Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Poems of Tragedy: III. The Orient
The Sack of the City
Victor Hugo (1802–1885)
Anonymous translation from the French

THY will, O King, is done! Lighting but to consume,
  The roar of the fierce flames drowned even the shouts and shrieks;
Reddening each roof, like some day-dawn of bloody doom,
  Seemed they in joyous flight to dance above their wrecks.
Slaughter his thousand giant arms hath tossed on high,        5
  Fell fathers, husbands, wives, beneath his streaming steel;
Prostrate the palaces huge tombs of fire lie,
  While gathering overhead the vultures scream and wheel.
Died the pale mothers;—and the virgins, from their arms,
  O Caliph, fiercely torn, bewailed their young years’ blight;        10
With stabs and kisses fouled, all their yet quivering charms
  At our fleet coursers’ heels were dragged in mocking flight.
Lo, where the city lies mantled in pall of death!
  Lo, where thy mighty arm hath passed, all things must bend!
As the priests prayed, the sword stopped their accursèd breath,—        15
  Vainly their sacred book for shield did they extend.
Some infants yet survived, and the unsated steel
  Still drinks the life-blood of each whelp of Christian hound.
To kiss thy sandal’s foot, O King, thy people kneel,
  With golden circlet to thy glorious ankle bound.        20

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