Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Ballad that Villon Made at the Request of his Mother
By François Villon (1431–1463?)
Wherewithal to Do her Homage to Our Lady

From the ‘Greater Testament’: Translation of John Payne

LADY of heaven, Regent of the earth,
  Empress of all the infernal marshes fell,
Receive me, thy poor Christian, ’spite my dearth,
  In the fair midst of thine elect to dwell;
  Albeit my lack of grace I know full well:        5
For that thy grace, my Lady and my Queen,
Aboundeth more than all my misdemean,
  Withouten which no soul of all that sigh
May merit heaven. ’Tis sooth I say, for e’en
  In this belief I will to live and die.        10
Say to thy Son I am his,—that by his birth
  And death my sins be all redeemable;
As Mary of Egypt’s dole he changed to mirth,
  And eke Theophilus, to whom befell
  Quittance of thee, albeit (so men tell)        15
To the foul fiend he had contracted been.
Assoilzie me, that I may have no teen,
  Maid that without breach of virginity
Didst bear our Lord that in the Host is seen.
  In this belief I will to live and die.        20
A poor old wife I am, and little worth;
  Nothing I know, nor letter aye could spell:
Where in the church to worship I fare forth,
  I see heaven limned with harps and lutes, and hell
  Where damned folk seethe in fire unquenchable.        25
One doth me fear, the other joy serene:
Grant I may have the joy, O Virgin clean,
  To whom all sinners lift their hands on high,
Made whole in faith through thee their go-between.
  In this belief I will to live and die.        30
Thou didst conceive, Princess most bright of sheen,
Jesus the Lord, that hath nor end nor mean,
Almighty, that, departing heaven’s demesne
  To succor us, put on our frailty,
Offering to death his sweet of youth and green:        35
Such as he is, our Lord he is, I ween!
  In this belief I will to live and die.

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