The Clever Quill – READ. LEARN. INSPIRE.

An Educated Mind ~ Come Along On My Quest to Finish 1350 Great Works

Day 13 – Big Mouth Strikes Again

Posted by Amanda Jane on April 27, 2015

Selected Readings Goal: 1350 | Started: 1 | Finished: 0 | Remaining: 1350

Currently Reading: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Today’s Reading: The Manciple’s Prologue, The Manciple’s Tale | Pages: 530-539

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The Rare Albino Crow

Shakespeare once wrote, “Though it be honest, it is never good to bring bad news.”  For, as he also says, “The nature of bad news infects the teller.”

The Tale in my reading today was about a man who has a wife he adores, but whom he keeps under his thumb.  So, naturally, she rebels and when he is away, she takes a lover.  The knight has a pure white crow that he pampers and teaches to speak.  On the occasion when the knight was away and the wife was unfaithful, the crow witnessed the occurrence and when the knight returned, he recounted the entire affair to his master.  The knight was so enraged that he killed his cheating wife.  He soon regrets his hasty decision and begins to hate the crow.  He curses it to caw, instead of singing like a nightingale as it had heretofore done,  and to be black.  He plucks out every one of his feathers and curses him to caw in storms and tempests as punishment for the loss of the knight’s wife.

The manciple gives every man this advice:

“Masters, by this example, I do pray/You will beware and heed what I shall say:

Never tell any man, through all your life,/How another man has humped his wife;

He’ll hate you mortally, and that’s certain.”

Although The Manciple’s advice is mainly geared toward informing a husband that he has been cheated on, it speaks to all about being prudent in giving bad news.

It kind of puts me in mind of the show “The Bachelorette,” which I admit I have only seen a few episodes of.  I did watch the episodes in one of the past seasons some years ago where the Bachelorette Jillian still had a few guys she was getting to know and had let the dreamy pilot, Jake, go.  What the audience knew, on Jake’s authority, that Jillian did not, was that Wes, the wannabe country singer guy, had a girlfriend and was pretty much just stringing Jillian along for the exposure to his band.

Well, to make a long, melodramatic story short, Jake returned after he had been booted out just to inform Jillian about Wes.  Jillian was devastated.  I thought it was really chivalrous.  Poor Jake! If he thought it would make him look good to Jillian again, it didn’t work.  Jillian confronted Wes and he smooth-talked his way back into her good graces and all that resulted was that the nice guy was left looking like a jackass, while the bad boy stayed in the saddle for another few rounds.  At least Jillian wised up and chose another great guy, Ed.  Even Jake got another shot to find love in another season of “The Bachelor.”

As the Manciple’s mother taught him:

“My son, think of the crow, in high God’s name;/My son, keep your tongue still, and keep your friend.

A wicked tongue is worse than any fiend…My son, high God, of His endless goodness,

Walled up the tongue with teeth and lips and cheeks/My so, full oftentimes, for too much speech,

Has many a man been killed, as clerics teach;/But speaking little and advisedly,

Is no man harmed, to put it generally” (537-538).

I have, myself, recently learned the virtues of holding your tongue.  Sometimes when people are not ready to hear what you have to say, even if you are right, and they know you are right, the only one that ends up in an awkward situation is you.  Prudence must be the guide.  If it is for the best, say it, but be prepared for the fallout that will inevitably follow.

For, as Sophocles sagely said, “None loves the messenger who brings bad news.”

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