Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A shout-out to Brigitte Bardot, Nicolas Sarkozy, et al

Happy Bastille Day!!!

To make amends for my bourgeois use of three exclamation points in that link, I give you, in both French and English, La Marseillaise, which (a) I spelled correctly without even having to look it up first and (b) was composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792 and declared the French national anthem in 1795:

Here it is, sung in French.

And here is a translation into English by someone named Laura Lawless:

Let’s go, children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!

Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!

This horde of slaves, traitors, plotting kings,
What do they want?
For whom these vile shackles,
These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Frenchmen, for us, oh! what an insult!
What emotions that must excite!
It is us that they dare to consider
Returning to ancient slavery!

What! These foreign troops
Would make laws in our home!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would bring down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brows would bend beneath the yoke!
Vile despots would become
The masters of our fate!

Tremble, tyrants! and you, traitors,
The disgrace of all groups,
Tremble! Your patricidal plans
Will finally pay the price! (repeat)
Everyone is a soldier to fight you,
If they fall, our young heroes,
France will make more,
Ready to battle you!

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Bear or hold back your blows!
Spare these sad victims,
Regretfully arming against us. (repeat)
But not these bloodthirsty despots,
But not these accomplices of Bouillé,
All of these animals who, without pity,
Tear their mother’s breast to pieces!

Sacred love of France,
Lead, support our avenging arms!
Liberty, beloved Liberty,
Fight with your defenders! (repeat)
Under our flags, let victory
Hasten to your manly tones!
May your dying enemies
See your triumph and our glory!


We will enter the pit
When our elders are no longer there;
There, we will find their dust
And the traces of their virtues. (repeat)
Much less eager to outlive them
Than to share their casket,
We will have the sublime pride
Of avenging them or following them!


Whew! And people say The Star-Spangled Banner glorifies war. After Ms. Lawless’s translation into English of France’s utterly peaceful national song, there is very little to add, except that while we may sing of “the rockets’ red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air,” our anthem makes no mention of mercenary phalanxes, bloodthirsty despots, slit throats, impure blood, or mother’s breasts.

In keeping with the demure spirit of this post, therefore, I will let you search for a photo of Brigitte Bardot all by yourself, but only if you really want to.


  1. i reslelt the fact that you make me search for a pic of bb bardot>>.her pout and sexiness was all the rage when i was younger{i am still kind of young even now<<>>how could that be>?????}

  2. Our national anthem goes something like this (you would never guess it is the anthem of the Netherlands if you hear it):

    Wilhelmus of Nassauwe
    I am of German blood (?)
    Faithful to my homeland
    I'll remain to my death
    A Prince of Orange
    I am free and without fear
    The King of Spain (yes, the country we've lost the World Cup to)
    I have always honoured

    Now, this is only the first of 15 verses. The melody is based on a French soldier's song. Actually, my translation isn't quite up to scratch, but you get my point about the Netherlands not being mentioned.

  3. Phew. Bloodthirsty alright!

    Reminds me of the episode in 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' where we meet 'Mme Guillotine'.