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Flyting poets could teach flamers a thing or two.

(25 Posts)
Elegran Sat 28-Oct-17 12:53:16

Flaming is not a modern phenomenon, In 1504 the exchange translated below took place between William Dunbar and Walter Kennedy It was a public contest, or "war of words", (much as the flame wars on the internet are now!) each trying to outclass the other in vituperation and verbal pyrotechnics. It is not certain how the work was composed, but it is likely to have been publicly performed, probably in the style of a poetic joust by the two combatants, before the Court of James IV of Scotland.

From The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy (part of)
Written by William Dunbar
Translated from the Middle Scots by Kent Leatham
January, 2014

Said Dunbar regarding Kennedy:

Brigand, Irish bard, vile beggar with your brats,
Cunt-bitten coward, Kennedy, naturally weak,
Dismal-eyed and anused, as Danes upon the racks,
You look like the crows already ate your cheeks;
Renounce, rebel, your rhymes and sorry shrieks,
Mismade monster, mad out of your mind;
Your traitor’s tongue sings with a Highland screak;
A Lowland ass could make a sweeter sound.

You call your work rhetoric with your golden lips:
No, glowering, gaping fool, you are beguiled;
You are but black-kneed ‘neath your gilded hips,
Which for your villainy many a lash has soiled;
Gray-visaged gallows-bird, out of your wits gone wild,
Loathsome and lousy, as wet as a cress,
Since you with worship would so fain be styled,
Hail, Monsignor! Your balls droop below your dress.

Scrawny sterile sponger, crabbed throughout;
Fie! scorched skin, you are all scratched and wrinkled;
For he that roasted Lawrence had your snout;
And he that hid Saint John’s eyes with a wimple
And he that struck Augustine had your pimples;
And your foul front had he that flayed Bartholomew;
The gallows gape for your disfigured dimples,
As you gape for haggis, like a ravenous mew.

Puny paltry pig-man, slave for half a glass,
Henpecked coward, not worth a drunkard’s oath;
Your commissar Quentin bids you come kiss his ass,
He holds no loves for such a useless loaf;
He tells me that you beg more beer and oats
Than any cripple in all of Carrick’s town;
Other poor paupers are forced to fight you off;
Old women weep when Kennedy comes around.

You can revel like the Devil, but level and surrender,
Thief, or grief and mischief shall come courting;
Grovel for grace, dog-face, or I shall chase you all winter;
Howl and yowl, owl; I shall foul your fame and fortune;
Naked capon, fed and bred against a bitch’s side,
And like a mongrel, criminal, no man sets aught by you.
Cunt-bit, sorry shit, worthless git, hardened hide,
Wasted wether, tawdry tether, evil adder: I defy you.

Maggoty mutton, gorged glutton, scurrilous certain heir to Hillhouse,
Rank beggar, oyster-dredger, dismal debtor on the lawn,
Lily-livered, soul-shivered, cheap as slivers in the millhouse,
Bard baiter, thief of nature, false traitor, devil’s spawn,
Melted wax, heckled flax, by these attacks you are defeated;
Sheep driver, lobster diver, nag lover, may earth expel you:
Heretic, lunatic, pickpocket, your fortune is cheated;
Bloody bitch, muddy ditch, quail, cock, or I shall quell you.

Said Kennedy of Dunbar:

Dirty Dunbar, on whom do you blow your boast?
Pretending to write such slanderous screeds,
Raw-mouthed rebel, you fall down at the joust.
My laureate letters I loose at your deeds;
Mandrake, manikin, master only of mead,
Thrice-shelled trickster with a threadbare gown,
Say Deo mercy, or I’ll cry you down;
Leave your rhyming, rebel, with your wit’s weeds.

Dread, dirty-faced dwarf, that you have disobeyed
My cousin Quentin (also my commissar);
Fantastic fool, trust that your fears shall invade;
Ignorant elf, ape, owl most irregular,
Scurrilous vulture, and common sponger;
Poorly-fucked foundling, that nature made a runt,
Both John of Ross and you shall squeal and grunt,
If I hear aught of you ever writing more.

