Philis tout est f…tu  

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Philis tout est f…tu[1] is the title given to a poem by Théophile de Viau which was first published in Parnasse satyrique in 1622. Setting the tone for the poem, the narrator, a sufferer from syphilis says to Phyllis "Je fais voeu desormais de ne foutre qu'un cul," or, as Michael Taylor translates, he vows, "I'll never fuck anything but ass."

Par le sieur Theophille

Philis tout est f tu je meurs de la verolle
Elle exerce sur moi sa dernière rigueur :
Mon V. baisse la teste et n'a point de vigueur
un ulcére puant a gasté ma parole.
“Philis, everything is f..ed up; I’m dying of the pox
which has me strictly bound in the last throes;
My D..k hangs its head, is on the rocks
and a stinking sore spoils my attempts at prose. --Limited, Inc.[2]

The rest of the poem reads:

J'ai sué trante jours, j'ai vomi de la colle
Jamais de si grand maux n'eurent tant de longueur
L'esprit le plus constant fut mort à ma langueur,
Et mon afficlition n'a rien qui la console.
Mes amis plus secrets ne m'osent approcher,
Moi-même cet estat je ne m'ose toucher
Philis le mal me vient de vous avoir foutue.
Mon dieu je me repans d'avoir si mal vescu :
Et si vostre couroux a ce coup ne me tuë
Je ne fais vuex désormais de ne …tre qu'en cul.

Limited, Inc. remarks "There’s an amusing gloss on the enterprising use of ellipses and acronyms in obscene poems in Joan E. DeJean’s The Reinvention of Obscenity, who claims that the startling thing about Theophile’s poem was the ‘cul’ – a vite as a V. or a foutre as a …tre was, in a sense, a bow to the common dignity, but that ass, stuck at the very end of the poem, it was practically mooning the authorities."

DeJean introduces the topic like this:

“These four-letter words, primary obscenities, stand out as the principle mark of this bawdy poetry’s sexual transgressiveness. With one exception, cul (ass), which was to become key in Theophile’s case, they are never written out. Instead, in an act of self censorship that initially may have helped save the volumes from official prosecution, the words were abbreviated in various ways, and different types of punctuation were inserted to stand as a visual mark representing the suppressed content. This punctuation is the typographical equivalent of the fig leaves that began appearing in Renaissance engravings to veil male and female genitalia without fully hiding the contours.
The typographical fig leaves are, however, less efficient than their visual counterparts. A leaf painted on a representation of a human body means that the viewer, even though he or she obviously knows what presumably is there behyind the cover-up, is nevertheless denied the right to see the offending sexual characteristics. In the case of a text, however, a reader – and there is no reason to imagine that seventeenth century readers were any more conscious of these textual barriers than are their counterparts today – simply replaces the missing letters without a thought, so much so that he or she is immediately unaware that anything has been left out. This is truly the zero degree of censorship. Since, however, it obviously served an important function, I will consider it for a moment more.”

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