Chesterton on Chesterton on Chaucer

September 26, 2008

Irresponsible Outbreak of One Who, Having Completed
a Book of Enormous Length on the Poet Chaucer,
Feels Himself Freed from All Bonds
of Intellectual Self-Respect
and Proposes to Do No Work for an Indefinite Period

“Wot ye not wher ther stout a litel town,
Which that y-cleped is Bob-up-an-down.”

The Canterbury Tales

They babble on of Babylon
They tire me out with Tyre
And Sidon putting side on
I do not much admire.
But the little town Bob-Up-and-Down
That lies beyond the Blee
Along the roads our fathers rode,
O that’s the town for me.

In dome and spire and cupola
It bubbles up and swells
For the company that canter
To the Canterbury Bells.
But when the Land Surveyors come
With maps and books to write,
The little town Bob-Up-and-Down
It bobs down out of sight.

I cannot live in Liverpool,
O lead me not to Leeds,
I’m not a man in Manchester,
Though men be cheap as weeds:
But the little town Bob-Up-and-Down
That bobs toward the sea
And knew its name when Chaucer came,
O that’s the town for me.

I’ll go and eat my Christmas meat
In that resurgent town
And pledge to fame our Father’s name
Till the sky bobs up and down;
And join in sport of every sort
That’s played beside the Blee,
Bob-Apple in Bob-Up-and-Down,
O that’s the game for me.

Now Huddersfield is Shuddersfield
And Hull is nearly Hell,
Where a Daisy would go crazy
Or a Canterbury Bell,
The little town Bob-Up-and-Down
Alone is fair and free;
For it can’t be found above the ground,
O that’s the place for me.

— from G.K.’s Weekly.

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