I just came across this delightfully silly bit in Kathleen Walker-Meikle’s book Medieval Pets (Boydell Press 2012). If you’re daunted by middle English, read it aloud and I think you’ll understand all of it.“In a manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales from Barking Abbey in Essex, an unknown fifteenth-century scribe added several lines and another pet to the Prioress’s ‘smale houndes’, a ‘golden’ milk-drinking, furry, purring beast:
A Catte ther was, fulfilld of furrinesse,
And that a worthy beeste, as I may gesse
For of his herys al golden was the hewe,
And he so wys was, unnethes wolde he mewe,
But lay abedde and slepte with open ye,
Til that his frend Magnificat gan crye
Wel koude he cheere of vertu countrefete:
Nas nowher cat so swift to stele his mete.
Of milk and eek of mys he was ful fayn
But briddes loved he best, to telle yow pleyn.
Ful fetisly his tayl he gan upcaste
As any pekok proude; and atte laste.
I herde that sely beeste purr, parfay,
In verray parfit pleyn felinitee.”
Ugh. Definitely not Chaucer’s work. But good for a chuckle! I hope you are all enjoying your holidays!