Laura reminded me that a CD I was listening to quoted this poem in the liner notes. I believe it was originally published in Les Fleurs du mal. As it is simple enough for me to understand, even with my weak French, I thought I’d post it. I’m working on torturing my translation into rhyme, and am meeting with some success—it is tortured, to be sure. I’m not proposing this for a Sunday session, necessarily… just for our enjoyment.

L’Invitation au voyage

Mon enfant, ma sœur,
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
A 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.

This is my first—and probably last—attempt at translating Baudelaire’s “L’Invitation au voyage” into something approaching English verse.

Invitation to Voyage

My sister, my child,
In dreams soft and mild,
Think of going to live with me there!
To love with light breath,
To love until death
In a land as fair as you are fair!
The sun disguised
In clouded skies
Is to my spirit equally dear
And as mysterious
As your treacherous
Eyes shining through their tears.

There, all is naught but beauty and leisure,
Luxury, order, and exquisite pleasure.

Polished by time,
Furnishings would shine
And decorate our room;
Flowers most rare,
Mixing their airs
In a vague amber perfume,
The rich paneled halls,
The deep mirrored walls,
The Oriental splendor,
All would inspire
And to the soul conspire
In a tongue soft and tender.

There, all is naught but beauty and leisure,
Luxury, order, and exquisite pleasure.

See sleeping boats
In channels and moats
With wandering moods and stations;
It is only to appease
Your least whims and pleas
That they come from every nation.
—The sunlight wanes
And blankets the plains,
The canals, the town complete,
In hyacinth and gold;
A deep sleep enfolds
The earth in a luminous heat.

There, all is naught but beauty and leisure,
Luxury, order, and exquisite pleasure.