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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
François Villon
Most of what is known about François Villon has been gathered from legal records and gleaned from his own writings...
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FURTHER READING
Related Prose
Poetic Form: Ballade
Other Ballades
Ballade [The goat scratches so much it can't sleep]
by François Villon
To Rosemounde
by Geoffrey Chaucer
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Ballade [I die of thirst beside the fountain]

 
by François Villon
translated by Galway Kinnell

I die of thirst beside the fountain 
I'm hot as fire, I'm shaking tooth on tooth 
In my own country I'm in a distant land 
Beside the blaze I'm shivering in flames 
Naked as a worm, dressed like a president 
I laugh in tears and hope in despair 
I cheer up in sad hopelessness 
I'm joyful and no pleasure's anywhere 
I'm powerful and lack all force and strength 
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I'm sure of nothing but what is uncertain 
Find nothing obscure but the obvious 
Doubt nothing but the certainties 
Knowledge to me is mere accident
I keep winning and remain the loser 
At dawn I say "I bid you good night"
Lying down I'm afraid of falling 
I'm so rich I haven't a penny 
I await an inheritance and am no one's heir 
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

I never work and yet I labor 
To acquire goods I don't even want 
Kind words irritate me most 
He who speaks true deceives me worst 
A friend is someone who makes me think 
A white swan is a black crow 
The people who harm me think they help 
Lies and truth today I see they're one
I remember everything, my mind's a blank 
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

Merciful Prince may it please you to know 
I understand much and have no wit or learning 
I'm biased against all laws impartially 
What's next to do? Redeem my pawned goods again! 
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.






From The Poems of François Villon translated by Galway Kinnell, published by Houghton Mifflin, © 1965. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
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