BALLADE DES DAMES DU TEMPS JADIS TELL ME WHERE ...
François Villontr. A.S.Kline
Dictes moy ou, n'en quel pays,
Est Flora la belle Rommaine?
Archipiades ne Thaïs
Qui fut sa cousine germaine?
Echo parlant quant bruyt on maine
Dessus riviere ou sus estan
Qui beaulté ot trop plus qu'humaine?
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

Ou est la tres sage Helloïs
Pour qui chastré fut et puis moyne
Pierre Esbaillart a Saint Denis?
Pour son amour ot ceste essoyne.
Semblablement ou est la royne
Qui commanda que Buridan
Fust geté en ung sac en Saine?
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

La royne Blanche comme lis
Qui chantoit a voix de seraine?
Berte au grant pié, Bietris, Alis,
Haremburgis qui tint le Maine
Et Jehanne la bonne Lorraine
Qu'Englois brulerent a Rouan,
Ou sont ilz, ou, Vierge souvraine?
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

Prince, n'enquerez de sepmaine
Ou elles sont, ne de cest an,
Qu a ce reffrain ne vous remaine:
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
Tell me where, or in what country
Is Flora, the lovely Roman,
Archipiades or Thaïs,
Who was her nearest cousin,
Echo answering, at clap of hand,
Over the river, and the meadow,
Whose beauty was more than human?
Oh, where is last yearís snow?

Where is that wise girl Eloise,
For whom was gelded, to his great shame,
Peter Abelard, at Saint Denis,
For love of her enduring pain,
And where now is that queen again,
Who commanded them to throw
Buridan in a sack, in the Seine?
Oh, where is last yearís snow?

Queen Blanche of the Sirenís voice
White as a swan, and Alice, say,
Bertha Big-Foot and Beatrice,
Arembourg, ruler of Maine,
Or Jeanne díArc of Lorraine,
The English burned at Rouen? Oh,
Where are they Virgin, you who reign?
Oh, where is last yearís snow?

Prince, donít ask of me again
Where they are, this year or no,
I have only this last refrain:
Oh, where is last yearís snow?

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Note: Dante Gabriel Rossetti took Archipiades to be Hipparchia
(see Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, Book VI 96-98)
who loved Crates the Theban Cynic philosopher (368/5-288/5 BC)
and of whom various tales are told suggesting her beauty, and independence of mind.
This would make her an exact or close contemporary of Thais,
beautiful Athenian courtesan and mistress of Alexander the Great (356-323BC).
Villon presumably means that they were Ďnear cousinsí in spirit.

Trans. Copyright © A.S.Kline 2004


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