The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #32049   Message #3840872
Posted By: Joe Offer
22-Feb-17 - 07:56 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req/Add: Ode to the Four-Letter Word
Subject: ADD Version: Ode to the Four-Letter Words
This is amazingly similar to what Micca posted. Up above, Micca says he got it from a book called More Rugby Songs. I think I'd agree with Randolph/Legman that it's likely to be American.


Banish the use of the four-letter words
Whose meanings are never obscure,
The Angles, the Saxons, those bawdy old birds
Were vulgar, obscene and impure.
But cherish the use of the weaseling phrase
That never quite says what it means;
You'd better be known for your hypocrite ways
Than as vulgar, impure, and obscene.

When nature is calling, plain speaking is out,
When ladies, God bless 'em, are milling about.
You may wet, or make water, or empty the glass,
You can powder your nose, or "the johnny" will pass,
It's a drain for the lily, or man about a dog,
When everyone's drunk it's condensing the fog.
But as true as the devil, that word with a hiss,
It's only in Shakespeare that characters ———.

A woman has bosoms, a bust, or a breast,
Those lily white globules you spy neath her vest;
They are towers of ivory, or sheaves of new wheat,
In a moment of passion, ripe apples to eat.
You can speak of her nipples as fingers of fire
With scarcely a chance of arousing her ire,
But by Rabelais' beard she'll give you ten fits
If you speak of them roundly as good honest ———.

There's a cavern of joy you are thinking of now,
A warm tender field awaiting the plow,
It's a quivering bird caressing your hand,
Or the Star Spangled Banner—you're ready to stand.
Believe it's a flower, a grotto, a mink,
The hope of the world, or a bottomless sink.
But friend, heed this warning, beware the affront
Of playing the Saxon and calling it ———.

Though a lady rejects you, she'll always be kind,
As long as you're hinting at what's on your mind.
You can tell her you're horny and need to be swung,
Or invite her to see how your etchings are hung.
You can speak of your ashes which need to be hauled,
It's a lid for her sauce-pan, and "lay" is not too bold.
But the moment you're forthright, get ready to duck,
The woman's not born yet who welcomes "Let's ———.

So banish the words that Elizabeth used
When she was a queen on her throne,
The modern maid's virtue is easily bruised
By four-letter words alone.
Let your morals be loose as an alderman's vest,
If your language is always obscure.
Today not the act, but the word is the test
Of the vulgar, obscene and impure.

Typescript copy from Mr. E. I., Forsyth, Missouri, June 13, 1949. He got it at Columbia, Missouri, in 1944. It is obviously a modern literary piece, and of American origin from the slang terms used. It has been very popular since the 1940s, seldom recited but circulated in typescript and (despite its length) manuscript copies, also in mimeographed duplicated form, and most recently as "Xeroxlore." But it is no longer often encountered, due to the broad relaxation of verbal taboos among adolescents since the 1960s, during the main decades of the New Freedom.

In the 1880s Eugene Field wrote a much more elegant "dictionary" piece of the present kind, on the rhymed framework of an epic sexual adventure, "A French Crisis, or The Fair Limousin," printed in Immortalia (1927) pp. 15—18. And a mere alphabetical listing of erotic synonymies (taken from Farmer and Henley's Slang and Its Analogues, 1890—1909), strung together and broken up into short lines to pass it off as "modern poetry," has been produced by Joel Oppenheimer, as "The Poetry of Porking" (!) printed in Maledicta (1988) 9:94—104, a sad descent from the effervescent charm, in the same line, of Field's "Fair Limousin" and her light-horse gallop.

Source: Blow the Candles Out: "Unprintable" Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (Volume 2, Folk Rhymes and other Lore), pages 728-729.
Collected by Vance Randolph, Edited with an introduction by G. Legman. The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1992
Copyright © 1992 by Kryptádia, Inc.

A shortened example in Camp All-American, Hanoi Jane, and the High-and-tight: Gender, Folklore, and Changing Military Culture, by Carol Burke (Beacon Press, 2004)