BALLADE OF THE LADIES OF BYGONE TIMES
by François Villon from THE TESTAMENT (1462)

Tell me from where I could entice
Flora the famous Roman whore,
or Archipiada or Thaïs
who they say was just as fair;
or Echo answering everywhere
across stream and pool and mere,
whose beauty was like none before -
Where are the snows of yesteryear ?

Where is the learned Héloïse
for whose love Abelard became
a gelded monk at Saint-Denis,
yet still could not put out his flame ?
And where now is that royal dame
who had men for three days with her
then had them cast into the Seine ?
Where are the snows of yesteryear ?

Queen Blanche who had a siren's voice,
white as a lily on the plain;
Big-Footed Bertha, by Heaven's choice
mother of great Charlemagne;
and Joan of Arc from proud Lorraine
the English burned from cruel fear -
where are they, where, O Mother of Men ?
Where are the snows of yesteryear ?

Don't ask, Prince, in one month again,
nor yet in twelve where they all are;
I'd only give you this refrain:
Where are the snows of yesteryear ?

copyrighted translation by Anthony Weir - Ed.

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