An early "cock"?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 29 18:54:47 UTC 2006

>No, it wasn't by a folkie kind of singer. Rather, it was sung by a
>regular pop singer of the day. Dinah Shore, perhaps?

Looks like it:  ttp://

>The only thing
>that I remember for certain is that the singer was a woman, which
>added to the salaciousness of the song.
>Salaciousness? Yes. C'mon! I said it was the early '50's!
>On 6/29/06, Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at> wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: An early "cock"?
>>You forgot one line, Wilson: "Covered all over" is repeated just before the
>>last line ("with sweet violets").  I remember this song well--but I was
>>obviously very naive as to its "meaning"!  Was it a Weavers song?
>>In the "Gentil Cock" song, the last line in the first stanza should be "my
>>matins for to say," referring to the ritual morning prayer (again, a pun on
>>the kind of "prayer" this guy apparently has in mind).  I read medieval
>>poetry at St. Louis University in the sixties, but boy, were we kept in the
>>dark. . . .
>>At 11:34 AM 6/29/2006, you wrote:
>>>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.
>>>>---- 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"
>>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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