ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Keiko Amano
   Veronica An
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Karen E. Cole
   Merrill Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Amelie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Tao Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Robert S King
   Ashley King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   Pete Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Anthony Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Lee Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   David McIntire
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Greggory Moore
   Carl Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
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   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
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   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   Howard Sage
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   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
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   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
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   LB Sedlacek
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   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   Sanjeev Sethi
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
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   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
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   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
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   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
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   Danielle Smith
   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
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   Matina Stamatakis
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   Julia Stein
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   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Mani Suri
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   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
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   Jonathan Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Zev Torres
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
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   Sharieff Walters
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   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   Leigh White
   J.T. Whitehead
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   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
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   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
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   Julie Yi
   Britney Young
   Gregory T. Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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D.J. Carlile
November 2005
   

 

A Pardon for Villon

by Arthur Rimbaud



(Letter from Charles d'Orlans to Louis XI)



    Sire, Time has left behind his cloak of rain, the harbingers of Spring have come: We slam the door in Melancholy's face! Long live the ballads and lays! Morality plays and merriment! Let the clerks of the Paris Law Court mount crazy farces for us: We'd like to see Thoughtful and Thoughtless, and the conversion of Theophilus the Clerk, and how Saints Peter and Paul both came to Rome and were martyred there! Long live the ladies in double collars wearing lace and embroidery! Isn't it good, Sire, under the trees, when the skies are dressed in blue, when the sun is brightly shining, to hear sweet roundelays and ballads sung out high and clear? I've got a tree from the Garden of Love, or Just once, tell me Yes, Milady, or The Rich Lover always gets his way... But I've gotten myself worked up, Sire, and you'll find yourself just like me: Master Franois Villon, happy-go-lucky, the elegant scoffer who rhymes with everything, is a captive cricket nourished on crumbs and water, weeping and lamenting now in the depths of prison Chtelet! "Hanged you shall be!" so the lawyers told him. And the poor troublemaker, chilled to the bone, has made his epitaph for himself and his companions: These gracious gallants whom you loved for their rhymes get ready to dance at Montfaulcon, pecked at by the birds until they're more pitted than a thimble, in drizzle and sunshine.


    Oh, Sire, it's not for some kind of madcap joke that Villon is there. Poor dusters, they suffer too. Little deacons awaiting their nomination to the University, layabouts, ape-sellers, rebec-players who pay their way in song, stable-jockeys, two-penny lords, mercenaries hiding their noses in pewter mugs more than war-helmets-all of the poor children as dry and dirty as a cannon-swab, who only see bread through windows, whose fingers make for mittens in winter, have chosen Master Franois for a nourishing mother!


    But necessity can make for misunderstanding, and hunger sometimes drives the wolf out of the woods. So perhaps the Scholar, one hungry day, has taken tripes from the butcher's bin for a fricasse at Popin's Trough or Pestel's Tavern? Or perhaps he swiped a dozen loaves from a baker, or switched a bottle of water for a bottle of Baigneux wine at the Pinecone Inn? Maybe one terrifically wicked evening at Pewter Flats he'd dodged an ambush upon his arrival, or they took him by surprise near Montfaulcon during a rowdy supper with a dozen bawds? These are the misdeeds of Master Franois! Because he has shown us the fat priest toying with his lady-friend, happily intertwined in her chamber, because he's told us the chaplain can't be bothered with confession--except for chambermaids and ladies--in good mockery, talking contemplation under court order, the foolish probationer, so happily laughing, singing, pert as a little bird, he trembles under the claws of the High Judges, those terrible black birds who attend the raven and the magpie! He and his poor, pitiful companions! They'll add a new garland of hanging ornaments to the arms of the forest: the wind arrays them in soft, sonorous leaves. And you, Sire, and those who love the poet, who can't help laughing till they weep while reading those joyous ballads, they'll dream they've left the sweet-natured clerk to die, he who sings so madly, and that they'll never go hunting after Melancholy.


    Piper, sneakthief, Master Franois is nevertheless best among the sons of the world: He laughs at Fat Jacobean stews--for he honors the Church of God and Milady Virgin, and the very Holy Trinity! He honors the Parliamentary Court, mother of the good and sister of the blessed angels; to the nay-sayers to the kingdom of France he wishes as much evil as he does to taverners who boil their wine. By God! He well knows that he was a fool in his youth. In winter, in evenings of hunger, near the Maubray fountain or in some ruin of a bath-house, he squats before a fire of helm-twigs, the flames of which momentarily redden his gaunt face. He dreams of having a house and a soft bed, if only he'd studied!... Often, as dark and dim as a lookout on horseback, he peers into houses through the windows:--"Oh, these savory, delicate morsels! Those tarts, these custards, those golden fat jellyrolls!--I'm hungrier than Tantalus!--Some roast! A bit of roast! --Oh! It smells sweeter than ambergris and civet!--Some wine from Beaulne in great silver beakers!--Whewee, my throat is burning!... Oh if only I'd studied!... And my slippers hang their tongue out, and my cloak is as open as any window, and my saw-tooth hatbrim--!--If I should meet with a compassionate Alexander--the which I might wish for--I'd happily stand before him, singing as fluently as Orpheus the dulcet fiddler! If only I'd live with honor once before I die!..." But there it is: supping on roundelays, the effects of moonlight on olden rooftops, the effects of lanterns on the ground, this is pretty meager, so very meager. Then strolling along in tight little outfits, cute harlots promise insincere pleasures to attract the passers-by. Then fond memories of flamboyant taverns full of the shouts of drinkers hurling their tankards and, as often, their daggers; the sniggering of bawds, the yearning of songs of beggars' rebecs, the memory of old dark side streets where the upper storeys and huge beams of houses lean out crazily as if to kiss; or in thick night, passing by with the sounds of rapiers drawn, laughter and abominable yowling... And the bird returns to its old nest, Everything for taverns and girls!...


