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François Villon: peasant over princess

Ballade of the Ladies of Yore, Rondel

  • Ballade of the Ladies of Yore
  • Tell me where, in what country,
  • Is Flora the beautiful Roman,
  • Archipiada or Thais
  • Who was first cousin to her once,
  • Echo who speaks when there’s a sound
  • On a pond or a river
  • Whose beauty was more than human?
  • But where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • Where is the learned Heloise
  • For whom they castrated Pierre Abelard
  • And made him a monk at Saint-Denis,
  • For his love he took this pain,
  • Likewise where is the queen
  • Who commanded that Buridan
  • Be thrown in a sack into the Seine?
  • But where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • The queen white as a lily
  • Who sang with a siren’s voice,
  • Big-footed Bertha, Beatrice, Alice,
  • Haremburgis who held Maine
  • And Jeanne the good maid of Lorraine
  • Whom the English burnt at Rouen, where,
  • Where are they, sovereign Virgin?
  • But where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • Prince, don’t ask me in a week
  • Or in a year what place they are;
  • I can only give you this refrain:
  • Where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • Rondel
  • 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.
Francois VIllon

François Villon (c.1421-c.1463) is one of the most popular medieval poets in French literature. His life is as enigmatic as his poetry is memorable. Writing at the height of the “Courtly Love” trend in medieval poetry, Villon tended to take an opposite tack — writing about the peasant instead of the princess, the squalid life of a thief and ne’er-do-well instead of the noble virtues of the chivalrous life, and earthly, sensuous love rather than the pure, Platonic love typically espoused by the courtier poets of his day. Much of his poetry relates his troubles with the law, which often resulted in his imprisonment or banishment. In 1463, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances (likely due to his criminal background). His poetry was translated into more than 40 languages and remains popular to this day.

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  • Ballade of the Ladies of Yore
  • Tell me where, in what country,
  • Is Flora the beautiful Roman,
  • Archipiada or Thais
  • Who was first cousin to her once,
  • Echo who speaks when there’s a sound
  • On a pond or a river
  • Whose beauty was more than human?
  • But where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • Where is the learned Heloise
  • For whom they castrated Pierre Abelard
  • And made him a monk at Saint-Denis,
  • For his love he took this pain,
  • Likewise where is the queen
  • Who commanded that Buridan
  • Be thrown in a sack into the Seine?
  • But where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • The queen white as a lily
  • Who sang with a siren’s voice,
  • Big-footed Bertha, Beatrice, Alice,
  • Haremburgis who held Maine
  • And Jeanne the good maid of Lorraine
  • Whom the English burnt at Rouen, where,
  • Where are they, sovereign Virgin?
  • But where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • Prince, don’t ask me in a week
  • Or in a year what place they are;
  • I can only give you this refrain:
  • Where are the snows of yesteryear?
  • Rondel
  • 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.
Francois VIllon

François Villon (c.1421-c.1463) is one of the most popular medieval poets in French literature. His life is as enigmatic as his poetry is memorable. Writing at the height of the “Courtly Love” trend in medieval poetry, Villon tended to take an opposite tack — writing about the peasant instead of the princess, the squalid life of a thief and ne’er-do-well instead of the noble virtues of the chivalrous life, and earthly, sensuous love rather than the pure, Platonic love typically espoused by the courtier poets of his day. Much of his poetry relates his troubles with the law, which often resulted in his imprisonment or banishment. In 1463, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances (likely due to his criminal background). His poetry was translated into more than 40 languages and remains popular to this day.

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