‘Demain, dès l’aube’ by Victor Hugo

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.

 I love this poem — it’s so sad and beautiful. I thought I would have a go at translating it because every time I read a translation of a French poem that I really love, I feel like I can do better. This one was no different when I looked up translations. I’m not saying that I’m a brilliant translator — far from it — it’s probably just down to personal preference. Anyway, here it is:

Tomorrow, at dawn, as the countryside pales,
I shall go. You see, I know you’ll be waiting.
I shall go by the forest, I shall go by the mountain.
I cannot be apart from you any longer.

I shall walk with my eyes fixed upon my thoughts,
Seeing nothing about me, hearing no sounds,
Alone, unknown, my back slouched, hands crossed,
Sad. And day for me will be like the night.

I shall watch neither the golden evening descend, 
Nor the far-off sails coming in to Harfleur,
And when I arrive, I shall place upon your grave, 
A bouquet of green holly and flowering heather. 

Reviewed by Emily Ardagh