Of hortism

And monkeys, obviously.

A Dürer selfie: Vberhebung der hochfart.

A Dürer selfie: Vberhebung der hochfart. Image: Wikipedia.

In my other life I am condemned to write something about these (online versions). It would be good to engage more with all this humanity-self stuff, but (hortism < hortus, garden) I also urgently need to find a plastic bottle that will fit on top of the broom-pole so that I can empty the tree of rosy-red apples down the road:

From Alexander Barclay’s free translation (Ship of Fools, 1508) of Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff (1494) from which the Dürer woodcut is taken:

That lawde is vyle the whiche doth procede
From mannys owne mouth vttred in wordes vayne;
Of suche foly no wyse man taketh hede,
But by discression doth hym selfe refrayne;
But pompe and pryde whiche doth all men disdayne
Engendreth folys: whiche thynkynge to exell
All other in erth, at last fall downe to hell.

Besyde our folys rehersyd here before
In dyuers barges almost innumerable,
Yet stately pryde makyth the nomber more,
Whiche is a vyce so moche abhomynable,
That it surmountyth without any fable
All other vyces in furour and vylenes,
And of all synne is it rote and maystres.

The noblest hertis by this vyce ar acloyed,
It is confounder mekenes and vertue;
So by the same is many one destroyed
In soule and body whiche them to it subdue.
Wherfore let the wyse his statelynes eschewe,
For it hath be sene, is sene, and euer shall,
That first or last foule pryde wyll haue a fall.

The first inuentour of this vnhappy vyce,
As doth the scripture playne expres and tell,
Was Lucyfer, whiche to hym dyd attyce
A crusyd nomber both stately and cruell,
In mynde intendynge his Maker to excell;
Or els if he coude come to his intent
For to be egall with God omnypotent.

Thus of all synnes pryde was the first of all
Bygon by Lucifer; but God omnypotent
Percyuynge his foly made hym and his to fall
From heuen to hell, to paynes violent
In horryble shape: before so excellent
Shynynge in heuen before the aungels all,
Thus had his folysshe pryde a greuous fall.

And so forth and so on. Barclay doesn’t seem to find a direct equivalent for Brant’s roraffen, presumably derived from the Strasbourg cathedral organ’s legendary automated howling Whitsun monkey, which so upset those who, like Brant and Erasmus and Geiler von Kaysersberg, would revive rather than reform the Catholic rite. More of that anon.

I dare not look for sung versions of Barclay – it’s so difficult to make strophic things of that length work, even with a double woodblock solo in the middle.

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