|Geoffrey Chaucer, from 17th century portrait
April always reminds me of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" and Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." Both great poems mention this month in their opening lines, although they have very different views of it.
By happy coincidence, I just chanced across "Geoffrey Chaucer Describes Sherlock Holmes" by Robert N. Brodie in the December 1970 issue of The Baker Street Journal. It's character sketch of the great detective, put forward in a wonderful pastiche of Chaucer's style. With the permission of Steven Doyle, publisher of the BSJ, I share it with you in toto:
In London, so the tales by Watson tell,Gems like this from long-past issues of the BSJ are a great reason to buy The e-Baker Street Journal. This is a single DVD that includes every issue of the publication from its inception in 1946 through 2001 in PDF format. That's 246 issues - an amazing 18,000 pages - fully searchable! For research, there's just nothing else like it.
There lived a wight named Holmes, to whom befell
Adventures all grotesque, bizarre and strange
From Mackleton in the North to Abbey Grange.
Little he knew about astronomy
Or Literature or e'en philosophy
And politics was never yet his forte
Though poisons knew he them of every sort.
His geologic lore was practical,
Profound his knowledge of the chemical.
At fisticuffs and single-stick, I hear,
As well as at the sword, he had no peer.
The British law he could full well construe
And of anatomy some facts he knew.
Keen was his mind, sharp as any blade,
And on a Stradivarius he played.
An energetic man in life's full prime
Was he; a walking calendar of crime
Who could from flaky ashes of cigar
Bring malefactor straight to Justice's bar.
Grey were his eyes and aquiline his nose,
Full early in the foggy dawn he rose
Because, as he remarked, "the game's afoot,"
So strove he to untangle questions moot.
He was much like a hound upon the scent
While on a case, yet took much merriment
In chaffing minister and duke and lord
Who sneered or doubted of his truthful word.
Little he cared if Earth went 'round the sun,
But only for the science of Deduction.
Treasure he rarely sought to get and hoard,
But rather his work its own reward.
Sixty times in tales each one immortal
He opened wide imagination's portal.
At last retiring to Sussex, hale and hearty,
Conqueror of that prince of crime, Moriarty.
All praise to this deductive gentleman.
We shall not ever see his like again.