by Victor Marie Hugo (1802 - 1885)
Translation © by Peter Low

Sentiers où l'herbe se balance
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Sentiers où l'herbe se balance,
Vallons, côteaux, bois chevelus,
Pourquoi ce deuil et ce silence?
"Celui qui venait ne vient plus!"

Pourquoi personne à ta fenêtre?
Et pourquoi ton jardin sans fleurs?
Ô maison où donc est ton maître?
"Je ne sais pas! il est ailleurs."

Chien, veille au logis! "Pourquoi faire?
La maison est vide à présent!"
Enfant, qui pleures-tu? "Mon père!"
Femme, qui pleures-tu? "L'absent!"

Où donc est-il allé? "Dans l'ombre!"
Flots qui gémissez sur l'écueil,
D'où venez-vous? "Du bagne sombre!"
Et qu'apportez-vous? "Un cerceuil!"

About the headline (FAQ)


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , "The absent one", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 16
Word count: 87

The absent one
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
- You paths of swaying grass,
valleys, hills and leafy woods,
why are you grieving and silent?
- The man who came no longer comes.

- House, why is no one at your window?
And why has your garden no flowers?
Say, where is your master?
- I don't know, somewhere else.

- Dog, guard the dwelling! - What's the point?
The building is empty now.
- For whom are you weeping, child?  - For my father.
- And you, woman? - For the absent one.

- Where has he gone? - Into the shadow.
- And you, waves groaning on the rocks,
where have you come from? - The dark penal colony.
- And what are you carrying? - A coffin!


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2007 by Peter Low, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2007-11-07
Line count: 16
Word count: 122