    Oh, Sire! We cannot wish to put helm against the wind in this time of joy! The noose is sad enough in May, when everyone sings, when everyone laughs, when the sun shines on the most leprous wall! Men will be hanged but for an honest reprieve! Villon is in the hands of the Parliamentary Court: the raven doesn't listen to the little bird! Sire, it would be truly wrong to hang those goodly clerks. Those poets there, you see, are not from here below: let them live their strange life. Let them have their hunger and cold. Let them run, love and sing. They're as rich as Jack Hearty, all these mad passionate children, because they have rhyme filling their souls. rhymes that laugh and weep, they make us laugh and wee. Let them live. God blesses all the merciful, and the world blesses the poets.



A. Rimbaud



(Spring 1870)



translation

D.J. Carlile



A Note on A Pardon for Villon



    This long prose piece, written in pseudo-15th century French, was an extra-curricular assignment from his teacher Georges Izambard while Rimbaud was a student at the College de Charleville. This task required a degree of stylistic imitation along with a knowledge of archaic spelling, and, of course, an overview of the historical situation.


    Rimbaud, at age fifteen, manages this with a high degree of skill and colorful detail. This is his first complete original work in prose. Villon was not part of the school's regular course of study and Rimbaud had borrowed from his teacher's personal copy of the poet's works.


    Franois Villon, one of France's greatest poets, was born in Paris in 1431, within a few weeks or days of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc at Rouen. While he was a student, he fell in with bad company, and in 1455 he fled Paris after killing a priest in a quarrel over a woman. He joined a gang of thieves and brigands called The Brotherhood of the Cockleshell.


    He was pardoned on grounds of self-defense in 1456 and returned to Paris. That same year, he and four accomplices burglarized the College de Navarre and made off with a large amount of money. He spent the summer of 1461 in prison at Meung in the Duchy of Orlans, his crime unspecified. He was released in October of that year by order of Louis XI, just recently crowned. Villon, despite his criminal activities, was known to Charles d'Orlans (also a poet) and Louis XI, both of whom admired his poetry. This biographical detail is the inspiration for Rimbaud's "Letter" from the Duke of Orlans to the King.


    In 1463 he was arrested yet again, this time for being present in a street brawl. He was sentenced to hang, but at the last minute, the sentence was commuted to banishment from Paris for ten years. He left Paris again and there is no record of what befell him after 1463.


    Villon revitalized the outworn forms of medieval verse - the ballad, lay, and roundelay - with stark realism and ironic wit. Wyndham Lewis once rhapsodized on the life and character of Villon: "He was as weak as water, as variable as weathercock, mercurial, impulsive, idle, mocking, childlike, egoistic, warm-hearted, sensual, careless, driven before every gust of desire... worshipping beauty... producing from the dregs of his life an exquisite flower of pure poetry."



    Je suis Franoys, dont il me poise,

    N de Paris emprs Pontois,

    Et de la corde d'une toise

    Saura mon col que mon cul poise.

    I'm the poet burdened Franois,

    Born in Paris close by Pontoise;

    Two yards of rope at length will say

    To my neck just what my ass weighs. (1)



*******************************************************



    Notes for the text:



    MORALITY PLAYS: An allegorical dramatic form popular from the 14th to the 16th centuries; the vices and virtues were personified, with virtue triumphant in the end. In English, Everyman is the most-often revived morality play. Every spring, the clerks of the Paris Court of Justice would present a cycle of morality plays and farces for the city.


    SWEET ROUNDELAYS: "I've Got a Tree"... and other quoted lines are from now popular love-songs of the late Middle Ages.


    MONTFAULCON: This was the location of the public gallows, to the north of Paris just outside the city walls.


    REBEC: A small 3-stringed instrument played with a bow.


    POPIN'S TROUGH, etc.: The names of taverns of those actual establishments in medieval Paris; some of them are mentioned in Villon's The Testament.


    FAT JACOBEAN STEWS: In Rimbaud's medieval this is "grasses souppes Jacobine," literally "thick Jacobine soup (or stew)." The nickname "Jacobins" was a popular term for the Dominican Order which had its mother-establishment in Paris on the Rue St. Jacques." The Dominicans were considered intellectual pillars of the Church, on account of their distinguished member, St. Thomas Aquinas. Hence, Villon does not get involved in religio-intellectual disputes or stews. The phrase "c'est un soupe au lait" is a common French expression meaning "he has a quick temper." Another punning reference in both French and English (souppe/stew) may also glance briefly at Genesis 25 where Esau sells his birthright (as eldest son) to his younger sibling Jacob in exchange for a meal or vegetables, or both. This act eventuates the brothers's enmity for many years after.


    COMPASSIONATE ALEXANDER: Alexander III (356-323 B.C.) King of Macedon, called The Great. Reigned in 336-323, world conquerer, patron of the arts.


    ORPHEUS: The legendary Greek musician whose playing and singing enchanted all; the animals, rocks and trees, even Hell itself.


    JACK HEARTY: This is a loose translation of "Jacques Coeur," the wealthy patriot who, along with Joan of Arc, was instrumental in placing Louis XI's father, Charles VII, on the throne of France.

copyright 2005 D.J. Carlile