Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
In these opening verses, the poet identifies his country's problem as
one of isolation ('solitaire') 5 and expresses his determination ('je crie
avant de me taire') to combat it by reaching out beyond his own culture
to contact humanity in a global sense ('tous les hommes de la terre') in
order to offer that most characteristic of French-Canadian qualities:
hospitality ('Ma maison, c'est votre maison').
Entre ses quatre murs de glace
Je mets mon temps et mon espace
A préparer le feu, la place
Pour les humains de l'horizon
Et les humains sont de ma race
[Within its four walls of ice / I put my time and my space / Into preparing
the fire, the place / For humanity on the horizon /And all humans are of
my race]
It is within the cultural place of the home ('ses quatre murs') that the
poet does not abolish but recuperates time and space ('Je mets mon
temps et mon espace') and repels the winter's cold ('glace') through
human warmth ('le feu'). In comparing this poem with Émile
Nelligan's equally famous 'Soir d'hiver' (Winter evening), Donald
Smith astutely notes that 'la différence, bien sûr, c'est que Vigneault
arrive à mettre le feu, à faire fondre la glace … à affronter l'hiver, à le
dépasser' (63; the difference, of course, is that Vigneault manages to
light the fire, to melt the ice … to confront winter, to get beyond it). It
is this step, beyond the limits both of nature and of culture past, that
enables Vigneault to attain what Fernand Dumont calls a 'second cul-
ture,' as appropriate to these times of globalization as Nelligan's
poem was to his own era of isolation and consolidation. Seen initially
as negative, then as national, identity finally assumes its highest form
for Vigneault as an international phenomenon. 6 For the French-
Canadian people to survive and thrive in modern times, it must not
only be tolerant of other nations and races, but also expand the very
notions of nation and race: 'Les humains sont de ma race.' 7 Ultimately,
Vigneault sees identity as multifaceted, multicultural, and even mul-
tiracial, preparing or perhaps inaugurating current views like that
expressed by Louis Balthazar: 'Le Québec est bel et bien une société
pluraliste, multiethnique, laïque et ouverte sur le monde.' (35; Quebec
is well and truly a society that is pluralist, multiethnic, laic, and open
to the world.)
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