Thursday, September 23, 2010

john milton is really just a dirty old man

dr jennifer batt, an english lecturer at the university of oxford, was somewhat surprised when she came across a filthy, innuendo-laden rhyme "by milton" while reading a forgotten, early 18th-century poetic anthology; the oxford and cambridge miscellany. it cannot be proved for sure if the poem is by milton but the poem is introduced in the volume as An Extempore Upon a Faggot, by Milton.

the rather smutty ditty reads: "Have you not in a Chimney seen / A Faggot which is moist and green / How coyly it receives the Heat / And at both ends do's weep and sweat? / So fares it with a tender Maid / When first upon her Back she's laid / But like dry Wood th' experienced Dame / Cracks and rejoices in the Flame."

the coarse, and frankly misogynistic verse likens a young woman to a faggot, a bunch of damp sticks, which, when cast upon the fire, produces moisture "at both ends", like (according to the poem) a weeping virgin when sexually aroused. by contrast, the more sexually experienced woman is more like dry wood, which becomes joyfully enflamed when put on the fire.

it is all rather a long way from the lofty, christian sentiments of milton's great epic, Paradise Lost.

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