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A Villonaud: Ballad Of The Gibbet

Ezra Pound 1885 (Hailey) – 1972 (Venice)

SCENE: 'En ce bourdel ou tenons nostre estat.'

It being remembered that there were six of us with Master Villon, when
that expecting presently lo be hanged he writ a ballad whereof ye know:

‘Freres humains qui apres nous vivez.'

Drink ye a skoal for the gallows tree!
Francois and Margot and thee and me,
Drink we the comrades merrily
That said us, 'Till then' for the gallows tree!

Fat Pierre with the hook gauche-main,
Thomas Larron 'Ear-the-less',
Tybalde and that armouress
Who gave this poignard its premier stain
Pinning the Guise that had been fain
To make him a mate of the 'Haulte Noblesse'
And bade her be out with ill address
As a fool that mocketh his drue's disdeign.

Drink we a skoal for the gallows tree!
Francois and Margot and thee and me,
Drink we to Marienne Ydole,
That hell brenn not her o'er cruelly.

Drink we the lusty robbers twain,
Black is the pitch o' their wedding dress,
Lips shrunk back for the wind's caress
As lips shrink back when we feel the strain

Of love that loveth in hell's disdeign,
And sense the teeth through the lips that press
'Gainst our lips for the soul's distress
That striveth to ours across the pain.

Drink we skoal to the gallows tree!
Francois and Margot and thee and me,
For Jehan and Raoul de Vallerie
Whose frames have the night and its winds in fee.

Maturin, Guillaume, Jacques d'Allmain,
Culdou lacking a coat to bless
One lean moiety of his nakedness
That plundered St. Hubert back o' the fane:
Aie! the lean bare tree is widowed again
For Michault le Borgne that would confess
In 'faith and troth' to a traitoress,
'Which of his brothers had he slain?'

But drink we skoal to the gallows tree!
Francois and Margot and thee and me:

These that we loved shall God love less
And smite always at their faibleness?

Skoal!! to the gallows! and then pray we:
God damn his hell out speedily
And bring their souls to his 'Haulte Citee'.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:45 min read
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Ezra Pound

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic of the early modernist movement. more…

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