Bavarian poke
Posted: 03 November 2007 11:22 PM   [ Ignore ]
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What’s a Bavarian poke? Another Bavarian when he’s irate.

Sorry, that was dreadful. A Bavarian poke is in fact an obsolete term for a goitre (first cite in OED, 1621 R. BURTON Anat. Melancholy I. II. II. i. 95 Aubanus Bohemus referres that Struma, or poke of the Bauarians & Styrians to the nature of their waters.) and this whole thread is nothing but a transparent attempt to pass on my sheer delight with another passage of Burton I’ve just read. (Not without good reason did Johnson say that the Anatomy was “the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.")

Burton wishes to convey that lovers are often blind to the defects of their mistresses. Here’s how he puts it:

Every lover admires his mistress, though she be very deformed of herself, ill-favoured, wrinkled, pimpled, pale, red, yellow, tanned, tallow-faced, have a swollen juggler’s platter face, or a thin, lean, chitty face, have clouds in her face, be crooked, dry, bald, goggle-eyed, blear-eyed, or with staring eyes, she looks like a squissed cat, hold her head still awry, heavy, dull, hollow-eyed, black or yellow about the eyes, or squint-eyed, sparrow-mouthed, Persian hook-nosed, have a sharp fox nose, a red nose, China flat, great nose, nare simo patuloque, a nose like a promontory, gubber-tushed, rotten teeth, black, uneven, brown teeth, beetle browed, a witch’s beard, her breath stink all over the room, her nose drop winter and summer, with a Bavarian poke under her chin, a sharp chin, lave eared, with a long crane’s neck, which stands awry too, pendulis mammis, her dugs like two double jugs, or else no dugs, in that other extreme, bloody fallen fingers, she have filthy, long unpared nails, scabbed hands or wrists, a tanned skin, a rotten carcass, crooked back, she stoops, is lame, splay-footed, as slender in the middle as a cow in the waist, gouty legs, her ankles hang over her shoes, her feet stink, she breed lice, a mere changeling, a very monster, an oaf imperfect, her whole complexion savours, a harsh voice, incondite gesture, vile gait, a vast virago, or an ugly tit, a slug, a fat fustilugs, a truss, a long lean rawbone, a skeleton, a sneaker (si qua latent meliora puta), and to thy judgment looks like a merd in a lantern, whom thou couldst not fancy for a world, but hatest, loathest, and wouldst have spit in her face, or blow thy nose in her bosom, remedium amoris to another man, a dowdy, a slut, a scold, a nasty, rank, rammy, filthy, beastly quean, dishonest peradventure, obscene, base, beggarly, rude, foolish, untaught, peevish, Irus’ daughter, Thersites’ sister, Grobians’ scholar, if he love her once, he admires her for all this, he takes no notice of any such errors, or imperfections of body or mind, Ipsa haec—delectant, veluti Balbinum Polypus Agnae,; he had rather have her than any woman in the world.

Pt 3, Sect. 2, Mem. 3

I felt like standing up and applauding after reading this! Wonderful!

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Posted: 04 November 2007 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, that’s improved my vocabulary.

But why would a merd be in a lantern? And yes, it’s what you think it is; I’ve just checked to make sure.

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Posted: 04 November 2007 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Not Bavaria but nearby: a Swiss-born endocrinologist of my acquaintance told me that there were areas of Switzerland where goiter was so common (before the discovery of treatment with iodine supplementation) that even children’s dolls had goiter.  That is, it was so normal to have a goiter that even wooden dolls in that area were carved with swellings at the neck, since that’s what people looked like. He showed me pictures of the dolls.

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Posted: 04 November 2007 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Burton was quite a writer.  The last Latin citation, if anyone’s curious, is from Horace (Satires I. 3): “These very things please him, as the wen of Agna did Balbinus.” (You can see it in its native habitat here.)

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Posted: 04 November 2007 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The Grobian reference is interesting.

Saint Grobian (Medieval Latin, Sanctus Grobianus) was a fictional patron saint of vulgar and coarse people. His name is derived from the Middle High German grob or grop, meaning coarse or vulgar. The Old High German cognate is gerob, gerop.

The word “grobian” has thus passed into the English language as an obscure word for any crude, sloppy, or buffoonish person.

I love the following from the wiki linked above.

Dedekind’s work (Grobianus and Grobiana) appeared in England in 1605 as The Schoole of Slovenrie: Or, Cato turnd wrong side outward, published by one “R.F.”. The “Schoole” was imagined as a place where one was instructed to use one’s greasy fingers to grab at the nicest portions of any dish and snatch food belonging to fellow diners. Holding back the desire to urinate, fart, and vomit is taught to be bad for one’s health; thus, one has to indulge freely in all three activities.

This is a saint I can identify with!

[ Edited: 04 November 2007 12:26 PM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 05 November 2007 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Not Bavaria but nearby

Bavaria too, and other parts of the Alps such as the Val d’Aosta. Indeed, it’s alleged that the Kropfkett’n, the choker-style necklace worn by women in Bavarian traditional costume, was adopted to hide the goitre that so many Bavarian peasants had. (see here: http://www.marquise.de/en/ethno/bayern/baydic.shtml)

In England the condition was known as Derbyshire Neck.

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Posted: 05 November 2007 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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You misunderstand me: my meaning was not that goiter was not common in Bavaria, but that the anecdote I was about to tell referred not to Bavaria but to a nearby country (which shared the same deficiency of iodine in the soil).

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