Tuesday, August 19, 2003


For my reading exericise presentation last Thursday, I used Victor Hugo's poem Demain, dès l'aube.... Of course, I provided a translation, but I read the poem in French so the group could get a feel for the rhythm and flow of the verse. The images Hugo uses in the poem just strike a chord with me. The middle verse in particular:

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos corbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et the jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

It's the last line especially that gets me. It just doesn't do the same in English - maybe because "Triste" has more impact than "Sad". Nonetheless, my translation:

I will walk with eyes fixed on my thoughts,
Seeing nothing outside, hearing not a single sound,
Alone, unknown, back bent, hands crossed,
Sad, and the day for me will be like the night.

Hugo wrote it on the fourth anniversary of his daughter Léopoldine's death, describing his journey to visit her grave.

Strangely, while I love poésie à la française, English-language poetry has almost always left me cold. Maybe it's the difference between the smooth rhythm of romance language versus the harshness of a more gutteral tongue.

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