LE GRAND TESTAMENT - XLVII-LVITHE TESTAMENT - XLVII-LVI
LES REGRETS DE LA BELLE
HEAULMIERE
PLAINT OF THE BEAUTIFUL
HEAULMIERE
François Villontr. Peter Dean
XLVII

Advis m'est que j'oy regreter
La belle qui fut hëaulmiere,
Soy jeune fille soushaicter
Et parler en telle maniere:
`Ha! viellesse felonne et fiere,
Pourquoi m'as si tost abatue
Qui me tient? Qui? que ne me fiere?
Et qu'a ce coup je ne me tue?


XLVIII

"Tollu m'as la haulte franchise
Que beaulté m'avoit ordonné
Sur clers, marchans et gens d'Eglise:
Car lors, il n'estoit homme né
Qui tout le sien ne m'eust donné,
Quoi qu'il en fust des repentailles,
Mais que luy eusse habandonné
Ce que reffusent truandailles.


XLIX

"A maint homme l'ay reffusé,
Que n'estoit à moy grant sagesse,
Pour l'amour d'ung garson rusé,
Auquel j'en faisoie largesse.
A qui que je feisse finesse,
Par m'ame, je l'amoye bien!
Or ne me faisoit que rudesse,
Et ne m'amoit que pour le mien.


L

"Si ne me sceut tant detrayner,
Fouler au piez, que ne l'amasse,
Et m'eust il fait les rains trayner,
Si m'eust dit que je le baisasse,
Que tous mes maulx je n'oubliasse.
Le glouton, de mal entechié,
M'embrassoit ... . J'en suis bien plus grasse!
Que m'en reste il? Honte et pechié.


LI

"Or est il mort, passé trente ans,
Et je remains vielle, chenue.
Quant je pense, lasse! au bon temps,
Quelle fus, quelle devenue;
Quant me regarde toute nue,
Et je me voy si tres changée,
Povre, seiche, mesgre, menue,
Je suis presque toute enragée.


LII

"Qu'est devenu ce front poly,
Ces cheveulx blons, sourcilz voultiz,
Grant entroeil, le regart joly,
Dont prenoie les plus soubtilz;
Ce beau nez droit, grant ne petit;
Ces petites joinctes oreilles,
Menton fourchu, cler vis traictiz,
Et ces belles levres vermeilles?


LIII

"Ces gentes espaulles menues;
Ces bras longs et ces mains traictisses;
Petiz tetins, hanches charnues,
Eslevées, propres, faictisses
A tenir amoureuses lisses;
Ces larges rains, ce sadinet
Assis sur grosses fermes cuisses,
Dedens son petit jardinet?


LIV

"Le front ridé, les cheveux gris,
Les sourcilz cheuz, les yeulz estains,
Qui faisoient regars et ris,
Dont mains marchans furent attains;
Nez courbes, de beaulté loingtains;
Oreilles pendans et moussues;
Le vis pally, mort et destains;
Menton froncé, levres peaussues:


LV

"C'est d'umaine beaulté l'yssue!
Les bras cours et les mains contraites,
Les espaulles toutes bossues;
Mamelles, quoy! toutes retraites;
Telles les hanches que les tetes.
Du sadinet, fy! Quant des cuisses,
Cuisses ne sont plus, mais cuissetes,
Grivelées comme saulcisses.


LVI

"Ainsi le bon temps regretons
Entre nous, povres vielles sotes,
Assises bas, à crouppetons,
Tout en ung tas comme pelotes,
A petit feu de chenevotes
Tost allumées, tost estaintes;
Et jadis fusmes si mignotes! ...
Ainsi emprent à mains et maintes."
XLVII

The beauty who was Heaulmiere
I tell you once I heard complain
In words much like these I give here,
Wishing she were a girl again:
"Oh, arrant sneak-thief, you, Old Age,
why do you lately so enslave me?
Who holds me - or I would in rage,
Striking myself, let nothing save me?


XLVIII

You’ve filched the lofty potency
That beauty always gave me over
Clerks, merchants, churchmen - for to me
There is not born a man or lover
Who wouldn’t have coughed up his last penny,
No matter what the penances to pay,
To taste my wares, and I had many,
From which now dead-beats run away.


XLIX

But I refused with many men -
I must have been out of my mind -
All for the love I had just then
For a crafty lad. I’d have been kind
To him and - strewth! - shown him a trick
Or two - I would have loved him well.
But he was rough, would punch and kick
Me, loved me only for what I’d sell.


L

Even when he had beaten me,
Trampled me, even, underfoot,
I’d still have loved him; even when he
Kept me in bondage, if he put
His face up, asking for a kiss,
I’d have forgiven and forgotten.
The greedy swine took me like this,
Leaving me ugly, shamed and rotten.


LI

Now he’s been dead these thirty years;
I’m left behind here old and grey.
When I think of the good times - Woe!
What I was then, what I am today!
When I look at my body stripped
And see myself so changed with age,
Impoverished, done-down, dried-up, nipped,
I’m almost beside myself in rage.


LII

What’s happened to my forehead smooth,
My golden hair, my arching brows,
My wide and glancing eyes that none,
Not the most canny, failed to rouse;
My fine straight nose of just right size,
My matching ears with tiny tips,
My dimpled chin, face that won sighs
And beautiful vermilion lips?


LIII

Those shoulders delicate, small-boned,
Those slender arms and hands, firm tits,
And rounded hips and belly honed,
Bred up and made for it, perfect fits
For taking lovers’ generous strokes:
The ample thighs, that subtle quim,
High on those shapely legs like oaks,
Set in its own little garden trim.


LIV

The furrowed brow, grey hair in piles,
Fine eyebrows gone, eyes dull and dun,
Are those which once drew glances, smiles,
And many passers-by were won:
The nose long lost its touch of grace,
The ears misshapen, full of hair,
Doomed, pallid, deathly grew the face,
Wrinkled the chin and lips as spare.


LV

With human loveliness it’s thus!
Arms shorten, hands clench into claws,
Humpbacked and bent as in a truss.
Tits? What! They’ve been and gone indoors:
Ditto for thighs and hips as tits;
As for the quim - don’t make me cry!
And shapely legs? No more than bits
Of old blotched sausages nobody’d buy.


LVI

So, let us have a good old weep,
Us crones, over the good old days,
Down on our hunkers, in a heap,
Like so many balls who’ve rolled their ways,
In front of a little fire of sticks,
No sooner aflame than out it flickers,
We who were once such acrobatics!
So grab where you can and down your knickers!"

Click here 3 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Peter Dean 2003


next
VB17 index
French index