Nemzeti Dal


The Nemzeti Dal, or "National Song," was written by the great poet Petofi Sándor, author of the epic folktale János Vitéz. During the seminal year 1848, Petofi watched in envy as a wave of revolution swept through Europe. He, too, wished Hungary would throw off its Autrian oppressor, but realized it needed a rallying point. So with the other great poets of the time, his best friends, he went into a coffee house on March 15th and penned the following poem. He then went out into the Vörösmarty Square of Budapest and recited it to the gathering crowd. The revolution began right there and then.
I looked for a translation to English, but the very few complete translations I found were truly mediocre, twisting the meanings and the words for purposes of rhyming. I completed the following translation, which lacks all the beauty and prose of the original, but the preserves the meaning completely intact.


Talpra magyar, hí a haza!
Itt az idő, most vagy soha!
Rabok legyünk vagy szabadok?
Ez a kérdés, válasszatok! –
A magyarok istenére
Esküszünk,
Esküszünk, hogy rabok tovább
Nem leszünk!

Rabok voltunk mostanáig,
Kárhozottak ősapáink,
Kik szabadon éltek-haltak,
Szolgaföldben nem nyughatnak.
A magyarok istenére
Esküszünk,
Esküszünk, hogy rabok tovább
Nem leszünk!

Sehonnai bitang ember,
Ki most, ha kell, halni nem mer,
Kinek drágább rongy élete,
Mint a haza becsülete.
A magyarok istenére
Esküszünk,
Esküszünk, hogy rabok tovább
Nem leszünk!

Fényesebb a láncnál a kard,
Jobban ékesíti a kart,
És mi mégis láncot hordtunk!
Ide veled, régi kardunk!
A magyarok istenére
Esküszünk,
Esküszünk, hogy rabok tovább
Nem leszünk!

A magyar név megint szép lesz,
Méltó régi nagy hiréhez;
Mit rákentek a századok,
Lemossuk a gyalázatot!
A magyarok istenére
Esküszünk,
Esküszünk, hogy rabok tovább
Nem leszünk!

Hol sírjaink domborulnak,
Unokáink leborulnak,
És áldó imádság mellett
Mondják el szent neveinket.
A magyarok istenére
Esküszünk,
Esküszünk, hogy rabok tovább
Nem leszünk!
On your feet, Magyar, the homeland calls!
The time is here, now or never!
Shall we be slaves or free?
This is the question, choose your answer! -
On the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!

We were slaves up til now,
Damned are our ancestors,
Who lived and died free,
Cannot rest in a slave land.
On the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!

Useless villain of a man,
Who now, if need be, doesn't dare to die,
Who values his pathetic life greater
Then the honor of his homeland.
On the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!

The sword shines brighter than the chain,
Decorates better the arm,
And we still wore chains!
Return now, our old sword!
On the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!

The Magyar name will be great again,
Worthy of its old, great honor;
Which the centuries smeared on it,
We will wash away the shame!
On the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!

Where our grave mounds lie,
Our grandchildren will kneel,
And with blessing prayer,
Recite our sainted names.
On the God of the Hungarians
We vow,
We vow, that we will be slaves
No longer!