Epitaph In The Form Of A Ballade

Freres humains qui apres nous vivez,
N'ayez les coeurs contre nous endurcis ...
Men, brother men, that after us yet live,
Let not your hearts too hard against us be;
For if some pity of us poor men ye give,
The sooner God shall take of you pity.
Here are we five or six strung up, you see,
And here the flesh that all too well we fed
Bit by bit eaten and rotten, rent and shred,
And we the bones grow dust and ash withal;
Let no man laugh at us discomforted,
But pray to God that he forgive us all.
If we call on you, brothers, to forgive,


Ye should not hold our prayer in scorn, though we
Were slain by law; ye know that all alive
Have not wit always to walk righteously;
Make therefore intercession heartily
With him that of a virgin's womb was bred,
That his grace be not as a dr-y well-head
For us, nor let hell's thunder on us fall;
We are dead, let no man harry or vex us dead,
But pray to God that he forgive us all.


The rain has washed and laundered us all five,
And the sun dried and blackened; yea, perdie,
Ravens and pies with beaks that rend and rive
Have dug our eyes out, and plucked off for fee
Our beards and eyebrows; never we are free,
Not once, to rest; but here and there still sped,
Driven at its wild will by the wind's change led,
More pecked of birds than fruits on garden-wall;
Men, for God's love, let no gibe here be said,
But pray to God that he forgive us all.
Prince Jesus, that of all art lord and head,
Keep us, that hell be not our bitter bed;
We have nought to do in such a master's hall.
Be not ye therefore of our fellowhead,
But pray to God that he forgive us all.


Algernon Charles Swinburne, trans.

by François Villon

Comments (6)

[Part One] François Villon, pseudonym of François de Montcorbier or François des Loges, one of the greatest French lyric poets. He was known for his life of criminal excess, spending much time in prison or in banishment from medieval Paris.
[Part Two] Villon’s father died while he was still a child, and he was brought up by the canon Guillaume de Villon, chaplain of Saint-Benoît-le-Bétourné. the University of Paris records that Villon received the degree of bachelor and that of master.
[Part Three] On June 5,1455, a violent quarrel broke out in the cloisters of Saint-Benoît among himself, some drinking companions, and a priest, Philippe Sermoise, whom Villon killed with a sword thrust.
[Part Four] He was banished from the city but, in January 1456, won a royal pardon. Just before Christmas of the same year, however, he was implicated in a theft from the Collège de Navarre and was again obliged to leave Paris. [all parts from www.britannica.com/biography/Francois-Villon
A real masterpiece. Timeless.
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