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French Poem Readings

“Elle était déchaussée, elle était décoiffée” de Victor Hugo

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on April 5, 2008

This little known Victor Hugo’s poem is very charming, short and easy to understand. It’s about a boy who is taking a walk by a stream and suddenly discovers a beautiful, wild, and irresistible young woman bathing her feet…

The poem has real cinematographic quality to it; you can picture the scene as if you were there.

Intermediate & Above

Easy French Poetry

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1 – Poem

Elle était déchaussée, elle était décoiffée,
Assise, les pieds nus, parmi les joncs penchants ;
Moi qui passais par là, je crus voir une fée,
Et je lui dis : Veux-tu t’en venir dans les champs ?

Elle me regarda de ce regard suprême
Qui reste à la beauté quand nous en triomphons,
Et je lui dis : Veux-tu, c’est le mois où l’on aime,
Veux-tu nous en aller sous les arbres profonds ?

Elle essuya ses pieds à l’herbe de la rive ;
Elle me regarda pour la seconde fois,
Et la belle folâtre alors devint pensive.
Oh ! comme les oiseaux chantaient au fond des bois !

Comme l’eau caressait doucement le rivage !
Je vis venir à moi, dans les grands roseaux verts,
La belle fille heureuse, effarée et sauvage,
Ses cheveux dans ses yeux, et riant au travers.

hugo.jpg2 – Translation

Her shoes were pulled off, her hair undone,
She was sitting barefoot among the leaning rushes,
As I passed by, I thought I had seen a fairy
And asked her: would you like to go for a stroll in the fields?

She looked at me with this supreme look
That beauty bares in all her glory,
And I said, “Would you like – since it’s the month of love –
Would you like to go with me under the dense forest?

She wiped her feet on the grass of the bank;
She looked at me a second time,
And the playful beauty then turned pensive.
Oh, how the birds sang in the depths of the woods!

How gently the water caressed its banks!
I saw come to me, through the tall green reeds,
The beautiful girl, happy, frightened and wild,
Her hair in her eyes, and laughing through it

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