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May 3, 2006 [LINK]

The national anthem of Peru

After the recent controversy over singing our national anthem in Spanish, I figured, hey, why not translate Peru's Himno Nacional into English? (The original Spanish lyrics are available at:, which also has a link to a MIDI file that plays the melody, which has a very stately cadence.) I don't pretend to have a talent for poetry or lyrics-writing, but here is my more-or-less literal translation:

Somos Libres
(We are free)

We are free, may we always be so
And before the sun withholds its rays
Should we shirk the solemn vow
That the fatherland raised to Eternity

For a long time the oppressed Peruvian
Dragged the dreadful chain;
Condemned to cruel servitude,
For a long time in silence he endured.
But as soon as the sacred cry
"Liberty!" on the coasts was heard,
The slave's indolence was shaken,
The humble head arose.

The noise of the rough chains
That we hear three centuries of horror,
Of the free ones to the sacred cry
That the amazed world heard, ceased
For everywhere the aroused San Martin
Proclaimed "Liberty, Liberty,"
And shaking their base, the Andes
Announced it, too, in one voice.

With their influence the towns awoke
And like a bolt of lightning opinion spread;
From the Isthmus to the Lands of Fire,
From the fire to the region of ice.
Everyone swore to break the bond
That Nature denied to both worlds
And to break that sceptre which Spain
Proudly reclined upon the two.

Lima, carry out the solemn vow,
And, severe, its anger showed.
Hurling at the impotent tyrant
That was trying to prolong his oppression.
By their effort, they burst the shackles
And the ditches in which they made their stand,
They stoked the hatred and revenge
Inherited from their Inca and their Lord.

Countrymen, no more to see it a slave
Its humble three centuries endured,
Let us swear to make it free for always
Maintaining its due splendor.
May our arms, until now unarmed,
Always be priming the cannon
That some day the beaches of Iberia
Will feel the clamor of terror.

In their peaks, may the Andes hold high
The bicolored flag or banner,
That for centuries to come proclaim the struggle
That made us free, for always.
In their shadow may we live in peace,
And as the sun rises over their peaks,
Let us renew the great oath
That we render to the God of Jacob.

(Corrected translations may ensue.) That should give you an idea of how Peruvians, and many Latin Americans, view foreign domination -- whether by Spain or by the great powers of modern times. And you thought our national anthem was unduly bellicose?

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 02 May 2006, 11: 22 PM

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