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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Thursday, July 14, 2005  

"La Marseillaise"

French lyrics:

Couplet I
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Egorger vos fils et vos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos batallions,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

Couplet II
Que veut cette horde d'esclaves
De traîtres, de rois conjurés?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés? (bis)
Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter?
C'est nous qu'on ose méditer
De rendre à l'antique esclavage!


Couplet III
Quoi ces cohortes étrangères!
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers!
Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires
Terrasseraient nos fils guerriers! (bis)
Grand Dieu ! par des mains enchaînées
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maîtres des destinées.


Couplet IV
Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides
L'opprobre de tous les partis
Tremblez ! vos projets parricides
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix! (bis)
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros
La France en produit de nouveaux,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre


Couplet V
Français, en guerriers magnanimes
Portez ou retenez vos coups!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes
A regret s'armant contre nous (bis)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,
Mais ces complices de Bouillé
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié
Déchirent le sein de leur mère!


Couplet VI
Amour sacré de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs
Liberté, Liberté chérie,
Combats avec tes défenseurs! (bis)
Sous nos drapeaux que la victoire
Accoure à tes mâles accents,
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire!


Couplet VII
Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus,
Nous y trouverons leur poussière
Et la trace de leurs vertus (bis)
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre!


English translation:

Verse I
Arise children of our fatherland,
[For] the day of glory has arrived!
Against us, tyranny,
Has raised its bloody flag,
Do you hear in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers?
They are coming into your midst
To slit the throats of your sons and wives!

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
March, march!
Let impure blood
Soak the furrows [of our fields]

Verse II
What does this horde of slaves want,
Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What methods must be taken?
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!


Verse III
What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brow would yield under the yoke
The vile despots would have themselves be
The masters of destiny


Verse IV
Tremble, tyrants and traitors
The shame of all good men
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will receive their just reward
Against you we are all soldiers
If they fall, our young heroes
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you


Verse V
Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your blows
Spare these sad victims
That they regret taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of Bouillé
All these tigers who mercilessly
Ripped out their mothers' wombs


Verse VI
Sacred patriotic love
Lead [and] support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Fight [back] with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your manly tone
So that your enemies, in their last breath [before death]
See your triumph and our glory!


Verse VII
We shall enter into the excavation
When our elders will no longer be there
There we shall find their ashes [lit. dust]
And the mark of their virtues
[We are] Much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
[For] We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining [lit. following] them


Clip: John Philip Sousa

UPDATE: More on the bloody lyrics of "La Marseillaise," with a bit of Burke thrown in, from last year at Matthew Yglesias * The annual Bastille Day block party returns to Marlborough Street in Boston on Friday night * A reprise of last year's Lafayette Escadrille tribute


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