Much of the literary production in Jèrriais over the last two hundred years has been of poetry. Since the primary literary outlets were the numerous C19th newspapers - and their almanacs - short topical works were those most likely to be published.
Given the pattern of literacy among the population, much literature was intended to be read aloud. In fact, this is often still the case as many Jèrriais speakers have limited reading and writing skills in Jèrriais.
How do you read Jèrriais poetry aloud? Here are some notes.
Modern Jèrriais poetry - and most Jèrriais poetry from the mid C19th - is metrical, like most English poetry. In other words, "dee-dum - dee-dum - dee-dum..."
Some of the early C19th Jèrriais poetry is based on French models and is therefore syllabic. In other words, count the number of syllables in each line, not the number of stresses. As literary French is lacking in accent tonique, metrical poetry is not possible. The classic alexandrine line contains 12 syllables.
Examples of syllabic poetry in Jèrriais:
Jean Dorey In Memoriam
Dialogue entre Pierre de L'Etat, Gent., Seigneur du Manoir de Bonnenuit, et Manon de la Cour, Gardienne d'un Troupeau de Moutons.
However, since words in Jèrriais tend to have a stress like English, the development of poetry through the C19th reinforced the tendency towards metre rather than syllable-counting.
For people who are not familiar with the conventions of French poetry, here is a short explanation of how to count syllables. Each pronounced syllable counts as one syllable for the purposes of the count. Silent 'e's at the end of a word count as one syllable if followed by a consonant, but silent 'e's at the end of a line do not count as a syllable.
Let us take a line as an example. This is from the Dialogue cited above:
Since many poems were written to be recited, a typical feature is the 'chorus line' - a repeated phrase which caps every verse. This rhetorical feature works better for poetry heard than poetry read - on the stage a good performer varies the style of each repetition of the 'chorus line' to create a build-up.
A well known example in English is Longfellow's 'Excelsior' - and here is a Jèrriais parody:
Passèz la Canne!
Ma Court-é Pipe
Le Principa' d'Paraisse
One form of poetry that depends for its effect on the written form rather than recitation is the acrostic poem. Here are a few examples:
Le Feuvre Fréthes
Naturally, there are also some modern poems written in free verse form, and examples of sonnets, haikus, limericks and other forms.
As a starting point for Jèrriais poetry reading, the Section's anthology list provides a selection of 'classics' from the major authors. Otherwise,
R'tou à la page d'siez-mé | Back to home page