Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
Ballad of Ladies’ Love, No. 1
By François Villon (1431–1463?)
(Translated by John Payne)

WELL enough favoured and with substance still
  Some little stored, chance brought me ’neath love’s spell
And day and night, until I had my will,
  I pined in languor unendurable:
  I loved a damsel more than I can tell;        5
But, with good luck and rose-nobles a score,
I had what men of maids have had before.
  Then, in myself considering, I did say:
“Love sets by pleasant speech but little store;
  The wealthy gallant always gains the day!”        10
So chanced it that, whilst coin my purse did fill,
  The world went merry as a marriage bell
And I was all in all with her, until,
  Without word said, my wanton’s loose eyes fell
  Upon a graybeard, rich but foul as hell:        15
A man more hideous never woman bore.
But what of that? He had his will and more:
  And I, confounded, stricken with dismay,
Upon this text went glosing passing sore;
  “The wealthy gallant always gains the day!”        20
Now she did wrong; for never had she ill
  Or spite of me: I cherished her so well
That, had she asked me for the moon, my skill
  I had essayed to storm heaven’s citadel.
  Yet, of sheer vice, her body did she sell        25
Unto the service of that satyr hoar:
The which I seeing, of my clerkly lore
  I made and sent to her a piteous lay:
And she: “Lack-gold undid thee”; words but four.
  The wealthy gallant always gains the day.        30
    Fair Prince, more skilled than any one of yore
    In pleasant speech, look thou have coin galore
      Within thy pouch: as Meung that clerk so gay
    And wise, hath told us, in the amorous war
      The wealthy gallant always gains the day.        35

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