The Tunning of Elynour Rummyng

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The Tunning of Elynour Rummyng is a long raucous poem written by English poet John Skelton. The poem was printed by Richard Lant sometime in 1550 and presents what many would consider disgusting images of rural drinking and drunkenness. For all its gritty description, Skelton has modeled the poem on Church liturgy of that time. The verse form itself closely resembles a liturgical chant.

Elynour is a character in the poem who runs a "public house," or pub. Many pubs in England did have the look of a home both inside and out. In the early 16th century, the male or female owner of the pub not only sold the ale, but also probably brewed it. Elynour easily acquires all her ingredients for quite acceptable ale from the local farmers in southern England where her pub was apparently located. Nevertheless, the kind of hard language which is found in the poem, is not uncommon as "bar talk." Today, much like in the 16th century, many brands of beer have been derisively referred to as "pig piss" perhaps because of beer's pale yellowish color and its bland and very slightly bitter taste. The poet says that chickens roost over Elynour's fermentation tank and drop their excrement into the froth. The yeast will sometimes form a white cap on the fermenting beer. Alcoholic beverages are also often associated with sex and indeed will sometimes reduce the inhibitions of men and women. However, Elynour advises her female customers that the ale will make them more desirable to their husbands, in part because she has the chicken excrement in the ale.

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