Sunday, December 11, 2011

THE ABBOT OF CANTERBURY: REFERNCE TO THE CONTEXT


THE ABBOT OF CANTERBURY


              An ancient story…………………………….maintained little right
                       
Reference: These lines have been taken from the poem, ‘The Abbot of Canterbury’. The poet of this poem is unknown.
                       
Context: This poem is a typical ballad of the south of England. The authorship of the poem is unknown. Through the dictum of the poem is old, yet it attracts the modern readers.
In this poem, the poet tells us a story of a king of England, Kind John, who was envious of the Abbot of Canterbury and wanted to find an excuse to put him to death. He sent for him to his court and asked him three questions which were too hard for Abbot’s shallow wit. The king told the Abbot that if he failed to answer those questions his head would be cut off from his body and his property would be confiscated. The king gave him the time of three weeks to find the answers of those three questions. The Abbot rode for and wide in search of the answers of those questions, but on one was able to answer him. At last, on his return the upset Abbot told shepherd the whole story. Then the shepherd of the Abbot offered him that he would imposter the Abbot provided that he was given the relevant dress of the Abbot. He went to the court of King in disguise as the Abbot and answered the questions. The king got happy, spared the life of the Abbot and awarded the shepherd.
                       
Explanation: In these lines the poet says that he is going to tell us a story of a famous king. His name was King John. He ruled England with main and might. He was wicked and cruel king. He cared little for right and justice and practiced many wrongs.

And I’ll tell ………………………………………..London town
       Explanation: In these lines the poet tells us an amusing story about the Abbot of Canterbury. He was famous for his grand and glorious housekeeping. The King had also heard of it. He (the king) summoned him from the big London town.

An hundred man…………………………………………..my crown
Explanation: In these lines we are told that some conspirators poisoned king’s ears against the Abbot of Canterbury. They informed his that the Abbot had grown rich and entertained hundreds of men in his house everyday. He had fifty attendants with gold chains and in velvet coats who waited for him. Owing to his deluxe and opulent style of living, the kind got alarmed and sent for him to his court. The poet further says that when the Abbot was brought before the king he demanded him an explanation for what he had heard. He (the king) blamed him that he as gaining fame among the people and collecting wealth. His maintenance of house was better than that of king.  The king feared that the Abbot was hatching a plot again his crown.

My liege ………………………………………………..thy body
Explanation: In these lines the poet says that the Abbot of Canterbury humbly addressed the king and said that he had spent nothing but whatever was his own. He believed that the king would do him no harm for spending his honestly earned money. We are further told that the king was not satisfied with the explanation of the Abbot and said that his crime was high for which he should be put to death. However, he could escape death if he answered his three questions. But, if he failed to answer those three questions, his head would be cut off from his body.

And first……………………………………………………..I do think
Explanation: In these lines the king asked the Abbot to tell him firstly what his worth was when he was sitting on his throne with the gold crown on his head. Secondly, he asked how much time it would take him to travel around the world. Thirdly, the king asked the About to tell him fearlessly what he (the king) was thinking at that moment.

O these……………………………………………………forfeit to me
Explanation: In these lines the Abbot told the king that those were difficult questions for his little intelligence. He also said that he could not answer those questions there and then, but only if he was given the time for three weeks, he would try his best to answer those questions properly.  The poet further says that the king granted the Abbot of Canterbury his request for three week’s time. He also told the Abbot that probably that would be the longest time he had to live. He further warned the Abbot that if he failed to answer his questions, his entire land and property would be confiscated and that he would be put to death for his crime.

 

Away rode……………………………………………………King John

Explanation: In these lines we are told that after listening to the decision of the king and his ultimate fate, the Abbot was disappointed. He went to Cambridge and Oxford. He met may wise men there, but, despite their learning, none of them was intelligent enough to point out the proper answer to the King’s questions. Disappointed and confused, the Abbot returned his home. On his way back home, the Abbot met his shepherd who was going to the fold. He (shepherd) greeted the Abbot and asked him what news he had brought from King John.

 

Sad new……………………………………………………..your quarrel

Explanation: In these lines the poet says that the Abbot told the shepherd that he had brought a sad news that he had only three days more to live in this world. If he failed to answer the three questions of the king, his head would be cut off from his body. After listening to the sad news, shepherd asked the Abbot if had not heard that a fool could teach a wise man wisdom. He told the Abbot to be happy and requested him to lend him his horse, serving men and his clothing. He would go to London to answer his problem.

Nay, frown not……………………………………………………..saved shall be
Explanation: In these lines the poets tells us that the About agreed with the shepherd’s suggestion. He gave him his brave and gallant men dressed hi their proper uniform. He gave him his crozer, a stick carried by a bishop, mitre, a tall cap worn by clergymen, rochet, a gown and cope, clock worn over the rochet. The Abbot gave him all his clothes and articles so that he must look exactly like a real Abbot. After getting dressed like the Abbot, shepherd appeared before the king. The king could not recognize him and he addressed the shepherd, “Sir Abbot”. The king appreciated that he had returned on the decided day to keep his promise. But he reminded him once again that his life and property would be saved only if he could answer his three questions.

For thirty……………………………………………………………than He
Explanation: In these lines the poet says that the shepherd told the king that Jesus Christ ws sold among the false Jews only for thirty pence. Therefore, the worth of king must be twenty-nine pence for he was one penny less that Jesus Christ.

 

The King laughed…………………………………………………this whole world about

Explanation: On listening to his the king laughed and swearing by the Saint Bittle said that he had never thought his cost could be so little. The, the asked the second question how much time it would take him to travel around the world.

 

You must rise………………………………………………………you will ride it about

Explanation: In these lines the poet says that the shepherd answered the second question and said that if the king rose with the sun and started travelling with it till it rose again the next morning. In this way, he could complete his travel around the whole world just in twenty-four hours.

The King he laughed………..…….………………………………..I do think
Explanation: In these lines the poet says that after listening to the answer to the second question the king laughed and swore by Saint John and told the shepherd that he had never thought that he could ride around the world so soon. Then, he put his third question before the shepherd and asked him what he was thinking about at that time.

Yes that shall………………………………………………………….nor read
Explanation: In these lines the poet tells us that in reply to the third question, the shepherd told the king that he would surely do and would amuse his excellence. He answered the king that he was thinking him the About of Canterbury while he was his poor shepherd who had disguised as the Abbot. The shepherd begged the king’s pardon for the Abbot and for himself. Having listened to the answer to the third question the king was very pleased and laughed once again. Taking another oath, he told the shepherd that he would, there and then, appoint him as the Abbot in place of his master. But, the shepherd requested hi not to take any such decision in haste, for he was uneducated and was not fit to perform the duties of the Abbot.

 

Four nobles……………………………….………………………….King John

Explanation: In these lines the poet says that after coming to know that the shepherd was uneducated and was not fit to replace the Abbot, the king rewarded him with four nobles a week, he, the king, further told the shepherd to convey this good news to the Abbot when he returned home that the king had pardoned him.


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