diadem !
Poverty love I, -- for 't is pride !
My rugged home winds beat upon;
And even that awful Statue wan
Aye seated silent by my side.

I love the woe that proves me strong;
That shadow of fate which all ye throng,
O ye to whom high hearts aye bow, --
Faith, Virtue veiled, stern Dignity,
And thou, proud Exile, Liberty,
And, nobler yet, Devotion, thou!

I love this islet lonely, bold, --
Jersey, whereover England's old
Free banner doth the storm-blast brave;
Yon darkling ocean's ebb and flow,
Its vessels, each a wandering plough,
Whose mystic furrow is the wave.

I love thy gull, with snowy wing
In pearls to the wind blithe scattering,
O ocean vast, thy sunny spray;
Who darts beneath hugh billows gaping,
Soon from those monstrous throats escaping
As a soul from sorrow flits away!

I love the rock, -- how solemn, stern !
Thence hearkening aye the plaint eterne
On the wild air around me shed,
Ever the sullen night outpours,
Of waves that sob on sombre shores,
Of mothers mourning children dead!

by Victor Marie Hugo

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