Tuesday, 30 August 2005
Chaucer and the Devils's Arse
Geoffrey Chaucer became one of the greatest figures in English medieval literature. He lived towards the end of the 14th Century and was Richard II's court poet. Satire was very much encouraged in Richard's court, so Chaucer was able to use his talent in order to talk of the corruption within the Church. He most famously wrote of a friar, who having been accompanied down to hell by an angel, commented with pleasure that he could not see any other friars there, assuming they were obviously all in heaven. The angel was very quick to correct him on that assumption and so he got hold of Satan and...
'Hold up thy tail thy Satanas' said he
'Show forth thine arse and let the friar see
Where is the nest of friars in this place!'
And ere that half a furlong way of space
Right so as bees come swarming from the hive,
Out of the devil's arse began to drive
Twenty thousand friars in a route.
And throughout hell they swarmed all about
And came again as fast as they may gone
And in his arse they crept in every John!
(From The Summoner's Prologue)
Not surprisingly, when Richard II was overthrown and Henry IV took the throne with the help of Thomas Arundel, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chaucer dissapeared without a trace. To this day we do not know what happened to him.
For purists click on link for the real Old English version:
Posted by Anna at Tuesday, August 30, 2005