François Villon

(c. 1431 – after 5 January 1463 / Paris)

Ballade: Du Concours De Blois


I'm dying of thirst beside the fountain,
Hot as fire, and with chattering teeth:
In my own land, I'm in a far domain:
Near the flame, I shiver beyond belief:
Bare as a worm, dressed in a furry sheathe,
I smile in tears, wait without expectation:
Taking my comfort in sad desperation:
I rejoice, without pleasures, never a one:
Strong I am, without power or persuasion,
Welcomed gladly, and spurned by everyone.

Nothing is sure for me but what's uncertain:
Obscure, whatever is plainly clear to see:
I've no doubt, except of everything certain:
Science is what happens accidentally:
I win it all, yet a loser I'm bound to be:
Saying: ‘God give you good even!' at dawn,
I greatly fear I'm falling, when lying down:
I've plenty, yet I've not one possession,
I wait to inherit, yet I'm no heir I own,
Welcomed gladly, and spurned by everyone.

I never take care, yet I've taken great pain
To acquire some goods, but have none by me:
Who's nice to me is one I hate: it's plain,
And who speaks truth deals with me most falsely:
He's my friend who can make me believe
A white swan is the blackest crow I've known:
Who thinks he's power to help me, does me harm:
Lies, truth, to me are all one under the sun:
I remember all, have the wisdom of a stone,
Welcomed gladly, and spurned by everyone.


Merciful Prince, may it please you that I've shown
There's much I know, yet without sense or reason:
I'm partial, yet I hold with all men, in common.
What more can I do? Redeem what I've in pawn,
Welcomed gladly, and spurned by everyone.

Submitted: Thursday, March 29, 2012

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  • Václav Z J Pinkava (10/20/2013 6:06:00 PM)

    I thirst to death next to the fountain's spray,
    I burn like flame my teeth by chatt'ring rent,
    In my own land I am an emigré;
    Next to the blazing hearth by shivering spent;
    I am worm-naked, fine-dressed as a gent;
    I laugh in tears, enduring hopeless lows;
    Comfort obtain as sad despair does grow;
    Pleasures don't satisfy, or bring me fun;
    Strong without force of arms or power to throw,
    Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.
    I am not sure, until I'm cast away,
    I am unclear, where all is evident;
    I only doubt the certain, trust the grey;
    Knowledge obtain from sudden accident;
    I win, keep playing on, all winnings spent;
    At daybreak Goodnight all! I say and go,
    When lying prone, I fear of vertigo;
    I'm well to do, while chattels I have none;
    I am an heir unwilled, to none I know,
    Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.
    Nothing I care, painstaking on my way
    Much to beget, to claim it reticent;
    Who praises me, on him the blame I lay,
    Who speaks most earnest is most crooked, bent;
    A friend is he who brings the sentiment
    That the white swan is but a charcoal crow,
    Who to empower me offers me a blow.
    Truth makes no odds to me, all said and done.
    I retain all, mindful of nothing, though,
    Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.

    Kindly prince, let the record duly show:
    Though much I see, no sense do I allow.;
    Though I take sides, there's no side that I shun.
    What next to do? Claim back my keep somehow,
    Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.

    (translated by VZJP 2006) (Report) Reply

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