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Villon (Ballade)


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I dug up a CD-R of MyDocs, and here's the whole translation. I notice I transposed only two lines (or is it one?) from a different stanza, and have apparently forgotten the entirity of the first stanza. There have also been minor changes in my head thru the years. The lines were used as couplets at the head of each chapter in a book (if I recall right, HOW TO WRITE FOR MONEY).




François Villon


Exiled from home I sleep in my own bed;

Close by a brazier burn all shivering;

Naked am I, appareled like a king;

And taste October in the height of spring;

I laugh in tears, take comfort in despair;

Curse and blaspheme, and am devout in prayer.

As staunch as oak, by every wind deflected,

I stand light-hearted, overborne with care –

Received by all men and by all rejected.


I am not deaf except to what is said –

Am sure of naught but the uncertain thing;

I hold that nothing lives but what is dead –

That wisdom flies on accidental wing;

My gains increase, my wealth is vanishing;

I dine with princes on beggar’s faire,

At break of day against the night prepare

Shown the true path, am ever misdirected;

Await a legacy, though no man’s heir,

Received by all men and by all rejected.


I take no pains, yet all my nets are spread –

To catch those goods I am not coveting;

They feed me best that rob me of my bread;

Tell me most truth that false impostures bring;

Him call I friend who says that fishes sing –

Or that bald heads are covered thick with hair;

I meet with truth and falsehood everywhere;

See every difference never yet detected,

Remembering much I find my memory bare;

Received by all men and by all rejected.

And here is a much more litteral translation (BTW: my French is zilch, I cannot read the original)




François Villon


I die of thirst beside the fountain,

Hot as fire I’m shaking tooth on tooth,

In my own country I’m in a distant land,

Beside the blaze I’m shivering in flames,

Naked as a worm, dressed like a President.

I laugh in tears and hope despairingly;

I cheer up in a sad despair,

I’m joyful and nothing gives me pleasure,

I’m strong and haven’t any force or power,

Warmly welcomed, rebuffed by everyone.


I’m sure of nothing but the uncertain,

Baffled by nothing but the evident,

I’m doubtful of nothing but the sure,

I regard knowledge as mere accident.

I always win and I remain the loser,

At dawn I say “I wish you good night”,

When lying down I’m afraid of falling,

I’m very rich and haven’t a cent;

I await an inheritance and am no one’s heir,

Warmly welcomed, rebuffed by everyone.


I never work and yet I go all out

To acquire wealth which I don’t want;

Who speaks most kindly irritates me most,

Most truthfully will lie to me the most,

The person is a friend who makes me think

That a white swan is a black crow,

He who harms me thinks he helps me out,

Falsehood, truth, to me they’re both the same

I warmly remember all things and can’t conceive of one,

Warmly welcomed, rebuffed by everyone.


Merciful Prince, may it please you to know

I understand much and have no sense or learning.

A rare bird, I’m common before the law,

What’s left to do? Set eyes on my pawned goods again!

Warmly welcomed, rebuffed by everyone.



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