Saturday, 14 June 2008

Chaucer on oysters

The language of each era offers its own inflections and insights. From the first days of print, the oyster was at hand.

Chaucer had it as a useful rhyme here quite interestingly elastic:

In the Summoners Tale

For many a muscle and many an oystre,
Whan othere men han ben ful wel at eyse,
Hath been oure foode,

And in the Monk’s Tale

“Know that a monk when he is cloister-less
Is likened to a fish that is water-less
This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloister
But thilke text held he not worth an oyster
And I seyde his opinion was good.”