An early "cock"?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 29 15:34:52 UTC 2006

This is OT, but related, I think. Back in the early 'Fifties, there
was a Top-Forties tune named "Sweet Violets." To the best of my
memory, the words were:

There once was a farmer who took a young miss
Behind the barnyard to give her a
Lecture on chickens and ducks and eggs
And told her that she had such beautiful
Manners that suited a girl of her charms
And he would like her to take in his
Washing and ironing and then if she did
He would give her such beautiful
Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses
Covered all over from head to toe
With sweet violets


On 6/29/06, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: An early "cock"?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Joel, didn't you suggest several days ago that the poem's
> use of "cock" fails to qualify for entry in OED because it's
> just a metaphor?  And a metaphor has to expire into a so-
> called "dead metaphor" before its figurative sense becomes a
> lexified, denotative "meaning" of the word or phrase.
> Furthermore, the early poem contains many descriptive
> details that do NOT fit any consistent interpretation of
> the "cock" as a penis (unless I'm being naive or obtuse!).
> The poem is very unlike those pretended-obscene riddles we
> were discussing last week, in which EVERY detail must fit
> both interpretations.
> --Charlie
> _____________________________________
> ---- Original message ----
> >Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 08:44:20 -0400
> >From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> >Subject: An early "cock"?
> >
> >The following anonymous poem/song is alleged to come from
> the 14th century (others allege 15th).  Does it?  Would it
> qualify as = "penis", for which the earliest OED2 citation
> is 1618?  Or is it too ambiguous?  Or has it simply not been
> found in any writing of sufficiently early date?
> >
> >Joel--who is amused at the vision of gentil old ladies
> hearing this sung at a concert of early music.
> >
> >Courtesy of someone (else) with an interest in such things:
> >
> >>"I Have a Gentil  Cock"
> >>___________________
> >>I have a gentil  cock
> >>croweth me day
> >>he doth me risen early
> >>my matins for to  stay
> >>
> >>I have a gentil cock
> >>comen he is of great
> >>his comb is of  red coral
> >>his tail is of jet
> >>
> >>I have a gentil cock
> >>comen he is  of kind
> >>his comb is of red sorrel
> >>his tail is of inde
> >>
> >>his legs  be of azure
> >>so gentil and so small
> >>his spurs are of silver white
> >>into  the wortewale
> >>
> >>his eyes are of crystal
> >>locked all in amber
> >>and  every night he pertcheth him
> >>in my lady`s chamber"
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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