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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Ballad of the Women of Paris
By François Villon (1431–1463?)
 
From the ‘Greater Testament’: Translation of John Payne

THOUGH folk deem women young and old
  Of Venice and Genoa well eno’
Favored with speech, both glib and bold,
  To carry messages to and fro;
  Savoyards, Florentines less or mo’,        5
Romans and Lombards though folk renown,—
  I, at my peril, I say no:
There’s no right speech out of Paris town.
 
The Naples women (so we are told)
  Can school all comers in speech and show;        10
Prussians and Germans were still extolled
  For pleasant prattle of friend and foe;
  But hail they from Athens or Grand Cairo,
Castile or Hungary, black or brown,
  Greeks or Egyptians, high or low,        15
There’s no right speech out of Paris town.
 
Switzers nor Bretons know how to scold,
  Nor Provence nor Gascony women: lo!
Two fishfags in Paris the bridge that hold
  Would slang them dumb in a minute or so.        20
  Picardy, England, Lorraine, (heigho!
Enough of places have I set down?)
  Valenciennes, Calais, wherever you go,
There’s no right speech out of Paris town.
 
ENVOI
Prince, to the Paris ladies, I trow,
        25
  For pleasant parlance I yield the crown.
They may talk of Italians; but this I know,
  There’s no right speech out of Paris town.
 
 
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