Apparently it’s something of a Christmas tradition in the medieval department I’m now studying at that, every year, poetic submissions should be solicited from the student and staff bodies on medieval themes. This year it was limericks.
Limericks are right up my alley; it’s the combination of contorted rhyming and dirty punchlines that does it. I submitted the following three, and am happy to report that I won first prize for #3. #2 rated an honourable mention and inquiries as to a) whether it was a real riddle and b) whether it has a clean answer (yes, and yes – see footnote.)
The Middle Ages
The long Middle Ages were racked
With strife and dissension, and packed
With war and upheaval
And horrors medieval –
A lot like the present, in fact.
Very Loose Translation of an Anglo-Saxon Riddle
Here’s a riddle to leave you appalled:
I’m hairy beneath; above, bald;
I’m purple and red
And stand up in the bed;
Women weep at me. What am I called?
Concerning the Pelagian Heresy
A monk by the name of Pelagius
Propounded a doctrine outrageous:
Free will conceivable,
And sin is a choice, not contagious.”
I wanted to write a companion piece about the Arian heresy, but found Arius’ name a lot harder to rhyme. I also wanted to write one in Latin, but gave up; searching for rhymes in a language you don’t really speak is a slow and thankless process, even when they’re as abundant as they are in Latin.
*It’s an onion. Honestly.