Category Archives: humour

Where the wild thyme blows…

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Heath-Robinson’s illustration for a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Via Wikipedia

I have not often succeeded in being topical here on Sweettenorbull, but with 2016 having marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, I thought it appropriate to include at least one post on the Bard this year. So, here is my belatedly topical, and very unseasonal, take on one of my favourite passages in Shakespeare. A mid-winter day’s take on some lines of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in

That’s Oberon, the king of the fairies, or faeries, explaining where he will find his wife, Titania, the queen of the fairies, on whom he is going to play a rather mean trick. The soliloquy of which this is the beginning sets the scene for this trick and the action that follows. It is light-hearted stuff compared to many of Shakespeare’s other famous soliloquies: it is fair to say it worries at none of the great themes – life and death, love and hate, truth and falsehood, justice, fate, none of that. It is a bit of atmospherics, a means of setting the scene for a play that is essentially a bit of enjoyable nonsense.The purpose of the passage is to enchant the listener, and, for me at least, it does so every time.

It is a little fey, I know. We are talking about a passage full of flowers spoken by a great big fairy: not altogether manly that.I’m more into the flowers than the fairies, but I suppose that in itself is something of an admission. A few years ago that great journal of earthy British humour, the Viz, ran a memorable cartoon where Biffa Bacon is chastised (that is, beaten to a pulp) by his parents for reading the Guardian newspaper instead of the Sun. He has just about managed to persuade them that the Guardian isn’t just for ‘snurbs and short-liftaz’ when a free supplement falls out of the paper, ‘Fifty Poems about Flowers’. Biffa’s parents are enraged by this basic affront to decent Geordie reverse-snobbery and duly pummel the poor lad senseless.

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From the Viz comic, via The Guardian

Actually, I understand where they are coming from (Newcastle, of course, which is also where I come from). For a long time, I would hazard from the early 19th century all the way through to the late 20th century, flower imagery was the standby of mediocre poets and poetasters, which may have fixed in the public’s mind, even those, like the Bacons, who would never read poetry, the idea of poetry as something blandly decorative, stuffily middle class and rather effeminate. But this view and all that bad poetry were merely unfortunate by-products of what is actually a great tradition in English poetry of poems about flowers, running from early poetry to the modern day.

(but if you’re not convinced, my site has plenty of posts on poems of a more masculine nature… tools! drinking!)

I would argue that at least a passing acquaintance with the English countryside and its flowers heightens ones appreciation of this poetry; at the same time, reading the poetry improves one’s enjoyment of the countryside. Well, this is true for me, at least. About seven years ago, I lived for a couple of years in Durham, and at about that time, after years of serious novel reading, I was getting very into English poetry. Three poets who I read a lot at that time were William Wordsworth, Edward Thomas and the American William Carlos Williams, in all of whose poems flowers feature prominently, usually with the flower named. Partly to know the flowers in their poems better, and partly because I lived near a rather nice meadow park (like many parks and meadows along the Tyne or the Wear, actually a reclaimed coal mine), and had started to notice flowers whose names I didn’t know, I bought an old Reader’s Digest guide to wild flowers at a car boot sale, and started to casually familiarise myself with the names of those I most often saw. After a couple of years I could identify most of the common flowers I’d come across, and recognise them when they came up in the poetry I was reading, and just walking the countryside I would notice and appreciate flowers much more whether I knew their names or not.

That first line of Oberon’s captures he very real wonder one feels when one comes upon a bank of wild flowers while wandering the woods or countryside. Myself, I know a hillock in Durham where cowslips sprout some years, and, mysteriously, some years they don’t. I know a wooded roadside bank that is carpeted with violets a couple of weeks each spring. In the nearby Finchale Priory there is a reliable bank of anemones on the north bank of the river. When we moved a little north to Prudhoe in Northumberland, my wife and I gradually found comparable scenes – another bank of anemones, a patch of teasels, a riverside outcrop of reeking ramsons, a field of mixed white and red clover. Finding such scenes and remembering them became one of the pleasures of walking.

