Poems of Léon Trousset, written in his own hand.

Translation by Frederick Kluck, follows. Word Doc

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Disheartened

~~~

I

Sometimes the pale and weary voyager
Lies down beside the road, his feet bruised and bleeding,
And looking toward the horizon, is filled with doubt.
His brow is worn by the passing of the years.
He is drowsy; one would say he is dozing.
The evening shadows are already deepening.
"Come! Let us continue on our way!" says he,
Grasping his walking stick with the little strength remaining to him.
"I have far to go." He moves on, trembling, faltering,
Then falls to the ground, and it seems each breath will be his last.
And yet the evening star glows softly in the night sky,
And at the water's edge, Zephyr murmurs!
"Nature, indifferent to all mortal men,
Tell, me, what are our tears to you? You prefer laughter.
Everything dies and everything is reborn; each hour is followed by another,
Just as the waves, blown by the wind
Crash on the shore one after another.
I am like that traveler; my way has been hard.
I am worn out and, above all, know not where I go.
I stop and say to God who hears all,
"I would like to sleep, never to awake."

~~~ Tucson, August, 1869

 

II

Too heavy is the burden of suffering I must endure.
Alone, lost, without a country, friendless, far from family,
Like debris tossed about by the waves and the wind,
Encountering, alas, only cold indifference.
For some time now my heart has grown accustomed to suffering.
It has been hardened by contact with my fellow men,
Just as a blacksmith's hands are hardened by working with iron.
"And yet, sweet friendship, a mistress' love,
Empty words that we found in those works we read in our youth,
I have surely searched for you on the sad path of life,
And have found only lies and scorn."
I have preserved these youthful dreams in my breast like a hidden treasure;
There they remain, ready to come to life.
Sometimes, tired of this world below,
I take pleasure in imagining a God in a purer world,
A heaven shining through the blue of the sky.
Oh! To be able to believe in a God veiled in mystery!
How I long for the faith of our fathers!
But my mind is incapable of understanding the reason for suffering and death.

Thus, when from such heights of thought
I turn again to contemplate my present state,
Realizing that I am still alone, I cry out, "Cursed!
Cursed am I who feel the pull of the grave,
With no ray of hope to guide me.
I, who perceive nothing but night and funereal shadows,
And in my heart, a night that is darker still.
Ah! And yet, unknown God, whoever you may be,
Allow a cry of pain to rise up to the heavens.
Yes, allow my voice, weakened by suffering
To implore that you grant me, for a single instant, a ray of hope.
If we were created by you for other ends,
See, my soul will bend to your unknowable will;
But, if you have created us only to watch us suffer,
Put an end to my miserable existence. Oh! God!
Let me die."

Mazatlan, April 10, 1874

 

III

As the day draws to a close, I ascend to the summit of a mountain,
Where, deep in thought, I sit, holding my head in my hands,
And, looking toward the horizon, I follow a wisp of a cloud
As it disappears in the distance.
Oh! far, far away, does Hope exist there?
Is there some new country that has yet to be discovered?
Oh! There! A place where suffering is felt less intensely?
Where my heart could open itself up to love once more?
Alas! No! every place on this earth is the same.
Light and shadow, night and day,
Everywhere the door to happiness is closed to us.
Everywhere we are haunted by the bitter laughter of disgust.
"Oh! Seas! Oh! Fields! Oh! Woods! You!
Bare mountain peaks,
Rocks on which the fury of the waves expires,
Streams which murmur in tranquil green meadows,
Dark pines which blanket the snow-covered mountains,
You, golden-tinged clouds which lighten the dark sky,
Birds I watch as they fly home to their nests at nightfall,
You, limitless heavens and you, numberless stars,
I feel only bitterness and sadness when I look upon you.
Ah! If only you could soon be hidden from me,
You who answer me with nothing but silence and disdain,
I wish the hour of my death were here,
So that I would not have to endure the pain of seeing you another day."

Oh! Rather let the waves born of storms
Rise up to the heavens, only to fall back with greater force.
Let the earth open up and let fire engulf us,
Destroying, consuming the universe for all time.

~~~ San Francisco, November 17, 1876
Léon Trousset

 

Translated by Frederick Kluck in 2006, Associate Professor Emeritus, The University of Texas at El Paso