The Peri (Poem by Victor Hugo)

the Old Poems

The Peri
By Victor Hugo

Beautiful spirit, come with me
Over the blue enchanted sea:
Morn and evening thou canst play
In my garden, where the breeze
Warbles through the fruity trees;
No shadow falls upon the day:
There thy mother's arms await
Her cherished infant at the gate.
Of Peris I the loveliest far — 
My sisters, near the morning star,
In ever youthful bloom abide;
But pale their lustre by my side — 
A silken turban wreathes my head,
Rubies on my arms are spread,
While sailing slowly through the sky,
By the uplooker's dazzled eye
Are seen my wings of purple hue,
Glittering with Elysian dew.
Whiter than a far-off sail
My form of beauty glows,
Fair as on a summer night
Dawns the sleep star's gentle light;
And fragrant as the early rose
That scents the green Arabian vale,
Soothing the pilgrim as he goes.


Beautiful infant (said the Fay),
In the region of the sun
I dwell, where in a rich array
The clouds encircle the king of day,
His radiant journey done.
My wings, pure golden, of radiant sheen
(Painted as amorous poet's strain),
Glimmer at night, when meadows green
Sparkle with the perfumed rain
While the sun's gone to come again.
And clear my hand, as stream that flows;
And sweet my breath as air of May;
And o'er my ivory shoulders stray
Locks of sunshine; — tunes still play
From my odorous lips of rose.

Follow, follow! I have caves
Of pearl beneath the azure waves,
And tents all woven pleasantly
In verdant glades of Faëry.
Come, belovèd child, with me,
And I will bear thee to the bowers
Where clouds are painted o'er like flowers,
And pour into thy charmed ear
Songs a mortal may not hear;
Harmonies so sweet and ripe
As no inspired shepherd's pipe
E'er breathed into Arcadian glen,
Far from the busy haunts of men.


My home is afar in the bright Orient,
Where the sun, like a king, in his orange tent,
Reigneth for ever in gorgeous pride — 
And wafting thee, princess of rich countree,
To the soft flute's lush melody,
My golden vessel will gently glide,
Kindling the water 'long the side.

Vast cities are mine of power and delight,
Lahore laid in lilies, Golconda, Cashmere;
And Ispahan, dear to the pilgrim's sight,
And Bagdad, whose towers to heaven uprear;
Alep, that pours on the startled ear,
From its restless masts the gathering roar,
As of ocean hamm'ring at night on the shore.

Mysore is a queen on her stately throne,
Thy white domes, Medina, gleam on the eye, — 
Thy radiant kiosques with their arrowy spires,
Shooting afar their golden fires
 Into the flashing sky, — 
Like a forest of spears that startle the gaze
Of the enemy with the vivid blaze.

Come there, beautiful child, with me,
Come to the arcades of Araby,
To the land of the date and the purple vine,
Where pleasure her rosy wreaths doth twine,
And gladness shall be alway thine;
Singing at sunset next thy bed,
Strewing flowers under thy head.
Beneath a verdant roof of leaves,
Arching a flow'ry carpet o'er,
Thou mayst list to lutes on summer eves
Their lays of rustic freshness pour,
While upon the grassy floor
Light footsteps, in the hour of calm,
Ruffle the shadow of the palm.


Come to the radiant homes of the blest,
Where meadows like fountain in light are drest,
And the grottoes of verdure never decay,
And the glow of the August dies not away.
Come where the autumn winds never can sweep,
And the streams of the woodland steep thee in sleep,
Like a fond sister charming the eyes of a brother,
Or a little lass lulled on the breast of her mother.
Beautiful! beautiful! hasten to me!
Colored with crimson thy wings shall be;
Flowers that fade not thy forehead shall twine,
Over thee sunlight that sets not shall shine.

The infant listened to the strain,
Now here, now there, its thoughts were driven —
But the Fay and the Peri waited in vain,
The soul soared above such a sensual gain —
The child rose to Heaven.

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