My brother Smith wrote this story in imitation of Chaucer. It is called “The Ant-Farmer’s Tale.”
Then, from a hidden spot in the crowd,
The ant-farmer spoke clear and loud,
“I have a story I’d like to tell
About a man who was lamentably felled.”
“Well, go on!” yelled the friends,
“Begin and continue until it ends!”
So the ant-farmer sat and gathered his breath,
It was hard for him to speak about death.
Finally, he gathered up courage and spoke,
“Friendly travellers, I tell of a bloke,
Who never took anything seriously.
Everything to him was nothing but a joke,
And fun he would always poke.
I shouldn’t go into detail of his antics,
So I’ll only say they lacked ethics.
When a man died, he’d laugh at his pale skin,
To overweight men, he’d laugh at their chin.
When a couple was wed, he’d joke about bed,
He was generally an overall blockhead.
And I won’t waste time mulling over his looks,
But his innumerable teeth were like massive hooks.
And that was the least of his facial troubles,
For his entire face was wrinkles and rumples.
An enormous goiter grew out of his neck
And his entire complexion was like that of a Czech.
His hair was like a gargantuan shipwreck.”
But at this point, a traveller interrupted and said “What the heck?
The Czechs are honorable people who are typically handsome.
Not like Russians and Poles, who are consistently gruesome.
If you’re going to poke fun at a race or nation,
Make it more practical, like the Irish women.”
The ant-farmer was displeased at this rude infiltration,
“I’m sorry, I’d no idea you had such fascination
With races, do you study them as a pastime?
But I also ask you how you could expect me
To find another folk whose name rhymes?”
At this, the traveller was embarrassed
And said nothing for the rest of the story.
The ant-farmer continued with his tale.
“As I was saying, he was ugly as a Pole,
And dirtier than a hardworking mole.
But don’t think for a minute that that means he worked hard,
Or even worked at all.
For he spent all his time making fun of others
And being ugly on top of it.
Until one day, a hero, looking for grandeur,
Mistook him for a hideous monster,
And hacked off his head on the spot.”
At the conclusion of the prolonged tale,
The nun’s priest asked in a wail,
“Oh ant-farmer, what is the point of this fable?
That at no means should we be repulsive?
For it is not our choice how we look, and thence off the table
If such a knight is so assaultive.”
“No, you miss the point, my dear friend,” said the farmer,
“The moral is to be kind and not have a good time.”
But upon seeing that the tale had no significant connotation,
The travellers all stood and promptly stoned him.