Cornflowers (Poem by Victor Hugo)

the Old Poems

By Victor Hugo

While bright but scentless azure stars
Be-gem the golden corn,
And spangle with their skyey tint
The furrows not yet shorn;
While still the pure white tufts of May
Ape each a snowy ball, —
Away, ye merry maids, and haste
To gather ere they fall!

Nowhere the sun of Spain outshines
Upon a fairer town
Than PeƱafiel, or endows
More richly farming clown;
Nowhere a broader square reflects
Such brilliant mansions, tall, —
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

Nowhere a statelier abbey rears
Dome huger o'er a shrine,
Though seek ye from old Rome itself
To even Seville fine.
Here countless pilgrims come to pray
 And promenade the Mall, —
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

Where glide the girls more joyfully
Than ours who dance at dusk,
With roses white upon their brows,
With waists that scorn the busk?
Mantillas elsewhere hide dull eyes —
Compared with these, how small!
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

A blossom in a city lane,
Alizia was our pride,
And oft the blundering bee, deceived,
Came buzzing to her side —
But, oh! for one that felt the sting,
And found, 'neath honey, gall —
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

Young, haughty, from still hotter lands,
A stranger hither came —
Was he a Moor or African,
Or Murcian known to fame?
None knew — least, she — or false or true,
The name by which to call.
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

Alizia asked not his degree,
She saw him but as Love,
And through Xarama's vale they strayed,
And tarried in the grove, —
Oh! curses on that fatal eve,
And on that leafy hall!
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

The darkened city breathed no more;
The moon was mantled long,
Till towers thrust the cloudy cloak
Upon the steeples' throng;
The crossway Christ, in ivy draped,
Shrank, grieving, 'neath the pall, —
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

But while, alone, they kept the shade,
The other dark-eyed dears
Were murmuring on the stifling air
Their jealous threats and fears;
Alizia was so blamed, that time,
Unheeded rang the call:
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

Although, above, the hawk describes
The circle round the lark,
It sleeps, unconscious, and our lass
Had eyes but for her spark —
A spark? — a sun! 'Twas Juan, King!
Who wears our coronal, —
Away, ye merry maids, etc.

A love so far above one's state
Ends sadly. Came a black
And guarded palanquin to bear
The girl that ne'er comes back;
By royal writ, some nunnery
Still shields her from us all
Away, ye merry maids, and haste
To gather ere they fall!

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