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From The World’s Wit and Humor, Vol. X, French, The Review of Reviews Company; New York; 1906; pp. 15-17.


François Villon (1431-1485)

Ballad of Proverbs

GOATS scrape so long they spoil their bed;
    Pitchers till split to wells are ta’en;
Iron is heated till ’tis red,
    And hammered till it bursts in twain;
    Man’s worth, just how the child we train;
Who travel far will disappear;
    We call out Christmas till ’tis here.

Men jest till power to laugh has fled;
    Who leans on others, hopes in vain;
Waste leads to want is truly said;
    One bird in hand beats chance of twain;
    God’s love doth love of Church sustain;
Much giving is to borrowing near;
    The wind shifts till it brings the rain;
We call out Christmas till ’tis here.

Dogs lick the hands by which they’re fed;
    Songs fun till all the tune retain;
Fruit kept too long does mold o’erspread;
    Towns long besieged the foes will gain;
    Who wait too long no luck obtain;
With overhaste you get not near;
    By clutching long you overstrain;
We call out Christmas till ’tis here.



Prince, fools live on till wit they gain;
    Men voyage till they homeward steer;
Those cheated long from rogues refrain;
    We call our Christmas till ’tis here.

All Things Except Myself I Know

I KNOW when milk does flies contain;
    I know men by their bravery;
I know fair days from storm and rain;
    And what fruit apple-trees supply;
    And from their gums the trees descry;
I know when all things smoothly flow;
    I know who toil or idle lie;
All things except myself I know.

I know the doublet by the grain;
    The monk beneath the hood can spy;
Master from man can ascertain;
    I know the nun’s veiled modesty;
    I know when sportsmen fables ply;
Know fools who creams and dainties stow;
    Wine from the butt I certify;
All thinks except myself I know.

Know horse from mule by tail and mane;
    I know their worth or high or low;
Bell, Beatrice, I know the twain;
    I know each chance of cards and die;
17     I know what visions prophesy,
Bohemian heresies, I trow;
    I know men of each quality;
All things except myself I know.


Prince, I know all things ’neath the sky,
    Pale cheeks from those of rosy glow;
I know death whence no man can fly;
    All things except myself I know.


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