----- Original Message -----
From: "Tim May" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2002 11:05 AM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] Cox (was: News about Futurese)
> Adrian Morgan writes:
> > Jan van Steenbergen wrote:
> > > Reminds me of this nice piece of Middle English poetry:
> > >
> > > I HAVE A NOBLE COCK, he crows at break of day.
> > > He makes me rise up early - my prayers for to say.
> > > I HAVE A NOBLE COCK, the finest rooster yet.
> > > His comb is of red coral. His tail - black as jet.
> > > I HAVE A NOBLE COCK, he is a child of nature.
> > > And when he sticks his neck out, and sings, it's quite a feature.
> > > I HAVE A NOBLE COCK, his eyes can grow like amber.
> > > And every night he perches in my lady's chamber!
> > Actually I thought of the old limerick: "There was a (forgotten) /
> > who had a remarkable ass. / 'Twas not rounded and pink / as you
> > probably think / 'twas grey, had long ears and ate grass".
> > I know of at least one example of the same sense of humour going
> > back to the first millennium ... I'm thinking of the riddle about
> > onions quoted in the book "The Year 1000" (I don't have the book
> > - I have the cassette edition - but someone here almost certainly
> > knows it).
> Well, I don't have that book, but I may have the same riddle. In the
> book _The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology_ there's a chapter with 31
> riddles taken from the _Exeter Book_, bequeathed to the library of
> that cathedral in 1072. Two of those given are "witty and obscene
> double entendres", with an obvious obscene meaning and a less obvious
> non-obscene meaning. I reproduce these two below. I've put the
> solutions at the bottom, with enough space that they shouldn't show up
> on anyone's screen before they get a chance to guess at the
> non-obscene answer.
> (These are translations into Modern English, of course)
> |I'm a strange creature, for I satisfy women,
> |a service to the neighbours! No one suffers
> |at my hands except my slayer.
> |I grow very tall, erect in a bed,
> |I'm hairy underneath. From time to time
> |a beautiful girl, the brave daughter
> |of some churl dares to hold me,
> |grips my russet skin, robs me of my head
> |and puts me in the pantry. At once that girl
> |with plaited hair who has confined me
> |remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens.
> |A young man made for the corner
> |where he knew she was standing; this strapping churl
> |had walked some way - with his own hands
> |he whipped up her dress, and under her girdle
> |(as she stood there) thrust something stiff,
> |worked his will; they both shook.
> |This fellow quickened: one moment he was forceful,
> |a first-rate servant, so strenuous
> |that the next he was knocked up, quite
> |blown by his exertion. Beneath the girdle
> |a thing began to grow that upstanding men
> |often think of, tenderly, and acquire.
And in case Anyone's Curious...
Ic eom wunderlicu wiht, wifum on hyhte,
neahbuendum nyt; nængum sceþþe
burgsittendra, nymþe bonan anum.
Staþol min is steapheah, stonde ic on bedde,
neoþan ruh nathwær. Neþeð hwilum
ful cyrtenu ceorles dohtor,
modwlonc meowle, þæt heo on mec gripeð,
ræseð mec on reodne, reafað min heafod,
fegeð mec on fæsten. Feleþ sona
mines gemotes, seo þe mec nearwað,
wif wundenlocc. Wæt bið þæt eage.
Hyse cwom gangan, þær he hie wisse
stondan in wincsele, stop feorran to,
hror hægstealdmon, hof his agen
hrægl hondum up, hrand under gyrdels
hyre stondendre stiþes nathwæt,
worhte his willan; wagedan buta.
þegn onnette, wæs þragum nyt
tillic esne, teorode hwæþre
æt stunda gehwam strong ær þon hio,
werig þæs weorces. Hyre weaxan ongon
under gyrdelse þæt oft gode men
ferðþum freogað ond mid feo bicgað.
Also, you can see traces of the Saxon illiterative verse style.
Here are the Alliterative letters
In case anyone wondered, in saxon verse, at least two words must begin with
the same consonant. But never all of them.
Therefore, in modern English
A hat hid nervously
the Saxons would consider this a poetic line.
There you go.