Francois Villon quotes
Birthdate: 1. April 1431
Date of death: 1463
François Villon , born in Paris in 1431 and disappeared from view in 1463, is the best known French poet of the late Middle Ages. A ne'er-do-well who was involved in criminal behavior and had multiple encounters with law enforcement authorities, Villon wrote about some of these experiences in his poems.
Quotes Francois Villon
„Foolish love makes beasts of men:
It once caused Solomon to worship idols,
And Samson to lose his eyes.
That man is lucky who has nothing.“
Folles amours font le gens bestes:
Salmon en ydolatria,
Samson en perdit ses lunettes.
Bien est eureux qui riens n'y a!
Source: Le Grand Testament (The Great Testament) (1461), Line 629; "Double Ballade".
„In riding to the hounds, in falconry,
In love or war," as anyone will tell you,
"For one brief joy a hundred woes.“
"De chiens, d'oyseaulx, d'armes, d'amous,"
Chascun le dit a la vollee,
"Pour une joye cent doulours."
Source: Le Grand Testament (The Great Testament) (1461), Line 622.
„Prince, give the prize for chatter
To Parisian women; whatever
May be said about Italians,
There is no tongue like one from Paris.“
Prince, aux dames Parisiennes
De beau parler donnez le pris;
Quoy qu'on die d'Italiennes,
Il n'est bon bec que de Paris.
Source: Le Grand Testament (The Great Testament) (1461), Line 1539; "Ballade des Femmes de Paris (Ballade of the Women of Paris)".
„Prince, I know all, in short,
I know pink cheeks from wan,
I know Death all-devouring,
I know all, save myself.“
Prince, je congnois tout en somme,
Je congnois coulourez et blesmes,
Je congnois Mort qui tout consomme,
Je congnois tout, fors que moy mesmes.
"Ballade des Menus Propos (Ballade of Small Talk)", line 25. (1458).
„Through wind, hail or frost my living's made.
I am a lecher, and she's a lecher with me.
Which one of us is better? We're both alike:
The one as worthy as the other. Bad rat, bad cat.
We both love filth, and filth pursues us;
We flee from honor, honor flees from us,
In this brothel where we ply our trade.“
Vente, gresle, gelle, j'ay mon pain cuit.
Ie suis paillart, la paillarde me suit.
Lequel vault mieulx? Chascun bien s'entresuit.
L'ung vault l'autre; c'est a mau rat mau chat.
Ordure amons, ordure nous assuit;
Nous deffuyons onneur, il nous deffuit,
En ce bordeau ou tenons nostre estat.
Source: Le Grand Testament (The Great Testament) (1461), Line 1621; "Ballade de la Grosse Margot (Ballade for Fat Margot)".
„It's true that I have loved,
And gladly would again;
But sad heart, and famished belly
Not even partly satisfied
Force me away from paths of love.
And so, let someone else take over
Who has tucked away more food –
Dancing is for men of nobler girth.“
Bien est verté que j'ay amé
Et ameroie voulentiers;
Mais triste cuer, ventre affamé
Qui n'est rassasié au tiers
M'oste des amoureux sentiers.
Au fort, quelqu'ung s'en recompence,
Qui est ramply sur les chantiers!
Car la dance vient de la pance.
Source: Le Grand Testament (The Great Testament) (1461), Line 193.
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„But whatever may be said about the life of work,
There is no treasure quite like living at one's ease.“
Mais, quoy que soit du laboureux mestier,
Il n'est tresor que de vivre a son aise.
Source: Le Grand Testament (The Great Testament) (1461), Line 1501; "Ballade: Les Contrediz de Franc Gontier (Ballade: Franc Gontier Refuted)".
Freres humains qui après nous vivez,
N'avez les cuers contre nous endurcis.
"L'Epitaphe Villon (Villon's Epitaph)", or "Ballade des Pendus (Ballade of the Hanged)", line 1. (1463).
„The Large Testament is a hurly-burly of cynical and sentimental reflections about life, jesting legacies to friends and enemies, and, interspersed among these many admirable ballades, both serious and absurd. With so free a design, no thought that occurred to him would need to be dismissed without expression; and he could draw at full length the portrait of his own bedevilled soul, and of the bleak and blackguardly world which was the theatre of his exploits and sufferings. If the reader can conceive something between the slap-dash inconsequence of Byron's Don Juan and the racy humorous gravity and brief noble touches that distinguish the vernacular poems of Burns, he will have formed some idea of Villon's style. To the latter writer – except in the ballades, which are quite his own, and can be paralleled from no other language known to me – he bears a particular resemblance.“
Robert Louis Stevenson Familiar Studies of Men and Books (London: Chatto & Windus, 1882), ch. 6.
François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Chapter xiv.
„There has been no greater artist in French verse, as there has been no greater poet; and the main part of the history of poetry in France is the record of a long forgetting of all that Villon found out for himself.“
Arthur Symons Figures of Several Centuries (London: Constable, 1916) p. 40.
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
Alternative translation: But where are the snows of yesteryear?
Source: Le Grand Testament (The Great Testament) (1461), Line 336; "Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis (Ballade of the Ladies of Bygone Times)".