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

Je meurs de soif auprès de la fontaine
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Je meurs de soif auprès de la fontaine,
Chaud comme feu, et tremble dent à dent,
En mon païs suis en terre lointaine ;
Lez un brazier friçonne tout ardent ;
Nu comme ung ver, vestu en president ;
Je ris en pleurs, et attens sans espoir ;
Confort reprens en triste desespoir ;
Je m’esjouys et n’ay plaisir aucun ;
Puissant je suis sans force et sans povoir,
Bien recueilly, débouté de chascun.

Rien ne m’est seur que la chose incertaine,
Obscur, fors ce qui est tout évident ;
Doubte ne fais, fors en chose certaine ;
Science tiens à soudain accident ;
Je gaigne tout, et demeure perdent ;
Au point du jour, diz : « Dieu vous doint bon soir ! »
Gisant envers, j’ay grant paour de cheoir ;
J’ay bien de quoy, et si n’en ay pas un ;
Eschoicte attens, et d’homme ne suis hoir,
Bien recueilly, debouté de chascun.

De riens n’ay soing, si metz toute ma paine
D’acquerir biens, et n’y suis pretendant ;
Qui mieulx medit, c’est cil qui plus m’attaine,
Et qui plus vray, lors plus me va bourdant ;
Mon ami est qui me fait entendant
D’ung cygne blanc que c’est ung corbeau noir ;
Et qui me nuyst, croy qu’il m’aide à povoir.
Verité, bourde, aujourd’uy m’est tout un.
Je retiens tout ; riens ne sçay concepvoir,
Bien recueilly, debouté de chascun.

L’ENVOI
Prince clement, or vous plaise savoir
Que j’entens moult et n’ay sens ne sçavoir ;
Parcial suis, à toutes lois commun.
Que fais-je plus ? Quoy ? Les gaiges ravoir,
Bien recueilly, debouté de chascun.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Œuvres complètes de François Villon, éd. préparée par La Monnoye, mise à jour, avec notes et glossaire par M. Pierre Jannet, Paris, A. Lemerre, 1876, pages 110-111, titled "Ballade Villon"

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 (Laura Prichard) , "Ballad: On the Examination at Blois", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2009-10-14
Line count: 36
Word count: 270

Ballad: On the Examination at Blois
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
I’m dying of thirst next to the fountain,
Hot as fire, but teeth chattering;
In my own country, I’m in a faraway land;
Near the open flame, I shiver uncontrolably;
Nude as a worm, dressed like a president,
I smile through tears and wait without hope;
Taking comfort in sad desperation;
I rejoice without a single pleasure;
I’m powerful, but without force or persuasion,
Well received, rejected by all.

Nothing is sure for me except that which is uncertain;
Obscure, save that which is plainly evident;
I have no doubt, save of that which is certain;
Science is that which happens accidentally;
I win every time and still lose;
At daybreak saying: “God grant you a good night!”
Lying upside down, I have a great fear of falling;
I have plenty and yet not one possession;
I wait to inherit and am heir to no man,
Well received, rejected by all.

I don’t care about anything, but I’ve taken great pains
To acquire goods, but don’t pretend to have any;
Whoever is kind to me, that’s who I disdain,
And who speaks the most truthfully to me, actually lies;
He is my friend, who can make me believe that
A white swan is a black crow;
And whoever harms me, believes he has the power to help me;
Lies, truth, today it’s all the same to me;
I remember everything, I can’t conceive of anything,
Well received, rejected by all.

Lenient Prince, you may wish to know
All that I've heard but did not understand:
I hold myself apart, but am ruled by common law.
What more can I do? What? Get back my wages,
Well received, rejected by all.

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: 2016-04-15
Line count: 35
Word count: 280