Friday, November 02, 2012


More on the Body as a House

This is an update on The Body as a House and The Body as a House in Greek and Latin. The image of the body as a house appears in a poem by William Lathum with the title "Prosopopeia Corporis Animae valedicturi: Adios a rivederci" (i.e. "Address of the Body about to say Farewell to the Soul: Goodbye, Until We Meet Again"), in his Phyala Lachrymarum...Together with sundry choyce Meditations of Mortalitie (London: Printed by R.Y. for George Lathum, 1634), pp. 39-40:
My lovely frend, that long hast been content
To dwell with mee in my poore Tenement,
Whose bulke and all the stuffe, both warp and woofe,
Is all of clay, the floor and the roofe:
Though yet thou ne're foundst fault; ne didst upbraid      5
This homely hermitage, so meanly made;
O mine owne darling, my deere daintie one,
And wilt thou now indeed from mee be gone?
Ah, for thou seest all running to decay
The thatchie covering's now nigh falne away:      10
The windows, which give light to every roome,
Broken, and dimme, and mistie beene become,
The Mill-house, and selfe Miller's out of frame,
My Kitchin smoakes, my Larder is too blame,
And from the Studds each where the Lome doth shrink,      15
And the breeze cold blowes in at every chinke.
The brases and supporters of my house
Tremble, and waxen wondrous ruinous.
    So that all bee it grieve mee to the heart,
To thinke that thou and I (old friends) must part;      20
Yet, sith my Cabban's all out of repaire,
(Darling) farewell, goe sojourne now else where,
In some cleane place, untill that premier Main
That built mee first, rebuild mee up againe,
All of the selfe same stuffe, but with such art,      25
So polisht, and imbellisht every part,
That it shall ne're be out of Kilture more:
Then shalt thou come againe, as heretofore,
And dwell with mee for ever and for aye:
(So God us both to blesse untill that happie day.)      30
15 lome: loam, i.e. clay, plaster
16 breeze: my emendation for breeme. L. Birkett Marshall, ed., Rare Poems of the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1936), reprints this poem on pp. 141-142, also with breeme, but I can't find any such English word with an appropriate meaning.
17 brases = braces
21 cabban = cabin
23 premier main: main in French = hand, but it's feminine, so one would expect première = first; the expression evidently refers to the Creator.
27 kilture = kilter

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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