Ou temps qu’Alixandre regna

Ou temps qu’Alixandre regna

François Villon


Ou temps qu’Alixandre regna,
Ung homs nommé Diomedès
Devant luy on l’amena,
Engrillonné poulces et des
Comme ung larron, car il fut des
Escumeurs que voions courir;
Si fut mis devant ce cadès, 
Pour estre jugié a mourir.

L’empereur si l’araisonna :
« Pourquoi es tu larron en mer? »
L’autre response luy donna:
« Pourquoi larron me faiz nommer?
Pour ce qu’on me voit escumer
En une petiote fuste?
Se comme toy me peusse armer,
Comme toy empereur je fusse.

« Mais que veux-tu? De ma fortune,
Contre qui ne puis bonnement,
Qui si faulcement me fortune,
Me vient tout ce gouvernement.
Excuse moy aucunement
Et saiche qu’en grant povreté
(Ce mot se dit communement),
Ne gist pas grande loyauté. »

Quant l’empereur ot remiré
De Diomedès tout le dit :
« Ta fortune je te mueray
Mauvaise en bonne », si luy dit.
Si fist il. Onc puis ne mesdit
A personne, mais fut vray homme;
Valere pour vray le baudit,
Qui fut nommé le Grant a Rome.

Pirate King

Samantha Pious


During Alexander’s reign,
the man they called Diomedes
was brought before him, all in chains,
from toes to fingers, as a thief,
for he was of the outlaw band
whose raids we’ve seen go sailing by.
Before the captain he was brought
to be condemned to die.

The emperor approached him: “Why
are you a pirate on the sea?”
The other gave him this reply:
“Why do you call it piracy?
Because we skim along the coast,
my little sailboat and my crew?
Had I a navy armed like yours,
then I were emperor like you.

“But what do you care? Lady Luck,
against whom no good ship can steer,
she’s luffed me over in this muck!
Her government has brought me here. 
Excuse my French, since you must know
that men in desperate poverty
— these words are in the Pirates’ Code —
we can’t afford great loyalty.”

But when the emperor had heard
Diomedes, why then, instead —
“I’ll change your luck from bad to good,”
the leader said. And so he did.
He never spoke an evil word,
more faithful man was never known,
and (from Valerius) we learn
that he was named the Great in Rome.