Un Canadien errant

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Un Canadien errant
by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie
A French Canadian song written in 1842 by after the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-1838.
Tune for Un Canadien errant (help | file info or download)

Original lyrics[edit]

Original French lyrics:

Un Canadien errant,
Banni de ses foyers,
Parcourait en pleurant
Des pays étrangers.
Un jour, triste et pensif,
Assis au bord des flots,
Au courant fugitif
Il adressa ces mots
"Si tu vois mon pays,
Mon pays malheureux,
Va, dis à mes amis
Que je me souviens d'eux.
"O jours si pleins d'appas
Vous êtes disparus,
Et ma patrie, hélas!
Je ne la verrai plus!
"Non, mais en expirant,
O mon cher Canada!
Mon regard languissant
Vers toi se portera . . ."

English Translation:

An errant ‘Canadien’
Banished from his homeland
Weeping, he travels on
Wandering through foreign lands
One sad and pensive day
Seated on the river’s bank
To the evasive current,
Did he address these words:
“If you should see my home
My sad unhappy land
Go, say to all my friends
That I remember them
"O days once so full of charm
You are all gone away
And my homeland, alas!
I'll not see her again
"No, but with my last breath
O my dear Canada!
My languid glance toward home
Shall carry me to you"

English Version[edit]

This is the 1927 English version by John Murray Gibbon. It follows the same ABAB rhyme scheme of the original French and is singable, but it arguably sacrifices some accuracy and emotional depth in the translation. For example, the song was not written about a lad but a fully grown man, albeit a young one.

Once a Canadian lad,
Exiled from hearth and home,
Wandered, alone and sad,
Through alien lands unknown.
Down by a rushing stream,
Thoughtful and sad one day,
He watched the water pass
And to it he did say:
"If you should reach my land,
My most unhappy land,
Please speak to all my friends
So they will understand.
Tell them how much I wish
That I could be once more
In my beloved land
That I will see no more.
"My own beloved land
I'll not forget till death,
And I will speak of her
With my last dying breath.
My own beloved land
I'll not forget till death,
And I will speak of her
With my last dying breath."