François Villon: Ballad of Ladies of Time Past (Two Versions From Middle French)

Ballad of the Ladies of Yore
By François Villon
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

So, tell me where on lands or seas
Has Flora gone, the Roman belle,
And Thais and Archipiades,
Great twins of beauty as stories tell.
And Echo who by brook and dell
Answered the calling cock dawn,
And wove a more than mortal spell?
Well, where could last year’s snows have gone?

And where is learned Heloise
For whom Pete Abelard once fell

So hard he came to Saint Denis’
Where his cut was a eunuch's cell?
And where’s that dowager quaintrelle
Who bagged her plaything Buridan 

Then sent him down the Seine to Hell?
Well, where could last year’s snows have gone?

That lily quean whose tune could tease
Sires even Sirens couldn't swell?
Broad Bertha, Beatrice, Louise
And Erenburg who banged Maine's bell
?
Great Joanne of Arc with her great yell
When England torched her at Rouen?
Where are they, Virginal Queen, pray tell?
Well, where could last year’s snows have gone?

Prince, ask no longer where they dwell.
For as the days and years draw on,
I’ll have no more than this to tell:
Well, where could last year’s snows have gone?


Another Version:

Ballad of The Good Ol' Dames.

O Tell me to what continent
Did fettered Sally Hemmings go?
Black Carrie whom White Thurmond spent,
And mister Kennedy’s Monroe?
Blonde Nikky Brown (who perished so
An actor could go acting on)
Whose penetrator we all know?
And where have all the flowers gone?

Poor Sylvia too malcontent
For Hughes to tie into a bow,
Who, when the last of lovers went,
Bent over for the oven’s glow?
Saintly Millay whose mouth could blow
Minds to bed, bath and Babylon
But made her husband eat her crow?
And where have all the flowers gone?

That Lois for whom awkward Kent
Had super prowess? Where’s that Lo
Whom Humbert had and Humbert bent?
That tart who killed her Romeo?
That pasty namesake of the Snow
Who led those seven midgets on?
Where, Quean of Virgins, did they go?
And where have all the flowers gone?

Dear Senator or CEO
Dreaming of them today: dream on.
Take this for answer if not no:
Well, where have all the flowers gone?


The Original:

Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis

Dictes moy où, n’en quel pays,

Est Flora, la belle Romaine
Archipiada, ne Thaïs,
Qui fut sa cousine germaine;
Echo, parlant quand bruyt on maine
Dessus rivière ou sus estan,
Qui beauté eut trop plus qu’humaine?
Mais où sont les neiges d’antan !

Où est la très sage Heloïs,

Pour qui fut chastré et puis moyne
Pierre Esbaillart à Sainct-Denys?
Pour son amour eut cest essoyne.

Semblablement, où est la royne

Qui commanda que Buridan
Fust jetté en ung sac en Seine?
Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!

La royne Blanche comme ung lys,
Qui chantoit à voix de sereine;
Berthe au grand pied, Bietris, Allys;
Harembourges, qui tint le Mayne,
Et Jehanne, la bonne Lorraine,
Qu’Anglois bruslèrent à Rouen;
Où sont-ilz, Vierge souveraine?
…
Mais où sont les neiges d’antan !

Prince, n’enquerrez de sepmaine

Où elles sont, ne de cest an,

Qu’à ce refrain ne vous remaine:
Mais où sont les neiges d’anten?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and haunting words.

    ReplyDelete

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