BALLADE DE VILLON ņ S'AMYEBALADE: TO HIS MISTRESS
François Villontr. Peter Dean
Faulse beaulté qui tant me couste chier,
Rude en effect, ypocrite doulceur,
Amour dure plus que fer a macher,
Nommer que puis, de ma deffaçon seur,
Cherme felon, la mort d'un povre cueur,
Orgueil mussé qui gens met au mourir,
Yeulx sans pitié, ne veult droit de rigueur,
Sans empirer, ung povre secourir?

Mieulx m'eust valu avoir esté serchier
Ailleurs secours: ç'eust esté mon honneur.
Riens ne m'eust sceu hors de ce fait hacher:
Trocter m'en fault en fuyte et deshonneur.
Haro, haro, le grant et le mineur!
Et qu'esse cy? Mourray sans coup ferir?
Ou pictié veult, selon ceste teneur,
Sans empirer, ung povre secourir?

Ung temps viendra qui fera dessechier,
Jaunyr, flectrir vostre espanye fleur.
Je m'en reisse, se tant peusse mascher
Lors, mais nennil, ce seroit donc folleur:
Viel je seray, vous laide, sans couleur.
Or buvez fort, tant que ru peult courir;
Ne donnez pas a tous ceste douleur:
Sans empirer, ung povre secourir.

Prince amoureux, des amans le greigneur,
Vostre mal gré ne vouldroye encourir,
Mais tout franc cueur doit, par Nostre Seigneur,
Sans empirer, ung povre secourir.
Fie on false beauty which has cost me life,
Rough to the touch, and in its treachery sweet
And love thatís sharper than a saw-toothed knife -
Name you who can, of my destruction seat:
Charming your felony, ending poor heartís beat;
Onwards you lead the doomed by tricks; your pride,
Your eyes unpitying, may I Godís laws entreat -
Send help, let not the sword turn in my side!

My better bet would then have been to search
Around elsewhere for help, but for my honour,
Rather than take chastisment by this birch.
To run off, as I should, would be dishonour.
Help! Help! A bit - or much - or Iím a goner!
Even with that, am I to die with no blow tried?
Or Pity willing, may she not, a donor,
send help, let not the sword turn in my side!

Very soon now the time comes that will see
In dribs and drabs your waning flower fall,
Inch by inch yellowing, drying; as for me
Laugh I will, if my jaw will stretch. But all
Laughter rebounds. No! Me too it would gall -
Old Iíd be - you ugly, pale, I canít deride.
Now drink deep, whilst you can: this sickness stall.
Send help, let not the sword turn in my side.

O Prince of love, greatest of those who love,
I would not wish your ill-will to abide,
but beg from full heart through Our Lord above -
send help, have a care for the sword in my side.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Peter Dean 2003


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