Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 46

How Panurge and the rest rhymed with poetic fury.

What a pox ails the fellow? quoth Friar John. Stark staring mad, or bewitched, o’ my word! Do but hear the chiming dotterel gabble in rhyme. What o’ devil has he swallowed? His eyes roll in his loggerhead just for the world like a dying goat’s. Will the addle-pated wight have the grace to sheer off? Will he rid us of his damned company, to go shite out his nasty rhyming balderdash in some bog-house? Will nobody be so kind as to cram some dog’s-bur down the poor cur’s gullet? or will he, monk-like, run his fist up to the elbow into his throat to his very maw, to scour and clear his flanks? Will he take a hair of the same dog?

Pantagruel chid Friar John, and said:

Bold monk, forbear! this, I’ll assure ye,

Proceeds all from poetic fury;

Warmed by the god, inspired with wine,

His human soul is made divine.

For without jest,

His hallowed breast,

With wine possessed,

Could have no rest

Till he’d expressed

Some thoughts at least

Of his great guest.

Then straight he flies

Above the skies,

And mortifies,

With prophecies,

Our miseries.

And since divinely he’s inspired,

Adore the soul by wine acquired,

And let the tosspot be admired.

How, quoth the friar, the fit rhyming is upon you too? Is’t come to that? Then we are all peppered, or the devil pepper me. What will I not give to have Gargantua see us while we are in this maggotty crambo-vein! Now may I be cursed with living on that damned empty food, if I can tell whether I shall scape the catching distemper. The devil a bit do I understand which way to go about it; however, the spirit of fustian possesses us all, I find. Well, by St. John, I’ll poetize, since everybody does; I find it coming. Stay, and pray pardon me if I don’t rhyme in crimson; ’tis my first essay.

Thou, who canst water turn to wine,

Transform my bum, by power divine,

Into a lantern, that may light

My neighbour in the darkest night.

Panurge then proceeds in his rapture, and says:

From Pythian Tripos ne’er were heard

More truths, nor more to be revered.

I think from Delphos to this spring

Some wizard brought that conjuring thing.

Had honest Plutarch here been toping,

He then so long had ne’er been groping

To find, according to his wishes,

Why oracles are mute as fishes

At Delphos. Now the reason’s clear;

No more at Delphos they’re, but here.

Here is the tripos, out of which

Is spoke the doom of poor and rich.

For Athenaeus does relate

This Bottle is the Womb of Fate;

Prolific of mysterious wine,

And big with prescience divine,

It brings the truth with pleasure forth;

Besides you ha’t a pennyworth.

So, Friar John, I must exhort you

To wait a word that may import you,

And to inquire, while here we tarry,

If it shall be your luck to marry.

Friar John answers him in a rage, and says:

How, marry! By St. Bennet’s boot,

And his gambadoes, I’ll never do’t.

No man that knows me e’er shall judge

I mean to make myself a drudge;

Or that pilgarlic e’er will dote

Upon a paltry petticoat.

I’ll ne’er my liberty betray

All for a little leapfrog play;

And ever after wear a clog

Like monkey or like mastiff-dog.

No, I’d not have, upon my life,

Great Alexander for my wife,

Nor Pompey, nor his dad-in-law,

Who did each other clapperclaw.

Not the best he that wears a head

Shall win me to his truckle-bed.

Panurge, pulling off his gaberdine and mystical accoutrements, replied:

Wherefore thou shalt, thou filthy beast,

Be damned twelve fathoms deep at least;

While I shall reign in Paradise,

Whence on thy loggerhead I’ll piss.

Now when that dreadful hour is come,

That thou in hell receiv’st thy doom,

E’en there, I know, thou’lt play some trick,

And Proserpine shan’t scape a prick

Of the long pin within thy breeches.

But when thou’rt using these capriches,

And caterwauling in her cavern,

Send Pluto to the farthest tavern

For the best wine that’s to be had,

Lest he should see, and run horn-mad.

She’s kind, and ever did admire

A well-fed monk or well-hung friar.

Go to, quoth Friar John, thou old noddy, thou doddipolled ninny, go to the devil thou’rt prating of. I’ve done with rhyming; the rheum gripes me at the gullet. Let’s talk of paying and going; come.

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