Charles Baudelaire: “L’Invitation au Voyage”

sailboats at sunset

Photo credit: Sailboat at sunset by villoks

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.

Des meubles luisants,
Polis par les ans,
Décoreraient notre chambre;
Les plus rares fleurs
Mêlant leurs odeurs
Aux vagues senteurs de l’ambre,
Les riches plafonds,
Les miroirs profonds,
La splendeur orientale,
Tout y parlerait
À l’âme en secret
Sa douce langue natale.

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

Vois sur ces canaux
Dormir ces vaisseaux
Dont l’humeur est vagabonde;
C’est pour assouvir
Ton moindre désir
Qu’ils viennent du bout du monde.
–Les soleils couchants
Revêtent les champs,
Les canaux, la ville entière,
D’hyacinthe et d’or;
Le monde s’endort
Dans une chaude lumière.

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

Charles Baudelaire


INVITATION TO THE VOYAGE
Think, would it not be
Sweet to live with me
All alone, my child, my love? —
Sleep together, share
All things, in that fair
Country you remind me of?
Charming in the dawn
There, the half-withdrawn
Drenched, mysterious sun appears
In the curdled skies,
Treacherous as your eyes
Shining from behind their tears.

There, restraint and order bless
Luxury and voluptuousness.

We should have a room
Never out of bloom:
Tables polished by the palm
Of the vanished hours
Should reflect rare flowers
In that amber-scented calm;
Ceilings richly wrought,
Mirrors deep as thought,
Walls with eastern splendor hung,
All should speak apart
To the homesick heart
In its own dear native tongue.

There, restraint and order bless
Luxury and voluptuousness.

See, their voyage past,
To their moorings fast,
On the still canals asleep,
These big ships; to bring
You some trifling thing
They have braved the furious deep.
–Now the sun goes down,
Tinting dyke and town,
Field, canal, all things in sight,
Hyacinth and gold;
All that we behold
Slumbers in its ruddy light.

There, restraint and order bless
Luxury and voluptuousness.

Translation by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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~ by matt on 14 January 2008.

6 Responses to “Charles Baudelaire: “L’Invitation au Voyage””

  1. This is a horrendously unfaithful translation.

  2. i appreciate your comment Matt. “Unfaithful” to what?? thanks, matt

  3. This translation is not what i got at all. Seems like they added anything that sounded good to go with the meaning of the poem

  4. Thanks Jarmeisha. As you can see from the comment thread, others share your view. As a translator (with no facility in French–I chose Millay’s translation because I liked it as a poem), I’m very interested in these reactions–can you specify some places where you feel Millay’s translation has lost Baudelaire’s poem? For example, is it her diction somehow out of date in ways that Baudelaire’s French is not? What does Baudelaire’s work mean to you, and how is Millay not achieving that for you?

    Any elaboration you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for visiting and please do return! matt

  5. Try this translation, if you like

  6. […] avaiable online. I refer you to a very meaningful versions by J.K. Ellis, William Aggeler and Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose creative translations add immensely to one’s undestanding of the […]

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