Last modified: 2004-09-18 by phil nelson
Keywords: music about flags |
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Pierre-Jean de Béranger (1780-1857) was a French poet and chansonnier. He worked initially as a typographer and was later involved in the bankrupt of his family's bank. In 1809, he was hired by the University as a copyist. His anti-governmental poems and songs caused his dismissal in 1821. However, his works, of popular, liberal and patriotic inspiration, became rapidly famous. Renowned writers, such as Stendhal and Merimée considered him as the greatest poet of the XIXth century. Châteaubriand, Hugo and Dumas honoured him. Béranger refused titles and dignities, including a membership in the French Academy. In 1848, he was elected Deputee in Paris without having been candidate and resigned. This caused a great disappointment among his supporters and the "modern" writers, such as Baudelaire and Flaubert denounced his literary opportunism. Béranger was rediscovered by the French nationalists in the beginning of the XXth century.
A main inspiration source for Be'ranger's poems was the Napoleonic epic. In 1820, he wrote a song called "Le Vieux Drapeau" (The Old Flag). The song can be found in Be'ranger's "Complete Works", published in 1850 by the "Librairie Encyclopédique de Périchon" in Brussels. I use here the online version (with a few typos corrected) from a Napoleonic website.
The song is made of six stanza of eight octosyllabs each. In fact, each stanza is made of two independent quatrains, each with "embraced" rhymes, that is an abba rhyme scheme. The last two octosyllabs are common to the first five stanza and come back like a rant:
Quand secouerai-je la poussière Qui ternit tes nobles couleurs?" [Where shall I shake off the dust Which tarnishes your noble coulors?] In the last stanza, minor changes give all its sense to the poem: Oui je secoueria la poussière Qui ternit tes nobles couleurs" [Yes I shall shake off the dust Which tarnishes your noble colours]
The poem is full of hints which would have been clearly understood by a reader in 1820. It is a rant by an old veteran of the Napoleonic wars, who kept a [Tricolor] flag in his poor house and regrets the glorious Napoleonic times. He calls several symbols of the Revolution and the Empire, such as the eagle, the Liberty, the Victory, the Gauls' roaster, which were more or less banned during the Restoration. The "noble colours" are associated with the men of common birth who made the Napoleonic glory, The Bourbons are presented as the "oppressors" and the "dust which tarnished the noble colours" can also be associated to them. As said above, the end of the poem is a call to "counter-restoration" and reestablishment of the Tricolor flag.
The violence hidden in the poem and its popularity shows once again how clueless the Bourbons were when they suppressed the Tricolore flag. Initially considered as an insurgent's flag, the Tricolore had progressively gained more respectability, especially via the Napoleonic epic, and was widely accepted. Having spent all that time in exile preparing their return and revenge, the Bourbons could not have understood the political and social changes which had taken place in France from 1789 to 1814.
I. De mes vieux compagnons de gloire Je viens de me voir entouré : Nos souvenirs m'ont enivré, Le vin m'a rendu la mémoire. Fier de mes exploits et des leurs, J'ai mon drapeau dans ma chaumièere. Quand secouerai-je la poussière Qui ternit ses nobles couleurs? [I was just surrounded By my old companions in glory: Our memories intoxicated me, Wine triggered my memory. Proud of my exploits and their, I kept my flag in my cottage. When shall I shake off the dust Which tarnishes its noble colours?] II. Il est caché sous l'humble paille Où je dors pauvre et mutilé, Lui qui, sûr de vaincre, a volé Vingt ans de bataille en bataille! Chargé de lauriers et de fleurs, Il brilla sur l'Europe entière. Quand secouerai-je la poussière Qui ternit ses nobles couleurs? [It is hidden under the humble straw Where I sleep, poor and disabled, Him which, sure of the victory, flew For twenty years from battle to battle Laden with laurels and flowers, He shone over the whole Europe. When shall I shake off the dust Which tarnishes its noble colours?] III. Ce drapeau payait à la France Tout le sang qu'il nous a coûté. Sur le sein de la liberté Nos fils jouaient avec sa lance. Qu'il prouve encore aux oppresseurs Combien la gloire est roturière. Quand secouerai-je la poussière Qui ternit ses nobles couleurs? [This flag paid to France All the blood it costed us. On the bosom of liberty Our sons played with its spear. May it still prove to the oppressors How glory is of common birth. When shall I shake off the dust Which tarnishes its noble colours?] IV. Son aigle est resté dans la poudre, Fatigué de lointains exploits. Rendons-lui le coq des Gaulois : Il sut aussi lancer la foudre. La France, oubliant ses douleurs, Le rebe'nira, libre et fière. Quand secouerai-je la poussière Qui ternit ses nobles couleurs? [Its eagle remained in the dust, Tired of its far-off exploits. Give him back the Gauls' roaster : It also knew how to throw the thunderbolt. France, forgetting its pains, Shall bless it again, free and proud. When shall I shake off the dust Which tarnishes its noble colours?] V. Las d'errer avec la Victoire, Des lois il deviendra l'appui. Chaque soldat fut, grâace à lui, Citoyen au bord de la Loire. Seul il peut voiler nos malheurs ; Déployons-le sur la frontière. Quand secouerai-je la poussière Qui ternit ses nobles couleurs? [Weary of wander with Victory, it shall become the support of the laws. Every soldier was, thanks to it, A citizen on the shore of the Loire. Only it can veil our misfortunes; Let us unfurl it on the border. When shall I shake off the dust Which tarnishes its noble colours?] VI. Mais il est là près de mes armes ; Un instant osons l'entrevoir. Viens, mon drapeau, viens, mon espoir ! C'est à toi d'essuyer mes larmes. D'un guerrier qui verse des pleurs Le ciel entendra la prière : Oui, je secouerai la poussière Qui ternit tes nobles couleurs. [But it lies here close to my arms; Let us make it out for a whilte. Come, my flag, comme, my hope ! You shall dry my tears. Heaven shall hear the prayer From a warrior who shed a tear: Yes, I shall shake off the dust Which tarnishes your noble colours.]
