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Ballads and Lyrics of Old France (7)

2006-09-08 15:53

    BALLAD OF THE GIBBET.

    [An epitaph in the form of a ballad that Francois Villon wrote of himself and his company, they expecting shortly to be hanged.]

    BROTHERS and men that shall after us be, Let not your hearts be hard to us: For pitying this our misery Ye shall find God the more piteous. Look on us six that are hanging thus, And for the flesh that so much we cherished How it is eaten of birds and perished, And ashes and dust fill our bones' place, Mock not at us that so feeble be, But pray God pardon us out of His grace.

    Listen, we pray you, and look not in scorn, Though justly, in sooth, we are cast to die; Ye wot no man so wise is born That keeps his wisdom constantly. Be ye then merciful, and cry To Mary's Son that is piteous, That His mercy take no stain from us, Saving us out of the fiery place. We are but dead, let no soul deny To pray God succour us of His grace.

    The rain out of heaven has washed us clean, The sun has scorched us black and bare, Ravens and rooks have pecked at our eyne, And feathered their nests with our beards and hair. Round are we tossed, and here and there, This way and that, at the wild wind's will, Never a moment my body is still; Birds they are busy about my face. Live not as we, nor fare as we fare; Pray God pardon us out of His grace.

    L'ENVOY. Prince Jesus, Master of all, to thee We pray Hell gain no mastery, That we come never anear that place; And ye men, make no mockery, Pray God pardon us out of His grace.

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