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Three English Translations of Baudelaire’s “L’invitation au voyage”

Invitation to the Voyage

My child, my sister,
Think of the rapture
Of living together there!
Of loving at will,
Of loving till death,
In the land that is like you!
The misty sunlight
Of those cloudy skies
Has for my spirit the charms,
So mysterious,
Of your treacherous eyes,
Shining brightly through their tears.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

Gleaming furniture,
Polished by the years,
Will ornament our bedroom;
The rarest flowers
Mingling their fragrance
With the faint scent of amber,
The ornate ceilings,
The limpid mirrors,
The oriental splendor,
All would whisper there
Secretly to the soul
In its soft, native language.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

See on the canals
Those vessels sleeping.
Their mood is adventurous;
It’s to satisfy
Your slightest desire
That they come from the ends of the earth.
— The setting suns
Adorn the fields,
The canals, the whole city,
With hyacinth and gold;
The world falls asleep
In a warm glow of light.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

Invitation to the Voyage

My daughter, my sister,
Consider the vista
Of living out there, you and I,
To love at our leisure,
Then, ending our pleasure,
In climes you resemble to die.
There the suns, rainy-wet,
Through clouds rise and set
With the selfsame enchantment to charm me
That my senses receive
From your eyes, that deceive,
When they shine through your tears to disarm me.

There’ll be nothing but beauty, wealth, pleasure,
With all things in order and measure.

With old treasures furnished,
By centuries burnished,
To gleam in the shade of our chamber,
While the rarest of flowers
Vaguely mix through the hours
Their own with the perfume of amber:
Each sumptuous ceiling,
Each mirror revealing
The wealth of the East, will be hung
So the part and the whole
May speak to the soul
In its native, indigenous tongue.

There’ll be nothing but beauty, wealth, pleasure,
With all things in order and measure.

On the channels and streams
See each vessel that dreams
In its whimsical vagabond way,
Since its for your least whim
The oceans they swim
From the ends of the night and the day.
The sun, going down, With its glory will crown
Canals, fields, and cities entire,
While the whole earth is rolled
In the jacinth and gold
Of its warming and radiant fire.

There’ll be nothing but beauty, wealth, pleasure
With all things in order and measure.

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

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.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)

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