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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 Debate of the Heart and Body of Villon
By François Villon (1431–1463?)
 
Translation of John Payne

WHAT is’t I hear?—’Tis I, thy heart: ’tis I,
  That hold but by a thread for frailty;
I have nor force nor substance, all drained dry,
  Since thee thus lonely and forlorn I see,
  Like a poor cur, curled up all shiveringly.—        5
How comes it thus?—Of thine unwise liesse.—
What irks it thee?—I suffer the distress.—
  Leave me in peace.—Why?—I will cast about.—
When will that be?—When I’m past childishness.—
  I say no more.—And I can do without.        10
 
What deemest thou?—To mend before I die.—
  At thirty years?—’Tis a mule’s age, perdie.—
Is’t childhood?—Nay.—’Tis madness, then, doth ply
  And grip thee?—Where?—By the nape.—Seemeth me
  Nothing I know?—Yes, flies in milk, maybe:        15
Thou canst tell black from white yet at a press.—
Is’t all?—What words can all thy faults express?—
  If ’t’s not enough, we’ll have another bout.—
Thou’rt lost.—I’ll make a fight for’t none the less.—
  I say no more.—And I can do without.        20
 
Dule have I, pain and misery thou thereby:
  If thou wert some poor idiot, happily
Thou mightst have some excuse thy heart anigh.
  Lo, foul and fair are all alike to thee.
  Or harder is thy head than stone by sea,        25
Or more than honor likes thee this duresse.
Canst thou say aught in answer? Come, confess.—
  I shall be quit on’t when I die, no doubt.—
God! what a comfort ’gainst a present stress!
  I say no more.—And I can do without.        30
 
Whence comes this evil?—Surely, from on high:
  When Saturn made me up my fardel, he
Put all these ills in.—’Tis a foolish lie:
  Thou art Fate’s master, yet its slave wilt be.
  Thereof see Solomon his homily:        35
The wise, he says, no planets can oppress;
They and their influence own his mightiness.—
  Nay, as they’ve made me, so shall it fall out.—
What sayst thou?—’Tis the faith that I profess.—
  I say no more.—And I can do without.        40
 
ENVOI
Wilt thou live long?—So God vouchsafe me, yes.—
Then must thou— What?—Repent; forswear idlesse
And study— What?—The lore of righteousness.—
  I’ll not forget.—Forsake the motley rout
And to amendment straightway thee address:        45
Delay not till thou come to hopelessness.
  I say no more.—And I can do without.
 
 
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