"Poor Splendid Wings"

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 202

Context: One of the earliest and greatest lyric poets of France, François Villon (1431–?), was very influential upon the development of modern lyric poetry; however, while his verse is noted for its polish and raciness, he is remembered as the leader of a band of thieves and for his imprisonment...

(The entire section contains 202 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this A Ballad Of FranÇois Villon study guide. You'll get access to all of the A Ballad Of FranÇois Villon content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Quotes
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Context: One of the earliest and greatest lyric poets of France, François Villon (1431–?), was very influential upon the development of modern lyric poetry; however, while his verse is noted for its polish and raciness, he is remembered as the leader of a band of thieves and for his imprisonment for robbery. Seeing a kinship between himself and Villon, Swinburne calls the Frenchman the "Prince of all Ballad-Makers" and his own "sad bad glad mad brother." Like Swinburne, Villon created his best verse when in his deepest dejection; thus, in this poem the contrast of the French poet's miserable life and birdlike song becomes a lament for the man and a paean for the remarkable verse that transcends his personal misfortunes.

Poor splendid wings so frayed and soiled and torn!
Poor kind wild eyes so dashed with light quick tears!
Poor perfect voice, most blithe when most forlorn,
That rings athwart the sea whence no man steers
Like joy-bells crossed with death-bells in our ears! . . .
Prince of sweet songs made out of tears and fire,
A harlot was thy nurse, a God thy sire;
Shame soiled thy song, and song assoiled thy shame.
But from thy feet now death has washed the mire, . . .

Illustration of PDF document

Download A Ballad Of FranÇois Villon Study Guide

Subscribe Now