Wry & Dry

The French: not girt by sea

W&D has tired of elections and money.

And so turns internationally.  W&D has much affection for the French*, their contribution to his favourite indulgences, food and wine is much admired.  As is their eternal arrogance of superiority in the face of long-term economic decay.

But let's not be churlish.  And yesterday was France's National Day.  So it would be remiss of W&D not to recognise it with something arcane.  Such as a squiz at the words of their magnificent national anthem.

Most readers would be familiar with the tune and some with, and of, the words.  In French.  (Especially if you recall that stirring scene in Casablanca**).

But what do the words mean in English?

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

A direct translation of those words into English is rendered as follows:

Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny's
Bloody banner is raised, (repeat)
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons, your women!

Good grief!  It's a somewhat bloodthirsty national anthem.  And W&D will not trespass upon the sensibilities of readers with further verses.  Of which there are 14.

But merely to note the wimpish English translation held by the US Library of Congress:

Ye sons of France, awake to glory,
Hark, hark! what myriads bid you rise!
Your children, wives and white-haired grandsires.
Behold their tears and hear their cries! (repeat)
Shall hateful tyrants, mischiefs breeding,
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band,
Affright and desolate the land,
While peace and liberty lie bleeding?

So how does:

To cut the throats of your sons, your women! become While peace and liberty lie bleeding?

Is this prudish American censorship?  Or just the first case of political correctness?

Interesting that the French anthem reflects an historical event, as does that of the United States.  For the Brits it's all about a person (the sovereign).  For the Dutch, it's about loyalty to Prince William of Orange and, bizarrely, the King of Spain#.

For Australia, it's, well, it's a blend of aspiration and geography.  

W&D is comforted by the fact that we Australians are "girt by sea"##.

*But not so his mother, English to her pantaloons.  And who was a great traveller, visiting over 75 countries.  But never France. "Bah, the French.  Soft.  Gave up without a fight in 1940.  We had a hundred years war with them, you know."  W&D never had the courage to remind her that the English actually lost The Hundred Years' War.

**When patrons of Rick's Café Américain, spontaneously led by Czech underground leader Victor Laszlo, sing the actual song to drown out Nazi officers who had started singing "Die Wacht am Rhein", thus causing Rick's to be shut down by Captain Renault under instructions from the Nazis.  Which causes that delightful line of Captain Renault, when asked by Rick why his bar was being closed down, "I'm shocked, shocked that gambling is going on here," as he collects his winnings. 

#"To the king of Spain I've granted/ A lifelong loyalty."

##Girt': Old English, the past participle of 'gird', to surround.  Arguably, 'girded' might have been a better choice.  But 'girt', aside from its use as a noun to mean a joist, is a delightfully archaic word.