Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ballade [I die of thirst beside the fountain] - François Villon

I die of thirst beside the fountain
I'm hot as fire, I'm shaking tooth on tooth
In my own country I'm in a distant land
Beside the blaze I'm shivering in flames
Naked as a worm, dressed like a president
I laugh in tears and hope in despair
I cheer up in sad hopelessness
I'm joyful and no pleasure's anywhere
I'm powerful and lack all force and strength
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I'm sure of nothing but what is uncertain
Find nothing obscure but the obvious
Doubt nothing but the certainties
Knowledge to me is mere accident
I keep winning and remain the loser
At dawn I say "I bid you good night"
Lying down I'm afraid of falling
I'm so rich I haven't a penny
I await an inheritance and am no one's heir
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I never work and yet I labour
To acquire goods I don't even want
Kind words irritate me most
He who speaks true deceives me worst
A friend is someone who makes me think
A white swan is a black crow
The people who harm me think they help
Lies and truth today I see they're one
I remember everything, my mind's a blank
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

Merciful Prince may it please you to know
I understand much and have no wit or learning
I'm biased against all laws impartially
What's next to do? Redeem my pawned goods again!
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

François Villon (1431 - 1464) France
Translated by Galway Kinnell

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