Modernism Monday: “La Marseillaise,” Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle



Happy Bastille Day, Tune-Up fans!  Joyeux Fête Nationale!  France’s National Day is known as the Fête de la Fédération and commemorates France’s transition from a monarchy to a republic.  The reason the day is colloquially known as “Bastille Day” is because it was following the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was written, formally abolishing feudalism.  It’s a pretty awesome holiday and deserves an equally awesome anthem, which Rouget de Lisle certainly provided.  Written in 1792 and adopted as the French National Anthem in 1795, it evidently got its nickname from the volunteers from Marseille who marched through Paris, singing the song.

I do love the above version, but the scene in Casablanca when they start singing the Marseillaise is probably my favorite film scene of all time, so I’m exercising editor’s privilege and posting it, too.

Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’etendard sanglant est levé
Entendez vous dans les campagnes,
Mugir ces feroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Egorger nos fils, nos compagnes!


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

Amour sacr de la patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs!
Libert, Libert cherie,
Combats avec tes defenseurs!
Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire
Accoure tes males accents!
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire!


Nous entrerons dans la carrire
Quand nos ains n’y seront plus;
Nous y trouverons leur poussire
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!


Arise, children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!


Grab your weapons, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!

Sacred love of France,
Lead, support our avenging arms!
Liberty, beloved Liberty,
Fight with your defenders! (repeat)
Under our flags, let victory
Hasten to your manly tones!
May your dying enemies
See your triumph and our glory!


We will enter the pit
When our elders are no longer there;
There, we will find their dust
And the traces of their virtues. (repeat)
Much less eager to outlive them
Than to share their casket,
We will have the sublime pride
Of avenging them or following them!



4 thoughts on “Modernism Monday: “La Marseillaise,” Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

  1. Jeff

    Vive la France! Great recording. When it begins it sounds over-produced but then you get the diction and it’s wonderful because you can actually understand the lyrics. Thanks for adding them and the English.

  2. Karl Mueller

    A rather old tune for a Monday, but since Casablanca and the AlphaJet are both 20th century classics, one cannot quibble with the excellent selections.

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