Monday, July 16, 2012

La Marseillaise

The song that became the national anthem of France has an interesting history. An army engineer and amateur musician named Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle was asked to write a marching song. A supporter of the monarchy during the French Revolution, he composed Chant de guerre de l’armeé du Rhin(War Song of the Army of the Rhine) in April 1792. Ironically, revolutionary forces in Marseilles (a town in southern France) adopted the song before marching on Paris. They sang it with such gusto as they entered the city that it became known as La Marseillaise, or the Marseilles song. It was adopted as the national anthem in 1795 because of its association with revolution. Curiously, it was banned during several periods in French history, including Napoléon’s Empire. Today, the French typically sing only the first of the seven verses.

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé.
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L’étendard sanglant est levé,
L’étendard sanglant est levé.
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque nos bras
Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes.
Aux armes, citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons!
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve no sillons!
Let us go, children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived.
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody battle flag is raised,
Bloody battle flag is raised.
Do you hear in the countryside
The roar of these savage soldiers?
They come right into our arms
To cut the throat of our sons, our wives.
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let us march, let us march!
Let the impure blood (of our enemies)
Soak the furrows (of our fields)!

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