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Le pas d'armes du Roi Jean (1852)

Le pas d'armes du Roi Jean

Par saint Gille,
Viens nous-en,
Mon agile
Viens, écoute,
Par la route,
Voir la joute
Du Roi Jean.
Qu’un gros carme
Ait pour arme
Qu’une fille,
Sous la grille,
À prier.
Nous qui sommes,
De par Dieu,
De haut lieu,
Il faut faire
Bruit sur terre,
Et la guerre
N’est qu’un jeu.
Cette ville
Aux longs cris,
Qui profile
Son front gris,
Des toits frêles,
Cent tourelles,
Clochers grêles,
C’est Paris!
Los aux dames!
Au roi los!
Vois les flammes
Des champs-clos,
Où la foule,
Qui s’écroule,
Hurle et roule
À longs flots!
Sans attendre,
Çà piquons!
L’œil bien tendre,
De nos selles,
Les donzelles,
Roses, belles,
Aux balcons.
Là-haut brille,
Sur ce mur,
Yseult, fille
Au front pur;
Là-bas, seules,
Force aïeules
Portant gueules
Sur azur.
On commence!
Le beffroi!
Coups de lance,
Cris d’effroi!
On se forge,
On s’égorge,
Par Saint George!
Par le Roi!
Dans l’orage,
Lys courbé,
Un beau page
Est tombé.
Il se pâme,
Il rend l’âme;
Il réclame
Un abbé.
Moines, vierges,
De grands cierges
Sur son front;
Et dans l’ombre
Du lieu sombre,
Deux yeux d’ombre
Car madame
Suit son âme
Au tombeau.
Çà, mon frère,
Viens, rentrons
Dans notre aire
De barons;
Va plus vite,
Car au gîte
Qui t’invite,
Toi, l’avoine
Du matin,
Moi, le moine
Ce saint homme,
Suivant Rome,
Qui m’assomme
De latin,
Et rédige
En romain
Tout prodige
De ma main,
Qu’à ma charge
Il émarge
Sur un large
Le vrai sire
Laisse écrire
Le vilain;
Sa main digne,
Quand il signe,
Le vélin.

Le pas d'armes du Roi Jean

By Saint Giles,
Let us set out,
My nimble
Come, hear me:
We’re off
To see King John’s
Jousting contest.
Let a portly Carmelite
Custodian of charters
Be armed
With an ink-well;
Let the maiden
In her convent parlour
Till she’s hoarse;
We who are,
By the grace of God,
Noble men
Of high rank
Must cause
A stir on earth,
And war
Is but a game.
This town,
Ringing with cries,
With its grey
Of delicate roofs,
Of a hundred turrets,
Of slender steeples,
Is Paris!
Hooray for the ladies!
Hooray for the King!
See the banners
In the ring,
Where the seething
Roars and surges
Like breakers!
Without delay
Let’s gallop off!
With amorous gaze,
Let us assail
From our saddles
The damsels,
Rosy-cheeked and lovely
On their balconies.
Gleaming up there
On that wall
Is the maiden Isolde
With her unsullied brow;
Down there, on their own,
Throngs of old ladies
Are dressed in red
And blue.
Battle begins!
The alarm-bell rings!
Crash of lances,
Cries of fear!
Horses over-reach,
Throats are slit,
In the name of Saint George!
In the name of the King!
In the battle,
Like a wilted lily,
A handsome page
Has fallen.
He faints,
He breathes his last;
He begs for
A priest.
Monks, virgins
Will hold
Tall candles
Over his head;
And in the shadow
Of that dismal place,
Two dark eyes
Will weep.
For Lady
Follows his soul
To the grave.
Well, my brother
Come, let’s return
To our baronial
Make haste,
For at home
Where we’re awaited
We shall find
For your breakfast,
And Friar Augustin
Waiting for me,
This holy man,
A follower of Rome,
Who bores me
With Latin,
And records
In Roman script
All my deeds
Of valour,
Which at my request
He lists
On a large
A true Lord
Of the manor
Lets a servant
Write for him;
His own noble hand,
When signing his name,
The vellum.

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Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, organist, conductor, and pianist of the Romantic era. A musical prodigy, he gave his first concert at only 10 years old, before studying at the Paris Conservatoire.

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Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. He is considered one of the greatest and best-known French writers. In France, Hugo's literary fame comes first from his poetry and then from his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). He also produced more than 4,000 drawings, which have since been admired for their beauty, and earned widespread respect as a campaigner for social causes such as the abolition of capital punishment.

Though a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo's views changed as the decades passed, and he became a passionate supporter of republicanism; his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and the artistic trends of his time. He is buried in the Panthéon. His legacy has been honoured in many ways, including his portrait being placed on French franc banknotes.

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