Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 44

How Bacbuc, the high-priestess, brought Panurge before the Holy Bottle.

There the noble priestess Bacbuc made Panurge stoop and kiss the brink of the fountain; then bade him rise and dance three ithymbi [’Dances in the honour of Bacchus.’— Motteux.]. Which done, she ordered him to sit down between two stools placed there for that purpose, his arse upon the ground. Then she opened her ceremonial book, and, whispering in his left ear, made him sing an epileny, inserted here in the figure of the bottle.

Bottle, whose Mysterious Deep

Do’s ten thousand Secrets keep,

With attentive Ear I wait;

Ease my Mind, and speak my Fate.

Soul of Joy! Like Bacchus, we

More than India gain by thee.

Truths unborn thy Juice reveals,

Which Futurity conceals.

Antidote to Frauds and Lies,

Wine, that mounts us to the Skies,

May thy Father Noah’s Brood

Like him drown, but in thy Flood.

Speak, so may the Liquid Mine

Of Rubies, or of Diamonds shine.

Bottle, whose Mysterious Deep

Do’s ten thousand Secrets keep,

With attentive Ear I wait;

Ease my Mind, and speak my Fate.

When Panurge had sung, Bacbuc threw I don’t know what into the fountain, and straight its water began to boil in good earnest, just for the world as doth the great monastical pot at Bourgueil when ’tis high holiday there. Friend Panurge was listening with one ear, and Bacbuc kneeled by him, when such a kind of humming was heard out of the Bottle as is made by a swarm of bees bred in the flesh of a young bull killed and dressed according to Aristaeus’s art, or such as is made when a bolt flies out of a crossbow, or when a shower falls on a sudden in summer. Immediately after this was heard the word Trinc. By cob’s body, cried Panurge, ’tis broken, or cracked at least, not to tell a lie for the matter; for even so do crystal bottles speak in our country when they burst near the fire.

Bacbuc arose, and gently taking Panurge under the arms, said, Friend, offer your thanks to indulgent heaven, as reason requires. You have soon had the word of the Goddess-Bottle; and the kindest, most favourable, and certain word of answer that I ever yet heard her give since I officiated here at her most sacred oracle. Rise, let us go to the chapter, in whose gloss that fine word is explained. With all my heart, quoth Panurge; by jingo, I am just as wise as I was last year. Light, where’s the book? Turn it over, where’s the chapter? Let’s see this merry gloss.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33