Thursday, October 23, 2003

Paradise is boring. No one lives there except Elijah and Enoch anyway, and the only kind of food is fruit. Wouldn't you rather go to the sunny land of Cokaygne, (painted by Brueghel and in a satirical woodcut by Niccolo Nelli) where the rivers run with milk, oil, honey and wine, and no one ever has fleas or lice in their clothing? The walls of the local monastery are made of food (except for a few walls carved out of precious gems, for variety). The younger monks spend their afternoons using their hooded robes to help them fly through the air. If the monks are having too much fun, and their abbot is unable to get them to come down in time for evensong, he lures them back by displaying the white behind of a local maiden and using her buttocks as a drum. Sure enough, the monks fly down when they hear the drumbeat, and each one takes a turn patting the girl's butt before returning to the abbey.

Oh yes, and there's a nunnery next door to the monastery. The nuns swim in the river of milk, where the monks find them and teach them prayers. The prayers usually involve legs going up and down.

No, I am not making this stuff up. See the Middle English poem, ca. 1330, The Land of Cokaygne (scroll downwards past the front matter to find it) or its translation.

I forgot the important part. To be allowed access to this land, you must spend seven years of your life walking chin-deep in pig manure. Some say it's worth it.

Edited to add the date of the poem and the link to the manuscript description page.


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