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The French National Anthem

Flag of France

Read the lyrics to the French national anthem while you listen to the "Marseillaise." An alternate translation, where available, is included in parenthesis.

Is the Marseillaise truly the world's goriest national anthem?

Interesting information about the modern-day controversy in France regarding the text of their national anthem follows the lyrics.

National Anthem of France
Words and music by Rouger de lisle (1760-1836)

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 citizens
Form you battalions
March, march
Let impure blood
Water our furrows

What do they want this horde of slaves
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 we they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

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

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 heros
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your blows
Spare these sad victims
Who with regret are taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of Bouillˇ
All these tigers who pitilessly
Are ripping open their mothers' breasts (womb)

We shall enter into the pit
When our elders will no longer be there
There we shall find their ashes
And the mark of their virtues
We are much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them

Sacred Love for the Fatherland
Lead and support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
hasten to you virile (or manly) force
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory!

(Drive on sacred patriotism
Support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your evil tone
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory!)

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Aux Armes, Citoyens! A Wimp Attack
Newsweek, March 16, 1992

Eveyone knows the tune, but few people outside France realize that the "Marseillaise" is one of the worid's goriest national anthems. Written just 200 years ago when the Prussians invaded France to crush its revolution, the song urges patriots to "drench our fields with their tainted blood." Now, in an era of European unification and political correctness, some French citizens want to soften the "Marseillaise."

A committee has formed, including the wife of President Fran¨ois Mitterrand, and an alternate test has been proposed. Instead of calling citizens "to arms," it asks them to "march hand in hand." In place of bloodshed, it urges them to "silence all cannons" with song. Most of the French oppose any change.

Relics of an age when chauvinism was nothing to be ashamed of, the anthems of many countries fairiy drip with blood. In 1814, as the British bombarded Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key wrote: "Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution." For the benefit of millions of Americans who have never sung it, that's in Verse III of "The Star-Spangled Banner."



More Information
Sacré phew! French Hygiene Statistics

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