Translated by Alice Pagano

Blessed be the traveler, of whom his beloved town
Beholds the return in the port, at the first red streak of dawn
He who now greets the sky, the the homeland,
Life, happiness, sunlight and love all at once!

— Look, companions, a ship is sailing towards us.
The sea, that took it away, now brings it back in a cadence,

Skimming under it like the bold steed that,
Feeling its old rider, rears below him.

We salute you! whoever you may be, you with the white veil
That flies from the horizon, palpitating!
Blessed are you, at your return, if your wandering fortune
Made you embrace the shores! Blessed are you if you are expected!

Where do you come from, beautiful ship? At which distant coast,
Superb Leviathan, did you wash your sides?
Are you wounded, warrior? How long was your journey?
Such an incredible sight it is when a whole crew,
Who took the sea as young men, come back with
their hair all white.
Are you rich? Are you coming from India, or Mexico?
Is your keel heavy, or did the northern winds
Lighten the weight of your treasures, as a ransom?
Did you defy the lightening and cross the Tropic?
Have you, for two years, walked alongside death,
Your haggard eyes fixed on the trembling compass,
So that a European woman, pale and languid,
Can bathe in the incenses of a seraglio
And wrinkle, in a waltz, a coral necklace?

How the heart leaps when the native land,
Upon returning home, starts to approach,
Its spire emerging from the vast Ocean!
And what a divine torment is this brief interval,
When one can feel it coming closer, almost touching it!
O fatherland! O fatherland! Sacred mystery!
Sublime and terrible word! Unconceivable love!
Is man then destined to only one patch of land
To build his nest and live one day?


Alfred de Musset

Heureux le voyageur que sa ville chérie
Voit rentrer dans le port, aux premiers feux du jour !
Qui salue à la fois le ciel et la patrie,
La vie et le bonheur, le soleil et l’amour !

Regardez, compagnons, un navire s’avance.
La mer, qui l’emporta, le rapporte en cadence,

En écumant sous lui, comme un hardi coursier,
Qui, tout en se cabrant, sent son vieux cavalier.

Salut ! qui que tu sois, toi dont la blanche voile
De ce large horizon accourt en palpitant !
Heureux ! quand tu reviens, si ton errante étoile
T’a fait aimer la rive ! heureux si l’on t’attend !

D’où viens-tu, beau navire ? à quel lointain rivage,
Léviathan superbe, as-tu lavé tes flancs ?
Est-tu blessé, guerrier ? Viens-tu d’un long voyage ?
C’est une chose à voir, quand tout un équipage,
Monté jeune à la mer, revient en cheveux blancs.
Es-tu riche ? viens-tu de l’Inde ou du Mexique ?
Ta quille est-elle lourde, ou si les vents du nord
T’ont pris, pour ta rançon, le poids de ton trésor ?
As-tu bravé la foudre et passé le tropique ?
T’es-tu, pendant deux ans, promené sur la mort,
Couvrant d’un œil hagard ta boussole tremblante,
Pour qu’une Européenne, une pâle indolente,
Puisse embaumer son bain des parfums du sérail
Et froisser dans la valse un collier de corail ?

Born in 1992 in Nice, France, Alice Pagano has always been passionate about the English language. In 2015, she went to London to study in a language school. She was admitted to Queen Mary University the following year. She has just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Linguistics and hopes to become a translator in the future.

Born in Paris in 1810, Alfred de Musset is a French poet and playwright from the Romantic era. At the age of nineteen, he publishes his first collection of poems. His plays and poems display a high sensibility and a genuine expression of emotions, especially pain. He is now considered one of the greatest French Romantic writers.