Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
Ballad of Ladies’ Love, No. 2
By François Villon (1431–1463?)
 
(Translated by John Payne)

I.
WHOSO in love would bear the bell,
  Needs must he prank him gallantly,
Swagger and ruffle it, bold and snell,
  And when to his lady’s sight comes he,
  Don cloth of gold and embroidery;        5
For ladies liken a goodly show.
  This should serve well; but, by Marie,
Not all can nick it that will, heigho!
 
II.
Once on a season in love I fell
  With a lady gracious and sweet to see,        10
Who spoke me fair, that she liked me well
  And gladly would hearken to my plea,
  But first I must give to her for fee
Fifty gold crowns, not less nor mo’.
  Fifty gold crowns?—O’ right good gree!        15
Not all can nick it that will, heigho!
 
III.
To bed I went with the damsel
  And there four times right merrily
I did to her what I may not tell
  In less than an hour and a half, perdie.        20
  Then with a failing voice said she,
“Once more, I prithee! my heart is woe.”
  Once more, quotha, sweetheart? Ah me,
Not all can nick it that will, heigho!
 
ENVOI.
    Great God of love, I crave of thee,
        25
      If ever again I lay her low,
    Ne’er let my lance untempered be,
      Not all can nick it that will, heigho!
 
 
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