Chaucer’s Latest Poem: Herein We See the Difference Between Adaptation and Parody, In Case You Get Confused

Nice to know that Geoff is still working!  We hadn’t heard from him since May, but last week, I see, on checking his blog, he posted his latest poem, which, in true Chaucerian fashion, is an reworking of a reworking of an original poem, though given the nature of how literature works, maybe Wallace Stevens was reworking Boccacchio.

So, to get you caught up, the original is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens.  Now, that’s an awesome poem, one I like to read often.  So it’s an excellent model for adapting.

Which is what Aaron Abeyta did when he created “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Tortilla.”  Also awesome.  I will admit to being biased here; the poem is set in New Mexico.  I especially like this verse, for the mention of Chimayo, along with the image of the women creating the tortilla:

vii. 
o thin viejos of chimayo 
why do you imagine biscuits 
do you not see how the tortilla 
lives with the hands 
of the women about you

And so this is the poem that Mr. Chaucer used, in writing his latest poem, “XIII Wayes of Regardinge a Litel Woolen Hatte.”  An example:

V

 Ich ne knowe nat which to prefer,
The beautee of sentence
Or the beautee of solaas,
The litel woolen hatte being put on
Or just aftir.

Now, my readers, herein we see the difference between and adaptation and a parody.  I know that Abeyta’s poem is a serious adaptation, because when I read it, I felt physically like the top of my head had bee taken off, but that Chaucer’s poem is a parody, because when I read it I laughed out loud and then fell off my chair.

(Geoff!  What the hell!  You can write parodies of thirteen ways of looking at all sorts of stuff but you can’t finish the Canterbury Tales?  Is this right?  Is this fair?  I think not, though, as Neil Gaiman would say, Chaucer is not my bitch.)