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Lass, at seventeen you're filled with grace:

IX ("Lass, at seventeen you're filled with grace")
Victor Hugo
translated by Geoffrey Barto

Lass, at seventeen you're filled with grace.
Your look proclaims the Morning, Spring is on your face.
It seems that in your hand is a lily we can't see.
Don Juan sees you pass by and murmurs: "Could she be?"
Be lovely; be blessed, child, in your beauty bright.
Nature thrills to see you, basking in your light.
You glow as beneath the trees you go; the sleek
Paper-thin wing of a wasp brushes your rosy cheek;
The moth - as to the flame - to your bright eyes must fly.
Your breath is like fine incense rising into the sky.
Lesbos and the Hydra's sailors, if they saw you there
Unveiled would take you for the Dawn with your star-filled hair.
The creatures of the azure knit their pure brow when
Dare to approach, those dark spectres of evil and exile, men
Near to your soul, betrothed to the sun's rays. So -
Be beautiful. You sense yourself caressed by a shadow,
An angel comes to kiss your foot when it is bare,
And that is what gives you your smile without care.

Copyright Geoffrey Barto, 2002


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