We continue our celebration of the Jèrriais language on the run up to European Day of Languages with Marianne Coutanche’s poem, Lé Mèr.
My grandparents were potato growers and farmed a cotîl above their house in L’Etacq. Dad told me when he was very young he would go vraicking down at L’Etacquerel with their neighbour. They used to give him a small paper bag of jelly babies to keep him happy while he held the horse.
Over the summer, I went for a wander around the rocks at the base of Faulkner Fisheries and found the cobbled vraicking path leading down to Petit Cômier. The law stated that vraicking was not to start until the sea had receded as far as the rocks at the bottom of the path. This was know as the vraic marker, or in Jèrriais, lé mèr.
Each day he waits, dutifully,
for the tide to reach its mark.
Sure footed on hard round cobbles,
un c’mîn cut through black L’Etacq rock.
Les cliouques cliapotent at boots, sunk,
ears tuned to the clyique of the vrai.
Sickle and frouque poised at the tarred
waterline, awaiting the cliaque of the gun.
The harvest takes place in earnest,
at the lifting of the Moon’s sluice.
Hèrnais heaped with salt-sodden haul,
back braced with strap and harness.
Hooves heavy, heaving for the
headland, traced with vieillottes à lis.
Fruits of hard labour stacked, ready,
precious fertiliser from the sea.
To hear this poem read aloud visit Marianne’s website: www.jerriaisstories.online, where you will also find a glossary of terms.