A French Poem about Grape Harvesting called La vendange

Le_petit_journal_Vendanges_en_France_1891_pd

Monique Palomares grew up in the south of France in the 1950’s and 60’s. When Monique was young she took part in the grape harvesting with her dad and the rest of her family. She shared this poem with us with the following note…

“My late father used to recite this poem to us. That’s why it’s dear to my heart, though I never knew such an atmosphere. It was long gone when I first harvested grapes!” -Monique Palomares

La vendange
Par Victor De Laprade
(1812-1883)

Là-bas, voyez-vous poindre, au haut de la montée,
Les ceps aux feuilles d’or, dans la brume argentée ?
L’horizon s’éclaircit en de vagues rougeurs,
Et le soleil levant conduit les vendangeurs.
Avec des cris joyeux, ils entrent dans la vigne ;
Chacun, dans le sillon que le maître désigne,
Serpe en main, sous l’arbuste a posé son panier.
Honte à qui reste en route et finit le dernier !
Les rires, les clameurs stimulent sa paresse.
Aussi, comme chacun dans sa gaîté se presse !
Presque au milieu du champ, déjà brille là-bas
Plus d’un rouge corset, entre les échalas.
Voici qu’un lièvre part ; on a vu ses oreilles.
La grive au cri perçant fuit et rase les treilles.
Malgré les rires fous, les chants à pleine voix,
Tout panier s’est déjà vidé plus d’une fois,
Et bien des chars, ployant sous l’heureuse vendange,
Escortés des enfants, sont partis pour la grange.
Au pas lent des taureaux, les voilà revenus,
Rapportant tout l’essaim des marmots aux pieds nus.
On descend, et la troupe à grand bruit s’éparpille,
Va des chars aux paniers, revient, saute et grappille,
Près des ceps oubliés se livre des combats.
Qu’il est doux de les voir, si vifs en leurs ébats,
Préludant par des pleurs à de folles risées,
Tout empourprés du jus des grappes écrasées.

English Translation:

The Harvest
By Victor De Laprade
(1812-1883)

Over there, do you see glimmering, at the top of the slope,
The vines with golden leaves, in the silvery mist?
The horizon brightens in vague redness,
And the rising sun guides the grape pickers.
With joyful cries, they enter the vineyard;
Each one, in the furrow that the master points out,
Billhook in hand, putting their basket under the plant.
Shame on anyone who stays behind and ends up last!
Laughter and clamor stimulate their laziness.
Also, how everyone hurries in their joyfulness!
Almost in the middle of the field, already shining there
More than one red bodice*, between the stakes
Here we have a hare leaving; they saw its ears.
The screaming thrush flees and skims the vines.
Despite the wild laughter, the loud singing,
Every basket has already been emptied more than once,
And many carts, bending under the happy harvest
Left for the barn, escorted by the children.
At the pace of the bull**, they return,
Bringing back the whole swarm of barefoot brats.
They descend, and the troop scatters with a loud noise,
Go from the carts to the baskets, come back, jump and pick,
Close to the forgotten vines, they fight.
How sweet it is to see them, so lively in their frolics,
Preceding with tears their wild laughter,
All purple with the juice of the crushed bunches.

*This refers to the ladies in bodices who pick the grapes. A bodice is an article of clothing worn by women and girls that covers them from the waist to the neck, though they can have lower necklines. They were especially common in Europe from the 16 – 18th centuries.

**The author took poetic license here. Bulls wouldn’t be used on farms this way.

Vocabulary:

Furrow: This refers to the row of plants.
Billhook: A tool for cutting branches from shrubs or small trees.

 

Poem translated by Monique Palomares and Lisa Yannucci

Thanks to Monique Palomares for sharing this poem. Monique works with me on the French version of Mama Lisa’s World

Image at Top: Vendanges en France 1891, Le Petit Journal. 

This article was posted on Monday, September 21st, 2020 at 1:20 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, France, French, French Poems, La Vendange (Grape Harvest), Languages, Mama Lisa, Poetry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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