The Volokh Conspiracy

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Poetry Monday: "Would I Be Shrived?" by John D. Swain

A second member of the small genre of poems pretending to be by the French poet François Villon.


There's a small genre of poems that pretend to be written by the French medieval poet François Villon. (Here's one in Russian by Bulat Okudzhava, and here's the same excellently performed by Regina Spektor.)

Here's a second member of that genre, published by one John D. Swain in 1903, alternately called "Would I Be Shrived?" and "Ballade of François Villon, as He Was About to Die":

I, François Villon, ta'en at last
To the rude bed where all must lie,
Fain would forget the turbid Past
And lay me down in peace to die.
"Would I be shrived?" Ah — can I tell?
My sins but trifles seem to be,
Nor worth the dignity of Hell;
If not, then ill avails it me
To name them one and all, — and yet —
There be some things which I regret!…

For the rest of my playlist, click here. Past poems are:

  1. "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  2. "The Pulley" by George Herbert
  3. "Harmonie du soir" by Charles Baudelaire
  4. "Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  5. "Clancy of the Overflow" by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
  6. "Лотова жена" ("Lotova zhena", "Lot's wife") by Anna Akhmatova
  7. "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear
  8. "The Conqueror Worm" by Edgar Allan Poe
  9. "Les Djinns" by Victor Hugo
  10. "I Have a Rendezvous with Death" by Alan Seeger
  11. "When I Was One-and-Twenty" by A.E. Housman
  12. "Узник" ("Uznik", "The Prisoner" or "The Captive") by Aleksandr Pushkin
  13. "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  14. "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats
  15. "Je crains pas ça tellment" by Raymond Queneau
  16. "The Naming of Cats" by T.S. Eliot
  17. "The reticent volcano keeps…" by Emily Dickinson
  18. "Она" ("Ona", "She") by Zinaida Gippius