Monday, December 09, 2019


Enter Not, Vile Bigots

François Rabelais (1494-1553), Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book I, Chapter 54 (The Inscription set upon the Great Gate of Thélème), stanza 1 (tr. Thomas Urquhart):
Here enter not, vile bigots, hypocrites,
Externally devoted apes, base snites,
Puft-up, wry-necked beasts, worse than the Huns,
Or Ostrogots, forerunners of baboons:
Cursed snakes, dissembling varlets, seeming sancts,
Slipshop caffards, beggars pretending wants,
Fat chuffcats, smell-feast knockers, doltish gulls,
Out-strouting cluster-fists, contentious bulls,
Fomenters of divisions and debates,
Elsewhere, not here, make sale of your deceits.
    Your evil trumperies
    Stuffed with pernicious lies
        (Not worth a bubble),
        Would only trouble
    Our earthly paradise,
    Your evil trumperies.

Cy n'entrez pas, hypocrites, bigotz,
Vieulx matagotz, marmiteux, borsouflez,
Torcoulx, badaux, plus que n'estoient les Gotz
Ny Ostrogotz, precurseurs des magotz;
Haires, cagotz, caffars empantouflez,
Gueux mitouflez, frapars escorniflez,
Befflez, enflez, fagoteurs de tabus,
Tirez ailleurs pour vendre voz abus.
    Voz abus meschans
    Rempliroient mes camps
    De meschanceté
    Et par faulseté
    Troubleroit mes chants
    Vous abus meschans.
The vocabulary is difficult: Abel Lefranc, ed., Oeuvres de François Rabelais, Tome Second: Gargantua, Chapitres XXIII-LVIII (Paris: Champion, 1913), pp. 410-411, has seventeen notes on the first ten lines.

The same, tr. J.M. Cohen:
Enter not here, vile hypocrites and bigots,
Pious old apes, and puffed-up snivellers,
Wry-necked creatures sawnier than the Goths,
Or Ostrogoths, precursors of Gog and Magog,
Woe-begone scoundrels, mock-godly sandal-wearers,
Beggars in blankets, flagellating canters,
Hooted at, pot-bellied, stirrers up of troubles,
Get along elsewhere to sell your dirty swindles.
    Your hideous deceits
    Would fill my fields and streets
    With villainy
    And with their falsity
    Would untune my song's notes,
    Your hideous deceits.
The same, tr. W.F. Smith, with his notes:
Enter not here, ye Hypocrites and Bigots,
Ugly old Apes and pursy Whimperers,
With Necks awry,1 worse Boobies than the Goths,
Or Ostrogoths, precursors of Magoths;2
Woe-begone Vermin,3 Cowl4-and-Sandal Wearers,
Cadgers bemittened, flagellating Spungers,
Hooted Gorbellies, Stirrers-up of Heats;
Begone elsewhere to sell your wicked Cheats.
    Your wicked Frauds and Cheats
    Would fill my Fields and Streets
    With utter Villainy;
    So with false Harmony
    Would jangle Music's sweets
    Your wicked Frauds and Cheats.

1 Cf. "Obstipo capite et figentes lumine terram" (Pers. iii. 80).

2 Goth and Magoth, with reference to Gog and Magog. Ronsard has the lines:
Je n'aime point ces mots qui sont finis en ots,
Gots, Cagots, Austregots, Visgots et Huguenots.

3 Fr. Cagots. Du Cange derives this word from canes Gothi, the Goths having been driven into the Pyrenees, and being looked upon as the off-scouring of the world.

4 Fr. Caphards. According to Du Cange, from cappa, caphardum, a sort of hood; hence hypocrites.

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