Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 2

The Antidoted Fanfreluches: or, a Galimatia of extravagant Conceits found in an ancient Monument.

No sooner did the Cymbrians’ overcomer

Pass through the air to shun the dew of summer,

But at his coming straight great tubs were fill’d,

With pure fresh butter down in showers distill’d:

Wherewith when water’d was his grandam, Hey,

Aloud he cried, Fish it, sir, I pray y’;

Because his beard is almost all beray’d;

Or, that he would hold to ‘m a scale, he pray’d.

To lick his slipper, some told was much better,

Than to gain pardons, and the merit greater.

In th’ interim a crafty chuff approaches,

From the depth issued, where they fish for roaches;

Who said, Good sirs, some of them let us save,

The eel is here, and in this hollow cave

You’ll find, if that our looks on it demur,

A great waste in the bottom of his fur.

To read this chapter when he did begin,

Nothing but a calf’s horns were found therein;

I feel, quoth he, the mitre which doth hold

My head so chill, it makes my brains take cold.

Being with the perfume of a turnip warm’d,

To stay by chimney hearths himself he arm’d,

Provided that a new thill-horse they made

Of every person of a hair-brain’d head.

They talked of the bunghole of Saint Knowles,

Of Gilbathar and thousand other holes,

If they might be reduced t’ a scarry stuff,

Such as might not be subject to the cough:

Since ev’ry man unseemly did it find,

To see them gaping thus at ev’ry wind:

For, if perhaps they handsomely were closed,

For pledges they to men might be exposed.

In this arrest by Hercules the raven

Was flayed at her (his) return from Lybia haven.

Why am not I, said Minos, there invited?

Unless it be myself, not one’s omitted:

And then it is their mind, I do no more

Of frogs and oysters send them any store:

In case they spare my life and prove but civil,

I give their sale of distaffs to the devil.

To quell him comes Q.B., who limping frets

At the safe pass of tricksy crackarets:

The boulter, the grand Cyclops’ cousin, those

Did massacre, whilst each one wiped his nose:

Few ingles in this fallow ground are bred,

But on a tanner’s mill are winnowed.

Run thither all of you, th’ alarms sound clear,

You shall have more than you had the last year.

Short while thereafter was the bird of Jove

Resolved to speak, though dismal it should prove;

Yet was afraid, when he saw them in ire,

They should o’erthrow quite flat down dead th’ empire.

He rather choosed the fire from heaven to steal,

To boats where were red herrings put to sale;

Than to be calm ‘gainst those, who strive to brave us,

And to the Massorets’ fond words enslave us.

All this at last concluded gallantly,

In spite of Ate and her hern-like thigh,

Who, sitting, saw Penthesilea ta’en,

In her old age, for a cress-selling quean.

Each one cried out, Thou filthy collier toad,

Doth it become thee to be found abroad?

Thou hast the Roman standard filch’d away,

Which they in rags of parchment did display.

Juno was born, who, under the rainbow,

Was a-bird-catching with her duck below:

When her with such a grievous trick they plied

That she had almost been bethwacked by it.

The bargain was, that, of that throatful, she

Should of Proserpina have two eggs free;

And if that she thereafter should be found,

She to a hawthorn hill should be fast bound.

Seven months thereafter, lacking twenty-two,

He, that of old did Carthage town undo,

Did bravely midst them all himself advance,

Requiring of them his inheritance;

Although they justly made up the division,

According to the shoe-welt-law’s decision,

By distributing store of brews and beef

To these poor fellows that did pen the brief.

But th’ year will come, sign of a Turkish bow,

Five spindles yarn’d, and three pot-bottoms too,

Wherein of a discourteous king the dock

Shall pepper’d be under an hermit’s frock.

Ah! that for one she hypocrite you must

Permit so many acres to be lost!

Cease, cease, this vizard may become another,

Withdraw yourselves unto the serpent’s brother.

’Tis in times past, that he who is shall reign

With his good friends in peace now and again.

No rash nor heady prince shall then rule crave,

Each good will its arbitrement shall have;

And the joy, promised of old as doom

To the heaven’s guests, shall in its beacon come.

Then shall the breeding mares, that benumb’d were,

Like royal palfreys ride triumphant there.

And this continue shall from time to time,

Till Mars be fetter’d for an unknown crime;

Then shall one come, who others will surpass,

Delightful, pleasing, matchless, full of grace.

Cheer up your hearts, approach to this repast,

All trusty friends of mine; for he’s deceased,

Who would not for a world return again,

So highly shall time past be cried up then.

He who was made of wax shall lodge each member

Close by the hinges of a block of timber.

We then no more shall Master, master, whoot,

The swagger, who th’ alarum bell holds out;

Could one seize on the dagger which he bears,

Heads would be free from tingling in the ears,

To baffle the whole storehouse of abuses.

The thus farewell Apollo and the Muses.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59