Paul Auster the novelist and and sometime critic wrote of an interesting difference between English and French poetry. In French poetry, he claims, flowers tend to be described simply by the word flower – fleur, while in English poetry they are given specific names. I can’t quite remember where he went with that (I read it a long time ago and do not have it to hand), but I think he went on to generalise from this that the French think in the abstract, while the English-speaking peoples favour the specific and concrete, perhaps that the English like to categorise while the French philosophise. And maybe there is something in that. The English value the poetic power of particular names. Look at the first four lines of Oberon’s speech: it contains the names of six different flowers. Just the names of those flowers take up thirteen of the lines’ forty syllables. The last two plants take up six of the last lines’ ten. A great deal of the lines’ beauty inheres in the sound of those names alone. I wonder if Shakespeare, if indeed most people of his time, could reel off the names of plants like that, when plant lore was still a living tradition. Perhaps he asked around his fellow playwrights and actors at the Angel.

We tend to imagine A Midsummer-night’s dream taking place in an English woods – it certainly sounds like one and it has a couple of bona fide English myths wandering around in Puck and Robin Goodfellow. But of course the play is set in a wood outside Athens – it seems the characters wander into the wooded paradise of Arcadia – since that place was mythical I suppose Shakespeare was quite at liberty to model it after the woods of his homeland. Poets in the sixteenth century tended to use a classical setting for their pastoral poetry, as well as their love poems, which is why shepherds and maidens alike had names like Lycidas, Cynthia and Clarissa, rather than Roger, Mary and Lisa. This was a matter of convention, but it also gave them a bit of liberty from the rigid social mores of the sixteenth century. Titania is acting in a way that might have had a contemporary Englishwoman up before the church courts, ‘lulled ‘by ‘dance and delight’, sleeping in the open air in the most sensuous of settings.

There is a faint echo of Middle English poems in these lines, where ‘blow’ retains its Middle English meaning of ‘bloom’, and might remind some readers of the line ‘bloweth mead’ in ‘Sumer is ycumen in’. Eglantine is another word with a medieval ring to it, carrying the scent of Norman French: the Prioress in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was called Madame Eglentine, and gently mocked by the narrator for her old-fashioned Norman French pronunciation. Critics have commented much on Shakespeare’s propensity to use earthy Anglo-Saxon words in conjunction with Latin derived words (examples here would be nodding violet, enamelled skin and, arguably, luscious woodbine), but there is there is also here the mingling of modern and archaic English words. It all adds to the sense in the play of the past and present mingling with the eternal, of the familiar morphing into the strange and foreign, and of reality blending with fantasy.

As a reader who has read more than his fair share of poems aboot floo-ahs, as the Bacons would style them, I can’t help but sense a foreshadow of much later English poetry in Shakespeare’s lines. I have already mentioned those other serial flower name droppers Wordsworth, Thomas and Williams. Titania perhaps provided some inspiration for that equally fickle (though nastier) lady of the woods, Tennyson’s Lady of Shallot. And the alliteration and unusual syntax of the phrase ‘weed wide’ puts me in mind of Hopkins, who claimed to be reclaiming the old alliterative tradition of Old English. I could go on a lot longer about the richness of Shakespeare’s language and its influence, but a post, like a garden (though unlike a mythical wood) has got to end somewhere…

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Faith (wench) …

This poem provides an interesting perspective on the art of wooing. It will, I’m sure, strike a chord with some gentleman readers – or perhaps some rather ungentlemanly readers.

John Davies was a well-known trouble maker at the Inns of the Court in late Elizabethan and Jacobean England. He was expelled from the Inns for cudgelling a fellow scholar over the head. Later he won official favour again (few sins were irredeemable in Stuart England) and won his way to high office in Ireland as Governor-General where he was known for being particularly unsympathetic to the native Gaels, even by the standards of the time, giving them little recompense for the Ulster lands that had been expropriated from them and handed over to English and Scots settlers. He was by no means good looking, and somewhat lacking in manners, with one observer noting how he ‘goes waddling with his arse out behind him as though he were about to make everyone that he meets a wall to piss against’ (The Ulster Plantations).

Knowing this about Davies, you’d be surprised to find out that when he wasn’t brawling and politicking he wrote delicate love poetry. And indeed he didn’t. But he once wrote the below poem. It was first printed in a collection of poems by both Davies and Christopher Marlowe, and put between two of Marlowe’s poems, though recently it has been considered a discrete poem in its own right. The opening line picks up Marlow’s phrase ‘sprightly eyes’, but the rest of the language is all Davies.

