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Poems of Francois Villon

FRANCOIS VILLON, 1431-14-?

Nothing is known of Villon's birth or death, and only too much of his life. In his poems the ancient forms of French verse are animated with the keenest sense of personal emotion, of love, of melancholy, of mocking despair, and of repentance for a life passed in taverns and prisons.

RONDEL
FRANCOIS VILLON, 1460

Goodbye! the tears are in my eyes;
Farewell, farewell, my prettiest;
Farewell, of women born the best;
Good-bye! the saddest of good-byes.
Farewell! with many vows and sighs
My sad heart leaves you to your rest;
Farewell! the tears are in my eyes;
Farewell! from you my miseries
Are more than now may be confessed,
And most by thee have I been blessed,
Yea, and for thee have wasted sighs;
Goodbye! the last of my goodbyes.


ARBOR AMORIS.
FRANCOIS VILLON, 1460

I have a tree, a graft of Love,
That in my heart has taken root;
Sad are the buds and blooms thereof,
And bitter sorrow is its fruit;
Yet, since it was a tender shoot,
So greatly hath its shadow spread,
That underneath all joy is dead,
And all my pleasant days are flown,
Nor can I slay it, nor instead
Plant any tree, save this alone.

Ah, yet, for long and long enough
My tears were rain about its root,
And though the fruit be harsh thereof,
I scarcely looked for better fruit
Than this, that carefully I put
In garner, for the bitter bread
Whereon my weary life is fed:
Ah, better were the soil unsown
That bears such growths; but Love instead
Will plant no tree, but this alone.

Ah, would that this new spring, whereof
The leaves and flowers flush into shoot,
I might have succour and aid of Love,
To prune these branches at the root,
That long have borne such bitter fruit,
And graft a new bough, comforted
With happy blossoms white and red;
So pleasure should for pain atone,
Nor Love slay this tree, nor instead
Plant any tree, but this alone.



L'ENVOY.

Princess, by whom my hope is fed,
My heart thee prays in lowlihead
To prune the ill boughs overgrown,
Nor slay Love's tree, nor plant instead
Another tree, save this alone.


BALLAD OF THE GIBBET.

[An epitaph in the form of a ballad that Francois Villon wrote of
himself and his company, they expecting shortly to be hanged.]

Brothers and men that shall after us be,
Let not your hearts be hard to us:
For pitying this our misery
Ye shall find God the more piteous.
Look on us six that are hanging thus,
And for the flesh that so much we cherished
How it is eaten of birds and perished,
And ashes and dust fill our bones' place,
Mock not at us that so feeble be,
But pray God pardon us out of His grace.

Listen, we pray you, and look not in scorn,
Though justly, in sooth, we are cast to die;
Ye wot no man so wise is born
That keeps his wisdom constantly.
Be ye then merciful, and cry
To Mary's Son that is piteous,
That His mercy take no stain from us,
Saving us out of the fiery place.
We are but dead, let no soul deny
To pray God succour us of His grace.

The rain out of heaven has washed us clean,
The sun has scorched us black and bare,
Ravens and rooks have pecked at our eyne,
And feathered their nests with our beards and hair.
Round are we tossed, and here and there,
This way and that, at the wild wind's will,
Never a moment my body is still;
Birds they are busy about my face.
Live not as we, nor fare as we fare;
Pray God pardon us out of His grace.


L'ENVOY.

Prince Jesus, Master of all, to thee
We pray Hell gain no mastery,
That we come never anear that place;
And ye men, make no mockery,
Pray God pardon us out of His grace.