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Longest Thou To Go On Summer Pilgrimage? Chaucer Hath Advice

Pilgrims leaving Canterbury, from text of the end of the Prologue to <em>The Canterbury Tales</em>, by Geoffrey Chaucer.
British Library
The Art Archive
Pilgrims leaving Canterbury, from text of the end of the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Editor's Note: We've been having so much fun running advice columns from the Internet's own Chaucer Doth Tweet, we've brought him back to dispense wisdom on all things summery. As always, Middle English is involved.

Gentil folke, yt ys wyse and profitable to seeke advyce and counsel yn all thinges. And counsel ys sore needed whan the brighte dayes of summer do puzzle and distracte us all lyke a newe Apple product. Ye have sent your summer questiones to NPR thrugh the litel birdes of Twytter, and heere am Ich, Geoffrey Chaucer, minor bureaucratte and woulde-be poet, redy to helpe wyth my summer tippes.

Trewelye, thogh the summer sonne doth bringe muchel lighte and joye, yet yt kan also be lyke the love of Tristan and Isolde: an unendurable burninge payne that causeth rash.

Worry not, for heere ys a remedye. First, gather all of the sages and folk wise in lore who dwell yn thy realm. Commaunde them to build a greate dome of clear glass and to ynscribe that dome wyth the auncient runes of UV protectioun. Once thy dome ys inscrybed, presto! Spende thy summer dayes within thy lovelye and mirthful dome of glass. The magique of thy dome shal protect thee from the harmful power of the sonne. O, the great joye and festivitye thou shalt have within thy protective dome! Thou mayst have dome barbeques, and dome garden partyes, and great dome gatheringes of slippe and slyde. Thou kanst flye a kite but not verye high. And whanne the dayes grow shorter thou kanst assemble thy somer memoryes ynto a kynde of boke that doth collect the photographs of thy plesaunt dayes within thy dome: A veritable domesdaye boke.

Of course, thys doth assume thou art a riche and powerful monarch and kan commaunde magicians. Yf not, trye parasols. By cause parasols are cool.

O controversye! Greate debate doth aryse about Glampynge, the which ys a worde that doth joyne 'glamour' and 'campinge.' To glamp doth signifye to go campinge but not to seek the simple lyfe of the woodes. Ynstead, glamperes wisshe to be outsyde yn great comfort and fashione and style.

Lo, good folke, Ich have reade muchel of glamping in the romaunces and historyes of knightes and chivalrye. For yn dayes of oold manye a great knighte and warlike kynge hath glamped. And yn our tyme wyth myne owene eyes Ich have seen Kynge Edward III glampinge whanne on campaign. Hys royal pavilion was so huge yt hadde a bowlinge alleye and ynogh breakfast nookes for al the knightes of the Order of the Garter to have French toaste simultaneouslye.

Yet al of thys feste and richenesse doth beare some ymprint of vanitye and excess. And certes, yt ys far from the purpose of campinge. For the wisdam of campinge ys to be close to the goodnesse of the earth, to the smell of floweres and trees, and to the lovely tweetinge birdinesse of birdes, the which ys right harde to do when thou hast a mahogany trayler and a portable xboxe CCCLX and a wardrobe of fyne silkes. And thus upon the issue of glampinge Ich wolde advyse: go easye, unless thou art Kyng Edward III.

Sumer ys indeed a tyme of manye familye roade trippes, the which ys immortalized yn the wel-knowne lyric poeme:

Sumer is icumen in
Let vs get in the car!
Are we ther yet?
Nay, we are not --
Trye to take a nap!

Ich present to thee three keyes to a pleasaunt journey, the which are trewe for eny pilgrimage, whethir ye go to Caunterburye or to the the Mouses Kyngdom of Sorcerye or to the house of sum distant but insistent relatives. Whanne on a journey thou must alwayes bear yn mynde the three Ts: Timinge, Tales, and Treates. Timinge, for thou must leave neyther too late nor too earlye so that thou mayst breake thy journey yn to reasonable stoppes. Tales, for storyes are the shippes yn which we cross the rough seas of boringe hours. And the thirde thinge nat to forget ys Treates. For we litel realise how a smal sweete taste on the tonge kan greatlye strengthen the heart and corage within us.

And yn the hotte monethes of sumer, the best treate of all treates ys broken yce wyth flavored syrup upon yt. Thys disshe hath many a name yn manye a lande and fer contree, and ys sum tymes crusshed finelye lyke tinye diamonds or sum tymes chypped lyke shininge flakes of sapphire. But alwayes a slushye icye thinge ys the best of al treates of summer, and the moost courtlye and delectable snack to fynde asyde the roade. Sum bokes of olde saye that Vergil the wyse poet was the first to devyse the magic of flavoured yce for the Emperour Octayven, and other legendes tell us that Merlyn dyd create yt afir the worke of buildinge of Stone Henge was finisshid. But thogh the origin of thys disshe ys forevir lost to tyme, the great deliciousnesse of yt ys apparent to all folke.

So goode readeres, remembir the great virtue of tastye yce, and forget not the three Ts, so that your journeyes shal be right pleasant, no mattir how small your car. And yf ye have cattes, make certayn that folk shal come to thy hous to entertayn the cattes and to make muchel of them, for no thinge ys as wrathful and damaginge to the sydes of a couch as a catte that hath not been entertayned.

Yn the summer, and eny othir seasoun, Ich remayne

Your humble servaunte,


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