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Full Online Book HomePoemsThe Dispute Of The Heart And Body Of Francois Villon
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The Dispute Of The Heart And Body Of Francois Villon Post by :BerkleyStreet Category :Poems Author :Algernon Charles Swinburne Date :May 2011 Read :935

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The Dispute Of The Heart And Body Of Francois Villon

Translations from the French of Villon


Who is this I hear?--Lo, this is I, thine heart,
That holds on merely now by a slender string.
Strength fails me, shape and sense are rent apart,
The blood in me is turned to a bitter thing,
Seeing thee skulk here like a dog shivering.--
Yea, and for what?--For that thy sense found sweet.--
What irks it thee?--I feel the sting of it.--
Leave me at peace.--Why?--Nay now, leave me at peace;
I will repent when I grow ripe in wit.--
I say no more.--I care not though thou cease.--

What art thou, trow?--A man worth praise, perfay.--
This is thy thirtieth year of wayfaring.--
'Tis a mule's age.--Art thou a boy still?--Nay.--
Is it hot lust that spurs thee with its sting,
Grasping thy throat? Know'st thou not anything?--
Yea, black and white, when milk is specked with flies,
I can make out.--No more?--Nay, in no wise.
Shall I begin again the count of these?--
Thou art undone.--I will make shift to rise.--
I say no more.--I care not though thou cease.--

I have the sorrow of it, and thou the smart.
Wert thou a poor mad fool or weak of wit,
Then might'st thou plead this pretext with thine heart;
But if thou know not good from evil a whit,
Either thy head is hard as stone to hit,
Or shame, not honour, gives thee most content.
What canst thou answer to this argument?--
When I am dead I shall be well at ease.--
God! what good hope!--Thou art over eloquent.--
I say no more.--I care not though thou cease.--

Whence is this ill?--From sorrow and not from sin.
When Saturn packed my wallet up for me
I well believe he put these ills therein.--
Fool, wilt thou make thy servant lord of thee?
Hear now the wise king's counsel; thus saith he:
All power upon the stars a wise man hath;
There is no planet that shall do him scathe.--
Nay, as they made me I grow and I decrease.--
What say'st thou?--Truly this is all my faith.--
I say no more.--I care not though thou cease.--

Wouldst thou live still?--God help me that I may!--
Then thou must--What? turn penitent and pray?--
Read always--What?--Grave words and good to say;
Leave off the ways of fools, lest they displease.--
Good; I will do it.--Wilt thou remember?--Yea.--
Abide not till there come an evil day.
I say no more.--I care not though thou cease.


(The end)
Algernon Charles Swinburne's poem: Dispute Of The Heart And Body Of Francois Villon

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