What the poet was telling himself in 1848

Victor Marie Hugo

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You mustn't seek out power, mustn't grab the helm
Your work lies elsewhere, spirit of another realm,
In innocence withdraw before this moment here.
Lover of thought in mourning both sweet and severe-,
Disdained or understood by men still you must live
Shepherd for their tending, priest to blessings give.
When citizens embittered by their misery,
Sons of the same France and of the same Paris,
Slit one another's throats; when at each corner loom
Barricades just sprung up, sinister, wrapped in gloom
Rising, vomiting death at once and everywhere
Though unarmed and alone you must simply go there;
Must in this vile, awful and unholy war show
Your chest, your heart, you have to let your spirit flow,
To speak, to pray, to save both the weak and the strong,
To smile under fire and weep for the dead now gone;
Then to rise, calm, to your place in isolation
And to defend within the fervent collocation
Those that it would judge or from society eject,
To overturn the scaffold, to serve and to protect
The order and the peace that rash actors have shaken,
And our soldiers - by the little general taken,
And the man of the people sent to the asylum,
And the laws, and also our sad and proud freedom;
To offer consolation, at this fateful day,
To the divine art that shudders, weeps, and to stay
Awaiting for the rest the moment decisive.

Your role is to inform and to remain pensive.

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