Saturday, 8 November 2008


“I am,
a king,
because I know how
to rule myself.” - Pietro Aretino

It is timely perhaps to post this song up for Song Saturday, today. It is by the Russian/Georgian singer-songwriter Bulat Okudzhava (1924-1997). It is based on a poem by the French poet François Villon (born ca 1431). It is generally known as François Villon’s prayer and a translation runs thus:

François Villon’s Prayer

Before the earth stops turning
Before all lights grow dim,
To each one Lord, I pray Thee
Grant what is needful to him:

To the wise one a ready wit,
To the coward a horse, pray do
To the fortunate some money
But remember, I’m here too…

Before the earth stops turning
Of thy power without end;
To the one in want of power
Thy appointed portion of land.

To the one whose hand is open
Grant rest form charity,
A gift of remorse to Cain,
But also remember me…

O, Lord, Thou art all-knowing,
I believe in thy wisdom then,
As the fallen soldier believes
In Heaven he’s alive again.

As every man believes
Thy great word as true,
As all men must believe…
They know not what they do!

Before the earth stops turning
Before all lights grow dim,
And the fires are still burning
Grant each what is meet to him:

Grant to each some little thing
And remember I’m here too…


  1. Thanks for posting this. I found the words written in an old notebook, (where I think I wrote them down from dictation) and looked it up on Google, and your page is the only one that has them.

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  3. I think Okudjava was a little less lofty-styled here; after all, his audience in 1960-s was mostly atheistic.
    Here is my version:

    François Villon’s Prayer
    (by Bulat Okudjava)

    Come on while the world's still turning 'round
    Come on while the light's still bright
    Let oh Lord each and every one
    Have what they never might

    Let Sophistic have a head
    Deserter, a steed
    Happy, a fortune
    And me, what you know I need

    Come on while the world's still turning 'round
    You Power, do your stuff
    Let Power-Hungry have his way
    The way he'll have enough

    Let Big and Busy Heart have a break
    Because it's hurting so
    Let Cain have a rue uncunningly
    And me, what I need you know

    I hope you will sort it out yet
    I'm sure you can anywise
    As sure as a fallen soldier
    Is sure he's in Paradise

    As sure as every ear trusts
    Your softly spoken coo
    As sure as we, good believers
    Know not what we do

    Lord, my Lord, my sweet Lord
    Green-eyed beheld and gone
    Come on while the world's still turning 'round
    It never would last so long

    Come on while we still have it
    Surging the urge to be
    Let every one have what they lack
    You know one of them is me

  4. or maybe:

    As sure as a fallen soldier rests
    Assured he's in Paradise