Take me back, I said, to the happy shore
where Naples reflects its palaces, its hillsides,
and its cloudless stars in a blue sea,
where the orange-tree blooms beneath a sky that is always clear.
Why do you delay? Let us depart! I want to see once again
flaming Vesuvius rising from the bosom of the waves;
from its heights I want to see the dawn rise;
I want to come down those laughing slopes once again in a dream,
guiding the steps of her whom I adore.
Follow me among the windings of this calm bay:
let us return to those shores so well known to our footsteps,
to Cynthia’s gardens, to Virgil’s tomb,
near the scattered ruins of the temple of Venus:
there, beneath the orange-trees, beneath the flowering vine
whose lithe stem is united to the myrtle and weaves a vault of flowers above your head,
there, to the gentle noise of the waves or of the murmuring wind,
alone with our love, alone with nature,
life and light will have more sweetness.
The torch of my paling days burns itself out,
it goes out gradually at the breath of misfortune, or,
if sometimes it throws a faint light,
it is when your memory rekindles it in my breast.
I do not know if at last the gods will allow me to conclude
my wearisome day down here on earth:
my horizon is confined, and my uncertain eye
hardly dares to stretch it beyond a year.
But if I must die in the morning, if,
in a land appointed for happiness,
I must let fall from my hand
this cup which fate seemed to have
crowned with roses for me,
I only ask the gods to guide my steps
to shores made more beautiful by your beloved memory,
to hail from afar those happy climes,
and to die in the places where I tasted life.
Alphonse de Lamartine