'Til Death or Distance Do Us Part: Love and Marriage in African America

By Frances Smith Foster | Go to book overview

TWO
TERMS OF ENDEARMENT

C’est li mo ‘oule, c’est li ma pren

—“Aurore Pradère” (African American folk song)

“AURORE PRADÈRE,” AN ANTEBELLUM BALLAD SAID TO originate among African Americans in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, tells a story of one person’s determination to choose whom to love. It not only delineates traits that attract the suitor’s interest but also reveals a readiness for passionately romantic commitment in the face of opposition. Generally sung in French, the English translation of the first stanza goes like this:

Aurore Pradère, pretty maid,
She’s just what I want and her I’ll have.
A muslin gown she does not chose,
She doesn’t ask for ‘broidered hose,
She doesn’t want prunella shoes;
she’s what I want and her I’ll have.1

In the quoted stanza, the speaker says that Aurore Pradère is desirable because she is a “pretty maid” who neither asks for nor wears fancy clothes. Prunella and muslin are fabrics more fashionable than practical. Since she does not ask for frivolous gifts, she is, of course, less likely to be a financial burden. But equally important, because she does not try to

-28-

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