The Masons of La Creuse

translation from the French of Jean Petit, 1853

So many lovely lays are sung
of shepherds, shepherdesses,
so many love-songs given tongue
of dearest lads and lasses,
so many tales are told anew
of ladies and of sirs.
But I am going to sing to you
of the masons of La Creuse.

Under the cottage thatch in spring
they hear the season’s call
and set out, leaving everything,
family, home and all.
Hiding a torment in the heart
at the summons that bestirs
their men – so wives and girlfriends part
from the masons of La Creuse.

Look at them where they have gone
out on a grand campaign.
You can see them in Bourgogne,
in Paris, in Champagne.
Now here, now there, far out again,
adventurous journeyers
are they indeed, these working men,
the masons of La Creuse.

All the railroads in the land
across the countryside
have known the labour of their hand,
and all the ports beside.
All the canals, the bridges too
from the Seine right to the Meuse,
they all can say the names to you
of the masons of La Creuse.

Take a look at the Pantheon
and at les Tuileries,
notice the Louvre, the Odeon,
and the Palace of Industry.
For all these buildings France’s heart
swells strong, such pride is hers.
Be thankful they have played their part,
the masons of La Creuse.

When wintertime comes round again
they come home to their women,
and all at once hard labour’s pain
is gone, now they’re back with them.
And all the season long for sure
a passionate spirit stirs
his wife, to have back home with her
a mason of La Creuse.

The man who wrote this song, he is
a simple mason true,
no poet. It is a pleasure of his
to take a glass or two.
To live not envying anyone
is the life that he prefers.
So are they all, each single one,
the masons of La Creuse!

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