Polish National Anthem (D±browski's Mazurka) is a lively folk dance with patriotic words
written shortly after the country lost its independence in a series of partitions by Austria,
Russia, Prussia (1772, 1791, 1795).
After the failure of the final effort to save Poland during the Ko¶ciuszko Insurection in 1794,
Poles scattered around Europe, with many emigrating to France to join the forces of Napoleon
Bonaparte, with the hope that the valiant dictator would reestablish Poland as an independent state.
It was created between 16 and 19 of July, 1795 in Reggio
di Emilia in Italy, on the occasion of the departure of the Polish legions,
led by general Jan Henryk D±browski (1755-1818) to fight in the Napoleonic wars
(supporting the French dictator).
The author of the "Song of the Polish Legions in Italy"
- as the anthem was originally called - was Józef Wybicki, General D±browski's close associate.
The folk tune and the inspiring texts, with the first strophe beginning with
"Poland's not dead as long as we live" immediately captured the attention of the soldiers,
Poland's emigres and the country inhabitants.
because of this connection that the current national anthem of Poland still contains a reference
to Bonaparte and speaks of marching from Italy to Poland, under the leadership of general Jan
The patriotic song was banned by the Tsarist and Prussian governments in 1815
(after the defeat of Napoleon) and again in 1860. Yet it lived on in numerous variants,
sung durimg the uprisings against the Russians (the November 1830, the January 1863),
as well as during the 1848 Spring of the Nations.
In the early 19th century the song served as the hymn of the student union (Zwiazek Burszow,
1816-1830). At the time the next read " March, march, the youth/ go first as it should be/
following your leadership/ we will become a nation again." Students embraced the song as
their anthem again in 1863, when many escaped the conscription to the Russian army by
hiding in the Kampinos forest near Warsaw, and by starting the January Uprising (1863
refrain: "March, march to the forest").
At the end of the 19th century, the song served
as the anthem of those proclaiming the need to rebuild the country by hard work, coupled
with the fight for its independence (1893 refrain: "March, March, the Poles, to fight
and to work").
While the text of the hymn was modified to suit new occasions and
socio-political contexts even the name of "D±browski" apearing in the curent title
did not survive all the changes.
Dabrowski's Mazurka was officially recognized as the national anthem in Poland in 1926. This
year The Directory of Ministry of Religious Faith and the Public Enlightenment provided all
schools in Poland with the approved text and music of the anthem. Half a year later,
the Directory of the Ministry of Interior Affairs (26 February 1927) officialy approved
the anthem's text; on 2 April 1927 the Ministry of Religious Faith and the Public
Enlightenment approved the piano arrangement of the Mazurka and published the score.
The title of the anthem was listed the first time in the Constitution of the Polish
People's Republic in 1976: the Sejm approved the official text and music of the anthem
In many war-time versions "D±browski" was replaced by
names of various generals or military leaders such as Ch³opicki or Skrzynecki (leaders
of 1830), Langiewicz or Czachowski (leaders of 1863). Pi³sudski (leader of the Polish
Legions of 1914) or Sikorski (the Commander of the Polish Army in Scotland during
World War II, Pi³sudski's main adversary and competitor).
After the change of government in 1989, the new leaders of the Republic of Poland (since 1989)
not only retained Dabrowski's Mazurka as an anthem , but also sponsored a renewed research and
publication effort to promote its image. A 1993 film, produced by Edmund Zbigniew Szaniawski
for the Military Company "czolowka" (Avant-Grade), placed a new emphasis on the Mazurka's
appearances in Polish-Soviet war of 1920 and at allied battlefields of World War II. The hymn's
peaceful aspects, if seldom present, here were completely ignored. Moreover, in a direct
contradiction of the anthem's secular chracter, the film located the song in a variety of
Below you will find the full text of the official 4-strophe anthem in English translation. A longer version of the text (in Polish only) appears on our site which contains the reproductions
of Juliusz Kossak's litographs, prepared for an album published for the 100-anniversary of the Piesn Legionow.
The album is in the collection of the National Museum in Wroclaw. This version (and the Kossak pictures)
are taken from 19th-century postcards in the .
TRANSLATION OF THE TEXT
1. Poland is not yet lost
while we live
We will fight (with swords) for all/
That our enemies had taken from us.
March, march Dabrowski
from Italy to Poland
Under your command
we will reunite with the nation.
2. We will cross the Vistula and Warta Rivers,/
we will be Poles,/
Bonaparte showed us/ how to win.
Refrain: March, march...
3. Like Czarniecki to Poznan, after Swedish annexation,
We will come back across the sea to save our motherland
Refrain: March, march...
Father, in tears, says to his Basia: "Just listen,
It seems that our people are beating the drums."
Refrain: March, march...
SOURCES OF MATERIAL
- The text is based on Maja Trochimczyk's essay "Sacred versus Secular: The Convoluted History of Polish Anthems," in
After Chopin: Essays in Polish Music, ed. Maja Trochimczyk, vol. 6 of Polish Music History Series (Los Angeles: Friends of Polish Music at USC, 2000).
- The current score is from PWM edition of Polski Hymn Narodowy [Polish National Anthem] (Krakow: PWM, 1987).
- The "1808 version" of the score is from Jeszcze Polska nie zginela. Piesni patryotyczne i narodowe
[Poland's not dead. Patriotic and national songs], ed. Franciszek Baranski (Lwow: Ksiegarnia Polska
Bernarda Polonieckiego, c.a. 1910).
- The current sound recording is from Marsz, marsz Polonia, CD recorded by the Orchestra of the Polish
Army, cond. F. Bieganowski, in an arragement by Rezler. Polskie Nagrania, ECD 064, 1995/6.
- The 19th-century postcards of symbolic imagery and Polish emblems are from Maja Trochimczyk Collection.