James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

May 22

Victor Hugo

By Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

(Died May 22, 1885)

MICHAEL, awful angel of the world’s last session,

Once on earth, like him, with fire of suffering tried,

Thine it were, if man’s it were, without transgression,

Thine alone, to take this toil upon thy pride.

Thine, whose heart was great against the world’s oppression,

Even as his whose word is lamp and staff and guide:

Advocate for man, untired of intercession,

Pleads his voice for slaves whose lords his voice defied.

Sun, that hast not seen a loftier head wax hoary,

Earth, which hast not shown the sun a nobler birth,

Time, that hast not on thy scroll defiled and gory

One man’s name writ brighter in its whole wide girth,

Witness, till the final years fulfil their story,

Till the stars break off the music of their mirth,

What among the sons of men was this man’s glory,

What the vesture of his soul revealed on earth.