Novel Translation

The Greatest Showman – Chapter 29

Chapter 29 – Was There Nothing

After a long day on the set, the time they are spending while being on hold was too long and they have no other entertainment, so the guitar James brought was the only option. However, while almost everyone has shown their skills over the past few months, Renly has always just watched from the sidelines and not participated personally. Rami thought Renly didn’t know how to play the guitar at all.

Renly shrugged gently, “It’s just an occasional recreation.”

Holding the guitar in his arms, Renly adjusted his sitting position slightly to find a more comfortable position, then his right hand gently traced the strings, one after another, playing without making any particular melody, he simply liked the sound of the different notes popping out.

Learning piano as a child, relying on the ear to identify different keys and pitches, was a very basic lesson. Those lessons were not only boring, but also required talent, for a child it was really a constraint, or even a kind of torture, on the surface it was the bright and shiny aristocratic life as a child genius, but behind all of that was an unimaginable effort; but fortunately, Renly in his two lives was very happy to learn new things, rigid and silent childhood life has become a kind of enjoyment for him.

Music is really a wonderful thing, it is very different from acting, just relying on a limited number of notes, through different combinations, one can express different emotions, meanings and stories; what is more interesting is that the same melody, in different occasions, for different listeners’ ears, can have different meanings.

The rigid strings beneath his fingers stimulated the thin layer of calluses on his fingertips, the clear and pleasant notes jumped in the moonlight, exploring the different dimensions of the world in the darkness of the night, as Renly tried to find the bridge between him and Eugene, tried to recall the contemplations and repercussions of the afternoon scene, tried to find the answers about war, about faith and about life.

At first it was just scattered notes, not in order, but gradually, the notes became a chain, melodious and quiet, soothing and calm, but this melody is entangled with a faint loneliness and sadness, as if one can see the endless ice field, the vast expanse, not a trace of other colors could be seen, even the black and green were swallowed by the boundless white, the ground and the sky seem to have no distinction between each other, no horizon can be seen in any direction, the whole world merged into one, leaving only endless whiteness.

The cold that slowly penetrated into the bones calmed down all the noise, and it seemed that even breathing had lost its meaning. He could not help but close his eyes, enjoying the moment of peace, as if he had jumped into the sea and was sinking slowly after giving up his struggle, the moment of silence that was so extreme, so dark that it was wonderfully addictive.

Rami opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but was afraid to break this beautiful peaceful moment, his eyes fell on Renly’s long, well-defined fingers, it was difficult to imagine, just a minute ago, the guitar was in his own hands, playing broken pop music, but now it has come to life, just the collision of fingertips and strings, actually conjured up such a stunning melody.

“What song is this?” The voice next to him broke the silence, and everyone sitting around looked toward the source of the voice, casting angry glances, as if condemning the other party’s lack of understanding. Carl was besieged by so many eyes, holding a bottle of beer and not knowing what to do, he could only shrug, “I haven’t heard the song, I was just curious what it would sound like if it had lyrics.”

Despite being a director, Carl has actually made guest appearances in a number of TV shows, so he is relatively close to the actors. After hearing Carl’s question, everyone turned their eyes to Renly again, because it was a question that everyone was curious about. This melody, which had never been heard before, easily caught everyone’s ears.

The corners of Renly’s mouth curved in a shallow arc, and his faint smile had a hint of warmth, in the darkness of the haze and the thickness of the blossoming faint light, the tips of his eyebrows tinged with a layer of cream-colored glow, slowly outlining the sparse contours of the eyebrows, serene and beautiful.

Slightly hanging down his head, through the starlight of the sky to look at his fingertips under the gently quivering strings, the melody in his mind slowly flowed, as if he could hear the wind whistling above the silent icy plains, and then, Renly softly hummed, “Was there nothing but the hush of night??”

As soon as he opened his mouth, a dense goose bumps appeared on Rami’s arm, and the loving and indistinct voice gently plucked his heartstrings, and he couldn’t help but shiver.

“Had a boat; don’t remember where.

Did you flee from what was said and seen?

Truth’s not true under the light of lies.

Raise your sword and shield.”

The words that were as ethereal and dazzling as poetry collided with a dazzling light between the words of the melodies, touching Rami’s heart in a genuine and warm way. Slowly, the cool air surrounded him and isolated him individually, as if no one else existed anymore and there was no more meaning, and he was left alone in the whole world, with only the moving voice humming in his ears.

