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Their charges true, I'd find good reasons for you, -
And against myself. Why must we justify
Our uncontrollable passions? Who so strong
As to be master of them? They are born
With us: made part of us, unasked. They rule
Us at a certain age, in spite of all
We do. The mind may seem to govern us,
Yet in a twinkling is the blood inflamed,
And reason fails to operate. The laws
Of man, however frightful, never altered
The first great laws of Nature: else, why should
The prophets be so full of warning?-What
Must I now do? Be angry with her? How
Can I be angry? Has the sudden wrath
Of youth not left me? I am old, and given to
Reflection.—Would that I felt this more!-And

Could I be coward enough to hunt to the grave
This child who has hardly lived? The grave, alas!
The slimy earth, the worms, the putrid airs,
Must they dismantle your fair frame? No, no!
How can I ever, ever sleep again
To dream of that which was Susanna once?
You shall not go to death. For I do need
You, and could nigh forgive you.-But
The people! Ah! The people and the Law,-
'Tis they that press me. For myself I am
Inactive, and should so prefer to be:
For them I must do something. Something? What?
No, I'll do nothing for their cursed laws.
I would not have such penalties: they are
Too barbarous; were made for the savage days
Of a young race. Besides, is she not, as
She answered, innocent? Her looks alone
Would force conviction: and if not her looks,-
Her life. And even otherwise-Had she
Heavens! Away, vile thoughts! I'll be myself,
I'll be her king, her lover, though she were
All they have said,-and more!


Susanna at a window overlooking the inner court

Susanna My life will set with the setting sun, and night

Will drop her sable mantle on my name.
These damask hangings and these cedar posts
Will carry mourning, and these rooms will lie
In muffled silence. Henceforth I shall be
A stranger to these soft divans and to
This furniture. The marble court shall no more
Feel my steps, nor the shrubs my loving hand.
I am an execration!—And life was sweet!
My children, see, they play within the yard
Oblivious of the world. How joyously
They talk and laugh and skip about! They will
Forget me in a week, a month. They'll miss
The usual kiss,--to them so little and
To me so much,—they'll speak in whispers for
A day, and cry themselves to sleep. And then,
A block of wood, a pebble, will absorb
Them more than I. -Ah! nevermore to see
Their darling faces, nevermore to feel
Their satin arms about my neck!




Translated from the French by Elizabeth S. Dickerman

As once she kept the lambs at fair Nanterre,
God placed her here another flock to keep,
A horde confused, where wolf and timid sheep
Alike in misery are gathered there.
And as she watched in the mild evening air
In the farm court or by the waters deep
Beneath the birch or where the willows weep,
She guards this other flock with many a prayer.

And when the night shall come to end the day,
This shepherdess of old, --so frail, so fair,-
Shall gather Paris and the towns that lay
Around, and lead them with a firmness rare,
And gentle hand, o'er the last stony way
To God's right hand, folded beneath His care.



“The grandmother at the summit of her age
Rejoices in the little tender child
In mother's arms, and often has she smiled
Seeing it enter on its heritage;
Dreamed it will grow a noble personage,
The strongest reaper in the harvest time,
The clearest singer of the sweetest rhyme,

The hero of the hamlet's little stage.
It was thus that the poet, Charles Péguy, conceived of St.
Geneviève as she looked toward the future of that greater saint
Jeanne d'Arc. “His great work,” says Barrès, “was an attempt

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to express what we have to say of Jeanne d'Arc in 1914, to give form to the extraordinary abundance of sentiments to which this incomparable figure gives rise in the conscience of a cultivated Frenchman of today.” But may he not have thought too of his own grandmother, a simple peasant who kept the cows and did not know how to read and write but “to whom,” he said, "I owe all that I am."

He tells us of his peasant ancestors, “vinegrowers, patient men who from the trees and bushes of the forest of Orleans and from the sands of the Loire, conquered so many acres of vineyard; men knotty as the roots of the vine, twining like its tendrils, fine like its twigs. Laborious people. It is because of them that I work so hard. Could I only write as they worked over the vines! And harvest sometimes as they used to harvest in good years! Could I only write as they talked!”

This peasant boy went to the Sorbonne, studied the classicsGreek, Latin, French, and began to work another kind of fields, his fortnightly publications (Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine). “In his little printing shop opposite the Sorbonne he surveyed and criticised the great university. He seemed like an extraordinary school-master, a preacher of old France. In his short life, he found means to bring to flowering the forces of the peasant who tills his fields, the shopkeeper who counts over his money, the printer who does beautiful work, the curé who preaches to his flock and the army officer leading his men to duty.”

He died in the battle of the Ourcq in September 1914, the Lieutenant Charles Péguy, “arms in hand, facing the foe,” so Maurice Barrès tells us. “He has entered the ranks of the heroes of French thought. His theme was moral grandeur, selfabnegation, the exaltation of the soul. It has been given him to prove in one moment the truth of his words

"Here lies the glory of young French letters. But it is more than a loss, it is a sowing; more than a death, an example, a word of life, a leaven. The French renaissance will draw strength from the work of Péguy, made real by sacrifice.”



Here in the woods where invisible maenads play
Where the beat of their fountain's plash
Sounds here, and there, and mockingly away-
Till one unwary drop of spray
Caught like a meteor in a mortal glance
Flashes its secret precious gleam by chance,
For lucky eyes to see, -
And goes again-
Here where Joy walks with never an hour to speed, -
The brown and purple hollows of the trees
Are deep palimpsest with the wood bird's tune,-
With soundless raptures of wise forest things
That pulse through dark on dark and hush on hush
The still long thrilling of a mystic rune!
Along the hill the wind creeps, and the sun
Following the tangle of the shadows, laughs
Among the leaves to see the elfin play-
Where surely eerie creatures in the pools
Flash their swift limbs and speed away
As but the chasing of the light and shade-
While yet the air behind they leave a-ring
With the fleet fragments of lost syllables! —
-Those primeval syllables
That stirred within the Ancient Mother's breast
Silent and prescient of her Spirit-born,-
He with the stars upon his forehead who should walk
In mighty ways to speak the secret promise of her heart;
For whom the sun and moon should be the candles of his

Lighting the shining letters of the Word!

God spoke that Word once plain upon the hills,Only for men to lose it on their errant ways! -Yet in that time not wrathfuliy ne turned it from their ken

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