The Boy Beneath the Boughs


The Boy Beneath the Boughs

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A boy torn from his home in the midst of a war. The gut-wrenching fear that leads him to desert. A mother’s sacrifice to save her son’s life. The overwhelming power of death. The Boy Beneath the Boughs is a short story about war and youth and the inexorable march of man towards death.

Civil War Soldier at Rest by James Hope

Inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s poem, Le Dormeur du Val, translated from French to The Sleeper in the Valley. A poem about a young soldier as he ‘rests’ in a tranquil vale…

The Sleeper in the Valley

It’s a green hollow where a river sings
Madly catching white tatters in the grass.
Where the sun on the proud mountain rings:
It’s a little valley, foaming like light in a glass.

A conscript, open-mouthed, his bare head
And bare neck bathed in the cool blue cress,
Sleeps: stretched out, under the sky, on grass,
Pale where the light rains down on his green bed.

Feet in the yellow flags, he sleeps. Smiling
As a sick child might smile, he’s dozing.
Nature, rock him warmly: he is cold.

The scents no longer make his nostrils twitch:
He sleeps in the sunlight, one hand on his chest,
Tranquil. In his right side, there are two red holes.

And in the original French;

Le Dormeur du Val

C’est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D’argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c’est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l’herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

– Arthur Rimbaud, 1870