Thursday, December 14, 2023

"I have a gentil cok," anonymous Middle English lyric

I have a gentil cok,
    Croweth me day;
He doth me risen erly,
    My matins for to say.

I have a gentil cok,
    Comen he is of gret;
His comb is of red corel,
    His tayel is of jet.

I have a gentil cok
    Comen he is of kinde;
His comb is of red corel,
    His tail is of inde.

His legges ben of asor,
    So gentil and so smale;
His spores arn of silver white,
    Into the worte-wale.

His eynen arn of cristal,
    Loken all in aumber;
And every night he percheth him
    In min ladyes chaumber.

Editors' Notes:

  gentil - noble
  Comen he is of gret - He comes of a great family.
  Comen he is of kinde - He is of good lineage.
  inde - indigo
  asor - azure
  spores - spurs
  worte-wale - root of cock's spur
  eynen - eyes
  loken - set

Source of the text - Middle English Lyrics: A Norton Critical Edition, selected and edited by Maxwell S. Luria and Richard L. Hoffman.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1974, page 77.

TJB: Gentle dick energy; double-entendre as a source of poetic power. In short iambics, the poem gives us a fabulous, near-deadpan blazon of a rooster.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me