Drumroll Please…My Chaucer Project

Some of you might recall me complaining about this Chaucer project I was assigned.  I am pleased to say that I completed it over the weekend, so I thought I might share it with you so you finally know why I’ve been complaining so much.  😀

I’m not going to bore you with the report that went with this, but there was a six page report that went with this.  The assignment was to choose a tale, adapt it to fit within the major themes of the Canterbury Tales, write a Prologue to the tale to insert the new tale, and finish with an Epilogue to transition out of it.  I decided to give the tale to the Yeoman to tell, he tells his tale after the Cook’s tale (which, coincidentally, is my favorite), and I’ve modified the tale so that it addresses the Knight’s tale, the Miller’s tale, the Reeve’s tale, and the Wife of Bath’s tale.  And because I am a serious overachiever, I wrote the tale in iambic pentameter and in heroic couplets to mimic the construction of the Canterbury Tales.  The tale I chose was The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson.


“Well wasn’t that an interesting tale,”

The Host said as they went upon the trail

“But I had more to say,” the cook replied

“We haven’t time for more,” the Host then lied,

“We must continue on to someone new.

Good Yeoman, we have not yet heard from you.

Is there a tale that you could tell us now

To adequately quit these folks somehow?”

“I do believe there is one I could tell,

And if it’s bad then may I rot in Hell.”



Here begins the Yeoman’s tale:



A soldier marching home along the road

And burdened he was under such a load

As was his knapsack and his sharpened sword

He walked because it’s all he could afford.

Along the way he met a frightful witch

Who said, “Good Sir, would you like to be rich?

There is a place inside this hollow tree

That no one knows.  It’s known only to me,

And deep inside there sits atop a chest

A dog with teacup eyes, and there he rests.

But do not worry, Sir.  He’ll cause no harm.

He’ll give no cause for you to be alarmed.

I give to you this apron checked with blue

And tell you to the dot what you must do.

First, spread the apron out upon the ground

And take the dog off of the chest you’ve found

And place him on the apron, he’ll sit still,

And will not move while you your pockets fill.

Be warned this chest holds only copper here

But if you want for silver, never fear

For in the second room you’ll find inside

A chest, and on its lid there will reside

A dog with eyes like plates, but as before

Spread out the apron, lay it on the floor

And set the dog atop it, he’ll not twitch.”

And so the soldier listened to the witch

And heard her tell of gold coins he could take

If either of those coins he would forsake.

And place the last dog with the grandest eyes

–The largest towers could not match their size!—

Upon her blue checked apron on the ground

And fill his pockets with the coins he found.

“I’ll do it,” said the soldier, “but one thing—

How many of the coins am I to bring

And give to you?  What constitutes your share?”

The witch just laughed and said, “I have no care

For gold and silver coins inside a tree.

There is one thing that you may bring to me.

A tinderbox. That’s all I’ll ask of you.

And if you bring it to me, we’ll be through,

But you must make this promise, swear this vow.”

“I’ll do this thing for you and do it now,”

He swore and wound some rope around his waist.

He climbed the tree and dropped inside with haste

And found the chamber doors as she foretold

And grabbed all of the coins that he could hold.

The soldier filled his pockets to the brim

And grabbed the tinderbox to take with him

He climbed out of the tree and found the crone

Waiting for him silently alone.

He asked, “What do you plan to do with this?”

She only waved her hand as to dismiss

The question that he had no right to ask

Since he agreed to do for her this task.

“Give me the box,” said she. “You made a deal.”

“You’ll answer what I ask, or else you’ll feel

My sword. Now answer what I want to know.”

“You give to me what you brought from below.”

His answer was to cut away her head

He took the box, the coins, and went ahead

To walk the road until he came to town.

He found a place to put his burdens down

Inside an inn where he could take his rest

With clothes and food, he only bought the best.

He purchased lavish fabrics, gifts, and more,

And always had a gold piece for the poor.

He heard about a princess in her tower

As delicate and pretty as a flower.

