Written by Rouget de Lisle in April, 1792, La Marseillaise was first published in Strasbourg under the title Chant de Guerre pour l’armée du Rhin (War Song for the Army of the Rhine) at a time when the Austro-Prussian invasion of France was on the march. The song received its affiliation with Marseilles when it was taken up by volunteers from that city upon their arrival in Paris at the end of July. Adopted as the national anthem by the Convention in 1795, the song would become a standard theme throughout the Directory and Consulate periods, but would be banned by Napoleon in 1805 as a means of declaring an end to the political ferment of the Revolution. It was reinstated as the national anthem in the centennial year of the Revolution, 1879. Full of violent imagery, its lyrics cleary convey the urgency of expelling the Austro-Prussian invaders and saving the nascent republic in the critical days prior to the Battle of Valmy.
Allons enfants de la Patrie
Que veut cette horde d’esclaves,
Quoi! ces cohortes étrangères!
Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides,
Français, en guerriers magnanimes
Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Amour sacré de la Patrie
|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 your midst
To cut the throats of your sons and companions.
What do they want, this horde of slaves,
What! These foreign cohorts!
Tremble, tyrants and traitors,
Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
We shall enter into the pit
Sacred love of country