Monday, 22 January 2018

George Métivier - Octobre, 1857

This Friday we'll celebrai the vie and works of a Guernsey Poet, George Métivier, in the first Burns Night-style Métivier Night. It's at Torteval Church Hall. Come down from 7. There'll be food and drink and music.  

There'll be a few different musicians performing, as well as people reciting poetry in both English and Guernesiais. One reading that I'll be doing is Métivier's Octobre, 1857. All-round lovely bloke and Guernsey-French teacher, Yan Marquis, will be performing the Guernesiais. Reading over the English version has made me redouble my sense that Métivier deserves to be recognised. Here's the translation that I'll be reading:

Tapping at my window,
the honeysuckles say,
you sleep too much,
your bird with the fiery throat
has called in vain, it’s me, George!
Old October! Old October!
you remind me of time past;
and now you’ve come
to shake loose leaf after leaf from the nut tree,
pluck our scarlet elms,
pull the hair from the hard oaks,
drown our folks like so many rats,
plunging them in their three-masters,

when you rumble, the wave is moved
and wracks and flies and cleaves the sky,
it dances to the sound of the shingle;–
Play, cormorants, foul black birds!
Leafy Goliath! your chestnuts,
I’ve munched hundreds of them,
cradled in your long arms!
Tell me you’ll remember it,
dear giant, my shelter, my dwelling,
my bed, my cot, and let me die there!
I’ll go as I came, proud of a very small (BIG) returnee,
because my root was strong! –
And while we’re waiting for it to die,
let’s swim, let’s swim, further than Ushant!
Let’s jump over the crescent moon!

And here's the original:

A ma f ’nêtre tapotànt,
S’font les suchets, tu dors tànt,
Ten mouisson, l’faeu sus la gorge,
A biau criaïr, ch’est mé, George!
Vier Octobre! vier Huitembre!
Du temps passaï tu m’ramembre;
Te vlà v’nu pour élouaisiér
Fieille après fieille au nouaisiér,
Pliumaïr nos ormes coquènes, 
Halaïr les qu’vaeux ès durs quênes, 
Niaïr nos gens, coum, autànt d’rats, 
Les cliùngeànt dans leux treis-mâts,

Quànd tu gronds, la vague émue
Rouâne et vole et fend la nue,
A’ dànse au son des galots;–
Jouaïz, cormarans, ners salops!
Gôlias fieillu! tes castaïnes,
J’en ai rôgui des chentaïnes,
Dorlotaï dans tes longs bras!
Dis-mé qu’tu t’en souviendras,
Giànt chéri, m’n abri, ma d’meure,
Men lliét, men ber, et qu’j’y meure!
J’m’en irai, coum je sis v’nu,
Fier d’ùn bien p’tit (GRÀND) r’venu,
Car ma rachine était forte! –
En attendant qu’a’ seit morte,
Nouon, nouon, pus llien qu’Ouessànt!
Sauton par dessus l’croissànt!

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