poem #14

Brothers who live while we have died                        
Don’t turn hard hearts against us, we             
Are poor, and if you pity us    
God will sooner grant you mercy        
You see us dangling, five or six                                   
The flesh which once we so sated                               
Long since was eaten, is putrid                                               
Our bones are now ash and powder                                       
Let none laugh at we misfortuned                              
But pray God give us His pardon.                   
If we call you brothers, don’t deny                 
Don’t disdain, we were slain justly                 
For as you may know, by and by                                            
Not all men have sagacity                               
Then ask our pardon from Mary         
The Virgin’s son, since we are dead,                                       
See that his grace hasn’t wilted                       
That he keeps us from hell’s doldrums            
Let none harass us, we are dead                      
But pray God give us His pardon.       
The rain has rinsed us and dyed us                 
The sun left us blackened, blistery
Magpies and crows have scooped our eyes      
And torn our beards and eyebrows, we
Are never easy, resting free                             
Here, then there, as the wind is mended         
At its whim it blows us suspended                 
More pecked than thimbles of pewter
Don’t in our brotherhood be joined               
But pray God give us His pardon.       
Prince Jesus, of all empowered,                                  
From hell’s reach keep us unbounded             
With Satan we owe no payment                                 
Men, this is no joke that’s uttered                  
But pray God give us His pardon.       
– Francois Villon, translated from the French by Elliott Dawes
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