The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday, Washington Folk Festival, Les Mis

The Universal Prayer
By Victor Hugo
Translated by Henry Highton

Come, child, to prayer; the busy day is done,
  A golden star gleams through the dusk of night;
The hills are trembling in the rising mist,
  The rumbling wain looms dim upon the sight;
All things wend home to rest; the roadside trees
Shake off their dust, stirred by the evening breeze.

The sparkling stars gush forth in sudden blaze,
  As twilight open flings the doors of night;
The fringe of carmine narrows in the west,
  The rippling waves are tipped with silver light;
The bush, the path—all blend in one dull gray;
The doubtful traveller gropes his anxious way.

Oh, day! with toil, with wrong, with hatred rife;
  Oh, blessed night! with sober calmness sweet,
The sad winds moaning through the ruined tower,
  The age-worn hind, the sheep's sad broken bleat—
All nature groans opprest with toil and care,
And wearied craves for rest, and love, and prayer.

At eve the babes with angels converse hold,
  While we to our strange pleasures wend our way,
Each with its little face upraised to heaven,
  With folded hands, barefoot kneels down to pray,
At selfsame hour with selfsame words they call
On God, the common Father of them all.

And then they sleep, and golden dreams anon,
  Born as the busy day's last murmurs die,
In swarms tumultuous flitting through the gloom
  Their breathing lips and golden locks descry.
And as the bees o'er bright flowers joyous roam,
Around their curtained cradles clustering come.

Oh, prayer of childhood! simple, innocent;
  Oh, infant slumbers! peaceful, pure, and light;
Oh, happy worship! ever gay with smiles,
  Meet prelude to the harmonies of night;
As birds beneath the wing enfold their head,
Nestled in prayer the infant seeks its bed.


Sunday was the second day of the Washington Folk Festival, which we had to miss last year while moving older son to Seattle. Ocean Orchestra opened the day on the Potomac Palisades Stage with a wonderful set featuring songs I've loved by them for years which will finally be on an album coming out in a few months. We also saw the Celtic fiddle group Maelstrom, some glassblowing, some pottery-making, and a great many crafts!

We'd brought a picnic which we ate at the tables in Glen Echo Park, and we walked over the new bridge on the old trolley tracks. Since it was on the way, we stopped at the Bethesda Co-op to get wine, gnocchi, fruit, sesame sticks, and veggie Italian sausage, plus at Giant to get cat food. Then, after veggie burgers for dinner, we watched Les Misérables (yes, the Jackman/Crowe version, shut up) in honor of the date!

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