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Translation by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837 - 1909)

Love at sea
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
We are in love's land to-day;
    Where shall we go?
Love, shall we start or stay,
    Or sail or row?
There 's many a wind and way,
And never a May but May;
We are in love's hand to-day;
    Where shall we go?
Our landwind is the breath
Of sorrows kiss'd to death
    And joys that were;
Our ballast is a rose;
Our way lies where God knows
    And love knows where.
    We are in love's hand to-day --

Our seamen are fledged Loves,
Our masts are bills of doves,
    Our decks fine gold;
Our ropes are dead maids' hair,
Our stores are love-shafts fair
    And manifold.
    We are in love's land to-day --

Where shall we land you, sweet?
On fields of strange men's feet,
    Or fields near home?
Or where the fire-flowers blow,
Or where the flowers of snow
    Or flowers of foam?
    We are in love's hand to-day --

Land me, she says, where love
Shows but one shaft, one dove,
    One heart, one hand, --
A shore like that, my dear,
Lies where no man will steer,
    No maiden land.

Note: the poem is followed by the indication "Imitated from Théophile Gautier"


Based on:

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 English, a translation by Arthur Warren ; composed by Adelaide Fredrika "Armorell" Cochran.
  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Peter Cornelius (1824 - 1874) , "Das unbekannte Land" ; composed by Hector Berlioz.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2013-03-18
Line count: 35
Word count: 180