La Voix de linnocence (French Edition)


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And they too disappear: and the judges come: but they say the priests have always told them the kings were the images of God, and it is they who gave the orders which the judges have obeyed. And they come each alone on a throne, each throne set on a chariot, and a sword went before each, a sword looking like a cross turned upside down, and no man held the sword, and it seemed a living thing.

And the groans of their victims sounded all round them as they came. And the last was the ugliest of all:. The kings, quickly humbled after a proud opening, shift their crimes on the Pope. It is he who has put hell in our hearts in place of heaven. Let him pay the penalty. Un vieillard blanc et pale apparut dans la nuit. It is Pius IX. And all the thousands of voices, murderers and murdered, judges and captains and kings, call aloud: 'C'est lui'; and Louis Napoleon adds his special word:. And the angel calls on the Pope for his answer: and then, says Dante,.

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And the angel asks him whether he has any above him on whom he can cast his sin: and he answers,. Je n'ai que vous, mon Dieu! It is characteristic of Hugo's uncertainty of taste that he cannot end on that great note, but adds four lines on an altogether lower level. It is by accumu lation, by exuberance of imagination and expression, never by distinction or selection, that he achieves his great effects: it is by the same exuberance, and by the lack of the sense that demands distinction, that he so often ruins them.

The one thing that never fails is the eye. It is impossible to forget such vivid and pregnant touches as that of the Pope growing suddenly old before Dante's eyes, or the kings who loomed so large in the distance and when they had come near were seen to be dwarfs, or the swords carried before them which the poet, with the awful precision of these great moments, sees to be crosses, only crosses reversed and turned upside down.

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And it is not only in the Legende that such things occur. But, great as he is, and not only, though so often, grandiose, in these high tragic worlds of human deed and destiny, it is in quite other fields that he is greatest of all. The essential, ultimate, unforgettable Hugo is not the one who blows loud notes through the trumpet of history, not so much at least as the one who whispers through the babbling of children, the notes of birds, the voices of clouds and trees and flowers.

The prayer that all the fair things in the garden of his childhood made to his mother, 'Laisse- nous cet enfant,' as he tells it in his charming poem, 'Ce qui se passait aux Feuillantines,' was not left unanswered. Indeed it was answered in a wider way and to a wider world than garden walls can dream of.

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The child who dreamed and played in that old garden, and for whom the trees and flowers pleaded so persuasively, never was quite taken away from them either by the schoolmaster or by the world. What a world away we are from the Vision de Dante! But, great as that Victor Hugo is, this one is even greater. Les grandes pensees viennent du coeur. It was so with Hugo. The things written in the child's heart were never erased. They suffered strange transformations: they were buried in rhe toric: they were lost in egoism, in pose, in vanity, in violence.

But they were still there, written so well once for all that the world may read them there for ever. The old priest's lesson remained to keep him, through all wanderings of creed, always a believer that there is an Invisible behind the visible, and that the human can never be explained except by the Divine.

The garden voices whis pered to him all his life, kept him from being wholly swallowed up in politics or the world or even in that deeper gulf, himself: were his joy in his good days and his consolation in his bad: above all, gave him the key which interpreted for him greater voices than theirs, and made him the poet of clouds and storms and sea. And his mother made him the greatest, perhaps the only great, poet France has known of the love which is not passion. More and more all through his life Hugo hated priests and was hated by them.

Yet, if priests could look at essentials and not at externals, they might have seen that in the biggest fight of all Hugo was not against them but with them. It is something that, just in the two generations when physical science was half persuading the world that there were no problems it could not solve, the greatest poet of the race that most moves other races was not a materialist but a believer in spirit. A thinker he was not: he could not have made the reasoned contributions of Tennyson or Browning to a spiritual interpretation of the world: but he was as passionately convinced as either that man is more than a body and life more than a journey to the grave.

