by François Villon (1431 - 1463)
Translation © by Laura Prichard

Ballade des femmes de Paris
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Quoy qu'on tient belles langagières
Florentines, Veniciennes, 
Assez pour estre messaigières,
Et mesmement les anciennes;
Mais, soient Lombardes, Romaines, 
Genevoises, à mes perils, 
Piemontoises, Savoysiennes,
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.

De beau parler tiennent chayeres, 
Ce dit-on Napolitaines,
Et que sont bonnes cacquetières
Allemandes et Bruciennes;
Soient Grecques, Egyptiennes,
De Hongrie ou d'aultre païs,
Espaignolles ou Castellannes,
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.

Brettes, Suysses, n'y sçavent guèrres,
Ne Gasconnes et Tholouzaines;
Du Petit Pont deux harangères les concluront,
Et les Lorraines, 
Anglesches ou Callaisiennes,
(ay-je beaucoup de lieux compris?)
Picardes, de Valenciennes...
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.

Envoi
Prince, aux dames parisiennes,
De bien parler donnez le prix;
Quoy qu'on die d'Italiennes,
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.

Modernized spelling provided by Laura Prichard):

Quoi qu'on tient belles langagères	
Florentines, Vénitiennes,	
Assez pour être messagères,	
Et mêmement les anciennes;	
Mais, soient Lombardes, Romaines,	
Genevoises, à mes perils,	
Piémontoises, Savoisiennes,	
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.	

De beau parler tiennent chayères,	
Ce dit-on, Napolitaines,	
Et que sont bonnes caquetières	
Allemandes et Prussiennes;	
Soient Greques, Egyptiennes,	
De Hongrie ou d'autre pays,	
Espagnoles ou Catelannes,	
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.	

Brettes, Suisses, n'y savent guères,	
Ne Gasconnes et Toulousaines:	
Du Petit Pont deux harengères
Les concluront, et les Lorraines,	
Anglesches ou Calaisiennes,	
(Ai-je beaucoup de lieux compris?)	
Picardes, de Valenciennes;	
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.	

Prince, aux dames parisiennes	
De bien parler donner le prix;	
Quoi qu'on dit d'Italiennes,	
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.


Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Algernon Charles Swinburne) , "Ballad of the women of Paris"
  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , "Ballade of the women of Paris", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 29
Word count: 125

Ballade of the women of Paris
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Whoever we consider [to be] charming conversationalists
Florentines, Venetians,	
Enough for [them to be able] to be messengers,	
As were those of old;	
But, be they Lombards, Romans,	
Genevans, [I assert] at my peril,	
Piedmontese, Savoyards,	
There is none more loquacious1 than [a woman] from Paris.	

In fine speaking, they hold chairs. 
That is said of Neapolitans. 
And they are good babblers 
[those] Germans and Prussians;	
Such is said of Greeks, Egyptians,	
[And those] from Hungary or other lands,	
Spaniards and Catalans, [yet]
There is none more loquacious than [a woman] from Paris.

Bretons, Swiss, they scarcely know anything,	
Neither [do] Gascons and Toulousianes:	
[Even] two fishwives at the Petit Pont2
Can out-talk them, and those from Lorraine,	
England or Calais,	
(Have I included enough places?)	
Those from Picardy, from Valencia;
There is none more loquacious than [a woman] from Paris.

[Envoi]3
Prince, to the women of Paris 
Who speak so well, give the prize; 
Whatever we say of the Italians,
There is none more loquacious than [a woman] from Paris.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 “bon-bec” (literally, “good-nose”) refers to someone who is chatty, or “has the gift of gab.” The literary character of Cyrano de Bergerac has both a good (-sized) nose and this loquacious quality.
2 The Petit Pont is the “Little Bridge” over the River Seine, connecting to the Île de la Cité; it had houses on it during Villon’s lifetime.
3 This last short quatrain is an “envoi,” usually labeled by Villon as such. An “envoi” or “envoy” is a shorter stanza at the end of a poem used to directly address someone (the beloved object of the poem or the poet’s patron). Fourteenth-century French poetry uses the word “Prince” to address authority figures and actual royalty.

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2016 by Laura Prichard, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.
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Based on

 

This text was added to the website: 2016-01-04
Line count: 29
Word count: 171