Villon was a well-educated, humorous rogue who fought and stole his way to a well-earned prison cell. While he waited to be hanged, he wrote a quatrain for the ages:
Je suis Françoys dont il me poise,
Né de Paris emprès Pontoise;
Et de la corde d’une toise
Sçaura mon col que mon cul poise.
[For my sins, I am Francis
Born near Pontoise, in Paris
And by a rope to end my days
My neck will know what my arse weighs]
Somehow he always managed to get his crimes pardoned or his sentence commuted.
Villon’s most famed work is his lengthy Testament whose jokes and jibes aimed at 15th century contemporaries don’t mean much to us today, while of interest are the fair ballads it contains, one of which bears the grand old refrain:
“Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?”
[But where are the snows of yesteryear?]