Mar. 23rd, 2011

sheenaghpugh: (Vogon poetry appreciation chair)
One can pick all sorts of holes in Earl Gerald's argument, from the exaggeration to the ulterior motive at the end. But when you come down to it, he's a 14th-century poet going right against the grain of his time, refusing to be satisfied with easy targets or ancient, classically-sanctioned clich├ęs. And I like him and his poem.

In Defence of Women
from the Irish Gaelic of Earl Gerald Fitzgerald, 14th century

Woe to him who speaks ill of women! It is not right to abuse them. They have not deserved, that I know, all the blame they have always had.

Sweet are their words, exquisite their voice, that sex for which my love is great; woe to him who does not scruple to revile them, woe to him who speaks ill of women!

They do no murder nor treachery, nor any grim or hateful deed, they do no sacrilege to church nor bell; woe to him who speaks ill of women!

Certain it is, there has never been born bishop nor king nor great prophet without fault, but from a woman; woe to him who speaks ill of women!

They are thrall to their own hearts, they love a man slender and sound - it would be long before they would dislike him. Woe to him who speaks ill of women!

An old fat greybeard, they do not desire a tryst with him - dearer to them is a young lad, though poor. Woe to him who speaks ill of women!

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December 2011

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