Unto thy Son say thou that I am His,

And to me graceless make Him gracious.

Sad Mary of Egypt lacked not of that bliss,

Nor yet when sorrowful clerk Theophilus,

Whose bitter sins were set aside even thus

Though to the Fiend his bounden service was.

Oh help me, lest in vain for me should pass

(Sweet Virgin that shalt have no loss thereby)

The blessed Host and sacring [sic] of the Mass.

Even in this faith I choose to live and die.

A pitiful poor woman, shrunk and old,

I am nothing, and nothing learn’d in letter lore:

Within my parish-cloister I behold

A painted Heaven where harps and lutes adore,

And eke a Hell whose damned folk seethe full sore:

One bringeth fear, the other joy to me.

That joy, great Goddess, make thou mine to be —

Thou of whom all must ask it, even as I;

And that which faith desires, that let it see.

For in this faith I choose to live and die. — from “The Ballade to Our Lady”


François Villon (c.1431–1463) was a French poet who, in the same tradition as Miguel Cervantes (Don Quixote), Thomas Malory
(Le Morte Darthur), Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard, found his muse more often than not in a jail cell. A thief and vagabond, he is perhaps best known for the line, “Where are the snows of yesteryear?” — as translated by pre-Raphaelite poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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