The following, is i believe the flag list of the flags mentioned (in order of appearance) on the American Life video by Madonna. Most nations are represented including Greenland and Palestine....
Sweden Italy United Kingdom Cuba Macedonia Lesotho Kenya Jordan Cote d'Ivoire Chile Madagascar Kyrgyzstan Paraguay Palestine Swaziland Georgia Sri Lanka Haiti South Africa Austria Russia Mozambique Mauritius Morrocco Mauritania Andorra Iran Guyana Guatemala Kazakhstan Oman Niger Australia Nicaragua Romania Lebanon Seychelles Denmark Lithuania Colombia Djibouti Jamaica Germany Cambodia Gabon France Estonia Norway Pakistan Indonesia Micronesia Libya Greenland Syria Afghanistan Armenia Togo Monaco India Zimbabwe New Zealand Moldova Spain Turkmenistan Trinidad and Tobago Yemen Liberia Thailand Bahrain Israel Gambia Eritrea Czech Republic Costa Rica Comoros Bolivia Burundi Mali Malaysia Ethiopia Sudan Taiwan Luxembourg Senegal Japan China United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Russia Albania Phillippines Chad Vietnam Netherlands Malawi Peru Congo Bulgaria Angola Finland Brazil Azerbaijan Serbia and Montenegro Venezuela Belgium Argentina Somalia Saudi Arabia Portugal Palau Zambia Malta South Korea Burkina Faso Nigeria Bangladesh Algeria Brunei Botswana Bosnia and Herzegovina Benin Suriname Tanzania Rwanda Puerto Rico Namibia Mongolia Qatar Papua New Guinea Panama Nepal Maldives Latvia Laos Sierra Leone Iceland Slovakia Vatican City Tunisia Slovenia Canada Ukraine Switzerland Mexico Croatia El Salvador Egypt Dominican Republic Kuwait Ireland Poland Turkey Ghana Greece Guinea North Korea Hungary Honduras Uruguay Singapore Uganda Vanuatu Cameroon Iraq United States
Earl Washburn, 15 June 2003
Das Elsässische Fahnenlied 1. Sei gegrüsst, du unsres Landes Zeichen Elsass Fahne flatternd froh im Wind Deine Farben, lieblich ohnen Gleichen Leuchten stets, wo wir versammelt sind Ref: Weiss un rot, Die Fahne sehen wir schweben Bis zum Tod, Sind treu wir ihr ergeben (bis) 2. Echt und recht, wie unsre Väter waren Wollen wir in Tat und Worten sein Unsre Art, wir wollen sie bewahren Auch in Zukunft makellos und rein 3. Und ob Glück, ob Leid das Zeitgetriebe Jemals bringe unserm Elsassland Immer stehn wir in unentwegter Liebe Freudig wir zu ihm mit Herz und Hand 4. Lasst uns drum auf unsre Fahne schwören Brüder ihr vom Wasgau bis zum Rhein Niemals soll uns im fremder Hand betören Treu dem Elsass wollen stets wir sein My translation: 1. Be saluted, you, the emblem of our country, The Alsatian flag joyously flying in the wind. Your colours, graciously peerless, Shall shine for ever where we get together. Chorus: White and red, We shall see the flag flying, Until death, We shall be faithfully devoted to him. (Twice) 2. Genuine and right, like our fathers, That is how we want to be in our acts and talks We want to preserve our manners Also in the future, unblemished and pure. 3. And if time brings either luck or misfortune To our Alsatian land, We shall keep love for ever To it with heart and hand. 4. Let us therefore swear on our falg, Brothers from Wasgau to the Rhine We shall never be placed in foreign hands We want to remain faithful to Alsace forever.Source of the original text (music also available) at Elsassnet