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THE EPITAPH

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The Database of Ornament

                                    IN FORM OF A BALLADE

            WHICH VILLON MADE FOR HIMSELF AND HIS COMPANIONS
                   WHEN EXPECTING TO BE HANGED WITH THEM

                         BROTHERS who yet are living, mortal men,
                        Speak not of us with wrath and bitter tongue,
                        Since if your souls for us are filled with pain
                        The more will God’s grace fall your hearts among.
                        You see us here upon the gibbets hung :
                        The flesh that we too much did glorify
                        Has long been putrid and devoured : and dry
                        As dust and ashes now our bleached bones be.
                        Let no man then our hideous shapes decry,
                        But pray that God may show us all mercy.

                        Brothers, speak not, we pray you, with disdain
                        Of us poor five or six by law upstrung.
                        It is not every man who has his brain
                        Clear and well-seated, as has oft been sung.
                        Make ye then intercession for our wrong
                        To him whose death from Hell our souls did buy,
                        Saving us from the flames that never die,
                        That fresh may flow the fount of His pity.
                        We are dead : let none to vex our spirits try,
                        But pray that God may show us all mercy.

                        Our bodies have been washed and drenched by rain,
                        Dried up and blackened by the sun ; a throng
                        Of ravens and of crows our eyes have ta’en
                        And pluckt the brows and beards whereto they clung.

62                              THE SAVOY

                        Never are we at rest, forever swung
                        By every wind that shifts and passes by,
                        Pecked by the sharp beaks of the crow and pye
                        And dinted like a thimble, as you see,
                        Have naught to say to them that with us vie,
                        But pray that God may show us all mercy.

                        Prince Jesus, Lord who reignest in the sky,
                        Grant that to Hell’s fierce mouth we draw not nigh :
                        Toward such a place no love or wish have we.
                        Men, mock not us because we hang so high,
                        But pray that God may show us all mercy.

                                                                        THEODORE WRATISLAW.

MLA citation:

Villon, Fran├žois. “The Epitaph in Form of a Ballade.” Translated by Theodore Wratislaw. The Savoy vol. 6, October 1896, pp. 61-62. Savoy Digital Edition, edited by Christopher Keep and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2018-2020. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/savoyv6-wratislaw-epitaph/