Thursday, 7 February 2008

in praise of the Marseillaise....

Despite the temptations, this is not a rant on the well-trodden path of how awful most national anthems are. That would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Instead let me praise the best of the lot by a long distance - the Marseillaise. Doesn't it just make you want to be French (well not necessarily literally but you know what I mean)? Stirring stuff! There's a national anthem you can fill your lungs and unashamedly give some welly.

Allons enfants de la patrieeeeeeeeeeee... Yup! Let's allons immediately!


Formez nos bataillonsssssssssssssssss... Yup! Let's get formez-ing!

I think the reason the Marseillaise is so good when the rest are usually such a sorry pile of bombast is that it is in origin a French revolutionary marching song. It is also incredibly violent in parts.

Qu'un sang impur Abreuve nos sillons!

May tainted blood
Water our fields! (I've also seen sillons translated as furrows)

The Marseillaise is not the only violent French revolutionary song. Less well known is the bloodthirsty 'ça ira' ('that shall be' - or that's my translation anyway) which is all about stringing up aristocrats. There is a splendid hags chorus rendition of it in the 1927 film Napoléon. You can just imagine the singers cackling in the front seats before the guillotone.

Les aristocrates, on les pendra!Le despotisme expirera,La liberté triomphera, Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira

We'll string up the aristocrats! Despotism will die, Liberty will triumph, Ah! that shall be, that shall be, that shall be

Stonkingly good stuff :D


M said...

oh rabbit, with an attitude like that you soon will be mayor of some obscure French village wearing a heavy gold chain!
And, that is the best bit, you can wave nonchalantly to them from your carriage, out of an upstairs window (like the Pope) or from a small wooden stage on the marketplace!

Bonjour Paysans!
-insert here the nonchalant gracious handwave-

white rabbit said...

Actually French Mayors have rather cool Red White & Blue sashes rather than chains...

And I hope the small wooden stage on the marketplace I wave from isn't where they keep the guillotine...