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Eugène Pottier: The sheep's revenge



Eugène Pottier (Paris, 4 October 1816 - 6 November 1887).

Written in Paris, in 1886.

Reproduced in accordance with:

Pierre Brochon (Ed.), Eugène Pottier - Oeuvres complètes, Paris, Editions François Maspero, 1966.








Printable version
Texts by Eugène Pottier - Index









The sheep's revenge

The wolves, the most savage wolves,
Always mouth open and eating
The miners, their wives, their kids,
This is the gang of the money people.
We black sheep of colliery,
We bleed of this long carnage.

Beware beneath there!
All the Watrin[1] amongst the bosses!...
Beware beneath there!
The sheep will eat the wolves!

Gone down alive to sepulture,
We ramp in eternal darkness,
For a surely miserably lucre
Which one never is sure to get;
They have us in hand by starvation,
And the levy exterminates us.

Beware beneath there!
Our fangs grow, being in the mine!...
Beware beneath there!
The sheep will eat the wolves!

They rob us..., on us they sic
The gendarmes, the policemen...
It’s out of legitimate defence
That we take the law into our own hands.
When the People executes a traitor
And thrusts him out by the window,

Beware beneath there!
It’s our master who’s our enemy[2]!...
Beware beneath there!
The sheep will eat the wolves!

It’s high time to defend oneself,
And we wont be the only ones:
The valiant weavers of the Flanders
Are wearied of weaving their shrouds[3].
The heaven is black..., the thunderstorm bursts out,
The labor France stands up:

Beware beneath there!
Everywhere the clarion of strike!...
Beware beneath there!
The sheep will eat the wolves!

Yes, the teeth and the scythes are being whetted,
Mass will have big to eat.
Above all these wolves that disguise themselves
Beneath clothes of shepherd.
Above the feudal finance
Hangs a fatal revenge.

Beware beneath there!
All pushes us to the Social[4]!...
Beware beneath there!
The sheep will eat the wolves!


La revanche des moutons

Les loups, les loups les plus féroces,
Toujours gueule ouverte et mangeant
Les mineurs, leurs femmes, leurs gosses,
C'est la bande des gens d'argent.
Nous moutons noirs du charbonnage,
Nous saignons de ce long carnage.

Gare là-dessous!
Tous les Watrin du patronage!...
Gare là-dessous!
Les moutons vont manger les loups!

Descendus vivants au sépulcre,
Nous rampons dans l'éternel noir,
Pour un bien misérable lucre
Qu'on n'est jamais certain d'avoir;
Ils nous tiennent par la famine,
Et l'amende nous extermine.

Gare là-dessous!
Les crocs nous poussent dans la mine!...
Gare là-dessous!
Les moutons vont manger les loups

Eux nous volent..., sur nous on lance
Les gendarmes, les policiers...
C'est par légitime défense
Que nous devenons justiciers.
Quand le Peuple exécute un traître
Et le lance par la fenêtre,

Gare là-dessous!
Notre ennemi, c'est notre maître!...
Gare là-dessous!
Les moutons vont manger les loups!

Il est bien temps de se défendre,
Et nous ne serons pas les seuls:
Les braves tisseurs de la Flandre
Sont las de tisser leurs linceuls.
Le ciel est noir..., l'orage crève,
La France ouvrière se lève:

Gare là-dessous!
Partout le clairon de la grève!...
Gare là-dessous!
Les moutons vont manger les loups!

Oui, les dents et les faulx s'aiguisent,
La masse aura gros à manger.
Surtout ces loups qui se déguisent
Sous des vêtements de berger.
Sur la finance féodale
Plane une revanche fatale.

Gare là-dessous!
Tout nous pousse à la Sociale...
Gare là-dessous!
Les moutons vont manger les loups!







. - - - -

[1]. Reference to the strike movement launched on 26 January 1886 in the Paleyret wellspring at Decazeville, the deputy director of which, Jules Watrin, died that day defenestrated by the strikers. At a first time, the miners resumed work on 29 January, and then they went afresh on strike on 25 February, pursuing their movement until 14 June. They were victim to severe repression.

[2]. This phrase figures in the fable “Le vieillard et l'âne” [“The Old Man and the Donkey”] by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695, the fables have been written around 1668). The old man lets loose the donkey at the time of a stopover, and then, seeing "the enemy" arriving, flees - alone, since the donkey has exposed to him its point of view in these terms: "And what does it matter to me to whom I belong? Save yourself, and let me pasture. It's our master who is our enemy."

[3]. The song “The Canuts” (dating from 1894) by Aristide Bruant (1851-1925) implicitly links back to that phrase. Indeed, it says: "But our rein will arrive / When your rein will finish: / We will weave the shroud of the old world, / Since the tempest that booms is already heard." It is about the revolt of the silk workers at Lyon (called the canuts), in November 1831. It was subdued on 5 December, by a governmental force counting 20 000 men. A second insurrection of the canuts took place in 1834, as well as a third one in 1848.

[4]. “The Social”, that is to say, “the social republic”. This is a slogan upheld by the labor movement since the February 1848 revolution that had ended up in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Second Republic (after that of 1792). However, as soon as the month of May, the new power engaged in a reactionary turning point.