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

To a stranger
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking,
  (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate,
  chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you,
  your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass,
  you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone
  or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.


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

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "À un étranger", 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: 15
Word count: 162

À un étranger
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Étranger qui passe ! tu ne sais pas avec quelle impatience je te regarde,
Tu dois être celui que je cherchais, ou celle que je cherchais,
  (cela me vient comme un rêve),
J'ai quelque part sûrement vécu une vie de joie avec toi,
Tout revient, comme nous marchions côte à côte, fluides, affectueux,
  chastes, mûrs,
Tu as grandi avec moi, tu étais un garçon avec moi, ou une fille avec moi,
je mangeais avec toi, et je dormais avec toi
  ton corps n'est pas seulement devenu le tien, ni mon corps resté seulement le mien,
Tu me donnes le plaisir de tes yeux, de ton visage, de ta chair, comme nous passons,
  tu prends de ma barbe, ma poitrine, mes mains en retour,
Je ne vais pas te parler -- je vais penser à toi quand je suis assis seul,
  ou que je suis éveillé la nuit seul,
Je vais attendre -- je ne doute pas que je vais te rencontrer à nouveau,
Je vais voir à ne pas te perdre.


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2018 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: 2018-03-15
Line count: 15
Word count: 169