Sunday, November 24, 2013

Baudelaire - Poetry

(This series is a read through of a book of poetry that has attempted to gather the 100 best poems of all time.  For the full series, click the 'poetry' link at the bottom.)

Next up is a poem by Charles Baudelaire titled 'Invitation to the Voyage'.  I don't know the poet and I don't think I've heard of this poem previously.

How sweet, my own,
Could we live alone
Over beyond the sea!
To love and to die
In the land that's akin to thee!
Where the suns which rise
In the watery skies
Weave soft spells over my sight,
As thy false eyes do
When they flicker through
Their tears with a dim, strange light.

There all is beauty and symmetry,
Pleasure and calm and luxury.

Years that have gone
Have polished and shone
The things that would fill our room;
The flowers are most rare
Which scent the air
In the richly ceiling'd gloom,
And the mirrors profound,
And the walls around
With Orient splendor hung,
To the soul would speak
Of things she doth seek
In her gentle native tongue.

There all is beauty and symmetry,
Pleasure and calm and luxury.

The canals are deep
Where the strange ships sleep
Far from the lands of their birth;
To quench the fire
Of they least desire
They have come from the ends of the earth.
The sunsets drown
Peaceful town
And meadow, and stagnant stream
In bistre and gold
And the world enfold
In a warm and luminous dream.

There all is beauty and symmetry,
Pleasure and calm and luxury.

The words are gorgeous though I don't know that I understand the poem.  On its face, it is simply, as the title says, an invitation to a voyage.  The destination is exotic and beautiful.  Or rather beautiful and symmetric, with pleasures both calm and luxurious.  The word symmetric gives me pause, though the rest sounds very nice.  But that may just be my own hang ups about finding beauty and luxury in more natural places.
Is the poem about a specific place?  Or just some general exotic location?  I'd like to know more about the deep canals and the ships that bring goods to satisfy every desire.  And I'd like to see the golden sunsets that enfold such a beautiful place.
I like it.

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