This is from the children song "Compère Guilleri":

Il était un p'tit homme
Appelé Guilleri,
Il s'en fut à la chasse,
A la chasse aux perdrix,
Titi carabi, Toto carabo,
Compère guilleri.
Te lairas-tu, te lairas-tu,
Te lairas-tu mouri.

How should I understand "en" and "mouri" grammatically?

I know that "en" may work in different ways (adverb, preposition, pronoun etc), but I'm not sure what's happening in this case.

About "mouri", I guess it's supposed to mean the infinitive "mourir", so where's the final "r"?

2 Answers 2


En is part of the verbal expression s'en aller1, see for example How to understand "Je m'en vais."?

Lairas and mouri are used for laisseras and mourir.

The latter to rhyme with carabi and the former possibly just for the fun of dropping another consonant.

There are other cases of poetic licence later on:

Pour voir ses chiens couri
Et Guilleri tombi
Guill'ri les embrassit

enter image description here

Journal des écoliers et des écolières, 1903 (Wikipedia)

A 1860 version of that song uses the same wording outside a slight variation with titi/toto and the last name spelled Guillery.

enter image description here

Victor Séjour, Compère Guillery, Drame en cinq actes et neuf tableaux.

1 Despite the fact that fut is technically a conjugation of the verb être. See @Livresque's reply and Didier's comment.


It looks like you have a phonetic copy of the lyrics, or just a poetic/lyrical version. A popular search engine returned Musixmatch listing mourir as you suspected. It does not mean anything different.

Te lairas-tu, te lairas-tu
Te lairas-tu mourir?

Lai'ras a contraction of laisseras, musical interpretation not unlike how leaving the -r off mourir helps with the rhyme scheme.

Then you have the verb s'en aller. It's the third entry for aller and it means to go away. In this context, he went off to (the) hunt, went away to hunt. Similar to "a-hunting we will go" in an English children's song of a similar time period. S'en aller is fixed. Also note the usage in the passé simple.

Rem. 1. Aux temps composés, en précède normalement l'auxil. : je m'en suis allé; je me suis en allé est familier. 2. Pour l'emploi littér. il s'en fut, au lieu de il s'en alla, cf. être

  • Note that “fut” is from “être” and not “aller”, hence the “cf. être” in the last quote, and the corresponding remark in the definition of “fut” on the same site.
    – Didier L
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 15:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.