Rochester’s Cock – The Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.3)

I have taken advantage of my poetry teacher, Mr Fry, being entirely distracted by the sight of the new IPad, to bunk of my exercises. So, alas, no post at Scribbled Poetry today (perhaps later this weekend).

However, in the pursuit of poesy we return to those Restoration Wits and Dandys in the person of Sir Charles Sedley (1639 – 1701). Sedley was something of a notorious figure about court, equalling Lord Rochester in the naughtiness stakes and was part of the same circle of playwright/poets who came to characterise the late 1660s and early 1670s.  Samuel Pepys records this incident in his diary:

.

1 July 1662

… Mr Batten telling us of a later triall of Sir Charles Sydly the other day, before my Lord Chief Justice Foster and the whole bench – for his debauchery a little while since at Oxford Kates, [A ‘cook’s house’ in Covent Garden] coming in open day into the Balcone and showed his nakedness – acting all the postures of lust and buggery that could be imagined, and abusing of scripture and, as it were, from thence preaching a Mountebanke sermon from the pulpit, saying that there he hath to sell such a pouder as should make all the cunts in town run after him – a thousand people standing underneath to see and hear him.

And that being done, he took a glass of wine and washed his prick in it and then drank it off; and then took another and drank the King’s health

.

Pretty much par for the course in most British towns on a Friday night then.

He was an accomplished playwright and poem, but like his fellow wits was not shy of a bawdy poem or two. This one is ostensibly about cock fighting, but I sense from the title there might be some kind of dig at his fellow poet and rascal Lord Rochester:

.

COCK AT ROCHESTER.

Thou curfed Cock, with thy perpetual
Noife,

May’ft thou be Capon made,and lofe thy Voice,

Or on a Dunghil may’ft thou fpend thy Blood,

And Vermin prey upon; thy craven Brood ;

May Rivals tread thy Hens before thy Face,

Then with redoubled Courage give thee chafe;

May’ft thou be punifh’d for St. Peter’s Crime,

And on Shrove-tuefday, perifh in thy Prime;

May thy bruis’d Carcafs be fome Beggar’s Feaft,

Thou firft and worft Difturber of Man’s Reft.

.

These poets were clearly open to criticsm and satire, here Sedley responds to one such critic (the punchline is brilliant):

.

Upon the AUTHOR of the Satire against Wit

A GRAVE Physician us’d to write for fees,

And spoil no paper but with recipes,

Is now turn’d poet, rails against all wit,

Except that little found amongst the great;

As if he thought true wit and sense were ty’d

To men in place, like avarice or pride.

But in their praise so like a quack he talks,

You’d sweat he wanted for his Christmas-box.

With mangled names old stories he pollutes,

And to the present time past actions suits;

Amaz’d we find in ev’ry page he writes,

Members of parliament with Arthur’s knights.

It is a common pastime to write ill,

And, doctor, with the rest e’en take thy fill;

Thy satire’s harmless, ‘Tis thy prose that kills,

When thou prescrib’st thy potions and thy pills.

Go on, brave doctor, a third volume write,

And find us paper while you make us sh—.

.

Sedley was capable of more than smutty poems and pissed up antics, here is an example of him in more poetic mood (it’s still about shagging though):

.

FRUITION

None, but a Muse in Love, can tell

The sweet tumultuous joys I feel,

When on Celia’s Breast I lye,

When I tremble, faint, and dye ;

Mingling Kisses with Embrace,

Darting Tongues, and joyning Faces,

Panting, stretching, sweating, cooing,

All in the extasie, of doing.

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2 thoughts on “Rochester’s Cock – The Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.3)

  1. Cathleen Stuart

    Oh come on! NO MAN could ever or will ever equal Rochester in the naughtiness department! :D Lord Rochester’s poetry shocks all who read it today, and he wrote it hundreds of years ago! And from the poetry I have just read here….. not a patch on Lord Rochester’s of The Kings! (King Charles II that is) :)

    Reply

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