Cristas

french-rooster-hi

Garrulus in tenebris rutilos cecinisse solebam
Augustae lucis radios et lumina Phoebi;
Penniger experto populorum nomine fungor,
Arma ferens pedibus belli discrimina faxo
Serratas capitis gestans in vertice cristas.
(Aldhelm, Aenigmata 26)

I’m chatty, used to praising late at night
Apollo’s glow and rays of great red light.
I’m feathered, named for people of renown;
With foot-borne arms, I’m threatening a fight
While sporting jagged crests upon my crown.*

* This riddle may be the first example in British literature of a joke at the expense of the French. The joke relies in part on the pun between gallus (“rooster”) and Gallus (“a resident of Gaul”).

(tr. A.M. Juster, with excerpt from his commentary)

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