Monday, April 29, 2013

A-Z: "Y" is for The Canon's Yeoman's Tale

We are almost at the end our A-Z challenge and today's letter is Y.  I'm featuring The Canon's Yeoman's Tale in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. 

After the Second Nun's Tale the host asks the Canon and his Yeoman to tell a tale.  Both men are alchemists and the Yeoman works for the Canon.  The Yeoman starts the tale explaining he's worked for the Canon for several years and decides to quick.  He calls their profession "slippery science" and that they have no money because their alchemy attempts always fail.  Before the Yeoman divulges all their secrets, the Canon steps away embarrassed.  The tale starts with a a canon who cons a priest into thinking he's taken quick silver and turned into real silver.  He continues with his trick, convincing the priest he's also turned chalk and a twig into real silver.  The Canon agrees to reveal his secret for forty pounds to the priest and the con is complete.  The Yeoman, who is obviously a disgruntled employee, bashes the alchemy profession even more.  Check out these words of the Yeoman.  

695  And though you prowl, you never gold shall find;
696  You are as bold as Bayard is, the blind,
697  That blunders forth and thinks of danger, none;
698  He is as bold to run against a stone
699  As to go ambling down the broad highway.
700  And so fare you who multiply, I say.
701  If your two fleshly eyes can't see aright,
702  Look to it that your mind lack not for sight.
703  For, though you look about and though you stare,
704  You shall not win a mite in traffic there,
705  But you shall waste all you may scrape and turn.
706  Avoid that fire, lest much too fast it burn;
An Alchemist seemed more like a magician than anything else.  I always find alchemy in general fascinating   What about you?

Mina B.


Dani said...

This is the second time I've seen the word yeoman. Too funny!

S. L. Hennessy said...

Alchemy is an incredible and fascinating subject. And what if it really

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

They were con artists more than anything.

Michael Pierce said...

It did have a vary magical quality and something I'd be interesting in learning more about.

Mark Murata said...

It's kind of like those people who claim to be psychics and can predict the outcome of horse races, yet they dress in rags.