Ballade of Bygone Beauties        


From the French of François Villon

Tell me, where is FIora found
Whose beauty conquered Rome?
Is Alcibiades around?
And who is taking Tirais home?
What word of Echo? Will the loam
Of the sea say, the rivers show
A way to the waves she used to comb?
And what has happened to the snow?

Where is sagacious Heloise
Who took Pierre Abelard from school,
Until, castrated, by degrees
Of pain he turned to God? That cruel
Queen who made her lovers pool
Their losses in the Seine – where now
Is she who sacked each passing fool?
And what has happened to the snow?

Queen Blanche who was what lilies are,
Whose siren voice sang out of Spain;
Those others, each an evening star
Below the planet of Lorraine -
That Joan of Arc who burned to gain
A crown not many kings ago;
Where, Sovereign Virgin, do they reign?
And what has happened to the snow?


                    Envoi

Prince beware; don’t ask again
Where they are, as time will show;
For this refrain will still remain:
And what has happened to the snow?