Frédéric Mistral, the poet

The poet Frédéric Mistral, born in 1830 in Provence, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904, was the greatest storyteller of the Rhone and the mariners of Condrieu. We owe him the magnificent Poème du Rhône.
Translation from the Modern Provencal by Maro Beath Jones, 1937.

Lou Pouèmo dou Rose   Van parti de Lioun à la primo aubo
Li veiturin que règnon sus lou Rose.
Es uno raço d’ome caloussudo,
Galoio e bravo, li condriéulen. Sèmpre
Planta sus li radèu e li sapino,
L’uscle dou jour e lou rebat de l’aigro
Lé dauron lou carage coume un brounze.
Mai d’aquéu tèms encaro mai, vous dise,
Lé vesias d’oumenas à barbo espresso,
Grand, courpourènt, clapu tau que de chaine,
Boulegant un saumié coume uno busco,
De pupo à pro cridant, jurant de-longo
E largamen, pèr se baia courage,
Au poutarras pintant la roujo tencho,
A beu taioun tirant la car de l’oulo.
De-long dou flume èro uno bramadisso
Que d’auro en auro entendias de-countuni :
« Pro vers la baisso, hou !
Reiaume ! Empèri !
Amount la pro ! Dau ! Fa tira la maio ! » Ero Coundriéu soun nis, ounte s’amodon
De noste vènt-terrau li proumié boufe.
Le Poème du Rhône   From Lyons at the blush of early dawn
The bargemen, masters of the Rhone, depart,
A robust band and brave, the Condrillots,
Upright upon their crafts of planks of fir,
The tan of the sun and glint from glassy wave
Their visages have bronzed as with gold.
And in that day colossuses they where,
Big, corpulent, and strong as living oaks,
And moving beams about as we would straws.
From stern to stem unceasingly they shout.
And now to gather courage for their task,
Approach from time ti time the steaming crock
To quaff from it deep draughts of red piot,
And snatch from other pots some shreds of meat.
A clamor thus alway adown the Rhone
Was heard from North to South without a truce :
« Ease off the prow again ! Royaume ! Empire !
The prow upstream ! Ho, lads ! Pull on the maille ! » From Condrieu they were, where fist the gusts
Of chill mistral, South’s mighty wind, are felt.

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Rhône, from shores to faces

Catherine Chion has been rubbing shoulders with the Rhône for a long time. She went to meet local residents of all ages, men and women, former poachers or bargemen, simple inhabitants, sportsmen, penichards, walkers… They told of their links with the river. By mixing their words and their glances with her own, she composed short texts, like so many small glimpses of the memory of the Rhône.

Rhône, de rivages en visages is a book that has become a show that tells the story of the river from yesterday to today, and that of its residents. Combining comedy, reading, music and song, it draws the portrait of a tender and wild, dark and joyful river, to remember the Rhône, to question its future, and the links that unite man and nature.

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