Un Canadien errant,
Banni de ses foyers,
Parcourait en pleurant
De pays étranges.

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!

«No, mais en expirant,
O mon cher Canada!
Mon regard languissant
Vers toi se portera . . .»

--Antoine Gérin-Lajoie, 1839

If anyone wants to translate this to English (or to Dutch, or to !Xosa, or whatever), feel free.

Once, a Canadian lad
Exiled from his dear home,
Wandered in distant lands,
Weeping with every step.

One day, pensive and sad
He came to a river
And these are the words he spoke
As he watched the waters rush by:

"If you see my country,
My unfortunate country,
Go, tell my friends,
That I still remember them."

"The days of my happiness
Are gone, long gone,
And my country, alas,
I'll never see again!"

"Except, when I die,
My dear Canada,
Then my failing eyes
Will look towards you."

My translation, please forgive me. It has glitches, and was done quickly. It's not entirely word-for-word, and it's even harder, because i know the melody to which the French lyric is set, but it's a first step for people to whom the French may as well be Greek (or, if you know Greek, some language you don't know).

Note that the line, ``Je me souviens'' is the motto on Quebecois license plates.


Further picking through, and i remember that Leonard Cohen has recorded this song. The translation given there goes like this:

A wandering Canadian,
banned from his hearths,
travelled while crying
in foreign lands.

One day, sad and pensive,
sitting by the flowing waters,
to the fleeing current
he addressed these words:

"If you see my country,
my unhappy country,
go tell my friends
that I remember them.

O days so full of charms,
you have vanished...
And my native land, alas!
I will see it no more.

Unfortunately, he didn't sing the last verse. And i'd never seen the last verse until today. So i'll maintain my translation as well, for completeness. (And because it's mine.)

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