Saturday, November 19, 2005

Allons enfants de la Patrie

Rent's overdue, my work projects are late, and I need to write a major piece on vote fraud for the blog. So naturally, I've taken this opportunity to translate La Marseillaise.

What can I say? I've been going through a Berlioz phase. And since non-political posts occasionally appear here on the weekends, I am going to afflict you good people with the results.

As it turns out, a proper English translation of the French national anthem has stumped experts for more than two centuries. Literal translations are unsingable, while free translations -- including one commissioned by the French president, as well as a version by Percy Bysshe Shelley -- stray far from the intended meaning, and they still aren't very singable. None of the previous translations attempted to maintain the original rhyme scheme.

So I decided to have a go at it.

My translation sacrifices exactitude in places, but each line still conveys a sense of the original. The rhyme scheme is there, the meter remains the same, and -- much to the annoyance of my neighbors -- this version can be sung.

First, in French:
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé
(L'étendard sanglant est levé),
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils et vos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!
Here's the Cannon version:
I call on all who love our nation
The test of glory comes today
When we face a tyrant's predation
When the banners of blood come our way
(When the banners of blood come our way...)
When you hear marching invaders
Come howling for prey in your home
Destroying everywhere they roam
And loved ones are lost to the raiders...

Raise arms unto the skies!
Batallions shall arise!
March on! March on!
We’ll bleed the foe
Until the day is won!
In your face, Shelley! This calls for a Homer Simpson-esque victory dance...

Of course, six more verses need translating. I probably won't bother you with folks with those. But as I read those verses, they seem to offer an interesting commentary on today's events. Perhaps this has been a political post after all...


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I think I'll stick with the French, as taught by my 5th grade teacher, but I applaud your efforts.:-)

How about a great one from the USA?

So we're springing to the call from the East and from the West,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom.
And we'll hurl the Rebel crew from the land we love the best,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

The Union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor, up with the star.
While we rally 'round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

(3 MB mp3)

Anonymous said...

Try that link again. It should end with .mp3

Anonymous said...

I'm an idiot for not previewing,... twice. I apologise.

Copy and patch-paste:

It really is worth listening to. I promise.