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Aoua (1925)

Part of a series or song cycle:

Chansons madécasses


Aoua! Aoua! Méfiez-vous des blancs, habitans du rivage.
Du tems de nos pères, des blancs descendirent dans cette île.
On leur dit: Voilà des terres, que vos femmes les cultivent;
soyez justes, soyez bons, et devenez nos frères.
Les blancs promirent, et cependant ils faisoient des retranchements.
Un fort menaçant s’éleva; le tonnerre fut renfermé dans des bouches d’airain;
leurs prêtres voulurent nous donner un Dieu Que nous ne connoissons pas;
ils parlèrent enfin d’obéissance et d’esclavage.
Plûtot la mort! Le carnage fut long et terrible;
mais malgré la foudre qu’ils vomissoient et qui écrasoit
des armées entières, ils furent tous exterminés.
Aoua! Aoua! Méfiez-vous des blancs.
Nous avons vu de nouveaux tyrans, plus forts et plus nombreux,
planter leur pavillons sur lerivage.
Le ciel a combattu pour nous. Il a fait tomber sur eux les pluies,
les tempêtes et les vents empoisonnés. Ils ne sont plus,
et nous vivons, et nous vivons libres. Aoua Aoua!
Méfiez-vous des blancs, habitans du rivage.


Aoua! Aoua! Beware of white men, dwellers of the shore.
In our fathers’ time, white men landed on this island;
they were told: here are lands, let your women work them; be just,
be kind and become our brothers.
The white men made promises, and yet they made entrenchments too.
A menacing fort was built; thunder was stored in muzzles of cannon;
their priests pressed on us a God we did not know;
they spoke finally of obedience and slavery. Sooner death!
The carnage was long and terrible; but despite the thunder they spewed
and which crushed whole armies, they were all wiped out.
Aoua! Aoua! Beware of white men.
We have seen new tyrants, stronger and more numerous,
setting their tents on the shore:
heaven has fought on our behalf; has hurled rains upon them,
storms and poisoned winds.
They are no more, and we live, and live in freedom.
Aoua! Beware of white men, dwellers of the shore.

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Joseph Maurice Ravel was a French composer, pianist and conductor.  In the 1920s and 1930s he was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer. He was one of the first composers to acknowledge the potential of recording in making music accessible to a broad public, and in the 1920s several recordings of his work were made.

Information from Wikipedia. Read more here.

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