The Romance of the Rosebud (Dream Vision Parody)
This was a dream vision in the style of Chaucer, written for a class studying–well, Chaucer–in college. The title parodies The Romance of the Rose, which Chaucer partially translated. (Also see here for more about dream visions.) Please click on the links not just to understand terms such as “bliaut,” but to understand the in-jokes in this story:
One morning in the month of May, as I lay on my bed between waking and sleeping, I fell into a dream.
I found myself in a hilly meadow, which surrounded a small lake. The birds sang and chirped, morning doves cooing and crows cawing and some unidentified bird [cardinal] saying “BIRD-ie! BIRD-ie!”
Katydids [actually, cicadas, but I had been told katydids] shook their wings, or whatever they do, in their characteristic humming.
It was quite warm, but not too hot; an occasional breeze blew. The sky was deep blue, with white, puffy clouds in it here and there to keep the skygazer from boredom.
Butterflies of various colors–yellow, blue, red, monarch–flitted here and there and bumped into me a few times.
I wore a white bliaut with long, flowing sleeves and a cord wrapped around the waist; my long hair fell in crimps as if it had been braided. I wandered along the lake and over the hills, wondering where I was and what I was doing there.
I bent down to smell a flower, a blue carnation, and when I looked up I saw a young woman standing before me, looking down at me [based on my friend Catherine].
Her blonde hair fell in long curls, her lips were thick and she had a gap in her teeth. She wore a long, scarlet gown with tippets and a white sash. A star sapphire hung on a gold cord around her neck, and a crown of wildflowers was on her head. She said to me,
“Hello, traveler. I am Anastasia, goddess of Pleasure and Salt, and I’m here to show you around this meadow.”
“Goddess of Pleasure and Salt?” I said. “Do those two things go together?”
“They do if you throw salt all over your body and have your man lick it off. Of course, you’d better keep plenty of water on hand for him. Now, come on.” She grinned, hugged me and took my hand. “There’s a group I want you to meet: the Society for Creative Abstinence. They’re like you: innocent, always late–”
“How do you know I’m innocent and always late?”
“I know everything about you, dear. As for your innocence–well, I’ll pervert you soon enough [Catherine often said this]. Now, there’s a lot of hot guys in this group, and they like to flirt with you.”
“Really, now?” I smiled. “And what does this group do?”
“Thinks up how far you can go and still abstain. And alternatives to not abstaining.”
“Abstaining from what?”
“Hehehe–You’ll find out. Really, it’s many things: drugs, alcohol, so on. For example, you won’t find anyone saying,
Mistress, sleep with me right now,
Or I will die, God save me!” [Miller’s Tale]
Here she began to laugh, for some reason I couldn’t figure out. I shook my head, and we continued walking.
We passed by a red-haired, pigtailed girl, probably about twelve, and a tall, blonde-haired woman with a rosy complexion and lovely features. The girl wore a frock and straw hat, in contrast to the woman’s heel-length hair and flowing robes. The girl was saying,
“Call me Anne with an E: It looks so much nicer with an E. It makes me sound like a romantic heroine, despite the fact that my hair is this horrid red. I wish it weren’t red. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine that I’m blindingly beautiful, with long, raven hair. Do you ever do that, ever close your eyes and imagine that you’re blindingly beautiful, with long, raven hair?–Oh, of course not, how silly of me!–You’re Beauty: You don’t need to imagine it! Though I think that might be boring, not having to imagine you’re blindingly beautiful….”
The woman just sat there, smiling and nodding at the appropriate times, with never a chance to get a word in edgewise. [Dream visions personified human virtues, vices and traits.]
Anastasia and I went on, and walked up and downhill till we reached a gathering of maybe twenty people, all sitting on the grass of the meadow. Anastasia said to them,
“Ho, guys! I have here a potential new member–a goodly wench–
There is no man so wise that could imagine
So gay a doll or such a wench.
Haha, I love that tale!”
The group gave me a warm, friendly welcome, and they were all attractive–how could it be otherwise in a dream vision?
But one in particular caught my eye: a man named Lord Cu’gan. He appeared to be in his mid-or late-twenties; such a good-looking man he was, with dark hair and brown eyes.
He wore a long, black tunic, a black cap, and a silver medallion with knotwork designs carved into it. On his arm he carried a wooden harp decorated with knotwork. A tiny gargoyle flew about his head. [These characteristics all fit my husband when I first met him. See here and here.]
Once, I noticed Cupid–a little baby with cute, tiny wings, just like the pictures–fluttering around by some rosebushes. He pulled his bow-string and let an arrow fly, and the force of the snap of the bowstring flung him backwards into a rosebush.
“Ow!” he cried (of course), at the same time that I felt the arrow pierce between my eyes. It went to my heart–just worked its way down there. I knew I was stricken with this Lord Cu’gan.
“I was right, wasn’t I?” Anastasia said. “There are a bunch of hot guys here in the Society. And they’re like me: They all love to hug.” She smiled, and nudged me with her elbow.
“I wouldn’t mind if Lord Cu’gan hugged me,” I said.
“Ah, yes, Cu’gan. He is attractive, isn’t he?”
“Yeah–a real cutie.”
She grinned. “You should talk to him. He’s a Society guy; he won’t treat you wrong.” She practically pushed me in his direction. “Make sure you sit by him as I tell today’s story.”
“Yes. A different person tells a different story every day in the Society.” She went off to announce to everyone that she had a story to tell.
I sidled closer to Cu’gan, which got easier to do, when he moved from where he was standing and wandered nearer to me. I sidled over a little more, and thought up some pretense for standing by him: a question about his harp.
I finally got to him, and tugged on his sleeve. [This refers to my writing him a letter with questions about the SCA.]
Here Anastasia bade us all to sit down, and began her story. “This is a fabliau–inspired by the French fabliaux,” she said. “It’s really a very…sophisticated tale.”
Here she laughed, and started telling a demented, perverted story. I especially reddened when she got to the following part–not a good one to hear when you’re sitting next to a guy:
She groped always further with her hand,
And found the bed, and thought nothing but good,
Because the cradle stood by it,
And didn’t know where she was, for it was dark,
But duly she crept in to the clerk,
And lay quite still, and would’ve gone to sleep.
Within a while this John the clerk leaped up,
And made violent love to this good wife.
So merry a bout she’d not had since long ago;
And here the manuscript breaks off, the rest of it lost to history.