Un Canadien Errant - English Version

English Version

This is the 1927 English version by John Murray Gibbon. Only the first verse preserves the true ABAB rhyme pattern of the original French; thereafter it varies. It is singable but sacrifices much accuracy and arguably emotional depth in the translation. For example, the song was not written about a lad but a fully grown man, albeit a young one.

Once a Canadian lad,
Exiled from hearth and home,
Wandered, alone and sad,
Through alien lands unknown.
Down by a rushing stream,
Thoughtful and sad one day,
He watched the water pass
And to it he did say:
"If you should reach my land,
My most unhappy land,
Please speak to all my friends
So they will understand.
Tell them how much I wish
That I could be once more
In my beloved land
That I will see no more.
"My own beloved land
I'll not forget till death,
And I will speak of her
With my last dying breath.
My own beloved land
I'll not forget till death,
And I will speak of her
With my last dying breath."

Below is the 2011 English version by Brian C. Puckett. This version preserves the original ABAB rhyme pattern throughout, and also adheres as closely as possible to the original meaning of the lines. Where such close translation was not practical, this version attempts to maintain the style and sense of the original lines.

A Canadian wandering afar,
Banished from hearth and home,
Would gaze at the northern star
And weep in the strange lands he roamed.
One day, with thoughts full of woe,
He sat by the river’s edge.
To the fugitive current below,
These are the words that he said:
If you see my country some day,
My country in sorrow’s thrall,
Go tell my friends faraway
That I remember them all.
O days of charm you have passed,
You vanished like summer rain.
And my fatherland, alas!
I never will see you again.
No, but on my dying day
These eyes will be filled with tears
As my longing look turns your way,
O Canada, ever so dear.

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