The Book of the Homeless/The Exile
[ TRANSLATION ]
Bitter our fate, that may not bear away
On the harsh winds and through the alien spray
Sheaves of our fields and fruit from the warm wall,
The rose that reddens at the morning's call,
Nor aught of all wherewith the turning year
Our doorway garlanded, from green to sere.…
But since the ash is cold upon the hearth.
And dumb the birds in garden and in garth.
Since none shall come again, of all our loves,
Back to this roof that crooned with nesting doves.
Now let us bid farewell to all our dead.
And that dear corner of earth where they are laid.
And where in turn it had been good to lay
Our kindred heads on the appointed day.
Weep not, O springs and fountains, that we go.
And thou, dear earth, the earth our footsteps know,
Weep not, thou desecrated, shamed and rent.
Consumed with fire and with blood-shed spent.
Small strength have they that hunt us from thy fold
To loosen love's indissoluble hold,
And brighter than the flames about thy pyre
Our exiled faith shall spring for thee, and higher.
We shall return. Let Time reverse the glass.
Homeless and scattered from thy face we pass.
Through rain and tempest flying from our doors.
On seas unfriendly swept to stranger shores.
But, O you friends unknown that wait us there.
We ask no pity, though your bread we share,
For he who, flying from the fate of slaves
With brow indignant and with empty hand,
Has left his house, his country and his graves,
Comes like a Pilgrim from a Holy Land.
Receive him thus, if in his blood there be
One drop of Belgium's immortality.
de l' Académie Française