Where did the Victor Hugo poem "Be Like the Bird" originate?

Was it from a book, like Les Miserables, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Or was it just a poem? Where did it appear first? Was it in a newspaper, or a book of poetry? I'm looking for the origin (the first time it is published), not for where it's quoted (everywhere).

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  • 7 years ago
    Best Answer

    Found it! This was a tricky one. I honestly thought for a bit that it was a misattribution or one of those quotes which seem to emerge from thin air at time to time, and then I stumbled across a citation in a Frank Lloyd Wright biography (of all damn things; thank you google books). It's from a book of poems called Twilight Songs (Les Chants du crépuscule), published in 1835 (I saw 1849 also, but only once. Likely a question of editions). The bit that's widely quoted is actually only the last stanza of a significantly longer poem (220 lines total) called "In the Church of..." ("Dans l'église de ***").

    Now, the particularly ironic bit is that while that quote is all over the place, I can't find an English translation of the full poem anywhere on the internet, and Twilight Songs is completely out of print (it isn't even recognized as having existed by Amazon; maybe the French amazon would have it). I did find it in the original French, and I included that link with the sources (I can't read French at all but I ran it through enough translators to be certain that the last stanza is your quote). I did find your stanza cut out as an independent poem titled "A Simile" (also included with the sources) in the few English collections I could find on google books. I'm not sure what that's all about. From what I can tell, the collection is supposed to have around 40 works, but all of the translations I've found include only 20 or so: my guess is that they (or maybe Hugo) made significant cuts (maybe for the 1849 edition?). I've become curious about this myself, but I'm at a bit of a standstill here. I'm sure this has been written about, but all of that research would almost definitely be in French.

    I hope this was helpful!

    Source(s): Frank Lloyd Wright bio (citation is on page 42) http://books.google.com/books?id=tnIG4OczVQMC&pg=P... "Dans l'église de ***" (French) http://www.poesie-francaise.fr/victor-hugo/poeme-d... "A Smile" (English, Pg 113) http://books.google.com/books?id=cVLpcz7gywEC&prin...
  • 4 years ago

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    RE:

    Where did the Victor Hugo poem "Be Like the Bird" originate?

    Was it from a book, like Les Miserables, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Or was it just a poem? Where did it appear first? Was it in a newspaper, or a book of poetry? I'm looking for the origin (the first time it is published), not for where it's quoted (everywhere).

    Source(s): victor hugo poem quot bird quot originate: https://shortly.im/6qWa5
  • 4 years ago

    Yep funny

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