Saying “Demain, dès l’aube…” by Victor Hugo

“Demain, dès l’aube…”

This week I am saying a famous poem by the French poet Victor Hugo.

 

Learn poems every week

My children learn poems nearly every week  in their school (this is what they do in France) and I heard this poem and fell in love with it. There are other great poems too that they have learnt and I will share them soon too.

Boating accident

A nightmare for any parent: this poem was written by Hugo for his daughter Leopoldine, who had drowned with her husband in a boating accident. She was 19 years old at the time of her death. The accident happened four years before the poem was written.

You know that this poem is a love poem, but it is not until the second last line that you learn that the object of the poet’s love is dead. It is beautifully put together and controlled and with beautiful sonorities. It sounds very conversational in the first part of the poem. It rolls off the tongue with the simple rhyming scheme but if you look at it you can see that Hugo has cut sentences up and the rhymes happen within them.

A master at work…

Hugo is a powerful lyrical poet. He was so well known in his day that his writing affected the politics of his country. He also drew a huge amount during his life. He is a little like a more contemporary version of William Blake…

PS: I’m very busy at the moment so that is why I have not put up as many poems as the other weeks. Now it will soon be the holiday season so I will have time to learn some more poems.

Have a good Christmas!

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.

3 septembre 1847

Victor Hugo

Taking part in VRRRR Festival 2017

VRRRR Festival 2017

I am one of the eleven artists chosen to take part in the VRRRR Festival 2017. The festival takes place in Toulon in the south of France.

Non stop drawing

For three days the Musée d’art de Toulon will have non stop drawing, music and performance. I’m on my way down there now and really looking forward to taking part. This year is special because it is going to be a retrospective of all of the previous artists. It is also going to be the last edition of the festival for a while, because they are going to renovate the musée d’art de Toulon.

I don’t really know what I am going to do but that is part of the festival !

Berlin – Toulon

Last week I went to Berlin for the first time in my life (late developer). It was an excellent holiday and really good preparation for this festival. Berlin was like a huge open air art school. There is definitely a spirit of experimentation. Art is everywhere, and some of it is so beautiful. Overall it doesn’t matter because there is a lot of space.

I didn’t have any particular ideas when I went there. Travelling is always so fascinating. You are so open and such great things happen.

Image Nation

So here I am travelling again. And for the next three days I’ll be travelling in my imagination. Image Nation.

Exhibiting in Toulon

I will post to my website everyday during the festival and for more informal, off the cuff stuff, you can see my instagram feed or my facebook page.

All the pieces I create during the festival will be exhibited from the 10th until 25th November 2017 in the musée d’art de Toulon. All the pieces will be for sale in Toulon and there are lots of other fabulous artists who will be there so if you are around, come on over. Its free entry, open to all.

Poetry

I managed to learn (more or less) Song of Childhood by Peter Handke last weekend in Berlin. I will do my best to learn a poem for this weekend but I’m sure you’ll all be very understanding if I don’t manage to do it…

Dream State

Now I am going to rest and hopefully enter into a dream state…

Saying Digging by Seamus Heaney

Saying Digging by Seamus Heaney…

This is a poem that I started learning at the end of August. I have been trying to learn a poem a week. It is now mid September.

I don’t really know why but this poem turned out to be so difficult to learn. It is a little longer than the other ones I have learnt so far but I think there is something about the message in the poem. Something about it that I can hear but not really feel.

The poem is one of Heaney’s earlier poems and he is looking at his father and his grandfather and how they were brilliant at digging. The rhymes are beautiful and subtle and it just sounds so natural. It is a beautiful poem. Maybe the core message did not vibrate with me.

Why so difficult?

Some of the reasons that made it so difficult to learn this poem was that there was a lot of stuff going on: it was the end of the holidays and then it was back to school for my young family. I tried a couple of times to record it but nearly everytime I tried to record it I got something wrong. Either when I was saying it or else something happened during the recording.

I have seen great advantages from learning poetry though. I have seen it  in re-learning some of my music and lyrics for the groups I play with.

Why learn?

There was a concert with Onze Onze and it was so easy to relearn all the lyrics after the holidays. In an earlier post I wondered about the utility of learning these poems so I suppose I am getting an answer already.

I can also feel it in my writing. I have continued drawing as well and there are things changing with that too. I will announce the news in relation to drawings on a separate post.

Last night, I was at the birthday party of a friend and he co-celebrated his birthday with his father. We improvised some music with some musician friends. I improvised some lyrics.

What can we say about time passing? About those who have come before? How can we live up to the ones who were before us?

Heaney answers you have to use the tools that you have.

Hope you enjoy this poem and see you soon…

Digging by Seamus Heaney.

Between my finger and my thumb   

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.


Under my window, a clean rasping sound   

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   

My father, digging. I look down


Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   

Bends low, comes up twenty years away   

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   

Where he was digging.


The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked,

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.


By God, the old man could handle a spade.   

Just like his old man.


My grandfather cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner’s bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, going down and down

For the good turf. Digging.


The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.


Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.
Seamus Heaney, “Digging” from Death of a Naturalist. Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney.