Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our countries, our memories

"C'est ton pays" ("It's Your Country")
Written and sung by Jean-Marie Vivier

Québec's original settlers came from France, bringing with them their language and traditions, which the Québecois have kept alive ever since.  (Québec license plates today carry the words "Je me souviens" ("I  remember.")

This song speaks of a people "adrift", of remembering those who stayed back on "the other shore", of being taken away "towards endless shores".  It tells of bodies that knot themselves harder as they feel themselves torn to pieces with every death, of hiding one's sorrow behind a face that smiles.  

The words "for those who live in fear", and "an entire people that's drowning" made me think of the Tibetans.  The words "memories that flap in the wind" and "your country that's adrift" reminded me of my own birth country.  Adrift, as in - heading in the wrong direction.  And the words "it's your country they're destroying" brings to mind the countless wars and occupations, everywhere, then and now.

A combination of word and sound and image that made me sad, but also more aware of those things we all have in common--what we carry over from our ancestors, what we remember; the fear of loss of identity; of not wanting to be erased.

All our countries are in grief, I think to myself, on hearing from friends, or reading the news lately.
Some more than others, and for different reasons. Countries are not just destroyed by wars or economic collapse; but also by corruption and division and hatred and injustice--and unrelenting (or unforeseen) change.

What will the generations that follow remember, I wonder.


The animated images added to the music track of this video were produced at Haus Design Communication in Montréal, Québec for the purpose of a 2009 pop music video. The person who posted the video on You-Tube notes an incorrect translation at 2:31, where Vivier says "L'espoir qu'il faut réinventer" ("the hope we must reinvent") which appears in the subtitles as "these chances we must reinvent").  Some of the translated words might be misleading.  For me, "fooling around with the light" has an entirely different ring, for example, than the more literal translation "dreaming that you play in the light"). "vivre n'est pas interdit  ("to live is not forbidden") was translated here as "living ain't forbidden" and "pays qui agonise" ("country that agonizes" (i.e., that is in agony) is interpreted here as "your agonizing country".  Despite differences in how one might translate this song, though, the sentiment behind the words and music came through loud and clear.