Friday, 4 September 2009


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Let me tell you a story…
Once upon a time, there was a young man and he was a teacher, a teacher who started to sing, he sang songs that he had written himself, the lyrics pure poetry.
He played many different instruments, from the clarinet to the guitar, the cither to the flute.
He sang in his dialect, of his land and of its people.
Soon he captured the hearts of many, they all wanted to hear and see him. What joy one of these evenings was, he narrated from one song to the next, anecdotes, a few jokes, and also some philosophical profundities!
The years went bye, he grew in popularity, in wisdom, his hair and beard a bit greyer.
I heard he was also a good sculptor, he wrote and recorded more songs… always remained the fine, ‘simple’ and genuine man, who enjoyed life and what he was doing.
I often wondered if he realized the pleasure he gave to so many?
My life also changed I became a mother, my boys grew up with his music, they thought it was fantastic to hear someone sing in the language they spoke.
I still see them, after a bath, in their pyjamas, lying on their belly, head on elbowed hands, listening intently as the vinyl record turned out the beautiful words, their eyes big and full of imagination...
As came the new song, Le Tour du Monde d’un Gamin de Paris… (The tour of the world of a boy from Paris)
It is the story of a boy from Paris, who creeps up into the attic of his home and discovers an old book, it was written in a language he could not understand yet for hours he’d lie looking at the beautiful and interesting prints, Le Tour du Monde d’un Gamin de Paris ( by Louis Boussenard, 1847-1910, Illustrations/etchings by D. Dumont), he loves the adventures of the ship filled with treasure, being wrecked on the cliff in a faraway country, the boy (Friquet) and a few survived.
The trek through jungles with wild animals, the torrid deserts that have to be traversed with all their dangers, eventually they get horses, gallop up mountains and down into lovely villages filled with music and song… he would have loved to stay there, but they had to carry on, through blinding snow, fighting wolves and the biting, bitter winds.
They were guest to emperors and kings, indigenous people examined them filled with curiosity, they slept in palaces or just on the ground, welcomed as princes or chased as dogs.
They became quiet, skinny and tired… the eternal quest and not knowing where you’re going?
Is there no end to it and why, who and what had he been looking for?

The years have passed and the book lost in fire but the story continues; now I’m here, it taught me to carry on, where to… I still am none the wiser…

In 't hus van me voader op de zolder vergeten
lagt er en oed boek van de wörms half opgevreten
en meer dan ne kêe êk musstil op m'n kniên
de zolder opgekropen om dat boek te beziên

Al was in een toale die 'k nie en verstond
toch lag ik uren met dat boek ep de grond
want surtout de prenten verwonderden mie
le tour du monde d'un gamin de paris

't schip dat us voerde vol schatten an boord
sloeg ep de klippen alleman was versmoord
nee 'k zoe liegen, zes matrozen me nen board
overleefden de rampe en bleven gespaard

We liepen deur bössen ne knuppel in d'hand
weken en moanden deur een onbekend land
wilde bêesten en mensen sprongen overal ut 't groen
mor me zeven sterke mann'n moesten we niee veel moeite doên

Eindloze woestijnen me nie anders dan zand
oltied ep en nere en de zönne die brandt
achter iederen heuvel bandieten ep de loêr
doar deure geroaken was nen duvelschen toêr

Wat later hadde me peirden, zeven peirden in galop
in nog vreemder streken bergaf en bergoop
langs witte dörptjes vol muziek en zang
doar had ek willen blijven, me leven lang

Moar nen onmeugelijken drift dreef us vôort
nen dag van ruste werd al gauwe verstôord
doar zag j'ons strompelen door de sneeuw verblind
vechtend me de wolven in den bitende wind

Bi keizers en keuningen waoren me te gast
van negers en indianen bekeurd en betast
we sliepen in paleizen of gewoon ep de grond
lijk prinsen begroet of verjoagd lijk en hond

we wieren heel stille moager en moe
van 't eeuwig tjolen nie meer weten waar naartoe
komt er dan nooit geen einde aan dien tocht
waarom en voor wie en wat had ik gezocht

de jaren zijn gevlogen en 't boek is verbrand
maar d'historie duurt vôort nu ben ik hier beland
en 't hê mi geleerd oltied verder te goan
mor woar noartoe, dat heb ik nog nooit nie verstoan

The singer/writer of this song (my boys loved it!) and the lyrics is our friend Willem Vermandere.

A few weeks ago, on our way home in the car, after a pleasant meal and afternoon we spent together with Willem; it suddenly emerged that the story of the boy in the attic was true… except… the book had survived!
In his home, it was brought down and in awe we leafed through it, admiring the drawings. I was amazed; it brought back so many memories.
Listened to the melody and words so often and here Willem sat, holding it, hugging it.
Red and gold, the spine and corners a little frayed, the pages somewhat yellowed, but for a book that was printed in 1876, it looked beautiful!
What a GOLDEN moment.
Hope you have enjoyed this.
Thanx, M, (*_*)



Mark Pilbeam said...

A lovely story, Magda!

Mark Pilbeam said...

A lovely story,Magda!

Giara said...

Een prachtig verhaal en een wijs lied. Heb er van genoten. Thanks.

Dieter Verhofstadt said...

Mijn lievelingslied van Willem.