"Ballade des pendus"

("Ballade of the hanged men")
François Villon
(1431-after 1463)
Language: French, Dialect: Parisian (Francien)

Freres humains qui après nous vivez,
N'ayez les cuers contre nous endurcis,
Car, se pitié de nous povres avez,
Dieu en aura plus tost de vous mercis.
Vous nous voiez cy attachez cinq, six:
Quant de la char, que trop avons nourrie,
Elle est pieça devoree et pourrie,
Et nous, les os, devenons cendre et pouldre.
De nostre mal personne ne s'enrie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre!


Brothers, men who live after us,
Let not your hearts be hardened against us,
Because, if you have pity for us poor men,
God will have more mercy toward you.
You see us here attached five or six:    5
When our flesh that was nourished so well
Is over time devoured and putrified,
And we, the bones, have become cinders and powder.
Let no one laugh at our misfortune:
But pray that God absolve us all!     10

Sevous clamons freres, pas n'en devez
Avoir desdaing, quoy que fusmes occis
Parjustice. Toutefois, vous sçavez
Que tous hommes n'ont pas bon sens rassis;
Excusez nous, puis que sommes transis,
Envers le fils de la Vierge Marie,
Que sa grace ne soit pour nous tarie,
Nous preservant de l'infernale fouldre.
Nous sommes mors, ame ne nous harie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre!

If we call you, brothers, you ought not
To have disdain even though we were killed
By law. Often, you know
That not all men have a righteous mind;
Excuse us, now that we have passed,  15
Toward the son of the Virgin Mary,
That her grace will not be slow for us,
Preserving us from the infernal fire.
We are dead, no soul harries us;
But pray that God absolve us all!     20

La pluye nous a buez et lavez,
Et le soliel dessechiez et noircis;
Pies, corbeaulx nous ont les yeux cavez,
Et arrachié la barbe etles sourcis.
Jamais nul temps nous ne sommes assis;
Puis ça, puis la, comme le vent varie,
A son plaisir sans cesser nous charie,
Plus becquetez d'oyseaulx que dez a couldre.
Ne soiez donc de nostre confrarie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre!

The rain has washed and purified us,
And the sun has dried and blackened us:
Magpies, crows have dug out our eyes
And pulled out our beards and eyebrows.
Never do we have rest;             25
The changeable wind blows us first this way, then that,
To its pleasure without ceasing,
Our skin has more bird peckings than if it were sewed.
Do not leave our company then;
But pray that God absolve us all!     30

Prince Jhesus, qui sur tous seigneurie,
Garde qu'Enfer n'ait de nous la maistrie:
A luy n'ayons que faire ne que souldre.
Hommes, icy n'a point de mocquerie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absouldre!

Prince Jesus, who is lord of all,
Keep us from the tyranny of Hell:
Let the Devil have no claim over us
Men, make no mockery here;
But pray that God absolve us all!     35

Edited by Louis Thuasne
Translated by Craig E. Bertolet

Medieval Sourcebook: François Villon: Ballades

Ballade to Our Lady


Dame du ciel, regents terrienne,
Emperiere des infemaux palus....

Lady of Heaven and earth, and therewithal
Crowned Empress of the nether clefts of Hell,-

I, thy poor Christian, on thy name do call,
Commending me to thee, with thee to dwell,
Albeit in nought I be commendable.

But all mine undeserving may not mar
Such mercies as thy sovereign mercies are;
Without the which (as true words testify)
No soul can reach thy Heaven so fair and far.
Even in this faith I choose to live and die.
Unto thy Son say thou that I am His,
And to me graceless make Him gracious.
Said Mary of Egypt lacked not of that bliss,
Nor yet the sorrowful clerk Theopbilus,
Whose bitter sins were set aside even thus
Though to the Fiend his bounden service was.
Oh help me, lest in vain for me should pass
(Sweet Virgin that shalt have no loss thereby!)
The blessed Host and sacring of the Mass
Even in this faith I choose to live and die.

A pitiful poor woman, shrunk and old,
I am, and nothing learn'd in letter-lore.
Within my parish-cloister I behold
A painted Heaven where harps and lutes adore,
And eke an Hell whose damned folk seethe full sore:
One bringeth fear, the other joy to me.
That joy, great Goddess, make thou mine to be,-
Thou of whom all must ask it even as I;
And that which faith desires, that let it see.
For in this faith I choose to live and die.

O excellent Virgin Princess! thou didst bear
King Jesus, the most excellent comforter,
Who even of this our weakness craved a share
And for our sake stooped to us from on high,
Offering to death His young life sweet and fair.
Such as He is, Our Lord, I Him declare,
And in this faith I choose to live and die.

From Villon, "Ballade to Our Lady," Dante Gabriel Rossetti, trans., in Poems (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1870), pp. 178- 179.