Translation Victor Hugo Love poem “Certainly She Wasn’t “


While staying in the one bedroom apartment my wife and I recently rented in Paris I noticed on a bookshelf , a book of French Erotic Love poetry . I was surprised to find in it , a love poem written by Victor Hugo entitled simply … “Certainly She Wasn’t .”

I thought the poem was unique so I am attempting a translation in English below . I’ve taken some liberties with the translation and hope I’m not too far off the mark as my French could always use some brushing up, so I have relied on some poetic intuition to try to make up for my linguistic shortfalls.

Certainly she wasn’t …

Certainly she wasn’t
both woman
and charming in vain
But the earthly in her
had an air of divine.
Flames flickered
on her fearless lips
as she accepted
fiery love
in all its blaze.
Her tender yielding
was both high and serene .
She submitted self
yet remained a queen .
A supreme grace and
what more
than to have seen,
A whole self given
without loss of anything .
She lay uncovered
on bed,
with abandon sublime,
as if on the edge
of the peak of time,
and gradually
as she graced
conquering love,
one could say
that the heavens
sprang from her heart,
and caressed
with a light
from above.
Bare feet made
her walk
all full of grace,
to the abode of entities
in perfect beauty
And in love.
It came to him
in a shadow
cast by clarity
of nocturnal halo
of celestial poles.
Throughout the kisses
across soft white shoulders
one would have believed
to have seen,
pure white wings
so very slowly.
Her look was a blue,
a firmament blue,
with the grace of
exceptional woman
who upon departing
from a virgin,
was transformed
Into an angel.