Saturday, 21 November 2015

Allons enfants de la patrie ... et les anglais aussi

In a week full of sad, serious and difficult news, one video more than any other put a smile on my face. Le Petit Journal sent their journalist to Wembley and managed to convince these two English guys to sing La Marseillaise for the cameras. (Just in case anyone out there doesn't know, there is an enormous rivalry between the English and the French and most English people are not at all confident in foreign languages, so this was a wonderful show of solidarity. It's also hilarious.)

Englishmen with a few pints in them aside, however, it's also been a week where La Marseillaise has been sung far more often and by far more people than usual, and I have not been 100% comfortable with that. The reason? Although I couldn't actually recall the words as well as the two blokes in the video, the lines, "Que du sang impur/abreuve nos sillons" have troubled me for quite some time, and seemed particularly inappropriate under the circumstances.

Apparently I'm not the only one to have been bothered in this way by one particular couplet of France's rousing national anthem, because UFM was watching one of his football programmes the other day and the topic came up. It turns out this is a common misconception, as a history teacher phoned into the show to explain that in fact, at the time when the song was written, the French aristocracy considered that only "blue" blood was pure, and therefore the "sang impur" in fact refers to the sacrifice of ordinary citizens towards a just cause.

I guess I can comfortable get on with learning the rest of the words now. Although violent and bloody, they're still preferable to the British "God Save the Queen", which at one point in its history famously had an extra verse inserted about crushing the rebellious Scots!

1 comment:

  1. I think French truly appreciated the efforts. Seriously... it meant a lot to many people, it was all over the French media!