"The expression would that it were implies a wishful or idealized alternative to an undesired reality. In other words, the speaker wishes for a different set of circumstances or outcome than the real situation he or she is in. Sometimes the expression is extended to "would that it were so" or "would that it were true." All of these variants still suggest a strong desire for at least one change in the present circumstances. When a talented athlete becomes injured and has to be replaced during an important game, for example, the teammates may strongly wish he or she were healthy enough to perform. The coach could respond with "Would that it were so, but we don't have that option right now." The speaker agrees with the sentiment, but also realizes that a desired change could not take place in reality."