BALLADE QUE VILLON FEIT
À LA REQUESTE DE SA MERE BALADE: FOR PRAYERS TO OUR LADY
POUR PRIER NOSTRE-DAME
François Villon tr. Patricia Terry & Maurice Z.Shroder
Dame des cieulx, regente terrienne,
Emperiere des infernaux paluz,
Recevez moy, vostre humble chrestienne,
Que comprinse soye entre vos esleuz,
Ce non obstant qu'oncques rien ne valuz.
Les biens de vous, ma dame et ma maistresse,
Sont trop plus grans que ne suis pecheresse,
Sans lesquelz biens ame ne peut merir
N'avoir les cieulx, je n'en suis jungleresse.
En ceste foi je vueil vivre et mourir.

A vostre Filz dictes que je suis sienne;
De luy soyent mes pechiez aboluz:
Pardonne moy comme a l'Egipcienne,
Ou comme il feist au clerc Théophilus,
Lequel par vous fut quitte et absoluz,
Combien qu'il eust au deable fait promesse.
Preservez moy, que ne face jamais ce,
Vierge portant, sans rompure encourir
Le sacrement qu'on celebre à la messe.
En ceste foy je vueil vivre et mourir.

Femme je suis povrette et ancienne,
Qui riens ne sçay; oncques lettre ne leuz;
Au moustier voy dont suis paroissienne
Paradis paint, où sont harpes et luz,
Et ung enfer où dampnez sont boulluz:
L'ung me fait paour, l'autre joye et liesse,
La joye avoir me fay, haulte Deesse,
A qui pecheurs doivent tous recourir,
Comblez de foy, sans fainte ne paresse.
En ceste foy je vueil vivre et mourir.

ENVOI
Vous portastes, digne Vierge, princesse,
Iesus regnant, qui n'a ne fin ne cesse.
Le Tout-Puissant, prenant nostre foiblesse,
Laissa les cieulx et nous vint secourir,
Offrit à mort sa tres chiere jeunesse.
Nostre Seigneur tel est, tel le confesse,
En ceste foy je vueil vivre et mourir.
Lady of heaven, regent of the earth,
Empress of the marshy wastes of hell,
Hear me, humble Christian that I am.
May I be one of those you choose to save,
Though I have never been of any worth.
Your virtues, lady, mistress whom I serve,
Exceed by far the measure of my sins;
Without your mercy, no one can deserve
The gift of heaven. These are not empty words:
Trusting in this, I'll live my life and die.

Say to your son that he is my liege lord.
Ask him to grant forgiveness for my sins,
As the Egyptian Mary was absolved;
So too the learned cleric Theophile,
Since you were merciful and pardoned him,
Although the devil had received his vow.
Keep me from ever giving him my own!
Lady, you bear in your virginity
The miracle we witness in the Mass:
Trusting in this, I'll live my life and die.

I am just a woman, old and poor.
I'm ignorant; I cannot read a word.
At the church where I worship, I can see
Paradise portrayed with harps and lutes,
And there's a hell wherein the damned are boiled;
One frightens me, the other brings me joy.
O grant to me that joy, divinity,
You on whose favor sinners must depend,
By true and boundless mercy overwhelmed.
Trusting in this, I'll live my life and die.


Virgin, worthy princess, you did bear
Iesus, whose reign will surely never end.
Lord over all, he put our weakness on,
Left paradise and came to succor us,
Offered up to death his cherished youth.
Now he is master here, as none deny:
Trusting in this, I'll live my life and die.

Click here 3 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Patricia Terry & Maurice Z.Shroder 2004

First published "Metamorphoses" by Smith College, Northampton, Mass. U.S.A.



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