beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
[personal profile] beboots
The one person that almost everyone remembers from Western Canadian or Métis history - if they remember anyone at all - is Louis Riel. For more information about him, see this awesome Canadian Encyclopedia Online article. For the purposes of this post, all you have to know is that he was a francophone Métis political and religious leader involved in two rebellions in 1869 and 1885. He spent a lot of the time in between those rebellions in exile in the United States.

He also wrote a lot of letters... and a lot of poetry. 

Today, while finishing up a few papers, one of which is on the Métis interpreters and the Numbered Treaties of the 1870s, I ran across a few of his French-language poems in the appendices of a book called The Free People - Li Gens Libres: A History of the Métis Community of Batoche, Saskatchewan by Diane P. Payment. And this poetry is INTENSE. 
 
Caveat: the author stated that this poem is attributed to Riel, but not for sure. Either way, it's intense.
 
Scroll down for a rough English translation by me, without any effort at making it rhyme. It has more rhythm in French.
 
C'est au champ de bataille, 
J'ai fait crier mes douleurs,
Où tant qu'un doute se passe, 
Ça fait frémir les coeurs.
 
Or je r'çois-t-une lettre
De ma chère maman
J'avais ni plum' ni encre
Pour pouvoir lui écrire.

Or je pris mon canif,
Je le trempai dans mon sang
Pour écrir' une lettre
À ma chère maman.
Quand ell' r'creva cett' lettre
Tout écrit' de sang
Ses yeux baignant de larmes,
Son coeur s'allant mourant.

S'y jette à genoux par terre,
En appelant ses enfants:
Priez pour votr' p'tit frère
Qui est au régiment
Mourir, c'est pour mourir,
Chacun meurt à son tour;
J'aim' mieux mourir en brave,
Faut tous mourir un jour.
 
 
My really, really rough English translation:
 
It is on the field of battle, 
That I cried out my pains,
Where as soon as a doubt passes on,
It makes the hearts shiver.
Then I received a letter
From my dear mother
I had neither quill nor ink
To be able to write to her.
 
Then I took my pocketknife
I dipped it in my blood
So as to write a letter
To my dear mother.
When she receives this letter
All written in blood
Her eyes will be bathed in tears
Her heart will die.
 
She'd throw herself to her knees on the ground
Calling out to her children:
Pray for your little brother
Who is with the regimen.
Dying, it's for dying (Death, it's only for death?)
Everyone dies in their own time;
I'd rather die with courage,
If we must all die one day.
 
Yeah, it's really hard to translate the spirit, the rhythm, the exact meaning of the poem... but I swear, when I first read it, it took my breath away. It's intense.... especially that second stanza. D:
 
From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

beboots: (Default)
beboots

April 2011

S M T W T F S
     1 2
3 456 789
101112 13 141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 25th, 2017 08:32 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios