Barcarolle

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Barcarolle
by Théophile Gautier, translated by Frederic Cesar De Sumichrast and Agnes Lee
From the French Barcarolle.

Tell me, beautiful maiden,
    Whither wouldst thou away,
To what shore blossom-laden,
    Through the wind and the spray?

Oars of ivory are gleaming,
Silken banners are streaming,
    Golden-bright is the prow.
I’ve a page fair and minion,
For a sail a saint's pinion,
    And for ballast a bough.

Tell me, beautiful maiden,
    Whither wouldst thou away,
To what shore blossom-laden,
    Through the wind and the spray?

Tell me, what is thy pleasure,
A wide ocean to measure?
    A far island to claim?
Wreaths of snow-flowers to fashion,
Or to linger with passion
    Near the flower of the flame?

Tell me, beautiful maiden,
    Whither wouldst thou away,
To what shore blossom-laden,
    Through the wind and the spray?

“To the land ever vernal,
Where love liveth eternal,
    Ah, take me!” she sighs.
Sweet, this land of thy seeing
Hath no place and no being,
    Under any love skies!