Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.



By Gustave Nadaud (1820–1893)

Translated by M. E. W. Sherwood

“HOW old I am! I ’m eighty years!

I ’ve worked both hard and long,

Yet patient as my life has been,

One dearest sight I have not seen,—

It almost seems a wrong;

A dream I had when life was new.

Alas, our dreams! they come not true:

I thought to see fair Carcassonne,—

That lovely city,—Carcassonne!

“One sees it dimly from the height

Beyond the mountains blue,

Fain would I walk five weary leagues,—

I do not mind the road’s fatigues,—

Through morn and evening’s dew.

But bitter frosts would fall at night,

And on the grapes,—that yellow blight!

I could not go to Carcassonne,

I never went to Carcassonne.

“They say it is as gay all times

As holidays at home!

The gentles ride in gay attire,

And in the sun each gilded spire

Shoots up like those of Rome!

The Bishop the procession leads,

The generals curb their prancing steeds.

Alas! I know not Carcassonne,—

Alas! I saw not Carcassonne!

“Our Vicar ’s right! he preaches loud,

And bids us to beware;

He says, ‘O, guard the weakest part,

And most the traitor in the heart

Against Ambition’s snare!’

Perhaps in autumn I can find

Two sunny days with gentle wind,

I then could go to Carcassonne,

I still could go to Carcassonne!

“My God and Father! pardon me

If this my wish offends!

One sees some hope, more high than he,

In age, as in his infancy,

To which his heart ascends!

My wife, my son, have seen Narbonne,

My grandson went to Perpignan;

But I have not seen Carcassonne,—

But I have not seen Carcassonne.”

Thus sighed a peasant bent with age,

Half dreaming in his chair;

I said, “My friend, come go with me

To-morrow; then thine eyes shall see

Those streets that seem so fair.”

That night there came for passing soul

The church-bell’s low and solemn toll.

He never saw gay Carcassonne.

Who has not known a Carcassonne?