Oswald Durand (September 17, 1840 - April 22, 1906) was a Haitian poet
and politician, said to be "to
Haiti what Shakespeare is to England
and Dante to Italy." He was also a Haitian writer and poet of
French and Creole expression, considered as the national poet of
Haiti. Besides he was also judged as a Romantic poet and the most
prolific one in the nineteen centuries. These 20th-century successors
such as Rene Depestre and Jacques Romain congratulated Oswald Durand
for his authentic expressions and honored him as a forerunner of
Haitian indigenism. He was born in the northern part of
has for city Cap-Haitian. In 1842 an earthquake devastated the city of
Cap-Haitian which made him orphan father and mother when he was nearly
two years old.
Oswald Durand and her sister were welcomed to their
maternal grandmother who grew them up. He spent most of his childhood
outside the city where he was born. Because of the political
difficulties the country was going through, he was forced to leave
school and to educate himself without having recourse to a teacher.
He owes the title of romantic poet thanks to one of those works that
he wrote laughs and tears.
his most famous works are Choucoune, a lyrical poem praising the
beauty of a Haitian woman, and Chant National, a lyrical historic poem
which became as popular as the presidential hymn.
Born in Saint Louis-du-Nord, Durand worked as a teacher before being
elected to Congress in 1885, a position to which he was re-elected six
times. He was involved with several periodicals and newspapers,
serving as advisor, writer, and, in a few cases, founder.
1.1 A patriot
2 Judicial Trouble
3 Famous works
4 Selected works
In 1860, he became a teacher in an elementary school and in 1867 he
held the post of director of a secondary school in the city of
Gonaives. Before he turns out to be a Professor he already created his
periodical. In 1868, he turns into the secretary of the council of
ministers and after elected delegate in 1885. In 1888, he became
president of the chamber, being a journalist he created his own
newspaper called "Bigailles". Before his death, Oswald Durand
managed to concretize one of his greatest dreams. He travels to France
and is received with honor by the famous Jean Francois Coppe to the
society of letters people .
Oswald Durand was considered a
national poet, he used to denounce social relations in his country. In
his text Poetry of Revolution Amy Reinsel stated that “In general,
the poems in Rires et Pleurs illustrate the various reasons Durand was
hailed as Haiti’s national poet both during his lifetime and after
his death” (Reinsel 106). One of
Oswald Durand ambition was to
show the social relations of his country, the Haitian nature and the
history of his country. The author uses themes such as love, earth,
slavery and revolution in his text. Indeed, slavery in
cruel. Slaves were subjected to inhuman treatment. The slave was
considered a moveable good. The rest of Sunday's day was not respected
In Epopee des Aïeux he reveals himself as a patriot of the Haitian
nation. In his text, he extols the exploits of our ancestors who
bravely fight to free slaves from slavery. He presents the history of
his country as being the most wonderful of ancient stories with
glorious facts. Lucmane Vieux in his article Poetry / Battle of
Oswald Durand 's Epopee des Aieux. Lucmane Vieux
presented a passage from
Oswald Durand text and stated that:
“Dessalines, one leap, is in the West. His powerful heels do not
spare anything. More whites, more colonists! The slaves of yesterday,
the damned Africans, were then masters of Quisqueya the beautiful.
Here Dessalines is clearly identified for his accomplishments in the
Jean-Jacques Dessalines was the one who continued
the revolution after the death of Toussaint Louverture. He fought the
powerful French army and proclaimed the independence of the country on
January 1, 1804. He ordered the slaughter of all white Haitians and
Haiti was an all-black nation. It prohibited whites from
acquiring land and property Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
Durand reveals as a patriot in his poem Ces Allemands where he
describes the abuses that the Germans have done to the Haitian
government. Bob Lapierre in his book said this: “Germans, dual
Prussians we tossed the money, head up, with pride, just as we toss a
bone to the dogs!” (Lapierre 19). During the Luders affair, Haiti
was forced to yield to German orders. They asked the Haitian
government for a $20000 ransom, a letter of apology, the return of the
German who was exiled and an official ceremony should be organized in
honor of the German charge affairs.