Faith (wench), I cannot court thy sprightly eyes
With the bass viol placed between my thighs.
I cannot lisp, nor to some fiddle sing,
Nor run upon a high-stretched minikin.                        (minikin = the treble string of a viol)

I cannot whine in puling elegies,
Entombing Cupid with sad obsequies.
I am not fashioned for these amorous times
To court thy beauty with lascivious rhymes.

I cannot dally, caper, dance and sing,
Oiling my saint with supple sonneting.
I cannot cross my arms, or sigh, Ay me,
Ay me, forlorn — Egregious foppery!

I cannot buss thy fist, play with thy hair,                           (buss = kiss)
Swearing by Jove thou art most debonair.
Not I, by cock! But shall I tell thee roundly,
Hark in thine ear: Zounds, I can ( ) thee soundly.

John Davies

The four-space bracketed gap in the last line, my Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse (Ed. David Norbrook) informs me, is the F-word, which I have not replaced in full, in case you’re reading this at work, but obviously it’s a lot more fun if you say it when you’re reading the poem aloud. The poem is, all of it, great fun to read aloud, with its brisk couplets, its brazen false modesty and its dismissive sarcasm. Davies may have been a lawyer and a politician, but I can’t help but detect something of a soldier’s swagger in this verse, with its contempt for civilian gentility and its rough, combative language. Strangely, much of the imagery has a pre-taste of the sexual vulgarity of the last line. The bass viol between his thighs, in the original spelling can be read as ‘base vial’ or ‘bass vile’, that is something base or vile between his legs. The image of ‘oiling’ , that is flattering, his lover beings to mind a vaguely sensual movement, there’s that ‘supple’ sonnet, and then all those breathy noises, the whining, the sighing, the ‘Ay me’s. He may not go in for gentle wooing, but he seems to be doing his best to get his lady in the right mood…

***

Apologies to regular readers for the rather long, unheralded absence from WordPress. Life has been busy – I have been working on other projects, as they say – and taking on more childcare duties as my wife starts to feel the strain of her second pregnancy. I will try to keep in touch, however – though posts may be somewhat shorter than in the past!

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Miserable Catullus

Who'll give it to you now?

Who’ll give it to you now?

Miserable Catullus, stop being foolish

And admit it’s over,

The sun shone on you those days

When your girl had you

When you gave it to her like

nobody else ever will.

Everywhere together then, always at it

And you liked it and she can’t say

she didn’t

Yes, those days glowed.

Now she doesn’t want it: why

why should you, washed out

Want to. Don’t trail her,

Don’t eat yourself up alive,

Show some spunk, stand up

and take it.

So long, girl. Catalllus

can take it.

He won’t bother you , he won’t

be bothered:

But you’ll be, nights.

What do you want to live for?

Whom will you see?

Who’ll say your pretty?

Who’ll give it to you now?

Whose name will you have?

Kiss what guy? bite whose

lips?

Come on Catullus, you can

take it.

From ‘Louis Zukofsky selected poems’, ed. Charles Bernstein, The Library of America

Well, yes,kind of Catullus – this is the Zukofsky versian of the Roman poet’s ambivalent plea to himself for fortitude. Zukofsky, the leading light of the ‘Objectivist’ movement, sometime acolyte of Ezra Pound and life-long correspondent with the Northumbrian Poet Basil Bunting, shared with those poets an interest in translation. With bold translation, one might say; Zukofsky dispenses with the scazons of Catullus’ Latin poem – scazons being ‘an iambis trimeter ending with a spondee (or trochee)’, as Guy Lee helpfully explains in the Oxford Classics’ Catullus; anyway, he dispenses with them in favour of short, irregular lines in demotic American English. The modern reader (that’s us) has to make a wee imaginative leap to realize how demotic this would have sounded back in the thirties when it was written –  using words like ‘spunk’ and ‘guys’ in poetry, or addressing one’s beloved as ‘girl’ (that still sounds demotic), not to mention referring to the sexual act as ‘it’. Of course, by the sixties, American poets are happily sexualising pronouns , Rexroth’s lament in Married Blues, ‘the grocer’s got a big one’, being a good example, but before the war poets didn’t say things like that. Many wouldn’t now.

