French Revolution and the Conspiracy of the Equals 1796

Song of the Equals

Words: by Germain, 1796;
Source: Michel Delon and Paul-Edouard Levayer, Chansonnier Révolutionnaire. Paris, Gallimard, 1989;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.

For too long a wretched code
Enslaved men to men:
May the reign of the brigands fall!
Let us finally know what our condition is
Awaken to our voice
And leave the darkest night behind,
People! Take hold of your rights,
The sun shines for all.

You created us to be equal,
Nature, oh beneficent mother!
Why, in property and labors,
This murderous inequality? Awaken!

Why a thousand slaves crawling
Around four or five despots?
Why the small and the great?
Arise, brave sans-culottes.

During humanity’s childhood
We saw no gold, no war,
No ranks, no sovereign,
No luxury, no poverty!
Sacred and sweet equality
Fills the earth and makes it fertile.
In these days of felicity
The sun shines for all.

Everyone loved everyone else, all lived happily,
Enjoying a common ease;
Regrets, shameful debates
Didn’t trouble independence.

Alas! Soon ambition
Relying on imposture
Dared to contemplate the plot and outrage
Of usurpation.

We saw princes, subjects,
The opulent, the poverty-stricken;
We saw masters, valets:
The day before all were alike.

Horrible brigandage was cloaked
With the names of laws and institutes
They called virtues crimes,
And pillage necessity.

Alas! Your generous plans,
Immortal sons of Cornelius
Couldn’t save your lives
From the assassin’s steel.

And you, Lycurguses of the French
O Marat! Saint-Just! Robespierre!
Of your sage projects
We were already feeling the salutary effects.
Already, the rich and his altars were
Plunged in the darkest night,
Mortals repeated:
The sun shines for all.

Already your sublime labors
Returned us to nature
What is their price? Scaffolds,
Assassination, torture.

Pitt’s gold and the voice of d’Anglas
Opened a new abyss:
Crawl or be a scoundrel,
Choose death or crime.

People, smash the ancient charm
Of a too lethargic slumber:
With the most terrible of awakenings
Spread alarm to grinning crime.
Lend an ear to our voice
And leave the darkest night behind.
People, take hold of your rights,
The sun shines for all.