Thursday, December 28, 2017


For Delight and Recreation

Nathaniel E. Dubin, The Fabliaux: A New Verse Translation (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2013), pp. 15, 17 (Des Chevaliers, des Clers, et des Villains, lines 24-39):
Two peasants then came barging in.
From market they were coming back        25
with spades and threshers on their backs.
When they had sat down in the pleasance
they started speaking just like peasants:
"Hey, Fouchier, from the looks of it
this is the perfect place to shit.        30
Let's take a dump right now, old pal."
"Upon my soul, we may as well."
Then each of them squats down and strains.
This story patently explains
that there's nothing on earth as pleasant        35
as taking a shit for a peasant,
and therefore a peasant befouls
the fairest spots and moves his bowels
there for delight and recreation...
The original (id., pp. 14, 16):
Dui vilain s'i sont embatu
qui reperoient d'un marchié        25
de vanz & de peles carchié.
Quant ou biau lieu assis se furent
si ont parlé si comme il durent
& dist li uns: «Sire Fouchier,
com vez ci biau lieu por chïer.        30
Cor i chions, or biaus conpere.
— Soit, fet il, par l'ame mon pere!»
Lors du chïer chascuns s'esforce.
De cest example en est la force
qu'il n'est nul deduit entresait        35
fors de chiier que vilains ait,
& por ce que vilains cunchïent
toz les biaus lieus, & quant i chïent
par deduit & par esbanoi...

Jacques Callot (1592-1635), Peasant Defecating
(Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art,
Rosenwald Collection, acquisition number 1949.5.179)

Hat tip: Laudator Junior, who gave me the book as a Christmas present.


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