La Marseillaise

Written by Rouget de Lisle in April, 1792, La Marseillaise was first published in Strasbourg under the title Chant de Guerre pour l’armée du Rhin (War Song for the Army of the Rhine) at a time when the Austro-Prussian invasion of France was imminent. The song received its affiliation with Marseilles when it was taken up by volunteers from that city upon their arrival in Paris at the end of July. Adopted as the national anthem by the Convention in 1795, the song would become a standard theme throughout the Directory and Consulate periods, but would be banned by Napoleon in 1805 as a means of declaring an end to the political ferment of the Revolution. It was reinstated as the national anthem in the centennial year of the Revolution, 1879. Full of violent imagery, its lyrics clearly convey the urgency of expelling the Austro-Prussian invaders and saving the nascent republic in the critical days prior to the Battle of Valmy.

 

La Marseillaise

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

Refrain:
Aux armes, citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons!
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

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

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

Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides,
L’opprobre de tous les partis.
Tremblez! vos projets parricides
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix!
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. [Refrain]

Français, en guerriers magnanimes
Portez ou retenez vos coups!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes
A regret s’armant contre nous
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,
Mais ces complices de Bouillé,
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié
Déchirent le sein de leur mère! [Refrain]

Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Quand nos aînés n’y seront plus.
Nous y trouverons leur poussière
Et la trace de leurs vertus.
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre! [Refrain]

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

Arise children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody standard is raised.
Listen to the sound in the fields,
The howling of these fearsome soldiers.
They are coming into your midst
To cut the throats of your sons and companions.
 Chorus:
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
March, march!
Let impure blood
Water our furrows!What do they want, this horde of slaves,
Of traitors and conspiring kings?
For whom these vile chains,
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us. What outrage!
What fury it excites!
It is we they plan
To return to the old slavery![Chorus]

What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons.
Great God! By chained hands
Our brows would yield to the yoke
Of vile despots who would become
The masters of our destinies. [Chorus]

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 produce new ones,
Ready to join the fight against you. [Chorus]

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Strike, or withhold your blows!
Spare these sad victims
Who regret taking arms against us
But not these bloody despots,
These accomplices of Bouill‚
All these tigers who pitilessly
Ripped out their mothers’ wombs! [Chorus]

We shall enter into the pit
When our elders are no longer.
There we shall find their ashes
And the mark of their virtues.
Much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them. [Chorus]

Sacred love of country
Support our avenging arms!
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders!
Under our flags let victory
Hurry to your fearful sounds
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory! [Chorus]