Music and Poetry at EUCLID: Victor Hugo Demain dès l’Aube (Chanson, English, French, Meaning)

EUCLID has in the past published a well-received book of poetry (in French) entitled Centrafrique Terre Bénie and is now pleased to feature this post on classic French poetry prepared by one of our faculty members. “Demain dès l’Aube” (English: Tomorrow at dawn) by Victor Hugo is often introduced as one of the most famous poems in the French language, and this may well be true. It was recently adapted into music/song by the French group Les Frangines but also by EUCLID’s own “Prof Laurent.” Here is the text of this poem, in French first and then in English, followed by relevant videos:

Demain, dès l’aube – Victor Hugo (French original)

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

Tomorrow, at daybreak, when night begins to lighten,1
I shall leave. For I know you are waiting for me.
I shall go through the woods, I’ll go amidst the mountains.
Staying away from you any more, I cannot.

Stubbornly shall I go, dwelling on gloomy thoughts,
My eyes will remain blind, my ears will hear no noise,
I’ll go sadly and lone, with hands behind my back,
And bright daylight for me will be akin to night.

I shall not give a look at the glorious dusk,
Nor at the distant sails returning to the port,
And, once the journey done, I shall leave on your grave
Branches of holly green and sweet heather in bloom.