Translation © by Peter Low

Méfiez‑vous des blancs
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
[Méfiez-vous]1 des blancs, 
habitants du rivage.
Du temps de nos pères, 
des blancs descendirent dans cette île ; 
on leur dit: Voilà des terres, 
que vos femmes les cultivent. 
Soyez justes, soyez bons, 
et devenez nos frères.

Les blancs promirent, et cependant 
ils faisaient des retranchements. 
Un fort menaçant s'éleva ;
le tonnerre fut renfermé
dans des bouches d'airain ;
leurs prêtres voulurent nous donner
un Dieu que nous ne connaissons pas ;
ils parlèrent enfin
d'obéissance et d'esclavage:
Plutôt la mort !
Le carnage fut long et terrible ;
mais, malgré la foudre qu'ils vormissaient,
et qui écrasait des armées entières,
ils furent tous exterminés. 
[Méfiez-vous]1 des blancs!

Nous avons vu de nouveaux tyrans,
plus forts et plus nombreaux,
planter leur pavillon sur le rivage:
le ciel a combattu pour nous;
il a fait tomber sur eux les pluies,
les tempêtes et les vents empoisonnés.
Ils ne sont plus, et nous vivons libres.
[Méfiez-vous]1 des blancs,
habitants du rivage.

About the headline (FAQ)

Some missing text provided by Don Hulbert. Note: this is a block of prose in the original; the line-breaks are arbitrary.
Ravel: "Aoua! Aoua! Méfiez-vous"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , title 1: "Awa!", copyright © 2002, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 32
Word count: 160

Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Awa!  Awa!  Do not trust the white men,
you shore-dwellers!
In our fathers' day,
white men came to this island. 
"Here is some land," they were told, 
"your women may cultivate it.
Be just, be kind,
and become our brothers."

The whites promised, and all the while
they were making entrenchments.
They built a menacing fort,
and they held thunder captive 
in brass cannon;
their priests tried to give us
a God we did not know;
and later they spoke
of obedience and slavery. 
Death would be preferable! 
The carnage was long and terrible;
but despite their vomiting thunder
which crushed whole armies,
they were all wiped out. 
Awa!  Awa!  Do not trust the white men!

We saw new tyrants,
stronger and more numerous,
pitching tents on the shore. 
Heaven fought for us.
It caused rain, tempests
and poison winds to fall on them. 
They are dead, and we live free!
Awa! Awa!  Do not trust the white men,
you shore-dwellers!


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2002 by Peter Low, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 32
Word count: 161