It is a successful experimental translation; experimental in that it translates Catullus into fresh language and successful in that it does so well and is memorable in its own right. One could complain, however, that it is only a partially faithful translation – it translates the sentiments, but not the richness of the language (and therefore, arguably, debases the sentiments). But Zukofsky more than makes up with this with a later translation of the same poem, a ‘homophonic translation’ that is, according to Bernstein,  ‘translation with special emphasis on the sound rather than the lexical meaning’ – though I think (and, since I don’t read Latin, I’m largely guessing) Zukofsky does justice to both, using scazons as well, just to make the purists swoon. Here are the first five lines of the English, followed by the same in the Latin original:

.

Miss her, Catullus? don’t be so inept to rail

at what you see perish when perished is the case.

Full, sure once, candid the sunny days glowed, solace,

when you went about it as your girl would have it,

you loved her as no one else shall ever be loved.

.

Miser Catulle, dēsinās ineptīre,

et quod vidēs perīsse perditum dūcās.

Fulsēre quondam candidī tibī sōlēs,

cum ventitābās quō puella ducēbat

amāta nōbīs quantum amābitur nūlla.

.

Now try reading both aloud, line by line, to see how similar they sound. No longer must you rue missing out on a classical education!

 This post was first published 2012. I’ve been having a busy week – but will return with original posts in due course…

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The Pelfie

2013 was officially the year of the selfie – the Oxford English Dictionary declared it to be so. And now everybody knows this useful word for a photo one takes of oneself. And everybody’s doing it too – naked celebrities, Irish cattle farmers, even the leaders of the free world – at a funeral no less! Oh vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas indeed!

In the train of the selfie, came the belfie, a word I only learned a few weeks ago, and that had me slightly worried for a moment. But – somebody tell Anthony Weiner– the word has nothing to do with the photographing of bells, or anything bell-shaped, but the only slightly less depraved practice of photographing one’s own posterior.

What’s next? Hot off the press – the shelfie, a picture of one’s book shelf to show off what tasteful books you read – if you have any time left to read after taking all these photos of yourself. Isn’t this just another form of vanity, though? – Hey look at me and all my obscure European novellas and second hand penguin classics on my nice vintage wooden shelf. Could I be any more of a self-satisfied bourgeois bohemian?

Ahem. On a curmudgeonly side note (to an already curmudgeonly post), for how much longer are word blends  going to be considered clever and witty? News programmes this year perplexed readers this year with clever-clever talk of Grexits, Frexits and Brexits, while regurgitated gossip column jokes about Brangelina and Bennifer have been doing the rounds for years. If they were ever funny, they ain’t now.

But I digress. The main gripe here is vanity. It’s time we did something about it – which is why I am going to put aside my distaste for blend words and pitch an early contender for the new word of 2014, a welcome antidote to its narcissistic predecessor (I hope you’re reading this Oxford English Dictionary)… the pelfie.

What, you ask, is a pelfie? Well, the word is a blend of the word selfie, a neologism that seems to be here to stay, and the word pelf, which the dictionary brands archaic, but, considering its meaning, should be brought back into common use. Pelf, from Old French pelfre – spoils, means money, but especially money that has been gained in a dishonest or dishonourable (though – unlike spoils – not necessarily illegal) way. But a pelfie is not a picture of one’s ill-gotten gains – say a hedge fund manager posing next to his bank statement, or a sleazy estate agent fanning himself with cash. That would be crude – don’t forget what our aim is here (if you really need a name for that kind of thing, you can call it a wealfie, as long as you don’t pretend you invented that yourself.)

No. A pelfie is something else entirely. It is a poem one writes, addressed to oneself, or to God, first expressing disgust at your own moral failings, and second, your hope that you can rise above these failings and at last be a decent human being. It is named in honour of the opening lines of this poem by the American writer, nature lover and poet, Henry David Thoreau.

Great God, I ask thee for no meaner pelf

Than that I may not disappoint myself,

That in action that I may soar as high,

As I can now discern with this clear eye.

 

And next in value, which thy kindness lends,

That I may greatly disappoint my friends,

Howe’er they think or hope that it may be,

They may not dream how thou’st distinguished me.

 

That my weak hand may equal my firm faith,

And my life practice more than my tongue saith;

That my low conduct may not show,

Nor my relenting lines,

That I thy purpose did not know,

Or overrated thy designs.

