Would you could come

Gary Winfield - Faces in a Crowd III - 13949280859_209a97dd37_k.jpg

Would you could come
     along with me,
How happy I’d be
     —and we together!

Loving ever
     at our leisure
Till the end
     —and we together!

But now wherever I turn
I see your face again
—in crowds,
     and worn by solitary men—
Turn where I will
     I see you everywhere!

Would you had stayed
     with us, with me,
And things were as they’d been

Or would you’d come along
     with me—

And we’d have time at journey’s end
To spend our lives as we were meant:
With all our beautiful things arrayed
And everyone happy, no one sad.



An extremely free translation of the first stanza of Baudelaire’s L’Invitation au voyage (1857), from his book Fleurs du Mal. Image: Faces in a Crowd III by Gary Winfield, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license. A bunch of translations are available here.


L’invitation au voyage

Mon enfant, ma soeur,
Songe à la douceur
D’aller là-bas vivre ensemble!
Aimer à loisir,
Aimer et mourir
Au pays qui te ressemble!
Les soleils mouillés
De ces ciels brouillés
Pour mon esprit ont les charmes
Si mystérieux
De tes traîtres yeux,
Brillant à travers leurs larmes.

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.


1 thought on “Would you could come

  1. I ‘did’ French poetry for Advanced Level here in the UK (16-18 years) and never quite ‘got’ Baudelaire, Leconte de Lisle and all the rest. I keep meaning to come back to it all and discovering what I as a callow daydreamy youth missed a half century ago, and your piece will — hopefully — make me redouble my efforts. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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