Not human, also not quite animal for monster I am called. These fables both animals and I fall between. Though closer to beast I see, which side of moral am I meant to be? Mercy should have on human or on me? No pity nor none ‘kinbute’ I receive. If lion be ruler, than should not I get mercy? But subject I am also not. Estranged and wretched, away I always roamed.
Moral or no, my action be fair. My kin you kill and mercy then was none. For no mercy I receive. No mercy could receive. Even with animal, I somewhere in between. Once of human, but through Cain no more. Had I received mercy, if could, what would I be? Where would I fall in this tale? Lion both beast and ruler, but still more beast than common. No ruler and almost beast, but then pity should I have shown for such a deed? Still dead, son and I no more, no kinbute could be made both ways no pity or mercy shown.
Matters not for alone I still be. No more so no need for any.
Hwaet! I, the Rood speak again before thee. Mankind has not only pushed the Lord to the back of his mind, but he has also forgotten about I, the Rood! Man has forgotten about their sin: about eating the apple of unholy desire, and of course about cutting me down from the edge of the woods, mangling me into a cross, and nailing our savior against me as we bled together till the end. What of the Rood when you are coveting your neighbor’s waif? What of the Rood when you are ignoring your duties to our Lord in Heav’n? Though I may not bear eyes, the Rood weeps in Heav’n.
Everyman may have forgotten about our Lord. It only makes sense since man ended His mortal journey. The Lord allowed himself to be sacrificed by Man, and to what avail? I, the Rood, will never forget. How could I? I faced the nails side by side, feeling our Lord’s warmth against my unworthy timber as he bled to his death. Death, our Lord’s servant, will now remind Everyman of the importance of his submission. Death will strike fear into the heart of Everyman, sprouting the seeds of realization that have yet to bloom. This mortal life is full of distraction. It is easy to get carried away by sin. But instant gratification is not worth eternal hellfire. This, man has forgotten. It was easy for Everyman to forget. Easy for the sinner to let his sins float away. But I will never forget. It wasn’t I who chopped down a tree, and performed an execution.It wasn’t I who lived afterwards in ignorance. It was I, who died along with the Lord himself. I will never forget.
Beauty, Discretion, Strength and Five Wits have all forsaken you. All but Good Deeds have forsaken you, Everyman. What of the Rood? Would the Rood forsake you? After you had removed me from my place in the forest and nailed our savior, our God, to my very body? It is not up to me to decide. I fought alongside our lord, I bled alongside our lord, but I do not overstep my bounds. But lo! Here me this. Forget your mother, your father, your sons, you may. But forget the Lord—forget the Rood, you shall not ever again.
As an admirer of fables and an occasional storyteller myself, I found “The Taill of the Cok and the Jasp” to be both very interesting and rewarding in its teachings. It is a subtle tale, very unlike my own, but its simplicity is so pure that it must be praised. The cok, needing only sustenance at the moment, comes upon this jasp. He admires its beauty, recognizes it for a rare and expensive gem, but leaves it where it is found because the jasp can’t provide what he needs most: to be fed. For truly, what could the jasp do for the cok? It is pleasing to the eye, sure, but it can’t feed him. As he says, “Thow ganis not for me nor I for the.”
In the “Moralitas” of the taill, Henryson remarks that a man must seek, above all, to increase his knowledge every day. Obviously I agree. But I feel the taill lacks–and is depreciated because of it–the cosmic wisdom of our Lord. For truly a good fable can be made great if there are ghostly lessons embedded in its narrative. That is why I enjoyed Margery Kempe’s, and even Julian of Norwich’s, autobiographical accounts much more than I did the fable. A devout man such as myself must put God before everything else, and those lessons who teach us about how he works his miracles on us every day are truly the most precious gems of all. Therefore, I wish the fable of the cok and the jasp were to be re-imagined to include some religious moral message. In my tale, as you remember, the Enemy took the shape of the fox, and the story’s hero, a cok named Chauntecleer (what a beautiful name!) had to use his cunning to escape the fox.
I am Rome. I am Roman. My flesh extends from Gascony to Guyenne. My blood and sinews are the Tiber. When the books are written, I prolonged the legacy of my Father. Emperor-King I was, will be, and am. From 79-81, two years of divine rule. Swift and decisive, I pluck Roman rule from the depths of Nero and his tribune of goons. Roman people–listen–I end the jeremiad clouding hanging over this city, clouding our judgement, blurring our connection to God. We have taken the ships toward the cursed land. Every pulse and breathing life in Jaffa will know now of Roman superiority and our unwavering spirituality. We are not on a mission for God–we fight beside him, and him with us. Battle not, there is not implication of defeat, just swift justice. On steed I am unstoppable. When an swarm of horses begins to break the horizon, and the Earth shakes. Thousands of brown and black beasts, dot the hill side and as they approach they swell until they take up the entire eye-line, then and only then will those at Jaffa know my name as the Lord. I care not for tribune, and tributes. This is not a Nero kingdom of old my fellow Romans. Those who attempt to defy my truths and speak heretical rhetoric and of Lollard likeness, I pray you ask Josephus, he will relay. Hand and knee on was he, when he crawled into my camp. He begged and pleaded, wounded and bleeded to be saved from certain death. Favors were given, certain and proven, to save the Jew from perish. Now he speaks of Christian truths and maybe saves a nation.
