Tri Yann
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OriginalEnglish Version by Riccardo Venturi
Sept avril, quittant Saint-Martin,The seventh day of April. We left St. Martin,
Six cents nous sommes embarqués sur La Martinière,seven hundred convicts on the « Martinière ».
Fers et cages pour fauves humains,Cages and chains for human beasts,
Dans trois semaines c’est la Guyane et l’oubli.three weeks more, and we’ll be forgotten in Guyana.
Pour bonjour, Prével nous a dit :Monsieur Prével greeted us with these words :
C’est pas l’enfer mais c’est déjà le purgatoire,You aren’t in hell, yet you are in purgatory
Que morts vous ne sortirez d’ici,for you won’t leave from here but dead,
Que morts ou pire, pour les Îles du Salut.or much worse, for the Islands of Salvation.
Les Chaoucs de nous mettre nus,The « Chaoucs » have had us undressed,
Zébrés de rouge et blanc zébrés et fer et flammes,and then dressed in white and black stripes, chains and flames,
Flammes et fers, ici tu n’es plus,chain and glames, and here you are nothing more,
Pauvre Guillaume, que 49302.poor Guillaume, than number 49302.
Oiseau des Caraïbes bleu,Blue bird of the Caribbean,
Va dire à mes enfants ma mère et Marie-Jeanne,fly and tell my children, my mother and Marie-Jeanne,
Va t’en dire : ma foi est en eux,fly and tell them that I trust them,
Justice veux, ne veux ni grâce ni pardon.I want justice, not pardon.
J’ai nouvelle sur un nuage blanc :A white cloud brings me news :
Guillaume, un juge un écrivain les bretons lèvent ;Guillaume, a judge, a writer and the Bretons are rising up.
J’ai nouvelle sur un nuage gris :A grey cloud brings me news :
A la Royale on te condamne pour dix ans.You have been sentenced to ten years’ Royal Island convictment.
J’ai nouvelle sur un nuage sang :A blood-red cloud brings me news :
Quel l’on te jette à Saint-Joseph, bagne du bagne ;You will be cast in St. Joseph, the worst prison of all.
J’ai nouvelle sur un nuage noir :A black cloud brings me news :
Ta mère ta fille et Marie-Jeanne n’ont plus vie.Your mother, your daughter and Marie-Jeanne are dead.
[*] Colonel Prével was the governor both of Saint-Martin-de Ré « temporary jail » for Guyana convicts (as a matter of fact, a prisoner could wait there for years, as in the case of Guillaume Seznec) and of Guyana penal colonies. See the following page on Saint-Martin-de-Ré penal colony.

[**]Properly speaking, the « chaoucs » (or « chaouchs ») were, in French colonies, the ushers of civil service departments, but this word acquired the meaning of a penal colony guard.

[***]Reference is to judge Victor Hervé, as specified in the Introduction. The « writer » is probably the journalist Petitcolas.

[****]The Royal Island (Ile Royale), one of the « Salvation Islands » where also Dreyfus was kept prisoner.

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