Q: Pupil of the eye as the most expansive male organ

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Jun 24 22:48:54 UTC 2006

Shocked !  Shocked !  to learn of such ribaldry in our past !


Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Charles Doyle
Subject: Re: Q: Pupil of the eye as the most expansive male organ

The 10th-century Exeter Book contains some riddles of this
genre (or is assumed to on the basis of later analogs; the
Exeter scribe failed to include "solutions"!). One poem
appears to describe a penis but "actually" refers to an

There's a nice riddle by the canonical 17th-century poet
Sir John Suckling, which editors routinely ruin by putting
the title "A Candle" at the top of the poem.

Instances occur in early 17th-century plays (annotators
typically overlook or ignore them). In Othello, Emilia
(Iago's wife) says to Iago, "I have a thing for you." He
replies, "A thing for me? It is a common thing--" to which
she exclaims, "Ha!" and he clarifies, "To have a foolish
wife." (Emilia then says, "Oh, is that all?")

In John Webster's Duchess of Malfi, Ferdinand remarks, "And
women like that part which, like the lamprey, / Hath never a
bone in 't." The Duchess exclaims, "Fie, Sir!" and he
responds, "Nay, I mean the tongue."

In Cyril Tourneur's(?) Reverngers Tragedy, the character
Lussurioso declares himself "far from thinking any virgin
harm, / Especially knowing her to be as chaste / As that
part which scarce suffers to be touched--[pregnant pause
here?]--/ The eye."

Here is an anonymous bit of deniable-ribaldry from the 18th

I'm a hole, though too narrow
When first I am tried.
Yet the thing I was made for
Can stretch me out wide.
Though at the first entrance
Perhaps I may tease ye,
Soon after I commonly
Prove for to please ye.
I'm long in shape,
And my depth can't be found,
And when I'm stretched open,
My form is more round.
Though I'm nothing but mouth,
Yet no teeth can you find.
I am chiefly before
Though I'm sometimes behind.

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