Le Voyage

This is a traditional voyageur chanson (folksong) collected by Marius Barbeau, one of the first Canadian folklorists. “Le Voyage” is part of his collection of traditional French Canadian materials recorded in Quebec, now housed at L’Université Laval. Verse four was collected by Édouard-Zotique Massicotte in 1917 from Vincent-Ferrier de Repentigny. Barbeau, unfortunately, did not always name his informants. The editor thanks Carl Masthay for his help with this translation.

1
Ah ! c’est un mariage Ah! It’s like a marriage
Que d’épouser le voyage. To agree to a voyage.
Je plains qui s’y engage I pity whoever engages himself
Sans y être invite. Without being a guest.
Léve tôt, couché tard, Rise early, go to bed late,
Il faut subir son sort, Submit to fate,
S’exposer á la mort. Expose yourself to death.

2
Dans le cours du voyage, In the course of the voyage,
Exposé aux naufrages; Exposed to shipwreck,
Le corps trempé dans l’eau, Drenched in water,
Éveillé par les oiseaux, Woken by the birds,
Nous n’avons de repos We do not have any rest
Ni le jour ni la nuit. Day or night.
N’y a que de l’ennui. There is only weariness.

3
Dans le cours du voyage, In the course of the voyage,
Exposé aux orages; Exposed to storms,
Préoccupé du temps, Worried about making time,
Battu de tous les vents. . . Beaten by the winds. . .
Ah! Je vous dis, mes frères, Ah, I tell you my brothers,
Personne, sur la terre, No one, on the earth,
Endure tant de misère. Endures so much misery

4
(Y passer le rest’ du la nuit The rest at night
Sur les roches et le gravois. Is on the rocks and gravel.
Grand Dieu, que c’est de valeur Great God, what valor it takes
Que d’étre voyageur!) To be a voyageur[ voyager]!)

5
Dans le cours du voyage, In the course of the voyage,
Il faut bien du courage. It is necessary to have great courage.
Vaut mieux être habitant; It is better to be a settler
On a moins de tourment. Who has less torment.
L’habitant sèm’ du grain; The settler sows some grain,
Dort du soir au matin. Sleeps from evening to morning.
Sa femme en a bien soin. His wife takes care of everything.

6
Ah! C’est un mariage Ah! It’s like a marriage
Que d’épouser le voyage. To agree to a voyage.
Moi, J’attends la journée, Me, I wait for the day,
Jour de mon arrive. The day of my arrival.
Jamais plus je n’irai I will never go any longer
Dans ces pays damnés In this damned country
Pour tant m’y ennuyer. So great is my weariness.