Ballad of the Gibbet

or the Song of the Sixth Companion

Scene: 'En ce bourdel où tenons nostre estat.'

It being remembered that there were six of us with Master Villon, when that expecting presently to be hanged he writ a ballad whereof ye know: 'Frères humains qui apès nous vivez.'

Drink ye a skoal for the gallows tree!
François and Margo and thee and me,
Drink we the comrades merrily
That said us, 'Till then' for the gallows tree!

  Fat Pierre with the hook gauche-main,
Thomas Larron 'Ear-the-less',
Tybalde and that armouress
Who gave this poignard its premier stain
Pinning the Guise that had been fain
To make him a mate of the 'Haulte Noblesse'
And bade her be out with ill address
As a fool that mecketh his drue's disdeign.

  Drink we a skoal for the gallows tree!
Fraçois and Margo and thee and me,
Drink we to Marienne Ydole, 
That hell breen not her o'er cruelly.

  Drink we the lusty robbers twain,
Black is the pitch o' their wedding dress, *
Lips shrunk back for the wind's caress
As lips shrink back when we feel the strain
Of love that leveth in hell's disdeign,
And sense the teeth through the lips that press
'Gainst our lips for the soul's distress
That striveth to ours across the pain.

Drink we skoal to the gallows tree!
François and Margo and thee and me,
For Jehan and Raoul de Vallerie
Whose frames ahve the night and its winds in fee.

  Marturin, Guillaume, Jackques d'Allmain,
Culdou lacking a coat to bless
One lean moiety of his nakedness
That plundered St. Hubert back o' the fane:
Aie! the lean bare tree is widowed again
For Michault le Borgne that would confess
In 'faith and troth' to a traitoress,
'Which of his brothers had he slain?'

  But drink we skoal to the gallows tree!
François and Margot and thee and me:

These that we loved shall God love less
And smite always at their faibleness?

Skoal! to the gallows! and then pray we:
God damn this hell out speedily
And  bring their souls to his 'Haulte Citee'.
-Ezra Pound, Personae, 1910.

CST Approved

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