Poem Reveals Medievals Got their Freak On
An early example of poetic erotica suggests that our medieval ancestors were more sexually progressive than originally thought.
Researcher Christine Glassner, while leafing through manuscripts at Austria’s Melk Abbey library, recently found a fragment of the German language poem The Rose Thorn (author unknown), which had been cut down centuries ago and used to bind a theological Latin text (oh, the irony!). From the existing two copies of poem, it was originally believed to have been written in the 1500s. But this manuscript fragment proves that the poem was in circulation as early as 1300 AD.
The poem, which was originally recited or performed rather than read, is narrated by a man who describes the story of a young virgin (“junkfrouwe”) arguing with her vulva (yes, it can speak!). The discussion centers around the girl insisting that it is her looks that attract men, not the sexual organ itself. The vagina disagrees, however, responding that it, alone, provides the “true pleasure.”
The argument becomes so heated that the girl and her nether-regions decide to part ways, which they do by ingesting a “manic root” (in modern parlance, via masturbation).
Over the following days, the vulva is used by every man it encounters. Likewise, when the girl offers herself to a gang of men, she ends up being trampled in their effort to take advantage of her offer. In the end, the girl and her undercarriage agree they are better off joined together, at which point the narrator offers to reunite them and then creepily pushes the girl’s genitalia back into her through the act of sex. (#MeToo anyone?)
Researcher Christine Glassner says that the poem is significant as it suggests that we cannot be considered apart from our gender.
Interestingly, this is not the only literary example of a loquacious vajayjay. Ancient folklore of the vagina loquens describes how a spell could be cast to make a woman's genitals speak to her current paramour about her previous lovers.
For more poetic ribaldry, check out this 18th-century French masterpiece: Le Chevalier Qui Fist parler les Cons.