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----- 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)
>
> 1
>
> |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.
>
> 2
>
> |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;         nngum scee
burgsittendra,         nyme bonan anum.
Staol min is steapheah,         stonde ic on bedde,
neoan ruh nathwr.         Nee hwilum
ful cyrtenu         ceorles dohtor,
modwlonc meowle,         t heo on mec gripe,
rse mec on reodne,         reafa min heafod,
fege mec on fsten.         Fele sona
mines gemotes,         seo e mec nearwa,
wif wundenlocc.         Wt bi t eage.


2.
Hyse cwom gangan,         r he hie wisse
stondan in wincsele,         stop feorran to,
hror hgstealdmon,         hof his agen
hrgl hondum up,         hrand under gyrdels
hyre stondendre         sties nathwt,
worhte his willan;         wagedan buta.
egn onnette,         ws ragum nyt
tillic esne,         teorode hwre
t stunda gehwam         strong r on hio,
werig s weorces.         Hyre weaxan ongon
under gyrdelse         t oft gode men
ferum freoga         ond mid feo bicga.

Also, you can see traces of the Saxon illiterative verse style.

Here are the Alliterative letters
1.
W
N
B
S
N
C
M
R
F
M
W

2.
H
S
H
H
S
W

S
W
G
F

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.