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Ballade des femmes de Paris (1910) L119

Part of a series or song cycle:

Trois Ballades de François Villon (L119)

Ballade des femmes de Paris

Quoy qu’on tient belles langagières
Florentines, Veniciennes,
Assez pour estre messaigières,
Et mesmement les anciennes;
Mais, soient Lombardes, Romaines,
Genevoises, à mes périls,
Piemontoises, Savoysiennes,
Il n’est bon bec que de Paris.
De beau parler tiennent chayères,
Ce dit-on Napolitaines,
Et que sont bonnes cacquetières
Allemandes et Bruciennes;
Soient Grecques, Egyptiennes,
De Hongrie ou d’aultre païs,
Espaignolles ou Castellannes,
Il n’est bon bec que de Paris.
Brettes, Suysses, n’y sçavent guères,
Ne Gasconnes et Tholouzaines;
Du Petit Pont deux harangères
Les concluront, et les Lorraines,
Anglesches ou Callaisiennes,
(Ay-je beaucoup de lieux compris?)
Picardes, de Valenciennes …
Il n’est bon bec que de Paris.
Prince, aux dames parisiennes,
De bien parler donnez le prix;
Quoy qu’on die d’Italiennes,
Il n’est bon bec que de Paris.

Ballad of the Women of Paris

Though they be reckoned good talkers
Florentine and Venetian women,
Good enough to be go-betweens,
Even the ancient women too;
And be they Lombards or Romans
Or Genovese, I say to my peril,
Or Piedmontese or Savoyards,
There’s no tongue like a Parisian one.
Chairs in the art of fine chatter, they say,
Are held by the women of Naples,
While those from Germany and Prussia
Are very good at prattle.
Yet be they Greek, Egyptian,
From Hungary or other lands,
Spanish or Catalonia—
There’s no tongue like a Parisian one.
Bretons and Swiss are mere beginners,
Like Gascons and Toulousians;
Two jabberers on the Petit Pont
Would silence them, and Lorrainers, too,
And women from England and from Calais
(I’ve named a lot of places, eh?),
From Picardy and Valencienne …
There’s no tongue like a Parisian one.
Prince, to the ladies of Paris
Present the prize for fine chatter;
Whatever is said of Italians,
There’s no tongue like a Parisian one.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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(Achille) Claude Debussy was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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