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.
The Epitaph in Ballad Form that Villon Made for Himself and His Companions
By François Villon (1431–1463?)
Expecting no Better than to be Hanged in Their Company

Translation of John Payne

BROTHERS, that after us on life remain,
  Harden your hearts against us not as stone;
For, if to pity us poor wights you’re fain,
  God shall the rather grant you benison.
  You see us six, the gibbet hereupon:        5
As for the flesh that we too well have fed,
’Tis all devoured and rotted, shred by shred.
  Let none make merry of our piteous case,
Whose crumbling bones the life long since hath fled:
  The rather pray, God grant us of his grace!        10
Yea, we conjure you, look not with disdain,
  Brothers, on us, though we to death were done
By justice. Well you know, the saving grain
  Of sense springs not in every mother’s son;
  Commend us, therefore, now we’re dead and gone,        15
To Christ, the Son of Mary’s maidenhead,
That he leave not his grace on us to shed
  And save us from the nether torture-place.
Let no one harry us,—forsooth, we’re sped:
  The rather pray, God grant us of his grace!        20
We are whiles scoured and soddened of the rain,
  And whiles burnt up and blackened of the sun;
Corbies and pyets have our eyes out-ta’en,
  And plucked our beard and hair out one by one.
  Whether by night or day, rest have we none:        25
Now here, now there, as the wind shifts its stead,
We swing and creak and rattle overhead,
  No thimble dinted like our bird-pecked face.
Brothers, have heed and shun the life we led:
  The rather pray, God grant us of his grace!        30
Prince Jesus, over all empoweréd,
Let us not fall into the Place of Dread,
  But all our reckoning with the Fiend efface.
Folk, mock us not that are forspent and dead:
  The rather pray, God grant us of his grace!        35

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