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Three Trees

Posted by clissold345 on August 23, 2007

Marcel feels profound bliss at the sight of three trees. He’s had this feeling occasionally in the past. The feeling is so vivid that his life seems insignificant without it. He’s unable to grasp the meaning behind the feeling and he imagines the trees telling him off for missing an opportunity that will never return.

The passage I’m discussing above is from In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower:

Je vis les arbres s’éloigner en agitant leurs bras désespérés, semblant me dire : ce que tu n’apprends pas de nous aujourd’hui, tu ne le sauras jamais. Si tu nous laisses retomber au fond de ce chemin d’où nous cherchions à nous hisser jusqu’à toi, toute une partie de toi-même que nous t’apportions tombera pour jamais au néant. (Page 195 of volume 4 of the Gallimard edition, Paris, 1946-47.)

Moncrieff translates as follows:

I watched the trees gradually withdraw, waving their despairing arms, seeming to say to me: “What you fail to learn from us to-day, you will never know. If you allow us to drop back into the hollow of this road from which we sought to raise ourselves up to you, a whole part of yourself which we were bringing to you will fall for ever into the abyss.”


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