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Different English Translations of François Villon c.1461 - Ballade (des dames de temps jadis) (Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?)

(François Villon c.1461 - Ballade (of the Ladies of Ancient Times) (Where are the snows of yesteryear?)

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Francois Villon (15th Century French Poet)

  • Robin Shirley Translation.

  • Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 15:55:47 GMT
    "Here's my own translation - first as the original medieval French, then in translation:"
    YESTER21.txt, v 2.1 (original text & translation) 2 December 1993

  • Ballade (des dames de temps jadis)
    
     Dictes moy ou, n'en quel pays,
     Est Flora la belle Rommaine,
     Archipiades ne Thaïs,
     Qui fut sa cousine germaine,
     Echo parlant quant bruyt on maine
     Dessus riviere ou sus estan,
     Qui beaulté ot trop plus q'humaine.
     Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
    
     Ou est la tres sage Helloïs,
     Pour qui chastré fut et puis moyne
     Pierre Esbaillart a Saint Denis?
     Pour son amour ot ceste essoyne.
     Semblablement, ou est la royne
     Qui commanda que Buridan
     Fust geté en ung sac en Saine?
     Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
    
     La royne Blanche comme lis
     Qui chantoit a voix de seraine,
     Berte au grand pié, Beatris, Alis,
     Haremburgis qui tint le Maine,
     Et Jehanne la bonne Lorraine
     Qu'Englois brulerent a Rouan;
     Ou sont ilz, ou, Vierge souvraine?
     Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
    
     Prince, n'enquerez de sepmaine
     Ou elles sont, ne de cest an,
     Qu'a ce reffrain ne vous remaine:
     Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
    
                    François Villon  c.1461

  • (translation)
    
    
     Ballade (of the Ladies of Ancient Times)
    
    
     Tell me where, or in what land,
     is Flora the fair Roman girl,
     Archipiada, or Thaïs,
     who was her match in beauty's hall,
     Echo who answered when one called
     over rivers or still pools,
     whose loveliness was more than human?
     Where are the snows of yesteryear?
    
     Where is Héloïse, so wise, for whom
     Pierre Abelard was first unmanned
     then cloistered up at Saint Denis?
     For her love he bore these trials.
     And where now can one find that queen
     by whose command was Buridan
     thrown in a sack into the Seine?
     Where are the snows of yesteryear?
    
     Queen Blanche, light as a lily,
     who sang with a mermaid's voice,
     Bertha Bigfoot, Beatrice, Alice,
     Arembourg, heiress to Maine,
     and Joan the good maid of Lorraine
     whom the English griddled at Rouen;
     where are they, where, O Sovereign Virgin?
     Where are the snows of yesteryear?
    
     Prince, don't ask me in a week
     or in a year what place they are;
     I can only give you this refrain:
     Where are the snows of yesteryear?
    
    
                    François Villon  c.1461
    
                    Translation:  (c) Robin Shirley, 1993


Francois Villon (15th Century French Poet)

  • "But where are the snows of yesteryear"

  • Via Armel Le Bail ("Here seems to be the Dante translation"): François Villon - DES DAMES DU TEMPS JADIS - The Ballad of Dead Ladies : http://fmc.utm.edu/~geverett/465/ladies.html

    Tell me now in what hidden is 
      Lady Flora the lovely Roman?  
    Where's Hipparchia, and where is Thais, 
      Neither of them the fairer woman? 
      Where is Echo, beheld of no man,  
    Only heard on river and mere,-- 
      She whose beauty was more than human?... 
    But where are the snows of yester-year? 
      
    Where's Heloise, the learned nun, 
      For whose sake Abeillard, I ween, 
    Lost manhood and put priesthood on? 
      (From Love he won such dule and teen!) 
      And where, I pray you, is the Queen 
    Who willed that Buridan should steer 
      Sewed in a sack's mouth down the Seine?... 
    But where are the snows of yester-year? 
      
    White Queen Blanche, like a queen of lilies, 
      With a voice like any mermaiden,-- 
    Bertha Broadfoot, Beatrice, Alice, 
      And Ermengarde the lady of Maine,-- 
      And that good Joan whom Englishmen 
    At Rouen doomed and burned her there,-- 
      Mother of God, where are they then?... 
    But where are the snows of yester-year? 
      
    Nay, never ask this week, fair lord, 
      Where they are gone, nor yet this year, 
    Except with this for an overword,-- 
      But where are the snows of yester-year? 


