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L'Automne: Victor Hugo Tribute Portrait

Exhibit Entries

Art: L'Automne: Victor Hugo Tribute Portrait by Artist Patience

When reflecting upon this month's EBSQ "Naked Trees" exhibit theme and casting around for ideas about which to paint, one of the first things that popped into my mind was the poem "L'Automne", by the classic french author and poet, Victor Hugo (1802 - 1885).....

It is a poem for which the words have been burned into my memory ever since the 7th grade, when, as part of a class project, we students were assigned to learn a French poem, in order to recite in front of the rest of our class.  I can well remember how this struck terrible fear and dread deep into my 12-year-old heart.  Not the memorization part of the assignment so much, but the perfectly awful recitation part.   Given that I was painfully shy as a child, and absolutely despised anything that even remotely smacked of public speaking (still do in fact!), I couldn't imagine a worse thing to be forced to do.  I can still remember how uncomfortable it felt to sit in class on recitation day, anxiously awaiting my name to be called -- and then when it was my turn, trudging up to the front of the classroom (as if to the gallows) in order to recite my little French poem, my voice barely above a whisper, to all my fellow students and Madame Teacher.  Indeed, this very poem....:


L'aube est moins claire, l'air moins chaud, le ciel moins pur ;
Le soir brumeux ternit les astres de l'azur.
Les longs jours sont passes ; les mois charmants finissent.
Helas ! voici deja les arbres qui jaunissent !
Comme le temps s'en va d'un pas precipite !
Il semble que nos yeux, qu'eblouissait l'ete,
Ont a peine eu le temps de voir les feuilles vertes.

Pour qui vit comme moi les fenetres ouvertes,
L'automne est triste avec sa bise et son brouillard,
Et l'ete qui s'enfuit est un ami qui part.
Adieu, dit cette voix qui dans notre ame pleure,
Adieu, ciel bleu ! beau ciel qu'un souffle tiede effleure !
Voluptes du grand air, bruit d'ailes dans les bois,
Promenades, ravins pleins de lointaines voix,
Fleurs, bonheur innocent des ames apaisees,
Adieu, rayonnements ! aubes ! chansons ! rosees !

Puis tout bas on ajoute : o jours benis et doux !
Helas ! vous reviendrez ! me retrouverez-vous ?

~Victor Hugo

Well, apparently we can conclude from his writing that Mr. Hugo did not much care for the season of Autumn....!  This poem is all about how dreary the Fall season is, what with it's cold temps, biting wind, dull grey skies, and shorter days.  In it, he expresses just how much he already misses the charming months, and how summer feels like a friend who leaves him.  Because, Alas!  The trees here have already turned yellow....!  Farewell, all the lovely things of Summer....!    To Mr. Hugo, the very thought of "Naked Trees" was surely a cold and barren one (a little like I felt inside at the thought of having to recite his poem in front of my peers....!).

Sadly, I managed to lose most of my French over these ensuing decades, but I can still remember this poem.  And, looking back, I thank Madame Teacher for forcing me to get a little out of my comfort zone in her classroom all those years ago, because as agonizing as it was for me at the time, in retrospect I can appreciate how positive and character-building it was for me to have to go through all that.  I also thank Mr. Victor Hugo for all his wonderful writings that we still enjoy to this day -- not only his poetry, but also his much beloved masterpiece tales, like the "The Hunchback of Natre Dame", and "Les Miserables".  This painting/entry, "L'Automne: Victor Hugo" is my own little personal tribute... to it all.

Detail Image

Detail Image for art L'Automne: Victor Hugo Tribute Portrait

Victor Hugo Portrait


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