Travel Reference
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[My language is that of America / I was born from this landscape / I took
my breath from the river's silt / I am earth, and I am expression]
Here one notes the convergence of language ('langue'), landscape
('paysage'), land ('terre'), man ('je'), and message ('parole'), all stem-
ming from the river ('limon du fleuve'), a conflation reinforced through-
out the poem by frequent use of metaphor and personification.28 28 As
Jacques Paquin states, 'Délaissant la forme blasonnante de l'éloge
du pays à travers sa cartographie, Gatien Lapointe substitue … celle du
corps sujet. Sont ainsi favorisées les formules (au sens rimbaldien du
terme) qui traduisent l'immédiateté de l'expérience entre le corps et le
monde.' (211; Abandoning the blazon form of praising the country
through its cartography, Lapointe substitutes a geography of the speak-
ing body. Thus favoured are formulas (in the Rimbaldian sense) that
translate the immediacy of the experience between the body and the
world.) Indeed, Lapointe's imagery often recalls that of Rimbaud's
Bâteau ivre , although, rather than the past perfect of a failed adventure,
here the tense is that of the present marching confidently towards the
future, much as in Paul Éluard's Liberté , and much like the river ('Je
suivrai la marche du fleuve,' 67; I'll follow the river's flow).29 29 It is also
clear that, unlike Éluard, writing in occupied France and set on recover-
ing in the future the remnants and icons of past freedom lost, Lapointe
is just as determined to construct a new identity in the present ('Et c'est
aujourd'hui qu'il me faut construire,' 67; And it is today that I will my-
self construct), an identity that is both personal and collective ('C'est de
l'homme désormais qu'il s'agit,' 67; It is henceforth about man). As
Joseph Bonenfant proclaims, in an excellent reading of the poem, 'Le
poète enferme l'identité des choses dans ses mots. Dans le cas de Gatien
Lapointe, on trouve aussi dans ses mots l'identité de celui qui parle. De
là à ce que le lecteur éprouve lui aussi l'identité, et la sienne propre, il
n'y a aucun espace.' (250; The poet encloses the identity of things in his
words. In the case of Lapointe, one also finds in his words the identity
of the speaker. From there, to the reader also finding his own identity,
there is no distance.)
In the second canto, the imagery suggests that man and river form a
single entity: 'Fleuve dont les flots m'entraînent m'enchaînent/
J'apprendrai la phrase âpre et belle de tes rives' (68; River whose waves
carry me capture me / I will learn the bitter and beautiful sentence of
your banks). Although the river's waves, captured by alliteration
('fleuve … flots'), rhymed repetition ('m'entraînent ... m'enchaînent'),
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