Peter the Hermit and “To Father Chocarne”

by Jennifer Gipson

This text is presented in the framework of the project "The stories that history tells us:  Afro-Créole literature from 19th Century Louisiana". 

Taking into account the tone of this poem and the oppressive conditions of its historical context, it is not surprising that the poet chose a penname to protect his identity.  At first glance, this pseudonym seems insignificant.  However, an analysis of the name reveals a powerful commentary on Louisiana society at the time: the real Pierre L’Hermite [Peter the Hermit], an ascetic French monk who died in 1115, is hardly responsible for these verses.  However, his activities as a popular minister and a leader of the first Crusade provide a fascinating metaphor and a biting poetic critique of the social struggle against racism and religious hypocrisy that characterized nineteenth-century Louisiana life.    

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