Collections of bawdy rhymes have always been popular, and this French collection of extremely bawdy rhymes is no exception. The title, Trois orfèvres à la Saint-Éloi (Three Goldsmiths of Saint Éloi), refers to one of the most explicit of traditional French verses, which is reproduced below in French and English so you can see just how explicit.

This particular collection was published early in 1930 by Bernard Edmond David, who had a bookshop at 48 rue Saint André des Arts. The edition consisted of two volumes of text and a folder of prints, 25 by Nicolas Sternberg under the pseudonym Homunculus, and 16 of inferior quality by ‘Dagobert’. Trois orfèvres quickly went through two printings, but in October 1930 the publisher, printer and Sternberg were summoned to appear by the prosecutor’s office for distributing obscene material. In order to circumvent the French legal system David commissioned a third edition, this time changing the place of publication from the tongue-in-cheek ‘En Sorbonne pour l’esbaudissement des escholiers’ (at the Sorbonne for the amazement of students) to the nominally more liberal ‘Au Luxembourg face à la Fontaine Médicis’ (in Luxembourg by the Medici Fountain), but this did not prevent him from receiving an 80,000 franc fine. Even so it was probably worth the punishment, since altogether some three thousand copies of Trois orfèvres were sold.

The summons dated 14 October 1930 is useful in relation to Sternberg, in that it gives his place of birth as Nagyvárad, now the Romanian city of Oradea but when Sternberg grew up part of Hungary, and his address in 1930 as 6 boulevard de Clichy, at the southern tip of the artists’ quartier of Montmartre.

Each of the 25 Sternberg drawings includes the title of the rhyme it accompanies, demonstrating both his artistic skills and an enormously witty imagination.

Here are the words of the title ditty:

Trois orfèvres à la Saint-Éloi

Trois orfèvres à la saint-Éloi,
Sont allés dîner chez un autre orfèvre,
Trois orfèvres à la saint-Éloi,
Sont allés dîner chez un autre roi!
Il ont baisé toute la famille,
La mère aux nichons, le père au cul, la fille au con.

Refrain
Relevez la belle, votre blanc jupon,
Qu’on vous voit le cul, qu’on vous voit les fesses,
Relevez la belle, votre blanc jupon,
Qu’on vous voit le cul, qu’on vous voit le con!

La servante, qui avait tout vu,
Leur dit: ‘foutez moi votre pine aux fesses’;
La servante, qui avait tout vu,
Leur dit: ‘foutez moi votre pine au cul!’
Ils l’ont tous trois baisé sur une chaise,
La chaise a cassé, ils sont tombés, sans débander!

Les orfèvres, non content de ça,
Montèrent sur le toi, pour baiser minette,
Les orfèvres, non contents de ça,
Montèrent sur le toi, pour baiser le chat.
‘Chat, maudit chat, chat tu m’égratignes,
Fais donc attention tu m’égratignes les roustons!’

Les orfèvres, chez un pâtissier,
S’en allèrent manger quelques friandises,
Les orfèvres, chez un pâtissier,
Enculèrent l’mitron qu’était en train d’chier!
Puis voyant leurs pines pleines de merde,
Ils les ont sucées comme des éclairs au chocolat.

Three goldsmiths of Saint-Éloi

Three goldsmiths of Saint-Éloi,
Went to dine with another goldsmith,
Three goldsmiths at Saint-Éloi,
Went to dine with another king!
They fucked the whole family,
The mother’s tits, the father’s ass, the daughter’s cunt.

Chorus
Raise your beautiful white petticoat,
Let’s see your ass, let’s see your buttocks,
Raise your beautiful white petticoat,
Let’s see your ass, let’s see your asshole!

The maid, who had seen everything,
Said to them: ‘fuck me with your cock in my buttocks’;
The maid, who had seen everything,
said to them: ‘fuck me with your cock in my ass!’
So all three fucked her on a chair,
The chair broke, and they all fell without disengaging!

The goldsmiths, not content with that,
Climbed on you to kiss your pussy,
The goldsmiths, not happy with that,
Climbed on you to kiss your cunt.
‘Cat, damn cat, don’t you scratch me;
Be careful you don’t scratch my balls!’

The goldsmiths, at a pastry shop,
Decided to eat some cakes;
The goldsmiths, at a pastry shop,
Decided to fuck the baker’s boy!
Then seeing their cocks covered with shit,
They sucked them like chocolate éclairs.

There’s a YouTube video of this rhyme being sung, along with onscreen words, here.


We are very grateful to Hans-Jürgen Döpp for these images; Hans-Jürgen, the compiler of many books on erotic art, curates the Venusberg online gallery and bookshop which you can find here.