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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Gustave Nadaud (1820–1893)


Translation of John Randolph Thompson

I’M growing old; I’m 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 fulfillment 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 nor 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 curé’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 offend:

One something sees beyond his reach

From childhood to his journey’s end.

My wife, our little boy Aignan,

Have traveled even to Narbonne;

My grandchild has seen Perpignan:

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) half-way on

The old man died upon the road:

He never gazed on Carcassonne.—

Each mortal has his Carcassonne!