Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
the brown of the moss, the unchangeable green of the firs and cypresses
were no more than a backdrop and served only to bring out the moving
tints of this other vegetation that is reborn each spring and dies each
autumn. The splendour of these death throes stretched over the slopes of
the hills like an endless band that followed the water, heading away, still
as beautiful, as rich in lively or tender colours, as moving, towards the
faraway regions of the north where no human eye would fall on them. But
then, from the north, soon came a strong cold wind that seemed like a
definitive condemnation, the cruel end to a reprieve, and presently, the
poor yellow, brown, and red leaves, shaken too hard, encumbered the
earth; the snow covered them and the whitened earth had no further
finery than the immutable green of the dark trees, which triumphed, like
women filled with bitter wisdom, who would have exchanged for eternal
life their right to beauty.]
One of the few scenes where the forest is presented in terms of its beauty
('beauté'), the description is also balanced in its centred composition
and in its insistence on both line and colour. The reader follows the
movement of the spectator's eye down the left bank, to the river, and
the rapids in the centre, then up the right bank, which takes on the geo-
metrical form of an amphitheatre due to the interlocking of its progres-
sively larger components: 'de rocher en coteau, de coteau en colline.'
From these two dimensions, the composition then extends in depth, as
the eye follows the endless progression of the hills and the river to-
wards the north. The great variety and vivacity of the North-American
landscape are emphasized by the number of different trees, seen as
masses of bright colours ('taches jaunes et rouges'), themselves highly
varied ('de mille nuances'). The mobility of the landscape is enhanced
by seeing the colours change over time ('pour quelques semaines') and
by setting them off against a background ('fond') formed by the moss
and evergreens, whose permanent hues are rendered more prominent
by the nominal form ('le brun de la mousse, le vert inchangeable des
sapins et des cyprès'). The band of colours, like the diminishing land
form, leads the eye once more ('s'en allant') along the river towards the
mysterious and inaccessible north. The passage then reverses direction
as it evokes the winter wind emanating from the north and bringing
with it a sense of death ('une condamnation définitive'), witnessed no
longer by the human eye, forced indoors by the rigourous climate, but
only by the evergreens themselves, like so many women aware of the
transcience of beauty. The description is thus marked by the passage of
Search WWH ::

Custom Search