Saturday, October 15, 2011

"He is na dog, he is a lam"

1. A house made entirely of vintage books (appropriately I got this from Random House's twitter feed):

2. From Sally Mapstone's LRB review of an edition of William Dunbar's poems:
Scots were not popular in late medieval Oxford. Two fellows of Merton came up before the college authorities in 1497 after a fracas in which one had accused the other of being a Scot. The perpetrator, William Ireland, was warned not to issue such an infamy against anyone else.

This stereotype was new to me:
The first of a pair of punning poems on James Dog, an officer in the Queen’s wardrobe, persistently declares, ‘Madame, ye heff a dangerous dog,’ and the second then just as assiduously corrects that statement: ‘He is na dog, he is a lam.’ [...] Unravelling the nature of Dunbar’s relationship with the Queen is even trickier because of Margaret’s appalling posthumous reputation among Scottish historians, in which the familiar stereotypes of the unstable, sexually malleable, meddling English female have played far too straightforward a part.

(The reviewed edition -- which I had checked out for much of college -- is notable partly for ordering the poems alphabetically by first line. This is actually what led me to the review: I was reminded by the abstract of Jenny Davidson's ABCs of the novel event (which I would definitely attend if I were in NYC) of alphabetical order as one obvious alternative to chronological order...)

3. Courtesy of Calista, a magnificent bit of scatological verse (John Oldham, "Upon the author of a play call'd Sodom"):
Vile Sot! who clapt with Poetry art sick,
And void'st Corruption, like a Shanker'd Prick.
Like Ulcers, thy impostum'd Addle Brains,
Drop out in Matter, which thy Paper stains:
Whence nauseous Rhymes, by filthy Births proceed,
As Maggots, in some T---rd, ingendring breed.
Thy Muse has got the Flow'rs, and they ascend,
As in some Green-sick Girl, at upper end.
Sure Nature made, or meant at least t'have don't,
Thy Tongue a Clytoris, thy Mouth a C---t:
How well a Dildoe, wou'd that place become,
To gag it up, and make't for ever dumb? 
Or (if I may ordain a Fate more fit)
For such foul, nasty, Excrements of Wit,
May they condemn'd to th'publick Jakes, be lent,
For me I'd fear the Piles, in vengeance sent
Shou'd I with them prophane my Fundament)
There bugger wiping Porters, when they shite,
And so thy Book it self, turn Sodomite.
See also: Language Log on excrement as metaphor; it is only a minor stretch to read LL's name in a scatological sense.

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