Invitation To The Voyage

 

My child, my sister,
Imagine how sweet
To go and live there together!
To love at leisure,
To love and to die
In that land resembling you!

Imagine wet suns
Through disturbed skies
That I find full of charms
So mysterious 
As your treacherous 
Eyes that shine through your tears.

Order and beauty are there
Luxury, calm, and sensuousness.

 

 

Shiny furniture,
Well polished by years,
Would decorate our bedroom;
With rarest flowers,
Mixing their odors
To the vague perfume of amber.

 

There richest ceilings
And deepest mirrors 
Offer some eastern splendor
Everything would touch
Secretly our souls
Speaking their sweet native language.

Order and beauty are there,
Luxury, calm, and sensuousness.

 

 

See on these canals
Those sleeping dinghies
Looking moody and vagabond 
Just to satisfy
Your smallest desire
They come from the end of the world.

 

 

Now you see sunsets
Clothing all the fields
The canals, and the whole city
In hyacinth and gold 
Asleep is the world
With such a warm light all over.

 

 

Order and beauty are there,
Luxury, calm, and sensuousness.

Charles Baudelaire, translate by Xavier Séguin

 

 

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) in one of his most famous poems, expresses his crazy desire to go and live elsewhere, with a loved person he calls “my child, my sister”. Baudelaire proposes a route, a project of life, and in a certain way, a request for marriage or the recognition of a union. The paintings that illustrate this article are the work of Thomas Cole (1801-1848) entitled The Journey of Life. This work has a wider scope, human life in general, in a more individual perspective: the central character is male and has no companion.

Despite these differences – or because of them – it seemed to me interesting to juxtapose these two works that date from the same period –and which both focus on the main component of human existence, as seen by a great British painter and a great French poet.

 

A life without examination is not worth living.
Socrates