Thursday, 7 August 2014

François Villon, ‘Ballade’

As readership of this blog has suddenly shot up, I'm going to put a poem in again, in sure and certain knowledge that it will lose readers. This is by the great mediaeval poet and general rogue Villon. He wrote it for a girl called Ambroise — note the acrostic, which I have preserved (at the price of some clumsiness of diction) in my translation.

François Villon, ‘Ballade’

From Le Testament.

Au poinct du jour que l’esprevier s’esbat
Meu de plaisir et par noble coustume,
Bruit le maulvis et de joye s’esbat,
Recoit son per et se joinct a sa plume,
Offrir vous vueil, a ce desir m’alume,
Ioyeusement ce qu’aux amans bon semble,
Sachiez qu’Amour l’escript en son volume
Et c’est la fin pour quoy sommes ensemble.

At daybreak, as the sparrow-hawk takes flight,
Moved by joy and noble honoured ways,
Beat thrush’s wings; she calls in her delight,
Receives her mate, and in his feathers lays.
Offering, inflamed by passion’s rays,
In happiness, what seems good to the lover:
See how, in her book, this Love displays:
Each only for this end brought to the other.

Trans. Simon Darragh.




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