Canadian Folk Song, “V’la l’Bon Vent (Go Good Wind)”, in French with an English Translation

Dani Atkinson wrote me…

I spent several years in Quebec as a kid. While I was there, somebody gave me a picture book and an accompanying tape of French/French-Canadian folk songs. Both book and tape have since disappeared, but I remember some of the tunes, and I recently hunted up the lyrics to refresh them in my mind.

This one was my favourite. Apparently it’s Acadian, over three hundred years old. There are several gazillion variations; I’ve pieced together the one I remember.

V’la l’Bon Vent (Go Good Wind)

(Chorus)

V’la l’bon vent
V’la joli vent
V’la l’bon vent
M’amie m’appelle
V’la l’bon vent
V’la joli vent
V’la l’bon vent
M’amie m’attend

(verses)

Derrière chez nous y’a t’un étang (x2)
Il n’est pas large comme il est grand

Trois beaux canards s’en vont nageant (x2)
Le fils de roi s’en va chassant

Avec son grand fusil argent (x2)
Visa le noir tua le blanc

O, fils de roi, tu es méchant (x2)
Tu as tue mon canard blanc

Par dessous l’aile il perd son sang (x2)
Et par les yeux les diamants

Et par le bec l’or et l’argent (x2)
Que ferons-nous de tant d’argent?

Nous mettrons les filles au couvent (x2)
Et les garçons au régiment

My translation:

Go good wind
Go pretty wind
Go good wind
My friend is calling
Go good wind
Go pretty wind
Go good wind
She waits for me

Behind our house there is a pond
It’s not as deep as it is wide

Three handsome ducks went for a swim
The king’s son went hunting

With his great silver gun
Wounded the black, killed the white

O, son of the king, you are cruel
You have killed my white duck

From ‘neath its wing it loses blood
and from its eyes, diamonds

And from its beak, gold and silver
What use to us is lots of money?

We send all our girls to the convent
And all the boys to the army.

I don’t swear to the accuracy of my translation, Quebec and French class were a while ago.

That’s it for now. Maybe some other time, I’ll send you the lyrics to Cadet Rouselle, who has three houses, and three large dogs, and three of just about everything else you can think of, and is really a good child. :-)

Dani Atkinson

Many thanks to Dani for this song!

Here’s a Midi of V’la l’Bon Vent (Go Good Wind).

Many thanks to Monique Palomares for the midi!

Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World Canada page for children’s songs and rhymes from Canada with their English translations and…

The Mama Lisa’s World en français Canada page for kids songs from Canada with their French translations.

This article was posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005 at 11:45 am and is filed under Canada, Canadian Folk Songs, Countries & Cultures, Folk Songs, French, Languages, V'la l'Bon Vent (Go Good Wind). 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.

8 Responses to “Canadian Folk Song, “V’la l’Bon Vent (Go Good Wind)”, in French with an English Translation”

  1. Monique Says:

    “V’la” must be spelled “V’là” with an “à” cos it’s short for “voilà” meaning “vois là (see there) which is usually translated into English as “Here is” or “Here comes”. Then it’d be “V’là l’bon vent, v’là l’joli vent” meaning “Here comes the wind, here comes the pretty wind”. About “m’amie”, it does literally mean “my friend”, but it rather means “sweetheart”. “m’amie” (m’friend) was later understood as “ma mie” (my friend) as it shows in another song about the wind and a king’s son: “Il les porte à sa mie pour lui faire un présent” = He brings (brought) them to his sweetheart as a present.
    Does “What use for us is lots of money?” mean “What will we do with so much money?” cos it’s what this question means, the answer being “we’ll send the girls to the convent and the boys to the army” cos people had to pay some good money for both if they didn’t wish to be lower-ranking nuns or soldiers -which nobody really wished that much to be if it could be avoided!

  2. Arthur Gionet Says:

    Do you know of a song that sings about “Les Canadiennes, ce sont les miennes; Oui, oui, je les marie”? I’d appreciate a quick response since I’m a writing a paper for an internation conference, here at the University of North Texas, on the status of French in Berlin, N.H. on or about March 1, 2007. Merci.
    Arthur J. Gionet

  3. Barry Nisman Says:

    I might have missed mention of this, excuse me if I did.

    Ian and Sylvia did a stirring version of the song way back in the 60’s in the early part of their career.
    Thank you for your translation. (I think they must do an abridged version, and they wrote that the song was often used for rowing……..)

  4. Mike C Says:

    Ah, the memories.
    My recollection of this is as a song of les Voyageurs, not of les Acadiens – though I’ll bet that they swapped songs, if they weren’t often one and the same people. And “Visa” means “To have aimed for,” not “To have wounded.” (Literally: “viser,” to sight – with a weapon) In other words, the prince missed! Hit the wrong duck. The meanie.
    The version I know ends with “O! fils du roi, tu es méchant / d’avoir tuer mon canard blanc!”, with none of that jazz about diamonds and gold. Neat to see another version about!

  5. Hilary Says:

    Thank god for your post!! I learned this song in school 30 years ago and it has been stuck in my head for three days but I couldn’t remember the words. Thanks :D

  6. Jim Prenderast Says:

    I have been paddling for 50 years now. This song is in the rivers and the lakes. What did it mean to the people who made it? Bien certes, Louis XV was the son of the King and represented the Nobility. France was full of desperate criminals in the latter part of his reign. Could those ‘meserables’ have been the canards noir? Could the honest farmers be the white ducks? Or does it refer to particular individuals?

  7. Lisa Says:

    Monique wrote from France:

    I don’t know about the symbolism of the ducks and their colors, though the obvious idea is that he meant to kill the “bad” one and killed the “good” one. Now, what/who were the ducks? I thought I read somewhere that it might be about a girl losing her virginity by the evil king’s son “silver shotgun”, but I find that farfetched.

    As far as I know, the song originated in France but the Canadians made it their own by making some changes. As I mentioned on Mama Lisa’s World page for V’la l’ bon vent, “According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, folklorist Ernest Gagnon thought the lyrics to the chorus and the tune of ‘V’la l’ bon vent’ were Canadian. The theme of the three ducks came from France in the 17th century, but nobody knows for sure whether the verses came from France or were written in Canada.”

    What I have an idea about is that Louis XV never was the son of a king. His father was “Le petit dauphin”, his grand-father was “Le grand dauphin” and his great-grandfather was king Louis XIV. When king Louis XIV died (1715) Louis XV was 5 years old and a cousin of his served as a regent. So there was King Louis 14 † 1715 and next was King Louis 15 his great-grandson, no other king in between.

  8. Jeff Fitch Says:

    I live in Illinois and I am an avid canoeist who listens to folk and traditional music especially canoeing songs. I ran across this song a few years back and loved it not knowing the language at all. LOL! Music is great like that! https://youtu.be/JVzdMxVDSBI

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