Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais


The First Decade.

The Commendation.

Musa! canas nostrorum in testimonium Amorum,

Et Gargantueas perpetuato faces,

Utque homini tali resultet nobilis Eccho:

Quicquid Fama canit, Pantagruelis erit.

The Argument.

Here I intend mysteriously to sing

With a pen pluck’d from Fame’s own wing,

Of Gargantua that learn’d breech-wiping king.

Decade the First.


Help me, propitious stars; a mighty blaze

Benumbs me! I must sound the praise

Of him hath turn’d this crabbed work in such heroic phrase.


What wit would not court martyrdom to hold

Upon his head a laurel of gold,

Where for each rich conceit a Pumpion-pearl is told:


And such a one is this, art’s masterpiece,

A thing ne’er equall’d by old Greece:

A thing ne’er match’d as yet, a real Golden Fleece.


Vice is a soldier fights against mankind;

Which you may look but never find:

For ’tis an envious thing, with cunning interlined.


And thus he rails at drinking all before ‘em,

And for lewd women does be-whore ‘em,

And brings their painted faces and black patches to th’ quorum.


To drink he was a furious enemy

Contented with a six-penny —

(with diamond hatband, silver spurs, six horses.) pie —


And for tobacco’s pate-rotunding smoke,

Much had he said, and much more spoke,

But ’twas not then found out, so the design was broke.


Muse! Fancy! Faith! come now arise aloud,

Assembled in a blue-vein’d cloud,

And this tall infant in angelic arms now shroud.


To praise it further I would now begin

Were ’t now a thoroughfare and inn,

It harbours vice, though ’t be to catch it in a gin.


Therefore, my Muse, draw up thy flowing sail,

And acclamate a gentle hail

With all thy art and metaphors, which must prevail.

Jam prima Oceani pars est praeterita nostri.

Imparibus restat danda secunda modis.

Quam si praestiterit mentem Daemon malus addam,

Cum sapiens totus prodierit Rabelais.


[Reader, the Errata, which in this book are not a few, are casually lost; and therefore the Translator, not having leisure to collect them again, craves thy pardon for such as thou may’st meet with.]

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