Carcassonne

'I'M growing old, I've sixty years;
I've labored all my life in vain:
In all that time of hopes and fears
I've failed my dearest wish to gain.
I see full well that here below
Bliss unalloyed there is for none.
My prayer will ne'er fulfilment know
I never have seen Carcassonne,
I never have seen Carcassonne!

You see the city from the hill,
It lies beyond the mountains blue,
And yet to reach it one must still
Five long and weary leagues pursue,
And to return as many more!
Ah! had the vintage plenteous grown!
The grape withheld its yellow store!
I shall not look on Carcassonne,
I shall not look on Carcassonne!

'They tell me every day is there
Not more or less than Sunday gay:
In shining robes and garments fair
The people walk upon their way.
One gazes there on castle walls
As grand as those of Babylon,
A bishop and two generals!
I do not know fair Carcassonne,
I do not know fair Carcassonne!

'The vicar's right; he says that we
Are ever wayward, weak and blind,
He tells us in his homily
Ambition ruins all mankind;
Yet could I there two days have spent
While still the autumn sweetly shone,
Ah me! I might have died content
When I had looked on Carcassonne,
When I had looked on Carcassonne!

'Thy pardon, Father, I beseech,
In this my prayer if I append:
One something sees beyond his reach
From childhood to his journey's end.
My wife, our little boy Aignon,
Have traveled even to Narbonne;
My grandchild has seen Perpignon,
And I have not seen Carcassonne,
And I have not seen Carcassonne!'

So crooned one day, close by Limoux,
A peasant double-bent with age;
'Rise up, my friend,' said I; 'with you
I'll go upon this pilgrimage.'
We left next morning his abode,
But (Heaven forgive him) halfway on,
The old man died upon the road;
He never gazed on Carcassonne,
Each mortal has his Carcassonne!

Translated by: by John Reuben Thompson

by Gustave Nadaud

Other poems of NADAUD (1)

Comments (1)

Although there are only two places on Earth named Carcassonne, Carcassonne is more than a place (or even a board game): it is a destination, a seeking of fulfillment, or better yet, a state or mind. The old man died without ever seeing Carcassonne, but he was finally on the path to his ultimate goal, so maybe his soul was satisfied that the journey had begun.