by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)
Translation © by Guy Laffaille

Darest thou now O Soul
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
Darest thou now O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet
   nor any path to follow?

No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh,
   nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not O Soul;
Nor dost thou -- all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream'd of, in that region,
   [that inaccessible land]1.

Till when the [ties loosen]2,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense,
   nor any bounds, [bound]3 us.

Then we burst forth -- we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul, prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last, -- 
   (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.

W. Schuman sets stanzas 1-3

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Note: the indented lines have been broken off from the preceding lines so that parallel translations will be easier to see. This poem has five stanzas of three lines each.

1 W. Schuman: "the inaccessible land,/ The unknown region."
2 Bacon: "tie is loosened"
3 Bacon: "bounding"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Léon Bazalgette (1873 - 1928) ; composed by Eugene MacDonald Bonner.
  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Léon Bazalgette (1873 - 1928) ; composed by Eva Ruth Spalding.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 128

Ô toi très chère âme maintenant
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Ô toi très chère âme maintenant
Viens marcher avec moi vers la Région Inconnue,
Où il n'y a pas de sol
 pour les pieds ni de chemin à suivre.

Pas de carte là, pas de guide,
Pas de voix qui résonne, pas de toucher de main humaine,
Pas de visage avec une chair épanouie,
 pas de lèvres, pas d'yeux, dans ce pays.

Je ne le connais pas, ô âme ;
Toi non plus -- tout est blanc devant nous ;
Tout attend, sans rêves, dans cette région,
 ce pays inaccessible.

Jusqu'à ce que les liens soient desserrés,
Tout sauf les liens éternels, le Temps et l'Espace,
Pas d'obscurité, de gravitation,
 de sens, pas de limites qui nous limitent.

Quand nous surgissons -- nous flottons,
Dans le Temps et l'Espace, ô âme, préparés pour eux ;
Égaux, équipés enfin, --
 (Ô joie ! Ô fruit de tout !) pour les réaliser, ô âme.

About the headline (FAQ)

Henze's title: "Chuchotements de la mort céleste"


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2014 by Guy Laffaille, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2014-06-24
Line count: 20
Word count: 149