Fourteen years ago, when I was a teenager in high school, studying came easy to me. And by that time I had learned that when I repeated what the teacher would teach me, I would pass. Looking back on it, the thrill for me was more in doing this as good as possible than that I really wanted to learn the things they were teaching. I know this is not what teachers would like to hear, but for most classes this is the truth. Which I think a lot of people will (secretly) recognize. So in all honesty, not much really resonated. However, you do just have those few moments that you can really recall as if they were yesterday, as if they are still a part of your life. As I am letting go of that feeling of having to learn something just to repeat it and letting in the joy of learning because you want to, I was taken back to one of those moments. For me, one of those moments was when I was invited to study French literature (maybe invited is an overstatement, it was more forced to do so).
Up to that point, I was quite fond of the French language but the dots had not connected yet for me. So I liked being creative with words and sentences, yet I was not feeling it. Then, one day, my teacher introduced us to French literature. Each class, we would hear about the background stories, about the writers and we would translate every poem, word for word, sentence by sentence. During that period of my life, I was reading a lot and I just loved good stories. So this was like a treat to me. Then, one day, we stumbled upon this amazing poem. I remember sitting in class, translating the poem sentence by sentence with the whole class and feeling that something within me was shifting, changing and getting excited. The way it was written, it was so playful. Both the words as the use of language, and the metaphors. I finally started to see what the French language had to offer (except for me being able to order a French baguette at the local boulangerie, and still being able to say le syndicat d’initiative). The storyline was so intensely beautiful. As the poem goes on the writer takes you on his journey to see a loved one. And he does so magnificently. The hopefulness of a reunion with his loved one and the lengths through which the writer goes through to get to her. It felt hopeful, I could see myself walking there alongside him. Even better, I could see myself being him. As if it was my journey, walking in the woods and the mountains, and not stopping until I am there. To me the letters danced on the paper and it is then and there that my love for the French language started to grow more and more. Then, finally, we got to that last paragraph, and we started to translate those last two sentences. And they hit me, they hit me hard and deeply, it really touched my soul. I never forgot the text. It just stuck. Up until today I haven’t figured out why this poem touched me so deeply. But it just did. Now, every once in a while the poem pops into my head and it doesn’t let go for a while. And as I woke up tuesday morning that is exactly what happened. My first thought of the day was the first paragraph of this poem. I got out of bed, looked it up, started reciting the whole poem and as I hit the last sentence I feel the tears leaving the corners of my eyes and moving along my cheeks. Deeply touched once again.
I still have not figured out why this poem moves me (I really hope I will someday) but it does, and it is too good not to be shared with the world yet again…
Merci pour enrichir mon vie avec cet poème magnifique!
P.S. The loved one is his daughter..
P.P.S. See the poem of Victor Hugo below (the original in French and the English and Dutch translation)…
P.P.P.S. Don’t forget to enjoy!
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,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.
Je ne regarderai ni l’or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et, quand j’arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.
Tomorrow, at dawn, at the moment when the land whitens,
I will leave. You see, I know that you are waiting for me.
I will go through the forest, I will go across mountains.
I cannot stay away from you any longer.
I will walk eyes fixed on my thoughts,
Without seeing anything outside, without hearing a noise,
Alone, unknown, back hunched, hands crossed,
Sorrowed, as the day for me is like the night.
I will watch neither the evening gold fall,
Nor the faraway sails descending upon Harfleur.
And when I arrive, I will put on your grave
A bouquet of green holly and heather in bloom.
Voor dag en dauw
Voor dag en dauw, als licht al aanbleekt op het lover,
Ga ik op pad. Ik weet wel dat jij op mij wacht.
Ik trek de bossen door en trek de bergen over,
Ik heb te vaak ver van jou mijn dagen doorgebracht.
Ik ga, ik hoor geen geluiden, kijk niet om me heen
En houd mijn ogen slechts gericht op mijn gedachten:
Een onbekende, met gekruiste handen, krom, alleen,
Verdrietig, en mijn dagen zullen zijn als nachten.
Ik kijk niet hoe het avondgoud wordt ingebed
Noch naar de zeilen die Harfleur haast binnenglijden;
En eenmaal bij je grafsteen leg ik een boeket
Van groene hulst vermengd met bloesemende heide.