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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXXI. Non-English Writings I

§ 32. Poetry; Dominique Rouquette

Louisiana, with its luxurious vegetation, its bayous bordered with ancient oaks, its picturesque gulf coast, and its proud race of people, has made many poets, the most fecund of whom, and the most popular, if not the greatest, is Dominique Rouquette, brother of Adrien Rouquette. Dominique went to be educated in Paris; upon his return he took up the life of a hermit, writing sentimental verses, dreaming, and bothering very little about his daily bread. He was a picturesque figure on the streets of New Orleans as he strolled along with a great cudgel in one hand and a bouquet of flowers in the other, singing his verses at the top of his voice. His poetry was well received in France, notably by Hugo; it was said that Béranger and Deschamps learned some of his lines by heart. He published two volumes, Les Meschacébéennes and Fleurs d’Amérique. The following is from the Fleurs:

  • Déjà dans les buissons dort la grive bâtarde:
  • La voix du bûcheron, qui dans les bois s’attarde,
  • A travers les grands pins se fait entendre au loin;
  • Aux bœufs libres du joug ayant donné le foin,
  • Sifflant une chanson, le charretier regagne
  • Sa cabane où l’attend une noire compagne,
  • Et fume taciturne, accroupi sur un banc,
  • Sa pipe, au longs reflets du mélèze flambant.
  • Adrien Rouquette wrote in a similar strain. His Antoniade ou la Solitude avec Dieu (1860) is a long eremitic poem on what had been one of the most popular subjects in Europe or America, solitude. Les Savanes (1841) is a collection of his shorter pieces. Tullius Saint-Céran wrote Rien ou Moi in 1837, and Mil huit cent quatorze et Mil huit cent quinze in 1838. The latter celebrates the battle of New Orleans, as does an epic in ten cantos by Urbain David, of Cette, entitled Les Anglais à la Louisiane en 1814 et 1815 (1845). Lussan, the author of Les Martyrs de la Louisiane, produced in 1841 Les Impériales, a volume of homage to Napoleon in the style of Hugo. Felix de Courmont began in 1866 a poetical daily, in which he printed his own medicore verse, chiefly satirical. Constant Lepouzé, the best Latin scholar of Louisiana, gracefully translated the odes of Horace in Poésies Diverses (1838). In 1845 Armand Lanusse published Les Cenelles, a very interesting volume of poems by Boise, Dalcour, Liotau, Valcour, Thierry, and others, inspired evidently by Hugo and Béranger, but striking at times a note of independence and jocularity. The following, from Thierry, was first printed in Paris:

  • Parle toujours, j’aime à t’ntendre,
  • Ta douce voix me fait comprendre
  • Que je dois encore au bonheur
  • Prétendre
  • Car j’ai pour chasser le malheur
  • Ton cœur.
  • Oscar Dugué, the dramatist, published Essais Poétiques in 1847. The poems are formal and without variety, and cultivate melancholy. His Homo, a didactic poem, is not very interesting.