Besides the fact that
Oswald Durand was a poet and a writer he also
had problems with justice. In 1883, he went to jail because of his
politic ideas. During his time in jail, he wrote his famous poem
Choucoune. He disagreed with the government of the President Lysius
Felicite Salomon and became a political refugee. During his judicial
demises, he takes refuge in a foreign embassy in the city of
Cap-Haitian. During his refuge, he wrote a recension of a poem title
Mon Ile Bien-Aimee.
In his text, Choucoune
Oswald Durand extols the beauty of the Haitian
woman. The author has created a work that went beyond the other works
of his time. He had created a kind of metapoem. His Choucoune work
took part in the world literature. His work has been appreciated by
international readers. He used the Creole language in his text. He
used rhymes from foreign models. In his text, A Primer of Haitian
Literature in Kreyol George Lang tells us the type of rhymes that he
used: “Here too Kreyòl is subject to a European rhyme-scheme:
ABABCCDD. As well, the irony that a Kreyòl-speaking object of desire
(Kreyòl itself?) was stolen away by a French-speaker as recounted in
a poem cast into a French verse form was likely not lost on readers of
the time” (Lang 132).
This text was also used by other people and later became very popular.
Michel Mauleart Monton, a pianist of American origin, composed the
music of the poem in 1893 . The music was performed for the first
time in Port-au-Prince on May 14, 1893 . The same text Choukoun
later becomes the lyric of a song. The lyric of this text for native
English is known as yellow birds. The musical lyric was arranged in
Calypso style. The lyric was performed by Harry Belafonte and Celia
Cruz and was successful in the summer of 1961 when the band Arthur
Lyman reached number 4 of Billboard Hot100 and number 2 of the brand
new easy listening with its Hawaiian instrumental version.
Another important work of
Oswald Durand is Quand nos Aieux briserent
leurs entraves which becomes the national song and national anthem of
Haiti from 1803 to 1904 .
Rires et Pleurs - published 1897
Choucoune - published 1883
Ces Allemands - published 14 June 1872
La Mort de nos Cocotiers
^ P. Schutt-Ainé, Haiti: A Basic Reference Book, 95
^ a b c d Lapierre, Bob (15 January 2017). Reclaiming Choukoun.
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. pp. 11–20.
^ Lapierre, Bob (15 January 2017). Reclaiming Choukoun. Create Space
Independent Publishing Platform. pp. 11–20.
^ a b Reinsel, Amy (2008). "Poetry of Revolution: Romanticism and
National Projects in Nineteenth Century Haiti".
^ Vieux, Lucmane (17 November 2014). "" L'épopée des Aïeux "
d'Oswald Durand". Le Nouvelliste.
^ Louis Etienne, Islam (4 November 2014). "Les Vautours Du 6
Décembre". Le Nouvelliste.
^ a b c Lang, Georges (1 June 2004). "A Primer of Haitian Literature
Schutt-Ainé, Patricia (1994). Haiti: A Basic Reference Book. Miami,
Florida: Librairie Au Service de la Culture. pp. 94–95.
Lang, George. "A Primer of Haitian Literature in Kreyól." Research in
African Literatures, vol. 35, no. 2, Summer2004, pp. 128–140.
Reinsel, Amy. Poetry of Revolution: Romanticism and National Projects
in Nineteenth-Century Haiti, University of Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor,
2008, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global,
Lapierre, Bob. “The Authentic Author of Choukoun.” Reclaiming
Choukoun, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2017,
pp. 11–20. ISBN 1542579309
Louis Etienne, Islam. “Les Vautours Du 6 Décembre.” Le
Nouvelliste, 4 Nov. 2014,
Vieux, Lucmane. “« L'épopée Des Aïeux » D'Oswald
Durand.” Le Nouvelliste, 17 Nov. 2014,
“Révolution Haïtienne.”, Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Dec.
“Oswald Durand.”, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Dec. 2017,
“Jean-Jacques Dessalines.”, Wikimedia Foundation, 11
Dec. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Dessalines.
“Michel Mauléart Monton.”, Wikimedia Foundation, 13
Dec. 2017, fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Maul%C3%A9art_Monton.
ISNI: 0000 0000 5075 651X