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QUEBEC!: Le Canada Français, Mon Retour a Quebec and Une Cathédrale Canadienne Pendant L'Hiver (poems)

Updated on September 22, 2018
juneaukid profile image

Richard F. Fleck is author of several books of poetry but one of his favorite forms is Asian haiku which he uses to capture spirit of place.

Quebec City in Winter
Quebec City in Winter

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.

Mon Retour a Quebec

After sixty long years of teaching and writing

at this college and that, I, at long last, return to

Quebec with Maura* to this old city of my youth,

where I had come to practice French and wander

through the nearby forests of the Laurentians

northeast of the city, but how well I remember

strolling the streets of old Quebec and of the lower

city along the sparkling waters of Saint Lawrence River.

But now, what a pleasure it is to see the Chateau Frontenac

all lit up under a starry September sky and to walk along

la Rue Saint Jean to discover a winding little ruelle with

a Native Canadian arts store called la Boutique Sachem

and to examine Inuit soapstone carvings and to chat

in French with a Micmac woman in charge of the store

about her tribe's fascinating Gloosap legends still retold.

How nice it was to see wooden boxes of red geraniums

under house windows in a narrow and winding alley with

frescoed walls depicting history of early French settlers,

some descendants of whom still speak in ancient Normand.

An old man with a young passion had I become here in

old Quebec -- we sit in a cafe swilling bowls of French onion

soup along with tall drafts of Moosehead beer to regain an

almost lost joie de vivre, especially with the sparkle in Maura's

eyes as she at long last experiences this old and fantastic city.

*Maura and I had intended to travel from Montreal to Quebec during our honeymoon in 1963, but had to return to the States after our car windshield was smashed by a flying stone. We managed to complete this trip 55 years later!

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.

translated as:

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.

© 2012 Richard Francis Fleck


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    • profile image

      Richard F. Fleck 

      3 weeks ago

      Thank you Jane

    • juneaukid profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Francis Fleck 

      16 months ago from Denver, Colorado

      Fellow Hubbers, I added a poem in French (with translation) about French Canada of my youth.

    • juneaukid profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Francis Fleck 

      5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thank you Valleypoet--I'll look forward to reading your work.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      A very well written narrative poem...enjoyed this:-))

    • juneaukid profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Francis Fleck 

      6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thanks jojo29, I appreciate it.

    • jojo29 profile image

      Jane Boucheirre 

      6 years ago from CA

      wow---loved how it rhymes. :-)


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