As a knight who must live my life in accordance with a strict moral code in order to hold myself to the high standards of chivalry that King Arthur mandates for his knights, I find fables interesting. Though these little stories oftentimes seem to be simple, the morals contained within them are often important truths that even, or perhaps especially, all knights would be well served to remember. A fable that I came across recently, seemed to be of particular interest to my own situation.
In the tale, a poor rooster searches for food in a dung heap, but finds precious jewel hidden within it. Rather than keep this valuable prize, the rooster deems it to be of little use to himself as it cannot be eaten, and discards it. You may wonder how in the world I find this brief story to be of particular interest to me when many other fables have more noble morals attached to them. You see, the piece of Jasper found by the fowl cannot help but remind me of my own green girdle.
Before you dismiss this notion as mere silliness, consider this, in the moral at the fable’s conclusion, listeners are informed that Jasper “makis ane man stark and victorious,/ Preservis als fra cacis perrillous./ Quha hes this stane sall have gude hap to speid/ Of fyre, nor fallis him neidis not to dreid” (Henryson 123-126). Is this not startlingly similar to what I was told of the green girdle? As I feared for my life, the wife of my host told me that the girdle would provide me a means of surviving since I would be unharmed as long as I wore it. In this fable, it seems that Jasper is of a similar protective property.
Long have I struggled with feelings of shame for accepting, and then concealing the green girdle, which I still wear, not for protection, but as a reminder. Though I have since been absolved by my host Bertilak for my transgression, I remained troubled by it. I cannot help it for I have always tried to remain strictly within the bounds of chivalry and have done my best to live my life with the utmost courtesy. In this tale, however, the fowl is called a fool for leaving such a powerful object behind. This mirrors the words of my host when he told me that I could not be blamed for taking the girdle as I “wanted to live” (Gawain Fitt IV 2368). It is suggested that the fowl should have acted as I did and accepted the protection of an amulet such as the Jasper. Although I remain shamed by my behavior, I cannot help but take some comfort in the form of this fable as an additional assurance that I may not have acted entirely in the wrong.
Come all who have mocked who have disgraced, and join me and mother in our war. We shall be avenged and right the wrongs that evil has committed. It is up to us I call those who have been left out and treated as evil, Margery, Wife of Bath. Julian of Norwich, and I am sure there are many more. I have had enough of the evil and wicked I see. I hear there is a God, who fights for us, and who will be on our side! Let us join together and destroy the evil men who think that power lies in pride and greed. They are the men who will kill to kill, men like Beowulf, and Vespasian, who have no heart. Our vengeance will give us peace and a final resting place. We will be able to lay down our sorrows through the God that will on our side. Do not miss a chance to honor your name and take back what these evil men have taken from us! I will see you in battle if you choose to take up arms with me! We shall see this to the death again Beowulf our fight is not over. We shall fight to the death again and I will take your head as my prize it will be quick and easy. I will set this head on my table and your open mouth will hold the eyeballs of the men we’ve defeated. We will then hold a feast, a big feast and our honor then will be given back to us. While the evil doers rot in the earth to be never more.
Reflecting on all the violence I have seen. I want to to thank my mother my dear mother, who has done so much for me. I have cried and have been desperately lonely. For I believed that no one understood me and everyone was against me. Those evil men who took my life did not think twice about it. Beowulf the most evil of them all, is like a creature himself. His prideful lust can be seen through his eyes. His hatred and anger for me, is something I will never understand. I only seek to survive as did my mother, but he killed her so wickedly. Oh mother, I ask for your forgiveness, for the sacrifice that you have made on my behalf. I was unable to say this because my heart was heavy with anger and rage. Now mother I have of a God one who will help us take revenge. I have begun gathering my soldiers so that we could be strong against these evil wicked men, who have no regard for anyone but there own. I will pay back the debt that I owe you mother, and I shall never forget the love that you have shown me. There is no mother like you, and there shall never be. You are a brave soldier and I want you to be the leader of this army, there are many people who need your wisdom and your love. Do not worry mother very soon the men who have killed you and those who have caused others harm as well, will be destroyed, and with God we will be capable of doing so. Is it not marvelous! However that is beside the point I want to make, I know that I was not so good of a son to you. But I want you to know, that I am aware of all the sacrifices that you have made, not a father nor a man could ever do what you did. With all of my heart I love you!