Testamentos – François Villon

Rating: ★★★

The Ballad of the Proverbs
So rough the goat will scratch, it cannot sleep.
So often goes the pot to the well that it breaks.
So long you heat iron, it will glow;
so heavily you hammer it, it shatters.
So good is the man as his praise;
so far he will go, and he’s forgotten;
so bad he behaves, and he’s despised.
So loud you cry Christmas, it comes.

So glib you talk, you end up in contradictions.
So good is your credit as the favors you got.
So much you promise that you will back out.
So doggedly you beg that your wish is granted;
so high climbs the price when you want a thing;
so much you want it that you pay the price;
so familiar it gets to you, you want it no more.
So loud you cry Christmas, it comes.

So, you love a dog. Then feed it!
So long a song will run that people learn it.
So long you keep the fruit, it will rot.
So hot the struggle for a spot that it is won;
so cool you keep your act that your spirit freezes;
so hurriedly you act that you run into bad luck;
so tight you embrace that your catch slips away.
So loud you cry Christmas, it comes.

So you scoff and laugh, and the fun is gone.
So you crave and spend, and lose your shirt.
So candid you are, no blow can be too low.
So good as a gift should a promise be.
So, if you love God, you obey the Church.
So, when you give much, you borrow much.
So, shifting winds turn to storm.
So loud you cry Christmas, it comes.

Prince, so long as a fool persists, he grows wiser;
so, round the world he goes, but return he will,
so humbled and beaten back into servility.
So loud you cry Christmas, it is here.

This was my first review of the year. I was going to edit and add some great images but we’re already in March and I can solemnly announce that that’s not going to happen. I read, I loved, I wrote, let’s move on.

Two months ago:
I was looking for an idea to write an article and found this poet. François Villon (1431-1463?), “the first damned poet”. No doubt. His short life was… eventful: from the University of Paris to prison, a death sentence and finally, banishment. When I found his poems I was amazed, as usual, at how modern they were. Le Testament was written in 1461, after spending some time in prison for a crime he never mentioned. His delightful, intimate, profound, sardonic, debauched, innocent, sacred and earthly oeuvre was my first literary addiction of the year.

from Ballade

I know the coat by the collar
I know the monk by the cowl
I know the master by the servant
I know the nun by the veil
I know when a hustler rattles on
I know fools raised on whipped cream
I know the wine by the barrel
I know everything but myself.

(Kinnell’s translation)

Four stars for this Spanish edition. When I find a better translation, a 5-star rating, perhaps?
By the way, I wrote my article. It’s in Spanish; for now only reviews are in some sort of English.

* Photo credit: Book cover via Goodreads.

2 thoughts on “Testamentos – François Villon

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