An early "cock"?

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Thu Jun 29 16:34:00 UTC 2006

Let me clarify:  Joel's (late-medieval?) "cock" poem is
definitely BAWDY; that was obvious to me even before I read
Ron's extensive exegesis!  The question is about the lexical
status of the word "cock."  The fact that "cock" in the poem
might present a commonplace metaphor, not "just a novel
extended metaphor" or "some new clever metaphor that nobody
had ever thought of before" (Ron's words), doesn't make the
WORD "cock" a synonym for "penis."  It just makes the cock
in the poem a SYMBOL for the penis, quite possibly a
conventional symbol.  Other poems have compared candles,
snakes, flutes--all manner of "phallic" objects--with
penises; and riddles have compared submarines, pencils, and
chewing gum with penises. But we don't say that the WORDS
mean 'penis'.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 10:58:38 EDT
>From: RonButters at AOL.COM
>Subject: An early "cock"?

>I don't think it is too difficult to see ALL of the details
as describing an uncircumcised penis. I didn't look
up "wortewale," though.
>jet/inde tail = pubic hair

red corral/red sorrel comb = head of the tumescent penis

azure legs = veins

silver white spurs = skin between the engourged veins

eyes of crystal = precum

locked all in amber = reference to urine (?)

>Admittedly, some of these are a bit thin, but the fact that
the "rooster" is said to rest every night in the lady's
chamber seems pretty clearly to indicate that, at the very
least, this is a total double entendre.
>Did the audience already know that "cock" was a synoym
for "penis"--or was this just a novel extended metaphor? I
agree that that is not clear, but I'm inclined to think that-
-especially given the strained quality of some of the
vehicles, the author was counting on the audience seeing
this as a pun rather than some new clever metaphor that
nobody had ever thought of before.
>In a message dated 6/29/06 9:13:23 AM, cdoyle at UGA.EDU
>> Joel, didn't you suggest several days ago that the poem's
>> use of "cock" fails to qualify for entry in OED because
>> just a metaphor?=A0 And a metaphor has to expire into a
>> 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).=A0 Does it?=A0
Would it
>> qualify as =3D "penis", for which the earliest OED2
>> is 1618?=A0 Or is it too ambiguous?=A0 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
>> >
>> >>"I Have a Gentil=A0 Cock"
>> >>___________________
>> >>I have a gentil=A0 cock
>> >>croweth me day
>> >>he doth me risen early
>> >>my matins for to=A0 stay
>> >>
>> >>I have a gentil cock
>> >>comen he is of great
>> >>his comb is of=A0 red coral
>> >>his tail is of jet
>> >>
>> >>I have a gentil cock
>> >>comen he is=A0 of kind
>> >>his comb is of red sorrel
>> >>his tail is of inde
>> >>
>> >>his legs=A0 be of azure
>> >>so gentil and so small
>> >>his spurs are of silver white
>> >>into=A0 the wortewale
>> >>
>> >>his eyes are of crystal
>> >>locked all in amber
>> >>and=A0 every night he pertcheth him
>> >>in my lady`s chamber"

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