What was it like being a medieval scribe? Here’s my guess …

 

I wrote this yesterday in an an idle moment, while thinking what it might have been like to be a medieval scribe …

SCRIBES OF CAMBREATH
By Kate Gladstone
(tune: MARCH OF CAMBREATH by Heather Alexander — http://heatherlands.com/mpaudio/Midsummer/March%20of%20Cambreadth.mp3 )

Downstroke slash, serif swing,
Scribal work is a weary thing.
Up before the morning light:
Damn the day you learned to write.
Parchment, quill, and ink combine:
Fight to make your words align.
Hear the novice-master cry —
HOW MANY OF YOU CAN DOT AN “i”?

Follow copy as you’re told:
Make your letters worth the gold.
Write until you die or drop,
A good monk’s pen is hard to stop.
Close your mind to stress and pain,
Write till you’re no longer sane.
Let no blot or blur pass by,
HOW MANY OF YOU CAN DOT AN “i”?

Form your stems and ovals well,
‘Prentice-work’s a gate to Hell.
When you finish Chapter Four,
Here come half-a-dozen more.
Use your quill and use your head,
Flourish well from A to Zed.
Raise ascenders to the sky,
HOW MANY OF YOU CAN DOT AN “i”?

Folks who don’t know how to write
Think our labor must be light.
Fingers three are all it takes:
By vespers your whole body aches.
Filled your quota without fail?
Pour that scribe a pint of ale!
Down one more and sound the cry,
HOW MANY OF YOU CAN DOT AN “i”?

,

About KateGladstone

See my web-site: http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com
This entry was posted in Education: Teaching and Learning, Music and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What was it like being a medieval scribe? Here’s my guess …

  1. Aya Katz says:

    What a great filk! I would love to hear it sung.

    BTW, I could not get the Heather Alexander mp3 to run. I’m getting an error message at the site.

  2. If we ever meet, Aya, or if you phone me, I’ll happily sing it to you … Or maybe sometime I should make an MP3?

    Here’s a link that should work for the source-song, since you couldn’t find these chess with the link I posted: http://tindeck.com/listen/yyqy

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