The Nemzeti dal (“National Song”) is a poem that was essentially at the heart of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.
170 years ago today, on March 15, medical students, philosophers, and writers like Mór Jókai, joined the famed poet Sándor Petőfi in a local café near Budapest as he raised his voice and recited his fiery poem. He also declared a list of 12 demands for freedom and independence—demands that were mostly granted within days by the king, thanks to a youth-sparked non-violent protest that marched across the city.
As a result, a new Hungarian Parliament, with Lajos Batthyány as its first Prime Minister was established and the government passed a sweeping package of reforms called the “April laws”, creating the basis for a liberal democracy. March 15 has since become a national holiday in Hungary. (Read more about the protest from GNN)
The translation below is literal, attempting to convey the precise meaning of the original text. (Magyar refers to a Hungarian)
Talpra magyar, hí a haza!
Rabok voltunk mostanáig,
Sehonnai bitang ember,
Fényesebb a láncnál a kard,
A magyar név megint szép lesz,
Hol sírjaink domborulnak,
The National Poem
On your feet, Magyar, the homeland calls!
We were slaves up til now,
Useless villain of a man,
The sword shines brighter than the chain,
The Magyar name will be great again,
Where our grave mounds lie,
|—PETŐFI SÁNDOR (1848)||—Translated by KŐRÖSSY LÁSZLÓ (2004)|