I've been listening to some renaissance music and I stumbled upon the so called first french national anthem, and while listening I heard a few lyrics that confused me so I looked them up. But one confuses me a lot and that one is

Rancunes et partis

Which I think, translates into "Grudge, and leave!" but it translates (according to wikipedia) into "And enmity and spouses". There's also

Comme nos pères

Which translates literally into "Like our fathers" but the translation is "Let us all together" then the next

Chantons en vrais amis!

Which translates literally into "Sing in true friends" but is translated into "Sing as true friends"

And a line earlier which is

Ce diable à quatre A le triple talent

which translates literally into "This devil at/to four has the triple talent" but translates into "This fourfold devil with three talents"

  • 1
    « Vive Henri IV » has never / cannot ever be considered a "first French national anthem". All that can be said is that it was popular among some royalists at some time in the past. If you want to use the word anthem then you should write "a French royalist anthem" (and not national...) and even then I'm not sure it would be accuraet. (I'm not a historian).
    – None
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:18
  • Ah, thank you for that answer. Sort of unnecessary, but I saw that "D'être un vert galant" translates into "womaniser" which I find is interesting since green used to be a symbol of sexuality, and rule breaking, so basically "Sexual/barbaric galant". Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:46
  • Vert Galant was the nickname given to Henry IV for whom the song was written. And he is said to have been a womaniser.
    – None
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:47
  • Oh then I'm guessing he wasn't very nice haha (alike most kings and queens of that time) Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


Partis means "factions", so "spouses" seems an excellent choice of words since factions were made through alliances and marriages. In the translation of songs and poetry, prosody has to be taken into account ("spouses" rhymes with "glasses" and "lilies" – the lily was the French symbol of royalty).

Chantons en vrais amis literally means "Let's sing as if we were true friends".

Ce diable à quatre would probably need a FL question by itself. We expect something after "quatre" but it is cut short probably to keep the rhyme (quatre/battre). I have found a presentation of this song in a teacher's guide and it says that Ce diable à quatre means coquin* (a seducer) which is in keeping with the "vert galant". I would say translating by "fourfold devil" is just as obscure as the French diable à quatre.

* Coquin can also mean "scoundrel" – but that's not what it means here.

  • 1
    Diable à quatre seems to be a frozen expression: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Diable_%C3%A0_quatre Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 16:45
  • @Unfrancophone Tu devrais en faire une réponse parce que ça change ma réponse ! J'ai regardé le wiktionnaire et trouvé en plus "au carré",
    – None
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 17:02
  • Hmm “wheinc”? Can't guess what you meant. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 8:06
  • @StéphaneGimenez oops...
    – None
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 8:23
  • "Un beau partit" is also someone that is interesting in marrying, either for financial or social reasons.
    – MakorDal
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 9:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.