You would wonder very much should this be the head and lyre of Orpheus. When the Thracian women had torn him to pieces they threw his head and lyre into the river Hebrus, down which they floated to the Euxine sea as far as the island of Lesbos; the head continually uttering a doleful song, as it were lamenting the death of Orpheus, and the lyre, with the wind’s impulse moving its strings and harmoniously accompanying the voice. Let’s see if we cannot discover them hereabouts.
How among the frozen words Pantagruel found some odd ones.
The skipper made answer: Be not afraid, my lord; we are on the confines of the Frozen Sea, on which, about the beginning of last winter, happened a great and bloody fight between the Arimaspians and the Nephelibates. Then the words and cries of men and women, the hacking, slashing, and hewing of battle-axes, the shocking, knocking, and jolting of armours and harnesses, the neighing of horses, and all other martial din and noise, froze in the air; and now, the rigour of the winter being over, by the succeeding serenity and warmth of the weather they melt and are heard.
By jingo, quoth Panurge, the man talks somewhat like. I believe him. But couldn’t we see some of ’em? I think I have read that, on the edge of the mountain on which Moses received the Judaic law, the people saw the voices sensibly. Here, here, said Pantagruel, here are some that are not yet thawed. He then threw us on the deck whole handfuls of frozen words, which seemed to us like your rough sugar-plums, of many colours, like those used in heraldry; some words gules (this means also jests and merry sayings), some vert, some azure, some black, some or (this means also fair words); and when we had somewhat warmed them between our hands, they melted like snow, and we really heard them, but could not understand them, for it was a barbarous gibberish. One of them only, that was pretty big, having been warmed between Friar John’s hands, gave a sound much like that of chestnuts when they are thrown into the fire without being first cut, which made us all start. This was the report of a field-piece in its time, cried Friar John.
Panurge prayed Pantagruel to give him some more; but Pantagruel told him that to give words was the part of a lover. Sell me some then, I pray you, cried Panurge. That’s the part of a lawyer, returned Pantagruel. I would sooner sell you silence, though at a dearer rate; as Demosthenes formerly sold it by the means of his argentangina, or silver squinsy.
However, he threw three or four handfuls of them on the deck; among which I perceived some very sharp words, and some bloody words, which the pilot said used sometimes to go back and recoil to the place whence they came, but it was with a slit weasand. We also saw some terrible words, and some others not very pleasant to the eye.