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A Portuguesa

This post is long overdue. I said back in November that I was going to do a post about the Portuguese national anthem but I haven’t got around to it yet.

National anthems are often written in the heat of some patriotic fervour, often caused by conflict with another country. God Save the Queen, for example, has an apocryphal verse that someone tried to shoehorn in, about fighting the jocks* although contrary to what the nationalists might have you believe, it was never part of the official national anthem. I think if you did a survey of all the countries whose national anthems specifically refer to Britain being evil it’d probably be about two-thirds of them. The United States for a start: the Star Spangled Banner is about looking out for the flag and hoping it doesn’t get blown to bits under the British shelling. Well that’s fair, we have put ourselves about a bit and we were pretty much the last empire to openly call itself an empire so people remember us for that and that’s often set down in writing. So in a sense, national anthems are like Taylor Swift break-up songs but on a diplomatic scale.

Surprisingly, despite being our oldest ally, Portugal is a former member of the BBC (The Britons are Bastards Club) too, because they used to have us in their anthem. Oh my god, Becky, why are you so obsessed with us? Well, here’s why:

Portugal became a Republic in 1910 as a result of a chain of events sparked by the British empire reneging on its treaty and issuing an ultimatum – in 1890 – claiming the land in between Mozambique and Angola which the Portuguese had intended to settle, as part of a strategy referred to as “A Mapa Cor-De-Rosa”. The monarchy was powerless to stop Britain and the Portuguese people were pissed off about it. The opinion of the Africans on the matter was not sought. Anyway, the resulting crisis saw the monarchy replaced by a Republic and, a few years later, the Estado Novo. Portugal’s Hino Nacional (National Anthem), called “A Portuguesa”, was written in response to the initial crisis in the last decade of the 19th century, and it is everything you’d expect from an anthem – “Heroes of the sea, noble people, valiant, immortal nation, lift up again today the splendour of Portugal”. Stirring stuff. But the chorus originally ended with a call to arms: “Contra os Bretões marchar, marchar!” March, March against the British!

Luckily, long before it was adopted as the national anthem in 1911, cooler heads had prevailed. They had time to think it through and they decided not to pick a fight with the most powerful nation on earth at the time, so the new anthem had the slightly less incendiary “March, March against the cannons”, which saved a lot of awkwardness.

O hino nacional de Portugal

Soirce: Wikipedia Data: 1890 Letra: Henrique Lopes de Mendonça
Música: Alfredo Keil

Heróis do mar, nobre povo,
Nação valente, imortal,
Levantai hoje de novo
O esplendor de Portugal!
Entre as brumas da memória,
Ó Pátria, sente-se a voz
Dos teus egrégios avós,
Que há-de guiar-te à vitória!

Às armas, às armas!
Sobre a terra, sobre o mar,
Às armas, às armas!
Pela Pátria lutar!
Contra os canhões
marchar, marchar!

Desfralda a invicta bandeira
À luz viva do teu céu!
Brade a Europa à terra inteira:
Portugal não pereceu!
Beija o solo teu jucundo
O oceano, a rugir d’amor,
E o teu braço vencedor
Deu novos mundos ao Mundo!

Às armas, às armas!
Sobre a terra e sobre o mar,
Às armas, às armas!
Pela Pátria lutar!
Contra os canhões
marchar, marchar!

Saudai o Sol que desponta
Sobre um ridente porvir;
Seja o eco de uma afronta
O sinal de ressurgir.
Raios dessa aurora forte
São como beijos de mãe,
Que nos guardam, nos sustêm,
Contra as injúrias da sorte.

Às armas, às armas!
Sobre a terra e sobre o mar,
Às armas, às armas!
Pela Pátria lutar!
Contra os canhões
marchar, marchar!

*It’s OK, I’m Scottish, I can say the J word


Just a data nerd

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