Whispered Song: Discerning Voices of 19th Century Louisianan Poets


  • David Ray Sommerfeldt Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta


The messages of Free People of Colour were spread through subtle and subversive poetry and song in 19th century French Louisiana. Reuniting the lyrical poetry with the original music provides a deep and rich understanding of the intentions and meaning of the poems. The songs portray the French ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity of the French Revolution situated in the context of life in Civil War era Louisiana. This research details the discovery process of contemporary attitudes toward French in Louisiana, a historical analysis of song and lyrics of the 19th to mid-20th century, and an interpretation of poetry written by Free People of Colour as it relates to the works of Pierre-Jean de Beranger, a French poet who chronicled the spirit of the French Revolution. The narrative describes voices, once silenced, becoming a whispered song.