Ballade

I know flies in milk
I know the man by his clothes
I know fair weather from foul
I know the apple by the tree
I know the tree when I see the sap
I know when all is one
I know who labors and who loafs
I know everything but myself.

I know the coat by the collar
I know the monk by the cowl
I know the master by the servant
I know the nun by the veil
I know when a hustler rattles on
I know fools raised on whipped cream
I know the wine by the barrel
I know everything but myself.

I know the horse and the mule
I know their loads and their limits
I know Beatrice and Belle
I know the beads that count and add
I know nightmare and sleep
I know the Bohemians' error
I know the power of Rome
I know everything but myself.

Prince I know all things
I know the rosy-cheeked and the pale
I know death who devours all
I know everything but myself.


Trans. by Galway Kinnell

by François Villon

Comments (1)

I love his poetry- and I think some of the flow of his poetry must be due to the fine job of translating by Galway Kinnell. The structure of this poem is very similar to another of his poems that I just read but the framework works for me. I will spend more hours reading this poet. He has been well worth the effort so far! I would give this a ten if PH allowed me to vote.