BALLADE DES FEMMES DE PARISBALLADE OF THE WOMEN OF PARIS
François Villontr. Peter Dean
Quoy qu'on tient belles langagieres
Florentines, Veniciennes,
Assez pour estre messagieres,
Et mesmement les anciennes;
Mais, soient Lombardes, Rommaines,
Genevoises, à mes perilz,
Pimontoises, Savoisiennes,
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.

De tres beau parler tiennent chayeres,
Se dit-on, les Neapolitaines,
Et sont tres bonnes caquetieres
Allemandes et Pruciennes;
Soient Grecques, Egipciennes,
De Hongrie ou d'autre pays,
Espaignolles ou Castellaines,
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.

Brettes, Suysses, n'y sçavent gueres,
Gasconnes, n'aussi Toulousaines;
De Petit Pont deux harangieres
Les concluront; et les Lorraines,
Engloises et Calaisiennes,
- Ay je beaucoup de lieux compris? -
Picardes de Valenciennes;
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.

ENVOI
Prince, aux dames Parisiennes
De beau parler donne le pris;
Quoy qu'on die d'Italiennes,
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.
Whilst it is held they have the chat,
the girls of Florence and of Venice,
enough to have it all off pat,
even the old girls who’re no menace:
though Lombards, Romans, know their tennis;
Genoa girls, Piedmonts among
Savoie lasses - I’ll risk my pennies
Parisian is your only tongue.

They highly prize the skill of chat
in Naples, that’s what people say,
and Germans, Prussian girls don’t bat
an eyelid when they prattle all day:
Egyptian, Greek and all the way
through Hungary even when sung,
by Spanish, Catalan girls at play -
Parisian is your only tongue.

Breton nor Swiss girls hardly know it,
nor do Toulouse nor Gascon fillies,
two Little Bridge fishwives’d blow it
and girls of Lorraine - they’re just sillies
as are the English and, where the will is,
the Calais girls (are all bells rung?).
No! From Valence the Picardies!
Parisian is your only tongue.

ENVOI
Prince, round the necks of Parisian crumpet
the prize for gabbing should be hung;
through some for Italians blow the trumpet,
Parisian is your only tongue.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Peter Dean 2002


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