Thursday, February 10, 2011


I recently purchase Primitive Needle's Moon Sicke, which has the epigram:

"Wife, I weene thou aret dronke or leunitike
Nay husband, women are never Moon Sicke"

But the whole thing reads:

Wife, I weene thou aret dronke or leunitike
Nay husband, women are never Moon Sicke
Come that coniunction in time, late, or soone
Wee say (not the woman) the man in the moone
(The Proverbs and Epigrams of John Heywood, 1562)

Spelling was varied up until the 18th century when Dr. Johnson started fixing, but which I mean making permanent, the language. (Whenever I complain about contemporary usage--like when people say "wait on" when they mean wait for--the dude calls me Dr. Johnson.) Still, I couldn't find this particular spelling version of lunatic in the OED. (And what joy, I discovered the dude has access to the OED online, via the university's subscription. Academia, how can I leave you?) 

I wish the chart had the whole poem, because the best part is the zinger she gets in at the end. For those of you whose middle English suffers from lack of study the "translation" (Sister Judith always hated when we said we were "translating:" "It's English! You can't translate English to English!" She must be rolling in her grave that Coral relies on my American English-Commonwealth English translation services.)

Wife, I think you are drunk or lunatic.
No husband, women are never moon sick
Come that point in time, now or later
We say (not the woman) {but} the man in the moon.

This plays on the notion that there is a connection between lunar cycles and craziness. (And probably menstrual periods too, let's face it.) The term lunatic, used to denote mental illness, comes from the Latin for moon. In this particular poem, we have a husband accusing his wife of going off her rocker. She shoots back that it's not the "woman in the moon" but "the man in the moon" and post hoc ergo proper hoc, it's men who are nuts. Most research holds that there is no connection between the phases of the moon and our behavior, despite what the police may think.

I have to think of a way to get those two lines in the piece.


Redwitch said...

Very interesting post :)

I was fortunate enough to visit Dr Johnson's house when I was in London last year. Fantastic!

You definitely need to fit those two lines in.

Alice said...

I only know what happens to me when there's a full moon. Mwa ha ha!

Lee said...

So fascinating!

Chocolates4Breakfast (TerriBoog) said...

The entire verse would be great - how about if you did it over one?

mainely stitching said...

I'd read the whole thing, too, curious about the origins of the piece, and also felt the last lines should be included for clarity (and humor). But it can be so difficult to work a large body of text into a pictorial sampler and still have the piece work - the text tends to dominate. I'm looking forward to seeing how you tackle the problem.

Michelle said...

You definitely need to get those last two lines in there! I do love this piece. Thanks for the full explanation too!

RuthB said...

I love you. :) No other way to say it --- thanks for the smile this morning.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to know the rest of the poem. It seemed to me there should be more--not realizing it was a real poem and not something the desiger made up. Do put the the rest of it in there. I think I really must have this design now.

Mary in TN

Anonymous said...

On second thought, add the last part of poem before the bottom border. Choose a couple of motifs from above or from her other samples to fit in there and then do the bottom border. Just make sure to have enough fabrit for it will be longer.

Mary in tN

C in DC said...

Just take out the alphabet in the middle, and you have a ton of space to play with.

Cute piece and fun poem.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what the research says. If the moon can move the oceans it can surely make half the callers to my office crazy.


ArchangelDecker said...

What about stitching both you and your husband's initials and/or first names and your wedding date?

It would make the sampler longer, and serve as an interesting wedding sampler! :)

PS: I love the piece and the poem, btw! :)