I’ll silence you here and in every part;
Obey and cease your attempted derision;
Small slob, and varlet of the carts,
Soon you shall make amends to my cousin,
And let him lay six lashes on your loins
Meekly in recompense for your scorn,
Or else you’ll rue the day you were born,
For today Kennedy sends you this caution.

Wild werewolf, worm, and venomous scorpion,
Damned devil’s son, despicable dragon;
Lucifer’s lad, with a foul fiend’s infernal design,
Born from Moloch mated with Mammon;
Sodomite, separated from the saints in heaven,
If you cannot be silenced, shepherd knave,
And begin again afresh to rhyme and rave,
You shall be cowed, crushed, and craven.

England, owl, should be your habitation,
There to make homage to Longshanks, your kin;
Through Dunbars we received him and his false nation;
They should be exiled from Scotland, mares and men.
A stark gallows, a halter, and a pen
Mark the head-point on the coat of arms of your elder,
With poetry written above: “Hang Dunbar,
Quarter and draw him, make his name thin.”

Hie, Sovereign Lord; let not this sinful sot
Work shame or blame upon your nation!
Let none such as he be graced as a Scot,
The lousy git, worm-ridden shit, ill infestation.
Remove from honest folk this loathed vermin
To some desert, in which no one will care
How he fouls, soils, and sullies the air;
Carry off this cankered, corrupt carrion.

A monster made by the god Mercury,
You were conceived in the great eclipse;
False and furious, bent only for burglary,
No hold for honor, a halter at your hips;
Scarcely shriven, stunted, of cleanliness stripped,
A midget, made for flyting and mocking alike,
A crabbed, scabbed, lap-dog for men to strike;
A shit without wit, only cheap tawdry tricks.

Conspirator, cursed cockatrice, crow from the Pit,
Turk, trickster, traitor, despicable despot,
Ireful spider, Pilate apostate,
Judas, Jew, juggler, Lollard laureate,
Proven pagan, sworn Saracen, sin-ridden simonite,
Mohammedan, abominable bugger-by-night,
Devil, damned dog, insatiable sodomite,
With Gog and Magog are you grossly glorified.

Despair, Deulbere, and beware: you shall yield,
Low-slung, unstrung, adder-stung, street stultorum,
To me, most high Kennedy, and flee the field;
Pitted, wicked, convicted limp Lollardorum,
Defamed, blamed, shamed, Primas Paganorum,
Out! out! I shout, upon the snout that snivels:
Tale-teller, rebeller, dweller with the devils;
Sink, Sphinx, with stink ad Tertara Termagorum.

Anniebach Sat 28-Oct-17 13:00:01

Good grief , a fantastic read Elegran , insatiable sodemite ! The lousy git !

Elegran Sat 28-Oct-17 13:23:57

Political correctness was yet to be invented in 1504. The insults about their physical appearances are thought to be coments on what they really looked like The racial and religious insults alone, in the second last verse, would these days have them ostracised throughout the country!. I imagine it was a riotous success as a performance, though, taking turns to slate one another - and they were very appreciative of one another's work in "real life".

Anniebach Sat 28-Oct-17 13:35:23

Judas, Jew, juggler, Lollard laureate, proven pagan, sworn Saracen, Sid ridden sodomite .

That would liven up PMQ 😀

Elegran Sat 28-Oct-17 13:39:56

How did Sid get into the verse? Was he a notorious sodomite?

Anniebach Sat 28-Oct-17 13:54:38

I can't find Sid, but my eyes are almost crossing from reading it over and over , such a great read I keep racing from one line to the next

Anniebach Sat 28-Oct-17 13:56:03

Oh just found Sid , sorry meant sin blush

Elegran Sat 28-Oct-17 14:27:42

grin Hiya, Sid!
Yes, a great read, more fun than post-mortems on who said what on which thread and whether they were flaming or commenting.

eazybee Sat 28-Oct-17 14:37:34

This puts my book of 'Shakespeare's Insults' to shame!

Hipsy Sat 28-Oct-17 14:51:59

Wonderful example of verbal jousting at its very best.
They are well matched.

