Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CL, No 1 Contents A Corpus-Linguistic Approach to Demography--Morten H. Albert

Poetry Corner

We are fortunate enough to have recently received three fine poems: "Dissection", an original composition by Bryan Allen; "Santacticians Poem", an anonymous example of a traditional holiday-themed form from the Netherlands; and "A Yonge Philologiste's First Drynkynge Poime", a recently uncovered 14th century poem in a familiar style, concerning the exploits of budding Oxford philologists.

Read and reflect, consider and contemplate, alliterate and appreciate.



by Bryan Allen

extracted from the ether
it lies
black splayed out against the white
sliced open from head to foot
internal structure revealed
glosses pin down slippery meanings
messy particles resisting...
the interlinear text.

Santacticians Poem *

Dear colleagues,

I would like to bring to the fore
A construction, it's not been discussed before.
As you can see
The crucial elements are clear-ly in SpecFP.
Although the facts seem to be in contradiction,
We can actually make a prediction!!!
From my analysis,
Interesting as it is.
Any previous account is just bullshit,
And I argue strongly against it.
The data don't follow from them at all --
And isn't this our primary goal?
My theory, however,
Is much more clever,
As I will show
Directly below.
I am quite sure that you are convinced by now
That we need an FP shell anyhow.
Interestingly, this fact is corroborated
      by the following actuality:
Our construction really surfaces
      in the specifier of FP!
We have already explained this
      in the previous section,
Which contains the elaborate data collection.
Of course remaining questions there are plenty,
Maybe even more than twenty,
But unfortunately it is the case
That we are running out of space;
And I suggest that they are to be dealt with
      in a future investigation,
For my analysis evokes such exciting
      directions of exploration!


* Background. In the Netherlands it is an old tradition to give each other anonymous presents accompanied by ironic doggerel on the evening before December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas [Santa Claus in the USA], who is called Sinterklaas (or Sint Nicolaas, in short (de) Sint). The Santacticians Poem was written for this occasion.

A Yonge Philologiste's First Drynkynge Poime

Whan that Apryl, with hir bosooms soote,
The draughtes of beere hath feched barefoote
And filled every coppe with swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the hange ouer;
Whan Stephanie, eek with hir sweete brests,
Inspired hath al the harts and chests
And tender crotshes of e'ery yonge sonne,
Who hath in the Room dremt of Yvonne,
And smale soules maken melodye,
Not slepen, al the nyght with open eye--
(So priketh hem wymyn in ther corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon rommpages,
And firstyeeres for to seken straunge bedstondes,
With ferme calwes, kowthe of sondry blondes;
But finially at every desires ende
To Scriptoria, to Philologie they wende,
Unhooly blisful fornicacioun forseken
By hem, that Oxenford clerkes they may wel wexen.

A translation and annotation, kindly provided by Allister Barnard Cavendish Donglewood Edmund Featherstone-Glatton, IV (Class of 2005 and Head Boy of the Oxford Young Philologists Dormitory), follows:

A Young Philologist's First Drinking Poem

When that Apryl, with her bosoms sweet,
The drafts of beer has fetched barefoot,
And filled every cup with such liquor
Of which virtue is engendered the hangover;
When Stephanie, also with her sweet breasts,
Inspired has all the hearts and chests
And tender crotches of every young son,
Who has in the Room dreamt of Yvonne,
And small souls make melody,
Not sleeping, all the night with open eye--
(So prick them women in their courage);
Then long folk to go on rampages,
And first-years for to seek strange bed stands,
With firm calves, known of sundry blondes;
But finally at every desires end,
To Scriptoriums, to Philology they wend,
Unholy blissful fornication forsaken
By them, that Oxford scholars they may well become.

This anonymous poem, recently--and appropriately--discovered by an Oxford Philology fourth-year in an ancient copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, celebrates the traditional temptations suffered by young men aspiring to become Oxford Philologists in the early 1300's. Barmaids, buxom and barefoot in summer months, served the young men strong drink for as long as they could stand (and pay). These, and other comely lasses near Oxford, inspired the "tender crotches" of these bookish--and usually virginal--lads. Surely these man-boys would dream in "the Room" (as the Oxford Dormitory for Young Philologists was popularly known) of "making melody" with their favorite townswoman.

Modern scholars still debate whether a "small soul" refers to one's genitals, or to one's dream self. Whether the young lad in question "makes melody" within a dream, or dreams of making melodies with his genitals, the meaning is clear, and clearly kept many a young man up all night. These lads, their courage ("heart", "feelings", or, more likely, "sexual desire") pricked, they--especially the first-years, or freshman--long to go on rampages of sexual conquest, seeking "strange bed stands" of various blondes (and brunettes and red-heads) with shapely legs.

For those who would become true Philologists, though, these desires must end, as they trudge off to the Scriptorium or to Philology lectures, the chance of fornication forsaken, so that they may become proper Oxford Scholars.

Letters to the Editor
A Corpus-Linguistic Approach to Demography--Morten H. Albert
SpecGram Vol CL, No 1 Contents