Thursday 5 March 2009

Swing swing together?

This is a plaque on the wall of a lovely house in Pilgim's Lane and unusually topped by a ships figurehead.

William Johnson Cory was a poet from the victorian era and his principle poem was Ionicus.

Cory is really a person of the victorian era - when classics was a valued form of respect in society - when education was a key part of social standing - when latin verse, indeed verse itself, was currency.

Cory retired to London in the mid 1870's, having left Eton in a bit of a cloud, but he set up home and married and had a family. There was much in Cory's writing about homoerotic thought and relations and his is considered something of a guru on the subject - though nonetheless controversial for all of that...

As a former master of Eton Cory's effect on society was significant - he wrote the boating song, he educated literally hundreds of pupils - many of whom by definition went on to the governance of Britain and indeed then, the empire.

As to the figure above the plaque - presumably from the front of one of Cory's boats from his travels or Eton?

These are called a figurehead, and was not always a woman. It could be a man, or a representation of Neptune or other mythological figure, or a horse, lion or dragon, ie something that suited the name of the ship. For example, HMS Centurion might have the figure of a Roman soldier.

The boating song for those that don't know...
(first verse only!)

Jolly boating weather,
And a hay harvest breeze,
Blade on the feather,
Shade off the trees,
Swing swing together,
With your bodies between your knees,
Swing swing together,
With your bodies between your knees.

(and yes, there is a Kit and the Widow song to the same tune...)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You obviously don't read the local papers thoroughly there was a story about this figurehead a couple of weeks ago. It is in fact Norwegian and nothing to do with Cory.