Joseph Chalier 1793

Civic Hymn to the Immortal Memory of Representative Chalier

Source: Chansonnier Révolutionnaire, edition de Michel Delon & Paul-Edouard levayer. Paris, Gallimard, 1989;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2006.

What cries then disturb the silence
That reigns in the depths of the tombs?
They are the cries of innocence
Victim of the most evil plots:
Calm yourselves, insulted shades;
Braving their powerless efforts
We are marching against your tyrants,
Today you will be avenged.
To arms, Citizens, all of us: up to its very name
Swear, swear to annihilate infamous Lyon.

But among those plaintive shades
What do I see? That of Chalier!
Chalier, who oppressive hands struck
With fatal steel.
Tremble, vile despot’s henchmen:
May your spilled blood
Avenge the honor and virtue
Of the greatest of the true sans-culottes.

Five times the fatal axe
Touches our immortal hero,
And five times, with equal ardor,
I hear him repeat these words:
Don’t be moved
By my fate, so worthy of envy;
My friends, one dies without suffering
When one dies for the fatherland.

O Republican! O Great man!
Receive our tributes and our vows.
In their heyday Greece and Rome
Would have placed you among their gods.
But under the rule of enlightenment
When love creates immortals
Where else can altars be found
Than in the soul of your brothers.

May your hymns, may your psalms,
Proud supports of liberty,
Retrace the civic virtues
Of this exalted patriot:
But against the children of crime,
If he deployed his ardent zeal,
O good people he so loved,
Imagine, he was their victim...
For you, witnesses of this festival
Who didn’t know Chalier
Know that to the most honest of hearts
He joined a haughty courage.
Forever keeping a steady head
In the midst of the greatest frights,
He lived a slave to laws
And knew to die as a free man.