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François Villon

(c. 1431 – after 5 January 1463 / Paris)

Ballade: Epistre


Have pity now, have pity now on me,
If you at least would, friends of mine.
I'm in the depths, not holly or may,
In exile, where I've been consigned
By Fortune, as God too has designed.
Girls, lovers, youngsters, fresh to hand,
Dancers, tumblers that leap like lambs,
Agile as arrows, like shots from a cannon,
Throats tinkling, clear as bells on rams,
Will you leave him here, your poor old Villon?

Singers, singing in lawless freedom,
Jokers, pleasant in word and deed,
Run free of false gold, alloy, come,
Men of wit - somewhat deaf indeed -
Hurry, be quick now, he's dying poor man.
Makers of lays, motets and rondeaux,
Will you bring him warmth when he's down below?
No lightning or storm reach where he's gone.
With these thick walls they've blinded him so.
Will you leave him here, your poor old Villon?

Come see him here, in his piteous plight,
Noblemen, free of tax and tithe,
Holding nothing by king or emperor's right,
But by grace of the God of Paradise.
Sundays and Tuesdays he fasts and sighs,
His teeth are as sharp as the rats' below,
After dry bread, and no gateaux,
Water for soup that floats his guts along.
With no table or chair, he's lying low.
Will you leave him here, your poor old Villon?

Princes of note, old, new, don't fail:
Beg the king's pardon for me, and seal,
And a basket to raise me, I'll sit upon:
So pigs behave, to each other, they say,
When one pig squeals, all rush that way.
Will you leave him here, your poor old Villon?

Submitted: Thursday, March 29, 2012

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