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Fantine is a main character in the french novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. This poem talks about the struggles of the working class.


She was joy.

She was modesty.

With a charming toilette,

of lace and silk

coquetry of the young.

Pearlescent teeth,

golden tresses

framing a delicate face.

She laughed,

showing off that fine enamel

worth at least few napoleons,

and when her features

grew pensive,

she retained a look of veneration.


Now, she is poverty-stricken

with her wardrobe gone

replaced by dirtied frock.

Her remaining vanity

dressed on a rosy babe

by her breast,

a noble has left her

with child and through farce.

Shrub of hair pulled up in her cap

Fantine with her legacy,

and upon a lowly inn

she leaves her young.


Working woman

oh, but thirteen sous per day

ten for her faraway love

the rest for herself

she is worn,

no longer joy, but still modesty.

This Fantine, this creature of twenty two years

she falls asleep with thoughts

of Cosette, her little daughter.

Then the rumors start,

gossips with their malice and greed

the title of disgraced woman

falls upon her,

she is with child, with shame

unwed and uncalled for-

they force her out, rid her of livelihood.


Cosette is cold,

Fantine sells her hair

for a piece of frock

sells her incisors for

two napoleons

her fine teeth, sculpted by god

Cosette is ill, the innkeepers write

vultures in the dark

they lie

Fantine, without much

seventeen hours of daily toil

about to lose lodging

to wage deduction

about to lose her child-

sells the last thing left,

her modesty.


Woman of the town

no longer pretty, but threadbare looking

she doesn't pay mind

to the first jeer,

that cold morning

palms rubbing, fabric pulled close

but the man's voice

the man's violence

exhumes an old, serpentine anger

she is arrested, assault on a citizen

Fantine begs the inspector

knees chafed,

tears bathe her cheeks

"All for naught, my little daughter.."

and in this light of maternal vision

she is once again-beautiful.


On her deathbed,

Fantine waits for her little one

little coughs punctuate every word

but she’s in ecstasies

"Oh sister Simplice! Oh doctor! Oh Monsieur Madeline!

I want my Cosette.

My little Cosette.

Providence has forgiven me,

When i meet her again.

She was beautiful,

Last time i saw her

I clothed her in all my fine silk

You shall see, she is my angel

She is of seven years now, seven years!

Let me see her, i am cured!

I am well now, you don’t believe me…"

© 2020 Veronica Lejano

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