  • François Villon - DES DAMES DU TEMPS JADIS - The Ballad of the Ladies of Yore http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Bistro/2207/AVILLON.HTM

        The Ballad 
         of the Ladies of Yore
         François Villon
    
         Where, pray tell me, in which land,
         where is Flora the fair Roman?
         and Archipiades and Thaïs,
         all cousins in art and voice?
         Echo, she spoke where we bellowed
         across rivers, over ponds,
         held more beauty than human should.
         But whither have gone the snows of yore?
    
         Where is that most wise Heloïs
         for whom was gelded then monk became
         Pierre Esbaillart at Saint-Dennis?
         For her love he made the sacrifice.
         Where, pray tell me, is the queen
         who ordered noble Jean Buridan
         to be sacked then thrown into Seine?
         But whither have gone the snows of yore?
    
         And Blanche the lily-white queen
         who sang with the voice of a siren?
         Bertha the slender-footed, Beatrice, Alice?
         Haremburgis who held all of Maine?
         And Joan the just maid of Lorraine
         who in Rouen the English burned?
         Where are they?  Where, Virgin supreme?
         But whither have gone the snows of yore?
    
         Prince, let no week pass save you ask
         where they are; and throughout the present year
         until it be that you too come up with this refrain:
         But whither have gone the snows of yore?


  • François Villon translated into Rumanian- http://www.dan-danila.de/villon.html

  • Villon, François - http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/13489.html

    "Besides his ballads in jargon, Villon's work consists of his Lais (also known as the Little Testament), written in 1456; the Testament or Grand Testament (1461); and a number of poems including the "Débat du cur et du corps de Villon [debate between Villon's heart and body] and the "Épitaphe Villon, better known as the "Ballade des pendus [ballad of the hanged], written during Villon's expectation of the same fate. The Lais (a pun on the words lais, or lays, and legs, or legacy) is a series of burlesque bequests to his friends and enemies. The Testament follows the same scheme (not uncommon in medieval literature), but is far superior in depth of emotion and in poetic value. The work is filled with irony, repentance, constant preoccupation with death, ribald humor, rebellion, and pity. The Testament is interspersed with ballads and rondeaux, including the "Ballade de la grosse Margot, his bequest to a prostitute, and "Ballade des dames du temps jadis" with the famous refrain "But where are the snows of yester-year? There have been many English translations of the poems, including those by Rossetti and Swinburne, and more recently (1973) by Peter Dale. The standard French edition of the works was made by Auguste Longnon (1892, several revisions)."


  • François Villon - Ballade of the Hanged (Villon's Epitaph)- http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/556.html

    "tr. Peter Dale.

    There is no poet quite like Villon, which is why we have to have something by him, though the problem is immediately obvious: Villon does not translate well at all. 'Where are the snows of yesteryear' for 'Ou sont les neiges d'antan' is a fluke; apart from that I've never seen any translation that quite does justice to his tone.

    And that tone is so unmistakeable, even to someone like me whose French is only passable. Witty, pithy, sad, romantic, vituperative, street-smart, crude and yet refined, it simply reeks from every line of Villon's colourful life. (There's a biographical sketch after this, also the original for those who know some French. It's medieval French, but can still be understood to some extent by speakers of current French)."


  • François Villon - DES DAMES DU TEMPS JADIS - http://cluster.wwa.com/~rgs/xvillon.htm

    "François Villon is recognized as one of the greatest French poets and this is one of his most famous poems. The refrain, "Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?," translates into English as the well-known line, "But where are the snows of yesteryear?""

    Dites moi où, n'en quel pays,
    Est Flora, la belle Romaine;
    Archipiades, ni Thaïs,
    Qui fut sa cousine germaine;
    Écho, parlant quand bruit on mène
    Dessus rivière ou sus étang,
    Qui beauté eut trop plus qu'humaine?
    Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
    
    Où est la très sage Héloïs,
    Pour qui châtré fut et puis moine
    Pierre Esbaillart à Saint Denis?
    Pour son amour eut cette essoyne.
    Semblablement où est la reine
    Qui commanda que Buridan
    Fut jeté en un sac en Seine?
    Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
    
    La reine Blanche comme lys,
    Qui chantait à voix de sirène,
    Berthe au grand piéd, Bietris, Alis,
    Haremburgis qui tint le Maine,
    Et Jeanne la bonne Lorraine,
    Qu'Anglais brulèrent à Rouen;
    Où sont-ils, où, Vierge souv'raine?
    Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
    
                 Envoi
    
    Prince, n'enquerrez de semaine
    Où elles sont, ni de cet an,
    Qu'à ce refrain ne vous ramène:
    Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?


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