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Victor Hugo “Elle était déchaussée” French Poem + Translation

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jun 17, 2020

This little known Victor Hugo’s poem is very charming, short and easy to understand.

This little known Victor Hugo’s poem is very charming, short and easy to understand.

The poem about a boy who is taking a walk by a stream and suddenly discovers a beautiful, wild, and irresistible young woman bathing her feet… And asks her out for… a walk or more!

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

This French poem is read twice (enunciated and natural recordings) + detailed explanation of the vocabulary in easy French + analysis of the poem + author’s life + transcript with the English translation in my audiobook “Easy French Poetry”.

Intermediate & Above Easy French Poetry
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1 – Short Victor Hugo Poem “Elle était déchaussée, elle était décoiffée”

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.

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2 – Translation of the Poem

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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