He would often have gone as far as that great saying of Tennyson's: 'Nothing worthy of proving can be proven. And his answer, when he gives it, is always the Tennysonian answer:. Faith, in his eyes, is the act of great souls and minds, not of little. There is a credulity in spiritual things which it is good to avoid. But even with that it is true, as Aubrey de Vere profoundly said, that 'the crowd escapes it not by being above it, but by being below it.

So, at least, thought Hugo. We are too small, all but a few of us, to hold more than a little of the truth:. Le vase est trop petit pour la contenir toute;. For Hugo the secret is not so easy, and the end is not yet. But he is sure that the sense of a secret which will be made plain when the fit time comes is no ghastly illusion but the truest thing we can cling to.

And meanwhile he can wait in serene assurance:.


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Sometimes he will put his creed into a reasoned statement, and make poetry argue for faith. He uses the argument of the ascending scale of being, for instance, in a manner which reminds one curi ously of Browning:. Of course Browning would give the argument a more Christian turn; but of Browning's Christianity there is nothing in Hugo. All the things that play such a great part in Browning's work, the definite Yes or No of a definite creed, the Person of Christ, what He was, and whether His life is a thing of merely historical interest or of eternal import, faith burnt into the tissue of daily life, a sense of sin, you will not find any of these in Hugo, at least when he is speaking for himself.

Once, and once only, does he show a trace of feeling, in his own person, what that last means.

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It is in the remarkable poem 'A Louis B. And he will, now and then, cry out in such phrases as that in Les Voix Interieures :. But, more often, his faith is a rather airy optimism. Such sayings as,. Still he shared a deeper mood with Browning. Both felt that love was the final word of the world, rising clear above all contradictions. And more: both saw in human love the key to the great mystery. Love here must mean love also There. And so, when the great sorrow of his life came, and the daughter died, who was perhaps what he loved best in all the world, and her young husband died with her in the attempt to save her, the noble outburst of Elegy, which fills the fourth book of Les Contemplations , is never a cry of bitterness, never a cry of despair: the last words are words of resigna tion, of peace, even of hope.

One hardly dares take fragments of this wonderful series out of their place, any more than one would move the grass on a grave. But it is impossible entirely to pass over the greatest moment in the poet's life. He makes no pretence that faith and hope can swallow up grief: 'I must also feel it as a man' is his last word: but it is never said so movingly as after the calm of resigna tion has come back.


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That grief, just because it is more than grief, will not die but live. It has become one with things greater than itself. But neither resignation, nor even faith, can forbid tears. Indeed, the grief which cannot weep is of another sort altogether, the sort which is hard because it is hopeless. Je viens a vous, Seigneur, pere auquel il faut croire; that is the substance of what remains at the end to Victor Hugo of all the teaching of the old priest: submission to a Power which is visible, faith that behind that visible Power is invisible Fatherhood, and, as the next stanza shows, living personality of Love.

Such a creed as this, the creed of Hugo's most spiritual moments, would no doubt have appeared to the old priest a sorry remnant of his lessons. But, whatever view be taken of it, no reader of the poet's works will doubt that it was a real creed, the faith of all that was most genuine and serious in the man. The teaching of the second of the masters of his childhood had a very different destiny. If the priest would have wondered later on at what his pupil had forgotten, the garden would equally have wondered at what he had learnt.

It had given him an alphabet, and he had made of it a new and splendid language. The child listened, the man remembered, and the poet created; and Victor Hugo became one of the greatest of all the inter preters of Nature to man. There is not one of her moods which he does not give: her gaiety often, her gloom not less often, her angelic innocence sometimes, rarely her cruelty, her soothing sym pathy almost constantly.

It was not by a know ledge of details that he came so close to her, but by a communion of spirit. He knew her, not as we know the things we have learnt, but as we know the beings whom we love.

La Voix de linnocence (French Edition) La Voix de linnocence (French Edition)
La Voix de linnocence (French Edition) La Voix de linnocence (French Edition)
La Voix de linnocence (French Edition) La Voix de linnocence (French Edition)
La Voix de linnocence (French Edition) La Voix de linnocence (French Edition)
La Voix de linnocence (French Edition) La Voix de linnocence (French Edition)

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