Monday, 21 June 2010

Top lines from Chaucer No. 3

(In anticipation of George Osborne's budget)

To yow, my purse, and to noon other wight
Complayne I, for ye be my lady dere!
I am so sory, now that ye been lyght;
For certes, but ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as lief be layd upon my bere;
For which unto your mercy thus I crye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moot I dye!

(To you, my purse, and to no one else
Do I complain, for you are my true love.
I am so sorry that there is no weight in you
For you certainly give me such heavy grief
That I might as well be laid on my bier:
And so I fall on your mercy crying
Be heavy again, or else I must die!)

Now voucheth sauf this day, or yt be nyght,
That I of yow the blisful soun may here,
Or see your colour lyk the sonne bryght,
That of yelownesse hadde never pere.
Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere,
Quene of comfort and of good companye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moot I dye!

(Now promise today, before nightfall,
That I may hear your wonderful sound
Or behold your colour, bright as the sun,
Of unequalled yellowness.
You are my life, you are the rudder of my heart,
Queen of ease and of good company:
Be heavy again, or else I must die!)

Now purse, that ben to me my lyves lyght
And saveour, as doun in the world here,
Out of this toune helpe me thurgh your myght,
Syn that ye wole nat ben my tresorere;
For I am shave as nye as any frere.
But yet I pray unto your curtesye:
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles moot I dye!

(Now, purse, that are to me my life's light
And saviour down in this world here,
Help me out of it through your power
If you prefer not to be my treasurer,
For I am as close shaven (i.e. skint) as any monk.
All the same I pray you , in your kindness
Be heavy again, or else I must die!)

Friday, 11 June 2010

Is your name Roadrunner?

No doubt about it, you Roadrunners have an honourable place in History. It's one of those occupational names like Clown, Nightsoilman or Scrumper, what nomenclature experts call 'jobbies' in Scotland.

Your ancestors did a job that Father Time has long since drawn his sable cloak around. Roadrunners used to run in front of vehicles waving a red flag, warning of the oncoming danger, counselling people to move aside. For the benefit of the visually impaired, they would shout 'Beep! Beep!' (from OE beepan = to avoid stampeding cattle, poultry, etc.)

Waggons, curricles, open flies, phaetons, growlers. Runaway horses. Cavalry charges. Early trains, like Stephenson's 'Rocket'. Dirigibles. Dreadnoughts. Tanks. All were grist to the Roadrunner mill. But by the time the first cars arrived in the reign of William IV they were beginning to die out - as a profession.

Their name lives on, however, and ancestral urges sometimes impel surviving Roadrunners to foregather at latter-day venues, Cowes Week, Silverstone, Aintree, White City, Salisbury Plain, where their rude encampments a-murmur with soft cries of 'Beep! Beep!' betray their atavistic - but harmless - presence.

What your stars hold in store
by 'Latrans'

Roadrunners, your working days are done. No longer the hustle, the shouting and waving! No more flags! No more beeps! Slow down! Enjoy the view! Smell the wayside flowers! Take time to stand and stare! What's the hurry, anyway? Learn to amble! Learn to snooze! Learn to contemplate! Learn to close your eyes and dream in the lay-bys of life's highways! Learn to trust those who want to be closer to you! Surrender to those who want nothing more than to enfold you in their arms!

(© Syndics of Wile E. Coyote features)

UPDATE: Loyal reader M.Hector sends me this photo of a real roadrunner, taken by himself (or by 'Mee-meep' as he puts it) in the Arizona desert. The man with the red flag is just off-picture.