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Saturday, August 2, 2008

AN EXCERPT FROM THE PROLOGUE TO THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN

By Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)


And as for me, though that I know but lite,[1]

On bookes for to read I me delight,

And to them give I faith and good credence,

And in my heart have them in reverence,

So heartily, that there is game none[2]
That from my bookes maketh me to go'n,

But it be seldom on the holyday;

Save, certainly, when that the month of May

Is comen, and I hear the fowles sing,
And that the flowers ginnen for to spring,

Farewell my book and my devotion!


When Chaucer tired of his books and devotion he took to the fields and the "flowers in the mead." Me, I hie myself to a mountain stream.


Frivolous, you say, when the
re is so much work to be done. No, frivolity is a gift of God, a indispensable break from the necessities of life. But more than that: it is a foretaste of heaven's joy, a better metaphor for eternal pleasure than the "solemn" duties of this present world.

C. S. Lewis put it this way: "I do think that while we are in this 'valley of tears'--cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties-certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through...except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order-with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order?

"How can you find any image of this in the 'serious' activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heart-broken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis?


"No, Malcolm. It is only in our 'hours-off,' only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for "down here!" is not their natural place. Here they are a moment's rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven."[3]


Doublehaul Dave


[1] "lite": little

[2] "game none": no longer fun

[3] C.S. Lewis in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, p 92,93

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