Friday, March 30, 2012

Winds from Astern

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale, chapter 1:
In this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim).
Pythagoras forbade his followers from eating beans, which cause flatulence ("winds from astern", i.e. winds from behind).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Full Load

Carl Hiaasen, Star island (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), p. 116:
The governor was seated in the laundry room adjoining Maltby's kitchen...."Wait—are you taking a goddamn dump in my washing machine?"
P. 225:
"All I need is for you to write up a damn report so I can put in for a new washing machine."

"Of course," said Reilly, reaching for his clipboard. "But this time you might consider one of those front-loading models."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Like a Thunder-Clap

Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales 3798-3810 (The Miller's Tale), translated by Nevill Coghill:
Now Nicholas had risen for a piss,
And thought he could improve upon the jape
And make him kiss his arse ere he escape,
And opening the window with a jerk,
Stuck out his arse, a handsome piece of work,
Buttocks and all, as far as to the haunch.
Said Absalon, all set to make a launch,
'Speak, pretty bird, I know not where thou art!'

This Nicholas at once let fly a fart
As loud as if it were a thunder-clap.
He was near blinded by the blast, poor chap,
But his hot iron was ready; with a thump
He smote him in the middle of the rump.
In Middle English:
This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,
And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.
And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
And out his ers he putteth pryvely
Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon,
'Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art.'

This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
And he was redy with his iren hoot,
And Nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Peasant Defecates

Antonio Beccadelli, The Hermaphrodite. Edited and Translated by Holt Parker (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010), pp. 49, 51 (I.xl = To Crispus; How the Author Broke Off Writing His Praises When a Peasant Took a Shit, footnotes omitted):
There is a tree most pleasing in the middle of a green field,
  On one side stands a clear stream, on the other a wood.
A bird came to it, and sang beneath the lovely tree,
  Both grove and wave were soothed by the sound.
Here came I as is my custom, I was getting ready to compose verses.
  Clio had been summoned and stood ready by my pen.
I began to write about your blameless morals, Crispus,
  how you excel in prose, how in verse you excel,
and how you are going to become the leading citizen in your town,
  and how your virtue will have its reward.
Meanwhile, a bloated peasant comes up to relieve himself
  on the grass. He places his cloak on the ground nearby,
then opens his pants and pulls out his cock and balls:
  and the breeze gently lashes his naked buttocks.
He bent his knees and curled up into a circle,
  placing his elbows on his thighs and his hands on his cheeks.
Seeming to rest his heels on the back of his thighs,
  he squeezes, loosens his bowels, and then shits.
At that from his talkative asshole windy thunders
  break forth; the whole field is stricken by the crack.
I was shaken, my pen fell, the goddess betook herself to the breezes,
  the bird fled terrified by the rumble of the fart.
I pray, evil peasant, that you first plant your vines,
  after, when you're very thirsty, that you not drink their wine.
Peasant, may you plant seeds in the furrowed earth,
  and have no bread to eat, wretch, when you're hungry.
Farewell, and when the tuneful bird returns,
  then I'll go on to write your praises, Crispus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Intimate Details

Shirley Nelson, Fair, Clear, and Terrible: The Story of Shiloh, Maine (Latham: British American Publishing, 1989), p. 361:
Even intimate details were sometimes shared, as when it was whispered about that a woman at Bethesda had her impacted feces removed with a silver teaspoon.