The song of the Antilles.

It has been said that Adieu Foulard, Adieu Madras is considered the national song of the Antilles. Let us rather say that this song has a lot of success and compare it to the very well known “This is only a goodbye” so loved by the English. This song, almost two centuries old, and still loved, is said to be composed in Martinique, but it is more often attributed to a Guadeloupean composer and particularly to the Marquis de Bouillé, who was first governor of Martinique , then to Guadeloupe at the end of the eighteenth century. His style resembles the lullabies of this century. Lafcadio Hearn, who lived only in Martinique and who wrote seriously on this island, collected a version of Adieu Foulard, Adieu Madras around 1888.

Note that this lullaby does not support drum accompaniment and lends itself more easily to harmonization with the piano or symphony orchestra. It is a melody that has not integrated into the Antilles, as curious as the fact may seem.
Its text itself includes a form of expression which is not usual with the current topics of the West Indian folklore. The popular poet of the Antilles is interested in more precise facts: work, money, irony, fidelity and no song proceeds from this melancholy without return like Adieu Foulard, Adieu Madras! The theme of emigration which found so many echoes in proverbs, songs of belairs or vigil tales was expressed vigorously and always with optimism: I pa’ti pou ‘ché’ché la vie! (he left to seek life! That is to say what to earn a living) we often hear.
While Adieu Foulard, Adieu Madras evokes a dolce-idleness and a regret as “out of the outside of the soul of the country”, applying more to the traveler or the passer-by who has stayed some time on the islands and who leaves them The death in the soul.
Thanks to Mr. Roger Fortuné, it was possible to compare three versions of Adieu Foulard, Adieu Madras including one from Guadeloupe, another, probably the oldest, from Martinique and a third from Guyana.


Adieu Foulard a été traduit en anglais et sert d’explication de texte plutôt que texte de chanson.

Good-bye lovely scarves, good-bye Madras Good-bye golden necklaces
My sweetheart is leaving me
Alas ! Alas ! It is for ever

Good-morning, mr Governor
I corne to submitt a request
To ask your permission
To leave my sweetheart to me

My young lady it is too Tate
Your sweetheart has already emberqued
The ship is close to the buoy
And is ready to sail

Good-bye lovely scarves, good-bye Madras
Good-bye golden necklaces
My sweetheart is leaving me
Alas ! Alas ! It is for ever

Anca Bertrand.

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