Thoreau is certainly praying here. But what is he praying for? The first stanza is clear enough: he hopes for the strength to fulfil his potential, not to be a disappointment to himself. This, I suppose, is a common enough prayer. Religious or not, in prayer or in a moment of self-reflection, it is quite normal for us to express such hopes – at the beginning of a new job, for example, or – as now – in our resolutions at the beginning of the year. I’ve often hoped, and occasionally prayed, for such a thing myself. That first couplet of the final sestet expresses a familiar wish too – the desire to live up not just to our thoughts, but to our words too – is there anything quite as shameful as failing to live up to boasts that we have proudly made in the past?

Other parts of the poem are harder to understand. In the second stanza, Thoreau seems to be asking God that he should disappoint his friends. This is less and less familiar concept in our age: the idea that true value, true achievement is not to be judged by one’s peers, or even by any human authority, but by oneself, or by God. This is how the ancient Stoics thought – man’s judgement was ephemeral and worthless, if your actions did not measure up to the eternal idea of the Good – or God. And this explains too, the exact meaning of the first line, in which Thoreau asks for ‘no meaner pelf’. From the humility of the poem, it seems as if this line ought to be ‘no greater pelf’ – as in, I’m not asking for great fame and riches, but only that I don’t disappoint myself. In fact, this, to those of a stoical bent, is the greatest gift of all, and the most that could be asked for, hence, ‘no meaner pelf’.

I must admit to being a little stumped by a couple of phrases in that last stanza, however. The first is ‘my relenting lines’. This probably refers to the lines of his writing or poetry, but in what way are they ‘relenting’ – are they excuse-making lines, lines in which Thoreau shrinks back from the duties he has laid upon himself? Or is it that the lines themselves could be the disappointment, and thus that part of the inspiration of the poem is Thoreau’s fear that he will not achieve what he hopes in his literary ambitions? More perplexing still is ‘overrated thy designs’. This for all the world looks like it should read ‘underrated thy designs’, for Thoreau is worried that in his behaviour or art he will fail to please God or do justice to his creation. Perhaps some Sweettenorbull readers could help me out with this in the comments section…

But there, anyway, is the model example of a ‘pelfie’.

Of course, I know how this will play out. The OED will not take the blindest bit of notice of the pelfie – they have to follow the crowd. Why, the ‘wealfie’ is a much stronger contender, or even the twelfie (a picture of oneself on one’s twelfth birthday), the elfie (a picture of oneself with elf’s ears) or the delphie (a picture of oneself consulting an oracle). But, dear spiritual, stoical brethren, this should not bother you at all, for the perfect pelfie is best when unappreciated by the outside world.

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In Defence of Fatherhood

Occasionally I will venture my thoughts on something other than poetry. This post was a response to a post by my friend (and erstwhile guest blogger on these pages) Stew who in a post earlier this month laid out his reasons for not wanting to father children, ever. I presented him (and his readers) with a few counter arguments to mull over…

harmonioustew

Hi, folks.  Sorry I haven’t been pressing words lately.  I’ve been very bizzy.  And hot!

Without further ado, here’s a guest post from my friend and fellow blogger over at sweettenorbull, who has an axe to grind about something i wrote a little while ago (“Why I Don’t Want to Have Children”).  Apparently, he does.  (I’ll give you time to heave a prodigious sigh of disbelief.)  But seriously, I think he’ll make a great father, especially with such airtight reasons to reproduce.  

In Defence of Fatherhood

 

Stew, I read with interest and enjoyment your argument against having children at the beginning of the month, but felt that the counterarguments deserved an airing too. There are many good reasons to bring children into the world – and I’m not talking about benefits to society, or to the environment or even to your spouse, but benefits to you, yourself and…

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‘I have a noble cock’

If you’re the kind of person who was highly amused by Boris Johnson’s speech in Trafalgar last week, then this poem is for you. In case you missed the speech, it was on the occasion of the unveiling of the latest temporary resident of Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, an oversized bright blue farm bird. Here’s the bird, by the way:

New Commission for the Fourth Plinth unveilled

And here’s the speech.

