François Villontr. Peter Dale
Icy se clost le testament
Et finist du pauvre Villon.
Venez a son enterrement
Quant vous orrez le carillon
Vestus rouge com vermillon
Car en amours mourut martir.
Ce jura il sur son couillon
Quant de ce monde voult partir.

Et je croy bien que pas n'en ment,
Car chassiť fut comme ung souillon
De ses amours hayneusement
Tant que d'icy a Roussillon
Brosse n'y a ne brossillon
Qui n'eust, ce dit il sans mentir,
Ung lambeau de son cotillon
Quant de ce monde voult partir.

Il est ainsi et tellement:
Quant mourut n'avoit qu'ung haillon;
Qui plus, en mourant, mallement
L'espoignoit d'amours l'esguillon,
Plus agu que le ranguillon
D'ung baudrier luy faisoit sentir -
C'est de quoy nous esmerveillon -
Quant de ce monde voult partir.

Prince, gent comme esmerillon,
Sachiez qu'il fist au departir.
Ung traict but de vin morillon
Quant de ce monde voult partir.
Herewith poor Villon's testament
Comes to the end. When next you hear
The passing bell, come and lament
In loudest red behind the bier.
For love he died a martyr here.
He testified that this was so
On his one ball, and so sincere,
When from this world he wished to go.

I think this was no lie but meant,
For, like a scullion, chased in sheer
Spite from amours of his, he went,
So that, to Roussillon from here,
Was neither bush nor briar - it's clear
He spun no yarn - that didn't show
Shreds of his coat as souvenir
When from this world he wished to go.

Those are the facts of the event:
He died in rags. Further, I fear,
As he lay dying, almost spent,
Love whipped him up again in sheer
Pain from its buckle-tongue. (And here
We register some doubt.) In woe
And agony it cost him dear,
When from this world he wished to go.

Prince, gentle as a merlin, hear
What last he did while still below:
He swigged his wine, dark red and clear,
When from this world he wished to go.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Peter Dale 1978, 2001 - publ. Anvil Press this book
translator's next