Hommes faillis, bertaudés de raison,

As the title claims, this is a poem full of good advice from Francois Villon , which I would say is as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 15th. Of course, Villon himself was probably directing his advice at his own actions, give that he was quite probably guilty of a lot of the actions which he advises against in the poem.

 

The poem’s message, its good advice, is that people should turn away from violence, crime, discord and vengeance, and instead turn towards patience, living in peace with fellow humans, and perhaps find a positive path in religion. Villon’s experience was mostly of the violent, disorderly kind, common of course at this time in the midst of the depredations of the Hundred Years War. His gift to humanity was to be able to look beyond this and set out a better way.

 

 

 

Ballade de Bon Conseil

 

François Villon

 

Hommes faillis, bertaudés de raison,

Dénaturés et hors de connoissance,

Démis du sens, comblés de déraison,

Fous abusés, pleins de déconnoissance,

Qui procurez contre votre naissance,

Vous soumettant à détestable mort

Par lâcheté, las ! que ne vous remord

L’horribleté qui à honte vous mène ?

Voyez comment maint jeunes homs est mort

Par offenser et prendre autrui demaine.

 

Chacun en soi voie sa méprison,

Ne nous vengeons, prenons en patience ;

Nous connoissons que ce monde est prison

Aux vertueux franchis d’impatience ;

Battre, rouiller pour ce n’est pas science,

Tollir, ravir, piller, meurtrir à tort.

De Dieu ne chaut, trop de verté se tort

Qui en tels faits sa jeunesse démène,

Dont à la fin ses poings doloreux tord

Par offenser et prendre autrui demaine.

 

Que vaut piper, flatter, rire en traison,

Quêter, mentir, affirmer sans fiance,

Farcer, tromper, artifier poison,

Vivre en péché, dormir en défiance

De son prouchain sans avoir confiance ?

Pour ce conclus : de bien faisons effort,

Reprenons coeur, ayons en Dieu confort,

Nous n’avons jour certain en la semaine ;

De nos maux ont nos parents le ressort

Par offenser et prendre autrui demaine.

 

Vivons en paix, exterminons discord ;

Ieunes et vieux, soyons tous d’un accord :

La loi le veut, l’apôtre le ramène

Licitement en l’épître romaine ;

Ordre nous faut, état ou aucun port.

Notons ces points ; ne laissons le vrai port

Par offenser et prendre autrui demaine.

 

From <http://tpevillon.e-monsite.com/pages/analyses-de-textes/analyse-de-texte-ballade-de-bon-conseil.html>

 

 

The poem begins with an invocation adressed to imperfect men, deprived of their reason (“bertaudes”  was a new word for me, it means either castrated or having one’s ears cut off, but here clearly it is metaphorical). It enumerates the ways in which men act unreasonably, violently and selfishly. Another telling word here is “l’horriblete”, horribleness, which according to the poet leads men into shame. The stanza ends by saying all this usually ends badly with the death of many young men.

 

The second stanza goes on in this vein, but brings in a hint of another way in the second line – “don’t take revenge, live in patience”, even if the world is set against those virtuous people who have vanquished impatience and impetuosity. The rest of the second stanza and the first half of the third stanza rail against the uselessness of violent discord , mutual distrust and crime, before in the second half of the third stanza advising that the only solution is to turn to God.

 

And the final stanza builds on this good advice, exhorting readers to live in peace and harmony with young and old, following the law and the apostles’ teachings, Do not stray from the right path by offending and attacking others.

 

I think that is still good advice.

 

The Poetry Dude

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