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Les Oies Sauvages

·878 words·5 mins·
Song-Swap 2022
Jerry S
Jerry S
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Mes Aïeux, or My Ancesters in French, has been a long time favorite group of mine. For those that don’t know of my bicycle touring adventures, I happen to have discovered them during my first long four-month bicycle touring experience. Their album helped me do a deep amount of reflection during the hours of cycling that ultimately changed the course of my life and who I have become. Their songs still help guide me. They are a sort of internal aural compass.

Favorite lyrics

The original nest
The tundra calls them on
and guides all their instincts

Geese fly south to the general area of their birth and are led by their instincts and internal compass along the way. I wonder what this instinct is like for them. I’m reminded of the times in my life when my heart pulses to let me know what I should do next. Even though I may not know what the future has in store for me, something feels just right.

Yes, that must be it.

A kind voice that repeats
That despite our defeats
We can still flap our wings

I can’t explain how much I enjoy hearing this part of the song. Each time I hear it I feel myself grow lighter; my chest expands, my breathing slows, my mood shifts, my eyes moisten a tiny imperceptible bit, and I feel as if I’ll lift off the ground. My spirit, or what feels like my spirit, leaves my body and flys up into the skies.

Then the song is over and I’m back on the ground. Where did I go? Maybe I was leading my own flock of family and friends, just for a moment, in the endless blue skies.

Did you know not all geese are created migratory?

I’m not sure exactly how they came to be, but “resident” geese exist and don’t typically migrate because migration is a learned behavior, passed on from generation to generation.

One sources say resident geese came to be because hunters would keep them captive year round and use them as decoys during hunting season. Since they were held captive they never learned to migrate. Another source says resident geese were imported to help with dwindling geese populations. The imported geese never learned to migrate either and learned they could be fed by humans with no need to fly south.

Wild geese, since they are taught to migrate, as every self-respecting goose should, have a very strong instinct to return to the general area of their birth. During these migrations they can fly between 2,000 to 3,000 miles to get back to their “original” nest. Crazy! And inspirational because they fly back without maps, a car, or a plane, and risk life and wing to travel to warmer climes.


As with other songs I’ve translated from French into English, the result is not 100% literal. I have tried to use a translation that captures the spirit and rhythm of the original while not always using the equivalent words. If you try and sing the English version I hope it still fits the cadence of the original song.

This is the album cover. It has artisanal-looking geese.

Elles arrivent au printemps
Sur les ailes du vents
Par les routes de l’air

They arrive in the spring
On the wings of the wind
Using skyly highways

Drôle de géométrie
C’est un fil qui les lie
Dans leur vol angulaire

What a curious shape
That links them in the air
for their angular flight

Toutes unies à la chaîne
Derrière l’oie capitaine
Qui connaît le chemin

All a part of the chain
Pulled by the captain goose
That is guiding the way

Le nid originel
La toundra, les appelle
Et guide leur instinct

The original nest
The tundra calls them on
and guides all their instincts

Tour à tour elles prendront
La tête du peloton
Le temps d’une gouvernance

One by one they will lead
Take the head of the V
For a time they will rule

Jusqu’au bout de leurs forces
Elles bomberont le torse
Pour que le groupe avance

Until their strength runs out
They’ll pump body and wing
And the group will advance

Une fois épuisée
La place sera cédée
A un autre plus fort

On until exhaustion
The spot will be passed on
To another with strength

Et le chef volatile
Prend la queue de la file
Fier de tous ces efforts

And the wing-ed leader
Takes the back of the line
Proud of all their hard work

À chaque nouveau passage
Des volée d’oies sauvages
J’entend comme un appel;

Each time that they fly by
All these flocks of wild geese
I hear something that calls;

Une voie qui me répète
Que malgré les défaites
On a encore nos ailes

A kind voice that repeats
That despite our defeats
We can still flap our wings

Quelle belle leçon
Que ces oiseaux nous font
Obstinée et fidèle

Beauty of a lesson
That these wild birds impart
Obstinate and loyal

Faudra qu’on se console
Et qu’ensemble on s’envole
Dans les draps bleus du ciel

Let’s help each other out
And together take off
Into sheets of blue sky