In one of my favorite episodes of the TV show Community, "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design", one of the characters says the following line:
Would that this desk were a time desk.
In the context of the episode, the meaning is clear: "I wish this desk were a time desk." The character is quoting a terribly written novel, and part of the humor is the combination of the attempted literary language ("Would that this desk were...") and the awful subject matter ("a time desk").
Here's my question:
Can you actually start a sentence with "Would that..." to mean "I wish that..."?
Is this phrase actually literary, or does it just sound literary and is actually incorrect?