Carcassonne

Of years three-score; yea, I am old,
And naught but toil has filled my days,
Wherein my one desire, oft told,
Unsatisfied, still finds delays,
Till it would seem that here on earth
Perfect good fortune is not won;
My vow has never come to birth,
For I have not seen Carcassonne.

One sees the distant village high
Among the mountain-peaks of blue;
And would I journey there, then I
Five leagues must pass to come unto
Its gates—and five leagues home again.
Ah, would the vintage, once begun,
Turn grapes to gold! But that is vain,
And I shall not see Carcassonne.

I hear one may see there (each day
A holiday from morn to night)
The citizens in fine array
Of newest coats and kirtles white;
And one may there great castles view
As grand as those of Babylon!
And Generals—a Bishop, too!
Perhaps. I know not Carcassonne.

Oh, ay, the Priest has spoken truth
A hundred-fold indeed, for when
He prayed did he not say, forsooth,
“Ambition wrecks the souls of men”?
Yet could I find ere life be spent,
Two days when harvest-toil is done,
Ah, God! But I should die content,
Could I but then see Carcassonne.

O God, forgive, forgive I pray,
If this my prayer offendeth Thee!
Old age puts not all dreams away,
E'en though such dreams from childhood be.
My wife and boy Aignan have been
As far from home as to Narbonne.
My god-son, Perpignan has seen,
But I have not seen Carcassonne.

Thus sang a peasant of Limoux,
Bowed by the weight of many a day.
I said to him, “Friend, we will go
At last, and journey down that way.”
Next morn found us upon the road,
But ere one-half our travel done
Eased was the peasant of life's load;
He never saw fair Carcassonne.

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