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Chapter 39

WHAT AN ORATOR IS


Once mounted upon this tribune, the man who was there was no longer a man: he was that mysterious workman whom we see, at twilight, walking with long strides across the furrows, and flinging into space, with an imperial gesture, the germs, the seeds, the future harvests, the wealth of the approaching summer, bread, life.

He goes to and fro, he returns; his hand opens and empties itself, fills itself and empties itself again and again; the sombre plain is stirred, the deeps of nature open, the unknown abyss of creation begins its work; the waiting dews fall, the spear of wild grain quivers and reflects that the sheaf of wheat will succeed it; the sun, hidden behind the horizon, loves what that workman is doing, and knows that his rays will not be wasted. Sacred and mysterious work!

The orator is the sower. He takes from his heart his instincts, his passions, his beliefs, his sufferings, his dreams, his ideas, and throws them, by handfuls, into the midst of men. Every brain is to him an open furrow. One word dropped from the tribune always takes root somewhere, and becomes a thing. You say, "Oh! it is nothing--it is a man talking," and you shrug your shoulders. Shortsighted creatures! it is a future which is germinating, it is a new world bursting into bloom.


Victor Hugo