Denys Corbet

April 25, 2011 at 11:37 am. Letters to Media.

“Denys Corbet
May 22nd 1826 to April 21st 1909
La Drain Rimeux (The last poet)

It is a great honour that a British Blue Heritage Plaque has been awarded to the late Denys Corbet.
At a ceremony on the Saturday July 16th at 3pm, it will be put on the mounting steps of La Roberge Farm.
It is only the third one given, G.B.Edwards (writer of Ebenezer Le Page and Peter Le Lievre (artist) being the first two.
Denys Corbet was born to a ships pilot in the Vale Parish and educated at the Vale Primary School.
He married Susan Elizabeth Wellington in 1852  and had four sons and two daughters and settled at “La Roberge Farm” an approximate 18 vergee Farm.
Denys Corbet was a Headmaster, Forest Constable, as well as farmer, engraver and clock repairer.
It used to be customary to among land-owning families, when the owner died to ask some well known person “ dauve enne bouaine letc” to pace and value the estate to be shared between heirs. Corbets services for this and also his fame in the Forest as a clock repairer where much sought after.

He was Editor for the French language news paper Le Bailliage and also prose columns in Dgernesais under the name Badlagoule (chatterbox) and  wrote in French, English and Patois.
He was at that time most famous for his paintings at the annual Royal Guernsey Agricultural and Horticultural shows at Fairfield. He was well paid for painting water colours of the prize-winning cows by farmers and so meticulous and correct were they that long after the cow’s demise or transportation to America. They could still be recognised from that picture.

Denys Corbet was also a poet and wrote in the three languages and his first collection of verse “Les Feuilles de la Foret” was published in 1883 and next winter was followed by “Le Jour de L’An “ and so popular were these with Guernsey people that in 1884 “Les Chants du Drain Rimeux” followed.

This was written at a time when other poets Thomas Lenfestey des Fontaines was writing little and Nico Guilbert had given up and Metivier was dying. The four poets were often at Victor Hugo’s soirees at his house and Le Gouffre, forest were named by his wife as “mes enfants de la Maison.”

He wrote the “L’Tour de Gurnesy” to be a short poem and a prevace to Les Chants and was to fill one half coloum in the Bailliage, but this turned into an epic.

All the tales told by aged relatives in his youth, all the knowledge and gained from wandering around the island and seeing life as it was at that time, its traditions and language. After a day’s tour around the Island he would come back to La Roberge Farm and in the loft by candle light he would put down on paper the 1,000 words from memory to go into his book.

All this was put into “L’ Tour de Gurnesy” dedicated to “Les Guernesiais d’Guernesy” and it was his magnum opus.

The late Marie de Garis always maintained that Denys Corbet was Guernsey’s best poet, as he was a native born speaker of Patois and the Blue Plague is something that she would have been very proud for him to receive in his memory.
It is also a great privilege for my family as my grandfather brought La Roberge Farm from his son Denys Wellington Corbet, also I learnt about him and his life at an early age.

A La Perchoin
Dave Gorvel

Denys Corbet Placque

“There was an unveiling of the plaque by the Bailiff Sir Geoffrey Rolland and Lady Rolland, at my home La Roberge Farm, Forest.

It was attended by 40 people and my wife and daughter laid on food and drinks.

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