Though mostly acclaimed outside of France for his epic roman (novel) “Les Misérables” and its celebrated héro Jean Valjean, Victor Hugo remains nonetheless one of the most distinguished French poets of all times. His works capture d’une façon unique (in a unique fashion) the so-called “zeitgeist”, or “l’esprit du temps“ (“the spirit of the era”) then reigning in France.
Among his major oeuvres (works) stands the famous poem “Demain, dès l’aube” (“Tomorrow, at Dawn.”) A short yet powerful product of literature, dedicated to his daughter Léopoldine, whose loss in a tragic boat accident was the source of immense tristesse (grief), which, alas, never healed throughout Hugo’s life.
To the memory of Léopoldine, Victor Hugo’s beloved daughter
|Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.
Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
|Tomorrow, at dawn, at the hour the land turns pale,
I will leave. You see, I know you are waiting for me.
I will go through the forest, I will go over the mountain.
I cannot stay far from you any longer.
I will walk with my eyes fixed on my thoughts,
seeing nothing else, hearing no noise,
alone, unknown, my back bent, my hands crossed,
sad, and the day for me will be like night.
I will not see the gold of the evening falling,
nor the sails in the distance going down toward Harfleur,
and when I arrive, I will lay on your tomb
a bouquet of green holly and of heather in bloom.