The soldier longed for her to be his bride

But she was not allowed to be outside.

The king had learned of ancient prophesy

A soldier off to war across the sea

Would return home and make his child a wife.

He would not let her lead that lowly life,

To see his princess and a soldier wed

And have that soldier enter her in bed.

There was no one allowed to see her face

And common men must learn their proper place.

He had no choice, he must obey his king

But vowed one day that she would wear his ring.

His gold was running low and soon was gone

The friendly invitations were withdrawn

And no one came to see him at his room

He tried in vain to chase away the gloom

By striking flint across the tinderbox.

Before his eyes came bursting through the locks,

The dog with teacup eyes came to his call

And said he’d retrieve items great and small.

The soldier sent the dog to bring more gold

And he returned with all that he could hold.

So thought the soldier what more could he bring?

It swore it could retrieve most anything.

And then he knew what he desired most

He sent the teacup eyed dog like a ghost

Into the tower where the princess sleeps

And silently the dog went through the keep

Until the princess’ room he found at last

He carried her asleep across the grass

And brought her to the soldier to his glee

Before he disappeared back to his tree.

The teacup eyed dog made this trip each night

And took her to her room before first light

The princess thought she was just having dreams

And did not know they were more than they seemed.

She told her nanny one day over tea

And with the princess nanny did agree

That these were nothing more than dreams at night

But nanny told the king about her flight

He ordered her to follow where they went

And creeping through the shadows where she bent

To keep herself from drawing the dog’s stare

The dog, it seemed, had known that she was there

So when the nanny marked the soldier’s door

The dog went out and drew on several more.

The king’s men went to where the nanny said

And followed her exactly where she led

But they soon saw that all the doors were marked

And they returned from where they had embarked

To tell the king that in his quest they failed

Against the men’s incompetence he railed

And told them that he had a better plot.

He tied some silken pieces in a knot

And with some scissors cut a corner tip

So barley flour was able to slip

And mark the path the princess took at night

The king did find her come the morning light.

The king’s men seized the soldier as he fell

And locked him in a dark and dingy cell.

They told him he would hang, this much was sworn

When roosters cuckooed that the night was morn.

They led him through the streets, his head was bowed

And when he saw an orphan in the crowd

He asked him to retrieve his tinderbox

To go back to his room, undo the locks

And bring it back to him before he died

The orphan soon returned back to his side

And slipped it to the soldier at the rope

Who said, “Good folks, I don’t have any hope

So I would ask that you grant one demand

That I could smoke before the Kind’s command

Will kill me dead.” The crowd said that he could

And so before the hangman slipped his hood

Over his head he struck the box three times

Before the church’s bells could sing their chimes

The dogs, all three of them, came to his aid

And all of them did just as they were bade.

They killed the judge, the hangman, and the King

They spared no one, and when they did this thing

The princess was the only one alive

Whose claim to royal blood was to survive.

The soldier said to her, “You’ll be my bride”

And even though the princess stood and cried

The soldier married her inside the square,

Declared himself the king and swore to spare

The common lives if they would but obey.

And so began his rule that summer day.

Here ends the Yeoman’s tale.

“Well done, well done indeed” the Reeve exclaimed.

“That soldier was entitled to his fame.”

The Miller and the Knight said naught, nor smiled

As one by one the pilgrim’s horses filed.

So there you have it.  I’m so glad I’m done with it.


4 comments on “Drumroll Please…My Chaucer Project

  1. A significant undertaking, and well done! Sorry, but the Wife of Bath is still my favorite! That was an interesting assignment, and you should be very proud of yourself!


    • iusbcwc says:

      I love the Cook’s tale because it basically boils down to “women are whores.” Taking that, you can then reduce almost every other tale down to the same element. It’s brilliant because of its brevity and the way it applies throughout the rest of the collection.


    • Erin R Britt says:

      Sorry. I forgot I was still logged into the other account. LOL What can I say? It’s way too early. LOL


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