Do we forget that Chaucer learned his chops reading the French and the French were writing what? Little poems about ass-kissing, cuckolds and powerful women! Wait a second!
It’s late. I’m tired. I have to take the dog for a walk. It’s dark. If you get the pun in the title and connect it to the poem, you win two NC bonus points toward the Grand Prize. If you can write an essay in which you reveal the christological allegory in the subtext of the poem, you get three NC bonus points.
“Young man, my name will never be concealed;
But such a name was never found;
None of my family bears it but me.
I am called Bèrenger of the Long Arse,
Who puts all cowards to shame.”
via Guèrin (early 13th cent.), Bèrenger of the Long Arse; fabliau (French, tr. into Modern English); distant analogue of MilT..
1. Fundament is a euphemism for arse.
2. My Essay on the Christological Allegory in the Subtext of the Poem
In Numbers 22, (Citation: Bible) Balaam, a prophet of God (first mistake), is forced to follow some unsavory officials from Moab despite God really not wanting him to go (second mistake). When Balaam gets on his ass (climbs onto a donkey, not into a sitting position) an angel of the Lord stands in the road to oppose him. The donkey gets frightened (this is typical of donkeys) and tries to run into the woods. Balaam (awful) beats his donkey to get back on the road. Then the angel of the Lord blocks the path again and this time (unexpectedly!) the donkey gets scared of the angel of the Lord. So Balaam beats his donkey, like an ass. Finally, the angel of the Lord blocks his path for a third time and the donkey is so scared that he falls down. Again, this is typical of donkeys. So Balaam (truly a kind man) beats his donkey. Then God used the donkey like a puppet and made it say “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” Balaam weirdly answers the donkey, and doesn’t assess the asinine situation like a sane person. Instead he says that the donkey made a fool of him and makes an ass of himself to God (now an angel with a sword). God chews him out and tells him to quit horsing (a horse is like a donkey) around. Then he tells him to go with the men but only do what he tells him to do.
When Balaam meets with Balak (a very normal name) Balak is mad about Balaam being so late. So Balaam says “.. I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”.This is like the poem. But I have to go to lecture now so I can’t really go into too much detail. Basically, Balaam is the terrible husband/knight in the poem, and God (see: angel with a sword) is the wife. The donkey is an unreliable horse who would never stand up to a real horse in battle.
I would be an ass if I didn’t give full points even if your analysis is a bit b-r-r-r-a-y-zen. Brilliant exegesis. We’ll see if anyone else can come up the mark. Weren’t you supposed to be studying? 🙂