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William Henry Drummond (1854-1907)

Le Vieux Temps


              1Venez ici, mon cher ami, an' sit down by me--so
              2An' I will tole you story of old tam long ago--
              3W'en ev'ryt'ing is happy--w'en all de bird is sing
              4An' me!--I'm young an' strong lak moose an' not afraid no t'ing.

              5I close my eye jus' so, an' see de place w'ere I am born--
              6I close my ear an' lissen to musique of de horn,
              7Dat 's horn ma dear ole moder blow--an only t'ing she play
              8Is "viens donc vite Napoléon--'peche toi pour votre souper."--

              9An' w'en he 's hear dat nice musique--ma leetle dog "Carleau"
            10Is place hees tail upon hees back--an' den he 's let heem go--
            11He 's jomp on fence--he 's swimmin' crik--he 's ronne two forty gait,
            12He say "dat 's somet'ing good for eat--Carleau mus' not be late."

            13O dem was pleasure day for sure, dem day of long ago
            14W'en I was play wit' all de boy, an' all de girl also;
            15An' many tam w'en I 'm alone an' t'ink of day gone by
            16An' pull latire an' spark de girl, I cry upon my eye.

            17Ma fader an' ma moder too, got nice, nice familee,
            18Dat 's ten garçon an' t'orteen girl, was mak' it twenty t'ree
            19But fonny t'ing de Gouvernement don't geev de firs' prize den
            20Lak w'at dey say dey geev it now, for only wan douzaine.

            21De English peep dat only got wan familee small size
            22Mus' be feel glad dat tam dere is no honder acre prize
            23For fader of twelve chil'ren--dey know dat mus' be so,
            24De Canayens would boss Kebeck--mebbe Ontario.

            25But dat is not de story dat I was gone tole you
            26About de fun we use to have w'en we leev a chez nous
            27We 're never lonesome on dat house, for many cavalier
            28Come at our place mos' every night--especially Sun-day.

            29But tam I 'member bes' is w'en I 'm twenty wan year--me--
            30An' so for mak' some pleasement--we geev wan large soirée
            31De whole paroisse she be invite--de Curé he 's come too--
            32Wit plaintee peep from 'noder place--dat 's more I can tole you.

            33De night she 's cole an' freeze also, chemin she 's fill wit snow
            34An' on de chimley lak phantome, de win' is mak' it blow--
            35But boy an' girl come all de sam an' pass on grande parloir
            36For warm itself on beeg box stove, was mak' on Trois Rivières--

            37An' w'en Bonhomme Latour commence for tune up hees fidelle
            38It mak' us all feel very glad--l'enfant! he play so well,
            39Musique suppose to be firs' class, I offen hear, for sure
            40But mos' bes' man, beat all de res', is ole Bateese Latour--

            41An' w'en Bateese play Irish jeeg, he 's learn on Mattawa
            42Dat tam he 's head boss cook Shaintee--den leetle Joe Leblanc
            43Tak' hole de beeg Marie Juneau an' dance upon de floor
            44Till Marie say "Excuse to me, I cannot dance no more."--

            45An' den de Curé 's mak' de speech--ole Curé Ladouceur!
            46He say de girl was spark de boy too much on some cornerre--
            47An' so he 's tole Bateese play up ole fashion reel a quatre
            48An' every body she mus' dance, dey can't get off on dat.

            49Away she go--hooraw! hooraw! plus fort Bateese, mon vieux
            50Camille Bisson, please watch your girl--dat 's bes' t'ing you can do.
            51Pass on de right an' tak' your place Mamzelle Des Trois Maisons
            52You 're s'pose for dance on Paul Laberge, not Telesphore Gagnon.

            53Mon oncle Al-fred, he spik lak' dat--'cos he is boss de floor,
            54An' so we do our possibill an' den commence encore.
            55Dem crowd of boy an' girl I'm sure keep up until nex' day
            56If ole Bateese don't stop heseff, he come so fatigué.

            57An' affer dat, we eat some t'ing, tak' leetle drink also
            58An' de Curé, he 's tole story of many year ago--
            59W'en Iroquois sauvage she 's keel de Canayens an' steal deir hair,
            60An' say dat 's only for Bon Dieu, we don't be here--he don't be dere.

            61But dat was mak' de girl feel scare--so all de cavalier
            62Was ax hees girl go home right off, an' place her on de sleigh,
            63An' w'en dey start, de Curé say, "Bonsoir et bon voyage
            64Menagez-vous--tak' care for you--prenez-garde pour les sauvages."

            65An' den I go meseff also, an' tak' ma belle Elmire--
            66She 's nicer girl on whole Comté, an' jus' got eighteen year--
            67Black hair--black eye, an' chick rosée dat 's lak wan fameuse on de fall
            68But don't spik much--not of dat kin', I can't say she love me at all.