Elegran Sat 28-Oct-17 14:52:12

In the original 1504 Scots, it sounds alliterative and even better (like Rab C Nesbit and wife Mary having a stair-heid row) but the words are in a foreign language and mean nothing.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFdUmLEJqtY

annsixty Sat 28-Oct-17 14:57:37

I thought calling someone a s**t was a modern phenomenon.
Seems like the saying, nothing new under the sun , is very true.

ffinnochio Sat 28-Oct-17 15:17:39

Splendid Elgran grin

No hiding behind pseudo-polite sarcasm in that verbal joust!

MawBroon Sat 28-Oct-17 15:20:05

Just the sort of insults one often wishes would spring to the lips!
Wonderful!

Anniebach Sat 28-Oct-17 15:24:19

Most fun in ages Elegran, Sid thinks so 😀

Anniebach Sat 28-Oct-17 15:28:25

They said git even then . What is a .Pilate apostate ?

Jalima1108 Sat 28-Oct-17 15:36:09

Well, they certainly didn't hold back did they!

Elegran Sat 28-Oct-17 16:23:12

This is a modern translation, so the git and shit are not necessarily in the original (though calling them similar things was. There's something satisfying about throwing verbal shit about.)
I'll look for the original so that you can compare, but be warned, I think it is longer and definitely less comprehensible - they weren't called the Scottish Chaucerians for nothing.

Bellanonna Sat 28-Oct-17 16:25:53

Blimey! Yes I thought git was later (does it come from misbegotten)? Excellent reading. Elegran

Elegran Sat 28-Oct-17 17:07:48

OK, here is the verse which when translated had the git and shit in it.

Good luck with decyphering it. There are some notes at the foot (not mine) which may help. Read it out loud and hear the alliteration and the repeating rhythms of the words.

"Cry grace, tyke's face, or I thee chase and slay ;
Owl, rair and yowl, I sall defoul thy pride ;
Peilit gled, baith fed and bred of bitch's side.
And like ane tyke, purspyk, what man sets by thee !
Forflittin,(*) bittin, beshittin, barkit hide,
Climb ledder, file tedder, foul edder, I defy thee !

Mauch mutton (iijt) byle buttoun,(t) peelit glutton, heir to
Hilhouse,(§)
Rank beggar, oyster-dregar, foul fleggar,(||) in the flet ; (ir)
Chittir-lilling,(**) ruch-rilling,(tt) lick-shilling in the mill-
house ; '
Bard rehator, (JJ) thief of nature, false traitor, fiend's get ;
Filling of tauch,(§§) rak sauch,(||||) cry crauch, (111T) thou
art oure set ;
Mutton-driver, gimall-rlver,(*) yad swyvar, (t) foul fell thee ;

Heretic, lunatic, purspyk, carling's pet.
Rotten crok, (*) dirtin cok, cry cok, (§) or 1 sall quell thee. (")

* Severely scolded.
t Full of maggots.
X This phrase is not understood. Byle, in old Swedish, sig-
nifies a habitation.
§ See Kennedy's reply, p. 338.
II A proclaimer of falsehoods.
II Flet, one story of a house, a mat of straw.
** Jamieson supposes this opprobrious term to be the same as chitterlin, signifying, in English, the intestines.
+t Shoes made of undressed hides.
J+ Uncertain.
§§ Tallow.
II II Rak sauch, a willow or stick for twisting ropes.
1^ Cry crauch, acknowledge you are beat.
* Granary reaver. + An old horse-driver.
X Crok, an old ewe.
§ Cry cok, admit you are vanquished. "

lemongrove Sat 28-Oct-17 17:12:03

Good job they are not gransnetters....sure to be deleted!
Were they the original flamers do you think?🔥😆

lemongrove Sat 28-Oct-17 17:12:37

Brilliant, anyway.😃

Nelliemoser Sun 29-Oct-17 00:05:34

A bit like GN then . wink

Elegran Sun 29-Oct-17 09:20:50

With the addition of rhymes and imagination!

Day6 Sun 29-Oct-17 12:48:45

What fabulously rich language! It's a treat to read but wouldn't want to spar verbally with either of them! grin

They'd be arrested for carrying on like that today with deformation of characters suits galore flying about! grin