Petőfi Sándor – 1848

Here is an English translation of Petőfi’s 1848 poem.  I think the translator took some liberty in order to make it rhyme in English, but it is a good translation. 

Rise up, Magyar, the country calls!
It’s ‘now or never’ what fate befalls…
Shall we live as slaves or free men?
That’s the question – choose your ‘Amen”!
God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee,
We swear unto Thee – that slaves we shall no longer be!

For up till now we lived like slaves,
Damned lie our forefathers in their graves – 
They who lived and died in freedom
Cannot rest in dusts of thraldom.
God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee,
We swear unto Thee – that slaves we shall no longer be!

A coward and a lowly bastard
Is he, who dares not raise the standard – 
He whose wretched life is dearer
Than the country’s sacred honor.
God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee,
We swear unto Thee – that slaves we shall no longer be!

Sabers outshine chaine and fetters,
It’s the sword that one’s arm betters.
Yet we wear grim chains and shackles.
Swords, slash through damned manacles!
God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee,
We swear unto Thee – that slaves we shall no longer be!

Magyar’s name will tell the story
Worthy of our erstwhile glory
we must wash off – fiercely cleansing
Centuries of shame and condensing.
God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee,
We swear unto Thee – that slaves we shall no longer be!

Where our grave-mounds bulge and huddle
Our grandson will kneel and cuddle,
While in grateful prayer they mention
All our sainted names’ ascension.
God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee,
We swear unto Thee – that slaves we shall no longer be!

(March 13. 1848)

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1 Comment

  1. The more I read your blog about what’s going on in Hungary the more I realize just how much I take my freedom for granted. Thanks for the sobering reminders.

    I am praying for you guys daily!

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