Acadian Tradition: Partons La Mer Est Belle

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About This Song

The fishermen are invited to head out to sea on a beautiful moonlit night. But a storm springs up and the father is lost. The son goes off to comfort his mother.

This is probably the best known and best loved song among all Acadians. The version we hear here is a more formal one; there was/is another version sung in the Chéticamp area.

This performance is a part of a field recording of Le Festival Acadien, held in Petit-de-Grat from July 30 to August 3, 1980. It was collected for the Beaton Institute by Paula Webber, Alan Cash, Ken Simpson, and Heather MacDonald.

This annual event commemorates the arrival of the first ancestors of the Acadian people at Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The 1980 festival held special meaning as it was the 375th anniversary of the founding of Port Royal by Samuel de Champlain, thus marking the long existence of the Acadian culture in Nova Scotia.

Le Festival Acadien is an expression of a people's pride in their heritage and culture and celebrates the past accomplishments of the hard working Acadian people. Through their music they relate the history of Acadie, and remember its heroic figures such as Evangeline and Gabriel.

Partons La Mer Est Belle, 1980. T-921. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.

Lyrics

Refrain:
Partons, la mer est belle;
Embarquons-nous, pêcheurs,
Guidons notre nacelle,
Ramons avec ardeur.
Aux mâts hissons les voiles,
Le ciel est pur et beau;
Je vois briller l'étoile
Qui guide les matelots.

1. Amis, partons sans bruit;
La pêche sera bonne,
La lune qui rayonne
Éclairera la nuit.
Il faut qu'avant l'aurore
Nous soyons de retour,
Pour sommeiller encore
Avant qu'il soit grand jour. (Refrain)

2. Ainsi parlait mon père
Quand il quitta le port,
Il ne s'attendait guère
À y trouver la mort!
Ce fut un jour d'orage,
Il fut surpris soudain
Et jeté au rivage
A son cruel destin. (Refrain)

3. Je n'ai plus qu'une mère
Qui ne possède rien.
Elle est dans la misère
Et n'a que mon soutien.
Ramons, ramons bien vite.
Oh, je la vois là-bas;
Je vais courir de suite
Me jeter dans ses bras. (Refrain)

Translation:

Let Us Go, The Sea Is Beautiful

Refrain:
Let's go out, the sea is beautiful;
Let us embark, fishermen,
Let us guide our boat,
Let us row hard.
To the poles let's raise the sails,
The sky is clear and beautiful,
I see the shining star
That leads our oars.

2. So sang my father
As he left the port.
He was not expecting at all
To find death out there.
By winds, by the storm
He was surprised suddenly
And in cruel shipwreck
He submitted to his fate.