Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Seen One, Seen All Three

Some of The More Famous Tetons
How does a man respond to wickedness?
Some sulk, some fulminate, or pray, or curse.
My choice has always been to turn to verse
To neutralize the causes of my distress.

And this may be why my satire appears
So gentle, with spines and thorns that are intermixed
With flowers. I don't expect the world to be fixed,
And laughter serves my purpose better than tears.

The Regrets, Joachim Du Bellay (c. 1522 – d. 1560) (trans: David R. Slavitt, 2004)
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The thoughts and verses, above and below, are those of highly acclaimed French Renaissance poets, although the English words were supplied by scholarly and talented translators.

The stark contrast between the following two Clément Marot epigrammes illustrates that when a woman goes wrong, she goes horribly wrong. (Or, worse, when a threesome of them go wrong, they become Hell Incarnate.) Rather than fulfilling her call to heavenly grace, she becomes instead an instrument of torture and bondage; she fails to help lift the heavy burdens of life, contrarily adding only misery atop those burdens. The object - the breast - is merely a methphor for "The body whole of [the] possessor," and the mind and spirit besides. This dichotomy really has nothing to do with youth or age, physical tautness or sag; but, like beauty or ugliness, peace or hysteria, emanates from within.

Du beau Tetin (Of the Fair Breast)

.....Breast, whiter than an egg, and quite
As smooth as satin, fresh and white:
Breast that would shame the rose; plump Breast,
Of all things known, the lovliest;
Firm Breast, indeed, not Breast at all;
Rather, a small, round ivory ball,
And in the middle, a cherry placed,
Or berry, and with such beauty graced
That, though I neither touch nor see
It bare, I vow such must it be.
Breast red-tipped; Breast taut, and that never
Waggles about, whithersoever,
Coming or going, running, leaping;
Left Breast - coy, sweet - your distance keeping,
Properly, from your mate, discreet.
Breast that reflects, from top to teat,
The body whole of your possessor!
Ah! Were I but her breast-caresser!
Many's the man that, when he sees you,
Tingles with lust to hold and squeeze you;
But he must rein his appetite,
Never draw near lest soon he might
Burn with a fire quite otherwise!
.....O Breast of perfect shape and size,
Alluring Breast, who, night and day,
Cry: "Find me a husband, quick, I pray!"
Breast swelling full and comely; Breast
Quick to add inches to her chest;
Ah! Right the man who says that he
Is blest who fills you generously
With milk, to turn you, ma petite,
From virgin's Breast to Breast complete.

Lyrics of the French Renaissance, Clément Marot (1496-1544), Epigrammes, I, LXXIX (trans: Norman R. Shapiro, 2002)

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Source: Danny Henessey / Artdoxa
Du laid Tetin (Of the Ugly Breast)

.....Breast, nothing more than scraggy skin;
Breast with no solid flesh within;
Sagging and loose, like swaying flag,
Or - dare I say? - a saddlebag!
Black gross-tipped teat, long, ugly (very!),
Funnel-like, that an ordinary
Touch will set wagging in the breeze.
And should, perchance, one choose to seize
Your flaccid form, well may he crow:
"I lend a hand to knead sour dough!"
Breast dry as dust, breast drooping free;
Breast withered, limp, whence loathsomely
Not milk but muck comes oozing, spewing:
Vile Breast, the very devil's doing.
Breast foul as tripe; Breast I would not
Be much bemused to learn was got
From some old she-goat, lying dead;
Breast wrought in Hell, that might have fed
Lucifer's child; long, swagging sack
Fit to be slung athwart the back,
Over the shoulder, like a cape
Of yesteryear, round neck and nape.
Many's the hand that, when one sees you,
Quakes with disgust, forthwith, to squeeze you-
Well gloved, perforce!- and flail the face
Of her who hides you in disgrace.
Pendulous Breast, gaunt, misbegotten,
Ah, what a smell, abhorrent, rotten,
Wafts from the sweat that you secrete:
Civets and scents galore, replete
With stench, I warrant, that might choke
A hundred thousand gentlefolk.
.....Breast that makes nature blush with shame
To call you Breast; you who defame
The very name of Breast; the first
Among the foulest and the worst;
Breast with your nipple suppurating
Slime - putrid, noxious, nauseating...
By George! - the saint, that is - no more!
Shit, pen be still! Be silent, or,
If you keep writing so, no doubt
I'll retch and puke my innards out.

Marot (trans: Shapiro), ibid., Epigrammes, I, LXXX

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