BALLADE DES DAMES DU TEMPS JADISBALLADE OF THE LADIES OF TIME PAST
François Villontr. Peter Dale
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?
Now tell me where has Flora gone,
The lovely Roman, her country's where?
Archipiades, Thaïs that shone,
Her cousin once removed? And fair
Echo speaking across the air
Of pools and meadows where sounds go,
Her beauty more than human share:
Where is the drift of last year's snow?

Where's Heloïse the learned gone,
For whom had Abelard to bear
Castration and monk's habit don
In St Denis? For love Pierre
Endured this pain. And likewise where
The Queen who had them sack and throw
Buridan in the Seine down there?
Where is the drift of last year's snow?

Where's queen Blanche, like lily, swan -
-With siren voice she'd sing an air?
Big-footed Bertha, Beatrice gone;
Alice, and Arembourg, Maine's heir;
Lorraine's good Joan, in Rouen square
Burnt by the English. Where d'they go,
O Queen and Virgin, tell me where,
Where is the drift of last year's snow?

Prince, do not ask in a fortnight where,
Nor yet again in a year or so.
This is the burden of the air:
Where is the drift of last year's snow?

Click here 6 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Peter Dale 1978, 2001 - publ. Anvil Press


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