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Haitian Poems

Choucoune

choucouneChoucoune (Haitian Creole: Choukoun) is an 1883 poem by Haitian poet Oswald Durand. Its words are in Haitian Creole and became the lyrics to the song Choucoune, later rewritten in English as Yellow Bird, based on the words “ti zwazo” (French: petit oiseau; little bird) from the Durand poem.

Durand’s inspiration for the poem was a marabou woman named Marie Noel Belizaire—nicknamed Choucoune—who ran a restaurant in Cap-Haïtien. She met Durand, and the two had a romantic liaison. In the poem, Choucoune deserts the poet for a Frenchman’s favors. Reportedly the real Choucoune and Durand parted because of the poet’s serial philandering.

Marie Noel Belizaire is said to have died in 1924, her seventy-first year, having spent the last portion of her life in her native village of La-Plaine-du-Nord as a beggar—but still widely recognized as the subject of Durand’s poem.

1. Dèyè yon gwo touf pengwen
Lòt jou mwen kontre Choukoun
Li souri lè li wè mwen
Mwen di: “Syèl, ala bèl moun!”
Mwen di: “Syèl, ala bèl moun!”
Li di: “Ou trouve sa chè?”

Ti zwezo nan bwa ki tape koute
Ti zwezo nan bwa ki tape koute
Kon mwen sonje sa
Mwen genyen lapenn
Ka depi jou sa
De pye mwen nan chenn

Kon mwen sonje sa
Mwen genyen lapenn
De pye mwen nan chenn

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