17 November 2010


Most national anthems are bland and predictable in praise of nations or their leaders but "La Marseillaise", the long-standing national anthem of France is different. Written in 1792 as "Song of War for the Rhine Army" by Rouget de Lisle, it became a battle cry for the French peasantry during the country's revolution. Here is the opening verse with chorus in French:-

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

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

And here's the French national anthem being sung very passionately in the national rugby stadium before an important match with New Zealand a couple of years ago:-

But what does it mean? Here, the translation demonstrates that this is not your average national anthem. It's quite literally about fighting for justice and liberty. If you read the other verses there are further reference to blood, fighting and suppression of enemies. No wonder the French sing it with such passion. How different from "God Save The Queen", England's bland and subservient national anthem. I wish instead that we had an anthem like this one:-

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 our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts

To arms my fellow citizens!
Form your batallions!
March! March!
Let the enemies' blood
Water our furrows


  1. now that is interesting..... my favourite classical piece is bizet's l'arlesienne farandole
    with just a hint of marseillaise in it

  2. ps
    I lived just off the end of south road.....Providence road 1989 to 1997!!!

  3. I heartily agree with you. I love the Marseillaise too and think God Save the Queen is soppy. There are several much more stirring songs the English could use.
    Ours is no better - slow and dirge-like and definitely NOT stirring and for such a young country, such old fashioned words!!! Lots of Aussies would rather have Waltzing Matilda and, although it is definitely not a song about our country and therefore not suitable, it does have a certain appeal given that it is about a sheep rustler and would at least reflect the Aussie larikan personality.
    Perhaps if you haven't fought for your independence you are less likely to have a stirring, fighting song to rally round.

  4. The French may sing fighting songs, but my understanding of history has led me to believe that the English are the truly brave folk; the French having fought their fiercest battles with each other.

  5. MR JOHN GRAY "Providence Road"? Sounds like an album by your twin brother - David Gray! First track - "Wet Weekend in Wales". You must know that one?
    HELSIE There must be an international body that checks national anthems, ensuring they are bland and cringeworthy but the French got there's going before that watchdog was formed!
    JANUARY BLAWAT I agree that in history the English tended to whup the French and we are a lot braver and if I may so more handsome, romantic and better in the kitchen. But grudgingly I admit their anthem is, in my view, just about the best. Mind you "The Star Spangled Banner" isn't bad - I'd place it second on the National Anthem Hit Parade! Last of all would come "Flower of Scotland". Yuk!

  6. I must be clairvoyant or have precognition or something! I responded to this post four months ago, back in July, with this post of my own.

    I also have posts about the British national anthem, the Canadian national anthem, and even the Dutch national anthem (which goes on forever).

    But this rendition of the Swedish national anthem is guaranteed to hoist every red-blooded patriot's flag.

  7. RHYMES WITH SARKOSY Shhhh! Don't tell everyone that I get all my best blog ideas from you! We can't all be creative thinkers you know!


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