“Was there more than just the prose of night?

Had a grave; don’t remember where.

Beaten down awhile I lift up my prayer.

Broken promises have set the snare; both sincere and not.”

Lies and truth, trust and betrayal, vows and parting, birth and death …… have nothing to do with sincerity or lack of it, they are two sides of the same coin, eternally dependent on each other, illusion and reality cannot be distinguished from each other, like sailing in the deep night sea, quietly moving forward, mapping, trying to find a lighthouse to guide their way forward but in the end they stumble into the iceberg, getting bruised and battered, and finally, forgetting where they are.

“Was there nothing but the blessed nigh?

Had some gold but don’t remember where.

When does faith lift up its head so high?

Oh, my Lord, won’t you please tell me why faith bestows power?”

When he closed his eyes, hot tears dampened his cold cheeks. Following the footsteps of God, following the guidance of faith, resolutely walking forward, he still has no regrets for the thorns and bumps along the way. But looking at the devastated, corpse-strewn, cold world, he suddenly began to be at a loss. The memories of the past, the friends of the past, the blood of the past, the persistence of the past… the faith of the past are scattered all over the world.

Rami suddenly couldn’t help but cry, he finally understood Renly’s inner screams, that silent crying, from Eugene, but also from the depths of his own soul crying for help.

In this war where there is no victory or defeat, no goal, and no justice, everything they once firmly believed in came crashing down, looking at their bloodied hands, dragging their heavy, clumsy feet, but not knowing where they should go and where they could arrive.

“Was there nothing but the hush of night?”

It was a murmur from the depths of the soul, is the night nothing but silence? Is war nothing but death? Is faith nothing but self-deception? Is perseverance nothing but struggling alone? Is the world nothing but nothing but an empty place?

The boundless and endless loneliness that permeates every note made Rami unable to extricate himself. Opening his eyes, the sky full of stars that seemed to be dancing, accompanying the cold and soft melody spilling down, like a waterfall triggering the energy of the whole night, the loneliness in the midst of the noise was dragging his ankles, falling, falling, falling continuously, falling into the bottomless abyss, without end.

“Had a treasure but I don’t know where.

Did you flee from what was said and seen?

Yes, the good was not without the bad.

Raise your sword and shield.

A part of the soul seemed to be left behind, forever on the battlefield, forever on the blood-soaked land, forever in the world permeated by death.

Turning his head, Rami truly understood the meaning of Renly’s performance this afternoon. It was a farewell, a tender farewell, where Eugene left a fragment of his soul forever, along with the woman’s eternal rest, he could never become whole again, even if he could survive the battle, even if he could escape from the hands of disease, but, ultimately, Eugene was no longer the same Eugene.

“Yes, the good was not without the bad.

Raise up your sword and shield.”

“Ernest Hemingway once said that the world is a beautiful place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part.” This line comes from the classic movie, “Se7en”, Renly’s mind suddenly remembered this sentence. Perhaps, this was the motivation for Eugene to continue to live, but also the motivation for Eugene to get rid of the nightmares.

Eugene may have spent his life, like Tim, not understanding what war really is, or even what faith really is, but they continued to fight for it. Even if the end was not in sight.

Renly’s fingers stopped, letting the afterglow vibrate gently in the air, enjoying the moment of peace, as if he could clearly hear the murmur of the wind and the playful laughter of the stream, even the playfulness of the stars was clear. It was such a pure and beautiful moment.

Wiping away the messy tears on his cheeks, Rami, however, did not feel the least bit ashamed because he wasn’t the only one, the embarrassed faces next to him were much worse than his, and even Carl, who was standing right next to him, had turned away. This is the second time in a day.

“Renly, what is the name of this song you just performed?” Rami couldn’t help but soften his voice, as if a feather was falling.

“′Was There Nothing?'” Renly thought for a moment, then said the name.

But since the sentence ended with a question mark, Rami couldn’t help but freeze and confirm it once again, “‘Was There Nothing?'”

Renly nodded and gave an affirmative answer, “‘Was There Nothing?'”

Note: Was There Nothing – Asgeir

T/N – If you want to listen to the song – Ásgeir – Was There Nothing? – YouTube


T/N – This is a really, really good chapter.

4 thoughts on “The Greatest Showman – Chapter 29”

  1. This novel is truly such a gem with its metaphorical questions and how its deals with the reality of the world? They are just acting, but it is so real. And I am so going to listen to this song.

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