Given that it is actually the title of the statue, Boris could have been forgiven for becoming the first British politician in living memory to utter the word ‘cock’ in public. He had some fun with the obscene connotations of the word, but managed to control himself at the ,er, climax of his speech.

It brought to mind this anonymous lyric from the early 15th century which suggests that punning on wildfowl has been around for an impressively long time:

 

I have a gentle cock,                           gentle = noble

Croweth me day:

He doth me risen erly                         he gets me up in the morning

My matins for to say

 

I have a gentle cock,

Comen he is of gret:                           he is of a great lineage

His comb is of red coral,

His tail is of jet.

 

I have a gentle cock,

Comen he is of kinde:                         He is of a good family

His comb is of red coral,

His tail is of inde.                              indigo

 

His legs ben of asor,                           azure

So gentle and so smale;

His spores arn of silver whit                 his spurs are silver

Into the wortewale                             to their roots

 

His eynen arn of cristal                        eyes

Loken all in aumber:                           set in amber

And every night he percheth him

In my ladye’s chaumber.

 

(From Medieval English Lyrics, Faber and Faber, ed. R.T. Davies. Some more interesting notes can be found here: http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/s9frm.htm)

 

Part of the comic effect of this lyric is the way it leaves the reader in suspense until the very end. Until that final crude pun, we suspect that actually the lyricist really might just be describing his cockerel, boasting about its lineage and its great beauty. It sounded like quite a beauty, anyway.

Having covered similarly themed poems in the medieval and modern periods, next post, I’ll be discussing the phallic connotations in the great Victorian poet Tennyson’s The Eagle. Kidding.

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Down Wanton Down

 Robert Graves made a small splash as a poet of world war one, but only really made his name several years later as with the celebrated memoir Goodbye to All That, covering the minor and major horrors of public school life and the war, respectively; settling in Majorca, he made a living writing historical novels, such as I, Claudius and Count Belisarius, and a celebrated guide to Greek mythology. All the while he worked on a respectable corpus of poetry ranging from the romantic to the cerebral to the comic.

Graves’ own theories about the origins and purposes of poetry are sketched out in his book ‘The White Goddess’, which is succinctly subtitled ‘a historical grammar of poetic myth’. It is by turns fascinating and incomprehensible; as much as I enjoyed it, I wasn’t much wiser about poetic myth’s grammar, poetic or otherwise, than before I’d read it, although I had gathered that Graves thought all ‘true’ poetry is inspired by and directed at the great Goddess that self-same Lass who was the original deity of Indo-European culture before being displaced by the patriarchal gods of the Greeks and the Hebrews.

But Graves’ poetry itself doesn’t always seem to conform too closely to this idea. A lot of his love poetry is, frankly, rather forgettable. Some of his best poems have nothing whatsoever to do with love or the Goddess or what have you. Down Wanton Down has something to do with love, but addressed to the Goddess it ain’t! The wanton creature that Graves is beseeching to desist is in fact a part of his own anatomy.

You may already have guessed which.

The poet-wooer’s dilemma here is palpable (so to speak), as he complains to his over-eager member that its misplaced zeal and enthusiasm is not likely to produce the desired response. At the same time Graves smuggles in more smutty puns than you could find on a postcard rack in Blackpool (or a speech by Boris Johnson!) Most are easy enough to understand, but the second stanza had me looking at the notes in my Norton. A ravelin is a ‘Fortified projection from a castle wall’ – I think the wall is the more potent symbol here – while die also carries the sense of ‘to achieve orgasm’…

Down, wanton, down! Have you no shame

That at the whisper of Love’s name,

Or Beauty’s, presto! up you raise

Your angry head and stand at gaze?

 

Poor bombard-captain, sworn to reach

The ravelin and effect a breach–

Indifferent what you storm or why,

So be that in the breach you die!

 

Love may be blind, but Love at least

Knows what is man and what mere beast;

Or Beauty wayward, but requires

More delicacy from her squires.

 

Tell me, my witless, whose one boast

Could be your staunchness at the post,

When were you made a man of parts

To think fine and profess the arts?

 

Will many-gifted Beauty come

Bowing to your bald rule of thumb,

Or Love swear loyalty to your crown?

Be gone, have done! Down, wanton, down!

 

Sweettenorbull’s pithy summary:

Graves to the Goddess, ‘I fear that something has come between us!’

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