Carcassonne

Gustave Nadaud

English Translation

 

'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!

 

 

Original French

 

Je me fais vieux, j’ai soixante ans,

J’ai travaillé toute ma vie,

Sans avoir, durant tout ce temps.

Pu satisfaire mon envie.

Je vois bien qu’il n’est ici-bas

De bonheur complet pour personne.

Mon vœu ne s’accomplira pas:

Je n’ai jamais vu Carcassonne!

 

On voit la ville de là-haut,

Derrière les montagnes bleues;

Mais, pour y parvenir, il faut,

Il faut faire cinq grandes lieues;

En faire autant pour revenir!

Ah ! si la vendange était bonne!

Le raisin ne veut pas jaunir :

Je ne verrai pas Carcassonne !

 

On dit qu’on y voit tous les jours,

Ni plus ni moins que les dimanches,

Des gens s’en aller sur le cours,

En habits neufs, en robes blanches.

On dit qu’on y voit des châteaux

Grands comme ceux de Babylone,

Un évèque et deux généraux!

Je ne connais pas Carcassonne!

 

Le vicaire a cent fois raison:

C’est des imprudents que nous sommes.

Il disait dans son oraison

Que l’ambition perd les hommes.

Si je pouvais trouver pourtant

Deux jours sur la fin de l’automne…

Mon Dieu ! que je mourrais content

Après avoir vu Carcassonne!

 

Mon Dieu! mon Dieu! pardonnez-moi

Si ma prière vous offense;

On voit toujours plus haut que soi,

En vieillesse comme en enfance.

Ma femme, avec mon fils Aignan,

A voyagé jusqu’à Narbonne;

Mon filleul a vu Perpignan,

Et je n’ai pas vu Carcassonne!

 

Ainsi chantait, près de Limoux,

Un paysan courbé par l’âge.

Je lui dis: « Ami, levez-vous;

Nous allons faire le voyage.

Nous partîmes le lendemain;

Mais (que le bon Dieu lui pardonne!)

Il mourut à moitié chemin:

 

Il n’a jamais vu Carcassonne!

Carcassonne is a magical medieval town in Southwest France. During the Albigensian Crusade it was a stronghold of the Cathars. Later, even the Black Prince did not dare assault its mighty walls. It was only ever taken once - by treachery. Its walls were restored (over-restored?) to their present, remarkable state by VIollet le Duc in the nineteenth century. 


Main Location:

Carcassonne, France