François Villon tr. Leonard Cottrell
A Chartreux et a Celestins,
A Mendïans et a Devoctes,
A musars et clacque patins,
A servans et filles mignoctes
Portans seurcoz et justes coctes,
A cuidereaux d'amour transsiz
Chauçans sans mehain fauves boctes,
Je crye a toutes gens mercys.

A fillectes monstrans tetins
Pour avoir plus largement hostes,
A ribleurs, menneurs de hutins,
A batelleurs, trayans mermoctes,
A folz, folles, a sotz, a soctes,
Qui s'en vont cyfflant six a six,
A vecyes et marïotes,
Je crye a toutes gens mercys.

Synon aux traitres chiens matins
Qui m'ont fait ronger dures crostes,
Macher mains soirs et mains matins,
Que ores je ne crains trois croctes.
Je feisse pour eulx petz et roctes;
Je ne puis, car je suis assiz.
Auffort, pour esviter rïoctes,
Je crye a toutes gens mercys.

C'on leur froisse les quinze costes
De groz mailletz, fors et massiz,
De plombees et telz peloctes!
Je crye a toutes gens mercys.
To Célestínes and monks Carthus-
ian, Mendicants, and Elvis fans,
to dealers, dreamers, foxy flooz-
ies flaunting ass in tight short pants,
to ancient gigolos, who jog
in multicolored running shoes,
and cloppers in designer clogs,
I ask that they my sins excuse.

To acrobats with apes in tow,
to bikers looking for a brawl,
to tourists coming from a show:
whistling, six wide wall-to-wall.
To teenage pros who bare their boobs
and so entice the johns to call,
to tiny hipsters with tattoos,
I beg forgiveness of them all.

Except those vicious carrion birds
by whom I marbles shat and gnawed
on crusts for many an eve and dawn,
and whom I value not three turds.
For them I'd gladly make a fart,
but can't because I'm sitting down,
and just so they won't feel left out,
I cry excuse me everyone.

May men their fifteen ribs destroy
by mighty hammers swung with joy
and also by a wrecking ball:
I shout so sorry to them all.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

The people he's angry with are the jailers at Meung-sur-Loire. He spent the summer of 1461 in the Bishop's prison there.

For more of this translator's work see:

Trans. Copyright © Leonard Cottrell 2001

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