Sunday, December 4, 2011


News of Dr J’s sensational paleographic discovery  of a previously unsuspected Augustinian sonnet, a work now being hailed as possibly the finest in the history of the Latin language,  is spreading wildfire-wise around the planet.   The phone is, as the saying goes, “ringing off the hook” (not sure what that means exactly).  Reactions pro and con are pouring in.

Augustine of Canterbury, trying to think of a rhyme for "woodchuck"

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A sample from the mailbag:

Herr Prof.  Johann-August-Heinrich von und zu Dinkelmeier:  Have seen original Latin -- is not from Augustine v. Canterbury.  Is from Boethius.  Many points of sameness with De consolatione philosophiae.

Dr J replies:  (*groan*)  Oh no, not another Boethusian !  These guys are like the Baconians of Shakespeare scholarship:  Everything medieval has to be by Boethius.  Get a life.

Pope Gregory and the Saint, just chillin'


Prof. Dunkerd of the Harvard Zoölogical Museum:  This is preposterous.  Woodchucks are strictly confined to the North American continent.  There are none in the Eastern Hemisphere, let alone in Canterbury or in Hippo.

Dr J replies:  This is the sort of trifling criticism which the man of vision treats with sovereign contempt.


Bobby S. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa:   Hi Dr J what a nice poem  I specially like the part about the animals  Our school wants to adopt this as our fight song and we wonder how much royalty we owe.

Dr J replies:  Bless you, Bobby, the song is free;   it is my gift to all mankind.  So:

Woodchuck, Woodchuck -- Fight Fight Fight !

Hamster -- not really germane to the argument, but a sight for sore eyes

For further material unrelated to hamsters, click here:

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  1. When you say you are the first to publish this poem -- you lie ! It first appeared (of course, in the original Latin) in Seville, in 1431, in a privately circulated folio edition of which all copies were subsequently lost.

  2. M. le comte de BarbourDecember 4, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    @Lucanor: You lie, dog of a Spaniard ! My ancient family has in its possession a copy of this very poem (naturally, in the original Latin), antedating yours by over two hundred years ! The great Gallic nation was dining off silver plate, where yours were still hopping about in animal skins.

  3. @Barbour: The affront is unforgivable. I challenge you to a duel -- though I seriously doubt that you with your petty French title are really satisfaktionsfähig. My seconds will confer with your seconds to arrange terms. Since you choose to impute to me a troglodytic ancestry, I propose that the choice of weapons be giant gnarly clubs. I happen to have a pair that has been in the family for untold generations, still wet with mastodon blood.

  4. Thats a nice poem but how about you put in a hamster instead my hamsters name is Fluffy woodchucks are sort of gross