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 against Those Who Missay of France
By François Villon (1431–1463?)
Translation of John Payne

LET him meet beasts that breathe out fiery rain,
  Even as did Jason hard by Colchis town;
Or seven years changed into a beast remain,
  Nebuchadnezzar-like, to earth bowed down;
Or suffer else such teen and mickle bale        5
As Helen’s rape on Trojans did entail;
  Or in Hell’s marshes fallen let him fare
  Like Tantalus and Proserpine, or bear
A grievouser than Job his sufferance,
  Prisoned and pent in Dædalus his snare,—        10
Who would wish ill unto the realm of France.
Four months within a marish let him plain,
  Bittern-like, with the mud against his crown;
Or sell him to the Ottoman, to chain
  And harness like an ox, the scurvy clown!        15
Or thirty years, like Maudlin, without veil
Or vesture, let him his misdeeds bewail;
  Or with Narcissus death by drowning share;
  Or die like Absalom, hanged by the hair;
Or Simon Magus, by his charms’ mischance;        20
  Or Judas, mad with horror and despair,—
Who would wish ill unto the realm of France.
If but Octavian’s time might come again,
  His molten gold should down his throat be thrown,
Or ’twixt two millstones he should grind for grain,        25
  As did St. Victor; or I’d have him drown
Far out to sea, where help and breath should fail,
Like Jonah in the belly of the whale;
  Let him be doomed the sunlight to forswear,
  Juno her goods and Venus debonair,        30
And be of Mars oppressed to utterance,—
  As was Antiochus the king, whilere,—
Who would wish ill unto the realm of France.
Prince, may winds bear him to the wastes of air,
Or to the mid-sea woods and sink him there;        35
  Be all his hopes changed to desesperance:
For he deserves not any fortune fair
  Who would wish ill unto the realm of France.

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