Travel Reference
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harmonie' (84; I sing the open air of man / I foretell the new harmony)
- which becomes, more than his own place, one for all mankind: 'J'en
ferai des maisons pour abriter les hommes / Et des lettres pour dire leur
amour / J'en ferai un chant à visage d'homme' (I will make homes to
shelter men / And letters to tell of their love / I will make a song with a
human face). This song is, no doubt, the very hymn that we are raptly
reading, yet again crucial words are missing, for the reader as earlier for
the poet ('Deux mots ont soudain changé sur ses lèvres,' 85; Two words
suddenly changed on his lips); but what are these words? As is so often
the case in the literature and painting of Quebec, the answer will ulti-
mately stem from the landscape - 'J'ouvre le premier paysage' (86; I
open the first landscape). Through a conscious creative effort, not an
intuitive burst, light is pulled out from the darkness and formed into a
rainbow that reaches across the seas that separate continents: 'J'entraîne
au jour tout ce qui est nocturne / J'ajuste l'arc-en-ciel sur la cuisse des
mers/Ma main rêve d'un continent à l'autre' (87; I drag everything
nocturnal into daylight/I adjust the rainbow on the thighs of the
seas / My hand dreams from one continent to the other). As he scans the
vast space he has just opened up, in search of a remote answer ('Le bras
en visière sur l'horizon / Je guette un très lointain secret'; Shading my
eye turned towards the horizon / I look out for a faraway secret), he
spots nearby the promised place ('une maison de terre et de bois'; a
house of earth and wood), the source of what he has already learned
and the answer to the secret he seeks ('Tout de que j'ai appris me
vient d'ici/Je retrouve ici mes premières images,' 88; All I have
learned comes from here / Here I find my earliest images). Beginning
with the repeated vague locative adverbs ('ici'), the verses move to-
wards a noun - 'la première ville' (the first city) - and then to a proper
noun, a name: 'Québec rose et gris au milieu du fleuve' (Quebec pink
and grey in the middle of the river). Indeed, by exploiting the temporal-
ity inherent in the text, the verses move from impression to identifica-
tion; that is, the syntax mimics the process of defining identity. And it
does not stop there. Whereas previous descriptions of the city, from
Cartier's and Champlain's to Garneau's and Chauvreau's, culminate in
the apparition of the city, Stadaconé or Quebec, Lapointe sees the river,
rather, as a starting point for a broader vision: 'Chaque route jette en toi
un reflet du monde … C'est le fleuve qui revient d'océan chaque soir / Et
c'est l'océan qui tremble dans chaque regard' (Each route casts in you a
reflection of the world … It's the river that returns each evening from
the ocean /And it's the ocean that trembles in each gaze). This broad
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