QUEBEC!: Le Canada Français and Une Cathédrale Canadienne Pendant L'Hiver (poems)
Le Canada Français (A Poem)
I once was a student
of French in Canada
where I roamed the
streets of Quebec not
armed with an umbrella,
as Thoreau once wrote,
but with a warm hooded coat
protecting me from frosty air
high above the Saint Lawrence
flowing seaward with chunks of ice
that ground the stony shoreline
of lower Quebec where I caught
the ferry boat across to Levis and
chatted in very daring French with
the local frost-bitten passengers who
remarked "voila un americain qui
parle Français!" and who asked me
if I did not think that Canada, with its
forests and mountains, is "bien beau."
And on that ferry boat I could not help
but fall in love with all these people.
Une Cathédrale Canadienne Pendant L'Hiver
C'est comme une apparition celeste,
cette cathédrale bleauâtre et calme,
pleine de paix, pleine d'amour--
c'est tous ce qu'on peut en avoir
sur cette terre qui est
autrement couverte de neige
et frappee par les vents.
A Canadian Cathedral During Winter
It's like a celestial apparition
this bluish and calm cathedral,
full of peace, full of love--
it's all one could want
on this earth which is
otherwise covered with snow
and beaten by winds.
I spent many weeks in French Canada between 1956 and 1959 learning as much as I could about French Canadians and the French language. For those interested in reading other poems and essays of mine written in French see La France, 31 (Printemps, 1986), 116-117, 131-132.My online book Canada and Beyond contains the poem Vieux Montreal.