Who goes beside you into the forest on the darkest night ? In Victor Hugo’s poem, « À quoi songeaient les deux cavaliers dans la forêt », (What Two Horsemen Were Thinking in the Forest), the narrator says “ by my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow. ”
We all have shadows, even at night in the dark forest. You may call yours by another name : your invisible friend. Your conscience, your soul, maybe even your complementary ego. Your shadow could have a name, like Hermann. Or your shadow could be your perfume. This is your companion. You can argue with your companion, you can challenge your companion, you can test the boundaries of your own attitudes. You can debate the finer points of existence. But you cannot lose this companion, not ever. This is your alternative self. As you move through life and contemplate its meaning, you ask unanswerable questions. When you’re overwhelmed with uncertainties, look to your shadow. Maybe you’ll get a response. Maybe not. But at least you’ll have an interesting conversation.
The night was so black and the forest very dark.
By my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow.
Our horses were galloping. Guardians of god !
The clouds in the sky looked like marble.
The stars flew through the branches of the trees
Like a swarm of firebirds.
I am full of regrets. Broken by suffering,
Hermann’s deep spirit is empty of hope.
I am full of regrets. Oh my loves, sleep!
Yet, while traveling through the green solitude,
Hermann says to me: “ I am thinking about half-opened graves. ”
And I say to him : “ I think of closed tombs. ”
He looks ahead : I Iook back,
Our horses gallop across the clearing ;
The wind brings to us from far away the sound of the angelus bell ;
he says : “ I think of those who are afflicted by existence,
Of those who are, those who live ”. “ Me, ” I say to him,
“ I think of those who are no longer ! ”
The fountains are singing. What do the fountains say ?
The oaks are murmuring. What do the oaks murmur ?
The bushes are whispering like old friends.
Hermann says to me, “ The living never doze.
At this moment, some eyes cry, other eyes are awake. ”
And I say to him, “ Alas ! Other eyes are asleep ! ”
Hermann then continues. “ Misfortune, that’s life.
The dead no longer suffer. They are happy ! I envy
Their graves where grass grows, where trees shed their leaves.
Because the night caresses them with soft flames ;
Because the sky beams peace upon all their souls
In all the tombs at the same time !
And I say to him, “ Be quiet! Respect the black mystery !
The dead are lying in the ground under our feet.
The dead, these are the hearts that once loved you
This is your expired angel ! This is your father and your mother !
Do not dismay them through bitter irony.
As in a dream, they hear our voices. ”