Monday, 20 January 2014

There's a Moral Here - Joan Lennon


                                                              Cursed be this cat for peeing over my book! 
                                                 (© Cologne, Historisches Archiv, G.B. quarto, 249, fol. 68r)

A medieval manuscript - an incriminating stain - and a heart-felt curse -

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.
Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.

Don't get me wrong - my cat would never do such a thing!  (Mostly because it hasn't occurred to her yet.)  But there are plenty of other people and things in this life that have just the same effect on our hard-scribed words - unkind reviews, discouraging sale numbers, lukewarm publishers, absences on bookshop shelves - hell, I've been known to pee on my stuff all by myself!  (We're talking metaphorically here, right?)  But, after the finger-pointing and the cursing, what did the monk do next?  He turned the page, and he carried on.


And that's the moral of the story.  Though the smell of pee may remain for days (and days and days and days), there's another page waiting.  

Onwards! 

Many thanks to Pigeons Rule for popping this image up on Facebook, and Medieval Fragments Blogspot.

Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.

10 comments:

Mystica said...

I like this!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Oh, this brings that monk right into the present! How delightful! You can just imagine the monk arriving at the library or scriptorium in the morning to find his carefully written work all smudged and smelling of cat pee! And cursing and swearing before getting back to work...

Ann Turnbull said...

Oh I LOVE this! And I can't read Latin but having the translation enabled me to decipher the original - and it sounds even funnier in Latin!

Jackie Morris said...

I must show you my painting for the Flower fed Buffalo in Calssic Poems. A cat walked across it. I have also had a dog wee on one of my paintings. Ah well. Good to know it has all happened before.

Sue Purkiss said...

Well, this is different! I want to know more about this monk. What did he do next?

Penny Dolan said...


Ha ha. I read this after chasing my cat off my notebook, which she tired to sit on as I was writing. I'm afraid her version tends to be eruptive.

Lovely post! Especially about other people and things that pee on your work. Onward indeed.

Stroppy Author said...

Love the badly drawn pic of the peeing cat, too! Great - thank you, Joan

Andrew said...

Variation of ... the cat crept into the crypt..

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks, all, for comments!

madwippitt said...

I knew cats were evil! Proof!