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BALLADE AGAINST THE ENEMIES OF FRANCE, by                 Poet's Biography


François Villon's "Ballade Against the enemies of France" employs vivid imagery and classical allusions to express a vehement curse against those who wish harm upon France. The poem serves not just as a patriotic call but also as a repository of myth, history, and biblical tales that are invoked to wish misfortune upon enemies of the state. The poem captures the spirit of its age, while also touching on themes that are eternal: love of homeland, justice, and retribution.

each stanza narrates a series of dire fates, drawing upon a wide range of classical, mythological, and Biblical stories to make its point. For example, the first stanza wishes that the enemy might "fall in with beasts that scatter fire," an allusion to the mythological Jason who sought the Golden Fleece, or "change from man to beast three years entire," referring to King Nebuchadnezzar from the Bible. The stanza closes with the curse that the enemy might be "Bound in his prison-maze with Daedalus," invoking the Greek myth in which Daedalus constructs a labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur.

The second stanza amplifies the curses, suggesting the enemy might howl "like bitterns in the mire," or be sold "to the Great Turk for money down." The stanza also references Mary Magdalene's life of sadness and penance, suggesting the enemy deserves no less. Again, there's a fluid mix of myth, history, and religious text, serving as a testament to Villon's broad-ranging knowledge and his skill in employing it for poetic ends.

In the third stanza, the poem wishes financial ruin akin to "fierce Octavian's ire," where molten coin could be the enemy's only remnant, invoking the Roman practice of pouring molten gold into the mouths of defeated enemies as a symbol of greed and avarice. The stanza ends with the invocation of Antiochus, the Syrian king who in the biblical tradition was cursed by God, tying the fate of the enemy once more to divine judgment.

The "envoy" summarizes the poem's curses, wishing that the "bright-winged brood of Aeolus" might bear the enemy away to a barren place, bereft of "peace and hope's least glance." It suggests that anyone who could wish harm on France is "worthless" and unworthy of any goodness.

What's particularly striking about this poem is how Villon deftly uses allusions to amplify the sense of curse and doom. each reference is not just a poetic flourish but serves to deepen the sense of calamity wished upon the enemies of France. They also serve to elevate the state of France by contrast, casting it as a nation deserving of divine protection and historical reverence.

In sum, Villon's "Ballade Against the enemies of France" is a formidable invocation of wrath against those who would do France harm, using a rich tapestry of mythological, historical, and biblical allusions to weigh down its curses. It serves as a vivid testament to both the power of poetic language and the depth of patriotic feeling.


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