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.