Literature

‘I Have a Gentle Cock’: An Anonymous Medieval Poem

‘I Have a Gentle Cock’ dates from the Middle Ages – probably the fourteenth century – as the Middle English spelling (reproduced in the original below) suggests. And yes, there is a bawdy double entendre going on in the title of this short medieval lyric: ‘cock’ is not just a cockerel, one suspects, especially as it appears, suggestively, in the ‘lady’s chamber’ at the end of the poem…

I Have a Gentle Cock

I haue a gentil cook,
Crowyt me day.
He doth me rysyn erly,
My matyins for to say.

I haue a gentil cook,
Comyn he is of gret.
His comb is of reed corel,
His tayil is of get.

I haue a gentyl cook,
Comyn he is of kynde.
His comb is of red scorel,
His tayl is of Inde.

His legges ben of asor,
So geintil and so smale.
His spores arn of syluer qwyt,
In to the worte wale.

His eynyn arn of cristal,
Lokyn al in aumbyr,
And euery nyght he perchit hym
In myn ladyis chaumbyr.

If you enjoyed ‘I Have a Gentle Cock’, you might also like our pick of the best medieval lyrics.

Advertisements