Victor Hugo: “Every child we educate is a soul won”

Victor Hugo: “Every child we educate is a soul won”

Victor Hugo: "Every child we educate is a soul won"

Victor Hugo was a great French writer and human-rights activist. (1802 – 1885), who wrote the poem below after a visit to a French prison.

“Every child we educate is a soul won”

Every child we educate is a man we gain.
Ninety thieves out of one hundred in prison
Never once went to school,
And don’t know how to read, or sign at the x.
It is in this shadow that they found crime.
Ignorance is the night that opens upon an abyss.
There reason creeps away and honesty perishes.

God, the first author of all that is written,
Put on this Earth of intoxicated men,
The wings of spirits in the pages of books.
Everyone who opens a book finds a wing with which he can
Glide up where free souls move.
The school is sanctuary as much as chapel.
The alphabet that the child with his finger spells
Contains virtue in each letter; the heart
Lights up gently at this humble glow.
So, to the little child, give the little book.
Walk, lamp in hand, so he can follow you.

Night produces error and error the assault.
A lack of good education means we bombard society
With animal-men, unfinished heads,
Sad instincts and deadened pupils,
Terrifying blind men with deathly gazes,
Who feel for their way in a moral world.
Let us illuminate the spirits, this is our first law.
And from the vilest tallow let us fashion a light.
The intellect longs to be open here below;
The sprout has a right to blossom; and he who does not think
Does not live. The thieves had a right to live.
Bear in mind, the school of gold transforms copperware,
Whereas leaden ignorance transforms gold…

Victor Hugo


/Kristiana Laska/



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