Victor Hugo: Translated by Gregory Dowling


Victor Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers.

Gregory Dowling photo


Gregory Dowling is Associate Professor of American Literature at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. His academic publications include a study of American narrative poetry, a guide to Byron’s Venice and a co-edited anthology of American poetry about Venice. His most recent book is a study of the poetry of David Mason (Story Line Press, 2013). His non-academic publications include four thrillers, set in England and Italy, the sightseeing sections of the Time Out Guide to Venice and numerous translations from Italian into English. He is a member of the committee for the new Lord Byron Museum to be opened in Palazzo Guiccioli, Ravenna, in 2016.


Note: All poems translated from the original French into English by Gregory Dowling.


“Demain, dès l’aube”


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.


“At daybreak”


At daybreak, as the fields begin to brighten,

I’ll leave. I know you wait for me, dear heart.

I’ll make my way through woods and over mountain.

I can no longer bear to be apart.

With eyes fixed on my thoughts and pacing slow,

I’ll hear and see no outward noise or sight;

I’ll trudge my lonely way with head bent low,

and grief will make the day just like the night.

I shall not see the gold of dying day

nor watch the distant sails approach the harbour.

When I arrive, upon your grave I’ll lay

a sprig of holly and some flowering heather.




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