            69Ma girl--she's fader beeg farmeur--leev 'noder side St. Flore
            70Got five-six honder acre--mebbe a leetle more--
            71Nice sugar bush--une belle maison--de bes' I never see--
            72So w'en I go for spark Elmire, I don't be mak' de foolish me--

            73Elmire!--she 's pass t'ree year on school--Ste. Anne de la Perade
            74An' w'en she 's tak' de firs' class prize, dat 's mak' de ole man glad;
            75He say "Ba gosh--ma girl can wash--can keep de kitchen clean
            76Den change her dress--mak' politesse before God save de Queen."

            77Dey 's many way for spark de girl, an' you know dat of course,
            78Some way dey might be better way, an' some dey might be worse
            79But I lak' sit some cole night wit' my girl on ole burleau
            80Wit' lot of hay keep our foot warm--an' plaintee buffalo--

            81Dat 's geev good chances get acquaint--an' if burleau upset
            82An' t'row you out upon de snow--dat 's better chances yet--
            83An' if you help de girl go home, if horse he ronne away
            84De girl she 's not much use at all--don't geev you nice baiser!

            85Dat 's very well for fun ma frien', but w'en you spark for keep
            86She 's not sam t'ing an' mak' you feel so scare lak' leetle sheep
            87Some tam you get de fever--some tam you 're lak snowball
            88An' all de tam you ack lak' fou--can't spik no t'ing at all.

            89Wall! dat 's de way I feel meseff, wit Elmire on burleau,
            90Jus' lak' small dog try ketch hees tail--roun' roun' ma head she go
            91But bimeby I come more brave--an' tak' Elmire she's han'
            92"Laisee-moi tranquille" Elmire she say "You mus' be crazy man."

            93"Yass--yass I say " mebbe you t'ink I 'm wan beeg loup garou,
            94Dat 's forty t'ousand 'noder girl, I lef' dem all for you,
            95I s'pose you know Polique Gauthier your frien' on St. Cesaire
            96I ax her marry me nex' wick--she tak' me--I don't care."

            97Ba gosh; Elmire she don't lak dat--it mak' her feel so mad--
            98She commence cry, say "'Poleon you treat me very bad--
            99I don't lak see you t'row you'seff upon Polique Gauthier,
          100So if you say you love me sure--we mak' de marieé"--

          101Oh it was fine tam affer dat--Castor I t'ink he know,
          102We 're not too busy for get home--he go so nice an' slow,
          103He 's only upset t'ree--four tam--an' jus' about daylight
          104We pass upon de ole man's place--an' every t'ing 's all right.

          105Wall! we leev happy on de farm for nearly fifty year,
          106Till wan day on de summer tam--she die--ma belle Elmire
          107I feel so lonesome lef' behin'--I tink 't was bes' mebbe--
          108Dat w'en le Bon Dieu tak' ma famme--he should not forget me.

          109But dat is hees biz-nesse ma frien'--I know dat 's all right dere
          110I 'll wait till he call "'Poleon" den I will be prepare--
          111An' w'en he fin' me ready, for mak' de longue voyage
          112He guide me t'roo de wood hesef upon ma las' portage.

Notes

1] Venez ici, mon cher ami: come here, my dear friend

8] viens donc vite Napoléon: come on quick, Napoléon
peche toi pour votre souper: fish for your supper

18] garçon: boy(s).

24] Canayens: (French-)Canadians.
Kebeck: Québec, French-speaking province in Canada
Ontario: largest English-speaking province, west of Québec

31] paroisse: parish.

33] chemin: road.

36] Trois Rivières: city east of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River.

40] Bateese: Baptiste.

41] Mattawa: northern town on the Ottawa River in Ontario.

42] Shaintee: shed.

64] Menagez-vous: take care of yourself

69] St. Flore: town north of Trois Rivières.

71] sugar bush: maple trees ready to be tapped for maple syrup.
une belle maison: a lovely house.

73] Ste. Anne de la Perade: town on the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Québec City.

79] burleau: "berlot," a sleigh--"Voiture d'hiver, à un ou deux sièges, faite d'une caisse rectangulaire plus ou moins profonde, posée sur les patins bas et utilisée pour le transport de voyageurs et de marchandises" (Léandre Bergeron, Dictionnaire de la langue québécoise (Montréal-Nord: VLB, 1980).

84] baiser: kiss.

91] bimeby: by and by.

92] Laisee-moi tranquille: leave me in peace.

93] loup garou: werwolf, rough fellow.

95] St. Cesaire: town on the Yamaska River south of Montreal.

112] portage: the carrying of a boat over land from one waterway to another.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Henry Drummond, The Habitant and other French-Canadian Poems, intro. Louis Frechette (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1897): 11-20.
First publication date: 1897
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/17

Rhyme: aabb


Other poems by William Henry Drummond