Ultima Verba (My Last Word)

... Quand même grandirait l'abjection publique
A ce point d'adorer l'exécrable trompeur ;
Quand même l'Angleterre et même l'Amérique
Diraient à l'exilé : - Va-t'en ! nous avons peur !

Quand même nous serions comme la feuille morte,
Quand, pour plaire à César, on nous renîrait tous ;
Quand le proscrit devrait s'enfuir de porte en porte,
Aux hommes déchiré comme un haillon aux clous ;

Quand le désert, où Dieu contre l'homme proteste,
Bannirait les bannis, chasserait les chassés ;
Quand même, infâme aussi, lâche comme le reste,
Le tombeau jetterait dehors les trépassés ;

Je ne fléchirai pas ! Sans plainte dans la bouche,
Calme, le deuil au coeur, dédaignant le troupeau,
Je vous embrasserai dans mon exil farouche,
Patrie, ô mon autel ! Liberté, mon drapeau !

Mes nobles compagnons, je garde votre culte ;
Bannis, la République est là qui nous unit.
J'attacherai la gloire à tout ce qu'on insulte ;
Je jetterai l'opprobre à tout ce qu'on bénit!

Je serai, sous le sac de cendre qui me couvre,
La voix qui dit : malheur ! la bouche qui dit : non !
Tandis que tes valets te montreront ton Louvre,
Moi, je te montrerai, César, ton cabanon.

Devant les trahisons et les têtes courbées,
Je croiserai les bras, indigné, mais serein.
Sombre fidélité pour les choses tombées,
Sois ma force et ma joie et mon pilier d'airain !

Oui, tant qu'il sera là, qu'on cède ou qu'on persiste,
O France ! France aimée et qu'on pleure toujours,
Je ne reverrai pas ta terre douce et triste,
Tombeau de mes aïeux et nid de mes amours !

Je ne reverrai pas ta rive qui nous tente,
France ! hors le devoir, hélas ! j'oublierai tout.
Parmi les éprouvés je planterai ma tente :
Je resterai proscrit, voulant rester debout.

J'accepte l'âpre exil, n'eût-il ni fin ni terme,
Sans chercher à savoir et sans considérer
Si quelqu'un a plié qu'on aurait cru plus ferme,
Et si plusieurs s'en vont qui devraient demeurer.

Si l'on n'est plus que mille, eh bien, j'en suis ! Si même
Ils ne sont plus que cent, je brave encor Sylla ;
S'il en demeure dix, je serai le dixième ;
Et s'il n'en reste qu'un, je serai celui-là !


My Last Word


Dead is the human conscience, and exposed
The bloodstained tyrant's latest homicide:
He does not mount his throne, but is astride
His quarry and will be until deposed.

He laughs with self-approval at his conquest;
His eyes swim in the blood that he has shed:
He mocks the living and he mocks the dead,
And Death itself he makes to serve his interest.

His allies are judges who hang honest men
And priests who rob the crypts still hung with crepe:
And the just tremble but cannot escape
As the God that Judas sold is sold again.

The servile cry, 'Hail Ceasar!' 'midst our curses,
'It was the Lord of Hosts annointed you!:'
But their hosannahs do not ring as true
As the gold coins that jingle in their purses.

As long as this idiot on the throne shall reign,
This bandit monarch that the Pope once blessed,
And with a whip and sceptre did invest
As Satan's minion in the guise of Charlesmagne;

As long as he tears with his teeth, in the mire,
Hope, virtue, religion and our country's fame,
And drunken and horrible, vomits his shame
Over our ancient glories and sacred fires;

While the debasement of the nation grows
To the extent of worshipping this liar,
While England and America conspire
To placate the tyrant by barring his foes--

I shall not yield! though the last leaf on the tree,
Disowned by all, my spirit will not flag,
Even if, like a beggar clothed in rags,
I must go from door to door asking for entry.

If the same desert where Christ endured his trial
Should cast out the outcaste and enslave the slave,
And vile and cowardly, the very grave
Should deny its shelter to the exile --

I shall not yield! but calm and uncomplaining,
My soul in mourning and the herd despising,
From my brutal exile, I will kiss
My country, my altar; my flag, liberty!

For you, my noble comrades, I will live
Till the Republic shall our country unify;
And what our enemies deride, I'll glorify,
And will condemn whoever dares forgive.

Under the cloak of ashes covering me,
Mine shall be the voice that calls for truth;
And while thy lackeys, Caesar, take thee to the Louvre,
I'll point out the dungeon that awaits thee!

Before traitors' bowed heads, mine I'll hold high,
Indignant but serene, and loyal to all
Who have been lost in battle or shall fall:
My life's joy and strength, my monument of bronze.

Your tempting shores shall not make me retreat
From duty's path, and I shall raise my tent
Where sacrifice demands, and be content
To live in exile but stand on my own feet!

While he is there, surrender or resist,
Oh France! Belovéd France! for you I'll weep,
But far from you, my sweet land, I will keep,
And from my parents' grave and those I once kissed.

I accept this harsh exile unto the grave,
Without stopping to think or bothering to learn
Who deserted his post and should have stood firm,
Who gave up his country his own life to save.

If a thousand are left to meet that black challenge,
Among those brave names will also be mine;
And if to one hundred their number decline,
I will be with them all wrongs to avenge.

And if the hundred should dwindle to ten
Who are willing their country still to defend,
And would their lives give her misery to end,
I will be found among those ten men.

And should fate this honor to one man decree,
That he should alone remain to fulfill
His duty with faith and a sovereign will,
Know it now, tyrant, the last I will be.

by Victor Marie Hugo

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