Eugene Pottier 1857


Source: Eugène Pottier, Chants Révolutionnaires (second edition), Paris, Bureau de Comité Pottier, [n.d.]
Translated: by Mitchell Abidor 2018;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike)

For Eugene Baillet

War has just been declared
"Go to it,” say the vultures;
But it hardly makes a difference:
Isn’t it war every day?

At least it takes off its mask,
Laughing like a madman;
The skeleton has put on its helmet,
Its skeleton horse is on its way

It was laying in wait in all its evil,
In every class, at all levels;
Here a commercial ambush,
There a family at daggers drawn.

Unable to expand, brigandage
Was sent to the penal colonies;
Pillage is only tolerated
In the form of stocks and taxes

They weaned off the bloody thirst,
They put down beastly instinct,
They disturbed Lacenaire,
They made good Castaing[1] sad.

Oh, we condemned infanticide.
Our sons are twenty, and tonight
The council of butchers decides
Which are good for the slaughterhouse.

Infanticide was condemned,
But our sons are now twenty,
And tonight, the Council of Butchers will decide
Which is fit for the slautghterhouse.

In feathers, tattooed, we are
Redskins, from rival clans.
Go spread human manure over the land:
"The earth will produce men anew.”

Insulted, the Gospels emigrate,
The apostles depart, led astray.
O fatherland, a bit of the tiger
In well-born hearts does roar.

Your anger is heated to a flame,
Peoples without solidarity,
Suffering under the prison regime
Of nationality

The cannonball rends the black night,
Fire devours the city.
Blood is drawn: come drink it,
You, who are called humanity.

The right of might and number
Tramples the wounded vanquished;
Glory spreads its bat-like wings
Across the dark sky.

War, war, but what is it waiting for
To crush flesh and bone?
It awaits the new leaf,
The month of flowers and birds

Paris 1857

1. Lacenaire and Castaing were two notorious 19th century French murderers.