Day of the Dead

Frères humains qui après nous vivez,

Human bretheren who after us shall live,

“N‘ayez les cœurs contre nous endurcis,

Have your hearts against us not hardened,

“Car, si pitié de nous pauvres avez,

For if mercy on us you have,

“Dieu en aura plus tôt de vous Merci…

God will sooner on you have Mercy…

“De notre mal que personne ne s’en rie 

Of our woes, let no-one laugh

“Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absoudre!…

But pray God that all should us absolve!…

“Prince Jésus qui sur tous a maîtrise,

Prince Jesus who on all has dominion,

“Garde qu’Enfer n’ait de nous seigneurie :

Spare us from Hell’s Lordship:

“Hommes, point de moquerie;

Men, hath no mockery;

“Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absoudre.

But pray God that all should us absolve.

Catarinas, alebrijes, graveyard, on Tlalpan city square for the Day of the Dead. This past November 2nd.

The words are excerpts from La ballade des pendus (The ballad of hanged men) by François Villon, written in 1489, as Villon was awaiting execution in the shadow of the gallows of Montfaucon. He really writes about the men hanging as he thinks he soon will be. I’ve been wanting to do something with this text for a while. Though it is a bit remote or different from the “Catarinas” on the square. It’s all right. I hold that the combination works. What say you? That poem is the oldest text written in still understandable “Aulde French”. Five centuries ago. I only had to make minor adjustments to the French text. The English version was fun to translate… (Oh. Villon was not hanged finally. He saved his sorry a..)

One can also read the text in relation to War, if we can’t manage to stop it:

“Human bretheren who after us shall live,

“Have your hearts against us not hardened.”

And last but not least, my very best wishes to all my American friends… Today the mid-terms finalize:

“Garde qu’Enfer n’ait de nous seigneurie :

Spare us from Hell’s Lordship.

73 thoughts on “Day of the Dead

    • Merci Gilles. Villon est un monument… 😀 (Je cherche quelque chose pour les dames du temps jadis… (Mais où sont les neiges d’antan…) Pas encore trouvé, mais j’y arriverai…
      Tout va bien chez toi? A+

      • J’aime beaucoup Echo :
        Echo, parlant quand bruyt on maine
        Dessus rivière ou sus estan,
        Qui beauté eut trop plus qu’humaine ?
        Poète au sang chaud !
        Bel après-midi à toi, Brieuc.

      • Nous sommes d’accord…
        “Qui beauté eut trop plus qu’humaine…”
        Rien que ça. Sans parler de Flora la belle Romaine…
        “Et Jehanne la bonne Lorraine
        Qu’Englois brûlèrent à Rouan
        Ou sont-ils, Vierge souveraine?
        Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?”
        Mes compliments cher ami. Il faudra quand même qu’on prenne une bière quelque part un de ces jours. Nous sommes probablement parmi les derniers à pouvoir lire Villon (à peu près) dans le texte…
        Bonne soirée.

  1. Ce poème transcrit l’angoisse de Villon face à la mort qu’il croit proche. Et même si finalement, il est gracié, il est banni et on perd toute trace de lui…
    J’aime beaucoup tes “Catarinas”
    Bonne journée Brieuc

    • Oui. Absolument, c’était un personage… plein d’allant, c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire. I a dû être tué dans une rixe quelque part en Province. Ou bien comme Rimbaud, il est parti vendre des armes en Abyssinie? 😉
      Bonne nuit.

  2. It is amazing how epic poems become part of our knowledge, even know, sometimes hundreds of years later. I recently read part of Os Lusíadas, an epic Portuguese poem written by Luís Vaz de Camões. I came across it while reading up on the origin of the myth of the Flying Dutchman. These displays are simply amazing, so vibrant and colourful. Now I this new poem to look up (in English – smile – I’m not clever with language like you are). Bonjour.

  3. Beautiful shots. And those haunting words. They do seem to come from the heart of a man who knows the end is near. And I’m sure there’s an intriguing story behind how he saved his sorry a**. Haha. Your posts are always stories within stories with so much to appreciate and ponder upon. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    • A pleasure. Always.
      It seems Villon appealed the judgement and was released after the appeal, but condemned to a ten-year exile. That’s when he disappeared…
      Stories within stories? Possibly yes. I like intertextuality.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙏🏻

  4. I love Day of the Dead art. If you’re ever in Chicago, you should visit our National Museum of Mexican Art. They have a beautiful collection. (Hopefully, not all stolen.)

    • I have heard of that museum. Makes Chicago a to-visit place. Look, there is a lot of controversy about art. Stolen? Bought for peanuts, or at a “right” price? TBH and at the risk of shocking, I don’t care. In 90% of cases it was saved from destruction… I am personally glad that there are so many French painters at the Met. Did they pay the right price then? Probably not. Don’t care. Makes French art available to the American public… 😉

  5. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it appears our democracy is still functioning. Huge relief today after yesterday’s results–especially here in Michigan where we now have a democrat-controlled state senate, house, and democratic governor. Hugely grateful for the unprecedented numbers of young people that said enough is enough and decided to show up.

    • I agree. Don’t have all the details, whether it’s the young or women or just plain lovers of democracy, it is still working. That is the most important news of late… 👏🏻

  6. I absolutely love the day of the dead! The photos that you share are exquisite, and I love the words that you put them to. I’ve never heard of Villon before, but I’m now very intrigued. Thank you so much for sharing 😊

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