Gentlefolk All, Survive Your Holidays With Help From Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer died in 1400 — but somehow, he’s on Twitter now — and he’s here to answer your holiday questions!
Editor’s Note: Who better to advise you on surviving the stresses and strains of a modern Christmas than a 14th-century English poet? We gleefully present holiday advice from the Internet’s own Chaucer Doth Tweet. Warning: Middle English ahead!
Gentil folke, yt ys wyse and profitable to seeke advyce and counsel yn all thinges. Ich am Geoffrey Chaucer, deputy forester of North Petherton and amateur poet, and Ich am heere to helpe yow wyth advyce and counsel regarding the seasoun of holidayes.
For lo, though thys be a blisful seasoun, yet yn thys seasoun so manye of us straye from the high road of good organizatioun down to the dangerous trail of takeout food, the perilous gravely path of badde travel choyces, and the eternally dismal slough of unnecessary software updates.
Thus, from the whirlinge and evir-growinge tempest of voyces and trouthe and falshood and argumentes and sweetnesse and captioned otter pictures – that ys, from Twytter – NPR dyd solicit your questions, and heere, gentil folk, Ich do hope to wryte sum answeres that maye helpe while the holidaye tunes do playe.
— jasfaulkner (@jasfaulkner) December 3, 2014
A wyse question. Thogh yt kan be wondirful to hoost familye and friendes, yet sumtymes circumstances (plumbing issue, lost falcon, territorial dispute wyth local baron) do prevent us from warmly welcominge our loved ones. Right fayre yt wolde be indeed yf those beloved relatives might go on pilgrimage to seek straunge strondes ynstead of staying wyth us and issuing ultimatums about the masshid potatoes! Yet how to saye yt?
Let us take a lesson from My Lord Kyng Richard II: pageantrye. Arryve at the house of your woulde-be guests wyth your retinue mounted on fyne palfreyes and wearinge garments of cloth of gold. Bear a falcon upon thy hand yn a lordy fashion.
To the sound of silver trumpets, knokke thrice on the doore. When thy distant relaciouns emerge, present them publiquely wyth the gifte of a fullye-funded pilgrimage to the locacioun of their choyce.
Al people of the surrounding village shall looke on, and ful wel churlisshe yt wolde be of thy folke to refuse thys gift. Thogh thou shalt paye the expense, yet thy guests shal nowe spare thy hous. Thei shal travel many distant wayes and leave thee to thyne owene sweet businesse and maybe thou kanst get a chaunce to finisshe reading Piers Plowman.
-Do sheriffs administere thee to those who breke the kinges peace? Bycause thou lookst “fyne.”
-Ich loved thy papere, but yt wolde looke much better yscattred across the floore of myn rentede dorme roome at dawne.
-Art thou a disastrous poll tax? Bycause I feele a risynge comynge on.