Mike Leach

Indexer and Translator

translation

    FRAN«OIS VILLONíS EPITAPH,
    Or, The Ballade of the Hanged.
    Translated by Mike Leach.

    Good brothers all who live when we are dead,
    You should not set your hearts against our woe,
    For if you pity us poor lads instead,
    To you in turn will God His mercy show.
    You see us dangling, five, six in a row;
    As for the flesh we fed with so much zest,
    Itís perished, rotted, belly, back and breast,
    While we, the bones, in dust and ashes fall.
    Let no man of our sorrow make a jest;
    But pray that God may save us one and all.

    Donít scorn the word, if Ďbrothersí we have said;
    We mean no disrespect, though our death-blow
    Was struck by justice. Surely you have read
    That not all men good sense and reason know.
    So, brothers, pray for us, who here below
    Against the Holy Virginís Son transgressed,
    That by His grace, we may not be oppressed
    By torments everlasting, in Hellís thrall.
    Donít harry us, our sins we have confessed;
    But pray that God may save us one and all.

    Weíre washed out by the rain from overhead;
    Dried up and blackened by the sun we grow;
    The crows and magpies on our eyes have fed,
    And plucked out beard and eyebrows long ago.
    Weíre never still, swing ever to and fro,
    Now here, now there, blown at the windís behest,
    It never lets us have a momentís rest,
    Pockmarked like thimbles, at birdsí beck and call.
    Donít join our brotherhood, nor be our guest;
    But pray that God may save us one and all.

    Prince Jesus, who for all men do attest,
    Let not us sinners be by Hell possessed;
    Weíve no affairs to settle in that hall.
    Here, men, for once I speak no word of jest;
    But pray that God may save us one and all.

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