Tonight I started reading The Canterbury Tales again. For those who don’t know, The Canterbury Tales tells the story of a group of people who meet at an inn before setting out on a pilgrimage to Canterbury and agree to tell each other stories along the way to pass the time. The text follows a general pattern of a character’s prologue followed by the story they tell.
Back when we studied The Canterbury Tales in high school, my humanities teacher, a fantastic woman named Mrs. Fanny (no doubt where she got her healthy appreciation for bawdy puns), had us each come up with a modern character (characters in the Tales are known by their profession, e.g. The Knight or The Pardoner or The Wife of Bath) and write their prologue and a tale they would tell, reflective of their values and personality. This resulted in such gems as The Child Star and The Marriage Counsellor.
When finished, Mrs. Fanny had us take a pilgrimage down to her house where her husband was waiting with hot soup. We then each read our tales, dubbed “The Fanny Tales”, aloud. I still have the lovely photocopied collection of them she later gave each of us.
It occurred to me that my character and his story, despite helping to earn me a creative writing scholarship when applying to college (though, sadly for a college I did not end up attending), had just been sitting in a dusty drawer since high school, seemingly doomed never to see the light of day. Thus, I thought I might share it here.
The following is my character’s prologue. His tale will follow in my next post. Because I’m me, I elected to do my prologue and tale in iambic pentameter to stay true to the source material. Remember, I did write this back in high school, so it’s not quite up to my current standards. However, I still like it. I hope you will too.
If coffee was what filled the holy grail
And Templar Knights were always on its trail
Then as barista, I’d be Lancelot
Who’d bring back saintly relics nice and hot
Not on a white horse but a silver tray
Gwen’s Expresso and King Arthur’s Latte
With foam as white as a maid’s wedding dress
And steamy as a lusty, bold countess
I’ll serve your drink with all my flamboyance
I know to some this can be an annoyance
But do not think me haughty or aloof
Just ask of my big heart if you need proof
My mannerisms just help me to express
For I’m dramatic, that I will confess
Elitism is just part of my act
Our coffee house is trendy, that’s a fact
Our patrons are all boho-artsy chic
And inspiration in a cup they seek
I play guitar and poems I’ll discuss
My round eyes green, my clothes tre-fabulous
My blonde hair conditioned and done with mousse
I am slim but my muscles get their use
My hands are soft and know a paintbrush well
Enough of me, now hear the tale I tell