The Choise of Valentines
A few short lines from
The Choise of Valentines -
or the Merie Ballad of Nash [and] His Dildo
By Thomas Nash(e) (1567 -1601)
Don't worry if you have trouble with this, jump to my translation at the bottom...
A prettie rysing wombe without a weame,
That shone as bright as anie siluer streame;
And bare out like the bending of an hill,
At whose decline a fountaine dwelleth still;
That hath his mouth besett with uglie bryers,
Resembling much a duskie nett of wyres;
A loftie buttock, barrd with azure veines,
Whose comelie swelling, when my hand distreines,
Or wanton checketh with a harmlesse stype,
It makes the fruites of loue oftsoone be rype,
And pleasure pluckt too tymelie from the stemme
To dye ere it hath seene Jerusalem.
O Gods! that euer anie thing so° sweete,
So suddenlie should fade awaie°, and fleete!
Hir armes are spread, and I am all unarm'd°,
Lyke one with Ouid's cursed hemlocke charm'd°;
So are my Limms unwealdlie for the fight°
That spend their strength in thought of hir° delight.
What shall I doe to shewe my self a man?
It will not be for ought that beawtie can°.
I kisse, I clap, I feele°, I view at will,
Yett dead he lyes°, not thinking good or ill.
"Unhappie me," quoth shee, "and wilt' not stand?°
Com, lett me rubb and chafe° it with my hand!
Perhaps the sillie worme is labour'd° sore,
And wearied that it can° doe noe more;
If it be so, as I am greate a-dread°,
I wish tenne thousand times that I were° dead.
How ere it is, no meanes shall want° in me,
That maie auaile to his recouerie°."
Which saide, she tooke and rould it on hir thigh°,
And when she look't on't, she would weepe and sighe;°
She dandled it, and dancet it up and doune°,
Not ceasing till she rais'd it from his swoune°.
And then he flue on hir as he° were wood,
And on hir breeche did hack and foyne° a-good;
He rub'd, and prickt, and pierst her° to the bones,
Digging as farre as eath° he might for stones;
Now high, now lowe, now stryking° shorte and thicke;
Now dyuing deepe, he toucht hir° to the quicke;
Now with a gird° he would his course rebate,
Straite would he take him to a statlie° gate;
Plaie while him list, and thrust he neare so° hard,
Poore pacient Grissill lyeth at hir warde°,
And giue's, and takes, as blythe and free° as Maye,
And ere-more meete's him in the midle° waye.
Thomas Nash, a prominent Elizabethan literary figure, was more accustomed to big literary tasks like assisting Christopher Marlowe write his plays, but he had a tendency to wear out his welcome at friends and patrons places, and he often needed some monetary assistance. Like Henry Miller in his early years in Paris, he had to write hack work such as this pornographic poem, on and off (as it were) to keep the wolf from the door. This is one of the few, perhaps the only example extant, of his prurient pasttimes, or so it says in the introduction.
Seriously, I am not such a literary geek that I read this sort of stuff for kicks as a rule, but I do trawl the RSS feeds from the Gutenburg Library for recently released free texts. This one struck me as interesting, as I really enjoyed The Reckoning, the brilliant biography of Marlowe by Charles Nicholl several years ago, in which Nashe played a considerable part.
When I read a small section of this poem, I laughed and laughed as I considered updating a few lines here and there. But it's witty all by itself, Nash is no fool. "Her purity to no man she denies," he says of the bawd, with straight-faced irony. I hope I didn't spoil too much of Nash's wit going for my cheap shot(s).
So this is how I
Some of the words and obscure references I checked up with Answers.com, etc. It's not a really great poem - the point of view changes from 1st person to 3rd on a whim and where it's not funny, it's full of dumb cliches, but I didn't correct any of that: the main thing was to maintain the fun, and get it flowing fairly freely in modernised spelling so its easier to read. Plus to put in my joke. It was a labor of love. Love of a good bad joke.
So... my version...
The Choice of Valentines - The Merry Ballad of Nash and his Suldefanil
As Modernised and Updated by E@L:
A pretty pussy, spotless, I have seen
Shining brightly like a silver stream
Bare and bending like a nest of hills
At the base of which a fountain trills
With its mouth surrounded by ugly briars
Resembling more a dusky net of wires.
A lofty buttock, by azure veins lined,
Its sexy swelling, by my hand defined;
But play is checked by a useless dick,
That makes my fruit of love ripen all too quick,
As pleasure plucked too soon from the stem
Dies, like a pilgrim before he sees Jerasulem.
Oh Christ almighty, that anything so nice
Should fade away in a half a trice!
Her legs are spread, and I am unarmed,
Like I was stoned or pissed or charmed.
So my central limb is not ready to fight
And spend itself in what's in sight!
What shall I do to show myself a man?
I can only do for this beauty what I can;
I kiss, I lap, I stroke, I admire the view;
Yet he lies like dead, what must I do?
"Unhappy me" she says, "will it not stand?
Come let me rub and stroke it with my hand!
Perhaps the silly worm is tired and sore
So wearied that it can do no more;
If that's the truth, I'll be so disappointed
I'll hope to die and be by priest annointed.
But here we go, I have means galore;
He'll be recovered, or I'm no whore!"
Having said this, she rolled it on her thigh
And looked deeply upon it, with coo and sigh.
She revealed a blue tablet, made me swallow it down;
And within an half hour the beast had grown!
And then he quickly flew onto her with his wood
And screwed her pussy well and good.
He rubbed and poked and pierced her to the bones
He dug as deep as he might the earth for stones;
Now high, now low, now striking short and thick[!];
Now delving deep, he touched her to the quick;
He girded his loins and set a pace without remorse
Then went to the gate at a more stately course.
Playing along, though he thrusts ever so fierce,
Poor patient Griselle lays back for each pierce;
She gives and takes blythely, free as May,
And meets each thrust half way...
Apologies to Pfizer for making light of serious things. OK, I'm off to the pub...
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
Ha-ha, loved it! No offence, but much preferred the original. Didn't even really read your version actually!
Hilarious! Both the original and your edition! The original sounds funnier though, because of the old English language.
Good one Knobby - I didn't read yours but I prefer his... WTF!?
xVPS - maybe I should give up my career as a Medievalist?
I skimmed through yours!
You've probably interpreted it very well in modern day language, but I think the original is more mysterious and subtle perhaps.
Original reminds me so much of Benny Hill's poetry readings. He's looking pretty innocent after that actually. Maybe the author was probably from the same county/shire as Benny - ie Devonshire/Cornwall, wherever - just a few centuries earlier.
Benny Hill, I totally agree!