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Song Parodies -> "The Waterbury Tales"

Original Song Title:

"The Canterbury Tales"

Original Performer:

Geoffrey Chaucer

Parody Song Title:

"The Waterbury Tales"

Parody Written by:

Judith Wax

The Lyrics

Whan that Junne with hys sunshyn soote
The Capitol hath dazzled to the roote
And blossoms bloome on the cherry,
Then folk break in and bugge Waterbury.

A good WYF was ther, Mr. Mitchell's owne,
Wel koude she carp upon hir telephone.
She lyk to tel the papers, quote-unquote:
"Dorst noon can mak myn housband a scapegoate."

The MITCHELL was a stout and placyd type,
Ful byg he was, and suckyn on hys pype.
"The Whyt Hous Horrors had not my accorde,
But all was mete to reelect Milord."

The CHAIRMAN oft wolde set hys brows to crymple.
He clept hymself a Country Lawyer Symple.
A badde man or fals wolde hym mak syckyn,
Men koud hym trust for used car or fryd chyckyn. (1)

The BAKER was a faire and deep-voicd boye,
Had wed of royl blood from Illinoye.
So certeynly didst Howyrd pleas the crowd,
A star was born (lyk Lancelot of Loud).

A CLERK OF LAW was too, a John of DEANE,
He borrowed gold to wed the Maid Maureene.
Hys memory was ful; of dates koude answyr,
"I warned Milord," quod he, "of Creepyng Cancyr."

The LYDDY has a mustache and byg chartyse
For kydnappyngs and wyrtaps and tartyse. (2)
What tale koud tell? Is thys some kind of Nutte?
In gaol y-sits and keeps hys lippes shutte.

ULASEWICZ ther also was, forsooth,
Koud wel hide gold in any olde phone booth.
Koud gette Hernya (shold watch hys steppen).
From so much hevy laundry bags y-schleppen.

The LORD he reigned in Ovl Ofys (3) sphere,
Ful oft strove he to mak thyngs parfait clere. (4)
But wonder, though it get him legal scrapes,
He, verraily, refus to clere The Tapyse.

A HALDEMAN ther came, a crew-cutoon,
Foks seyd he ran the Whyt Hous lik a Hun.
But strang, whan he befor Committee satte,
So mild was he as any pussye catte.

The EHRLICHMAN explan the word "coverte,"
(He look lyk he eat babys for desserte).
He trow, to sav the Nation from the Pynkes,
"Milord hath Rights Divine to burgl Shrynkes." (5)

Thus spak the PATRYK GRAY, a baldyng guye,
"Ful wel I loved to serv the FBYe,
But shame, I burnd the fyls and sore hav synnd
And dizzy-grow from hangyn slow, slow in the wynd."

Thys was the merrye crew, on TV cache.
And who can say if cumen in impeache?
Nor yet whych man will ansyr to what cryme?
No oon can know, at Thysse Poynt in Tyme.
(1) A holy bird thought to have first been discovered by the White Knight of Sanders. Even the simplest peasants undertook frequent pilgrimages to its shrines, hoping to bring home enough bones for the whole family. (2) Hookyrs. (3) Scholars disagree on exact translation. Some say it is "Oval" (i.e., a place where you can't be cornered). Others claim, "Offal" (bawdy) or "Awful," (rare). (4) That is, except when he mak thyngs parfait obscur. (5) ln medieval times, a doctor thought to be of help in "gettyng thy hed togethyr."

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Pacing: 5.0
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Overall Rating: 5.0

Total Votes: 12

Voting Breakdown

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User Comments

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Padraig - August 27, 2014 - Report this comment
Hath it been forty years since this tale did unfold? Brynge ye back to me the memories of olde. If only Tommy Turtle were here to enjoy this.
Timmy Tortoise - August 27, 2014 - Report this comment
This meets the definition of "parody" in spades and should be used as an example for one and all. A masterpiece. Simply magnificent. If you're in the dark, it's easy enough to brush up your Chaucer.
Phil Alexander - August 28, 2014 - Report this comment
Holy cow.. truly wonderful. I don't know the subject matter, who you're righting about, but then I didn't know the Miller either.. Thank you for coming up with something completely unexpected :-D
Phil Alexander - August 28, 2014 - Report this comment
What was I thinking about when I rote "righting"? D'oh
John Jenkins - August 28, 2014 - Report this comment
Outstanding spoof of the Watergate scandal - definitely no "Monk's Tale." The humor seems to be enhanced by the creative spelling.
Callmelennie - August 28, 2014 - Report this comment
Your mynd was so overwhelmed by the brilliance of this parody that you swytched into Olde English mode, Phyl. Simple as that. I must say I enjoyed this greatly, Judith ...... I parodied Chaucer once about twenty years ago and gave it to my former English teacher. The occasion was my old school's playing in the State Championship game in football, a few weeks after they had broken a 16 year losing streak against our main rival. Moreover, they were facing an opponent in the Title Game that our school had never ..... So I spun a parody called the "The Tackle's (ie, me) Tale" where I revealed that my team had won a football game against our rival on an incorrect call that I knew to be incorrect. And because I had failed to report the truth to the referee and because I gloated over our victory years later, a curse was laid on your school's football program which perfectly explained my school's trials and tribulations. But now that I had confessed my perfidy, the team was now freed of the past and need not play in fear..... What I discovered is that once you get in sync with the rhythms and spelling, the lines flow, as the rhyming scheme is not difficult
Callmelennie - August 28, 2014 - Report this comment
BTW, what's this parody about, Judith? For some reason, perhaps because I was in high school in the Early Seventies and because I had three older brothers in college at the same time and a father who was a staunch Republican, some of these names are vaguely familiar. I seem to remember some of these names bandied about at family gatherings, ;-D
Meriadoc - August 29, 2014 - Report this comment
This was a freakynge masterpiece! Forsooth, haf I not laffed so lang in manye a nicht.
Peregrin - August 29, 2014 - Report this comment
I'll say it then: Judith doth Wax Lyrical
Chico - August 30, 2014 - Report this comment
Receptionist: The Dean is furious! He’s waxing wroth!
Groucho: Is Roth out there, too? Tell Roth to wax the Dean for a while.
Ernie - June 25, 2016 - Report this comment
I remember this from when it was published, and I've been looking for it online for years, since stuff started coming back on the web. It's one of the best political satires I've ever seen. Thanks so much for posting.
Ernie - June 25, 2016 - Report this comment
By the way, there's a typo in the first line, last stanza: "cache" should be "eache". You might want to fix that.
Ernie - June 25, 2016 - Report this comment
I am very sorry to see, Googling, that Judith Wax was killed in a plane crash in 1979. I can't post a link here, but if you Google "The Worldly Wisdom and Wit of Judith Wax" you can find a very fine article about her writing. Apparently "The Waterbury Tales" was her first big success.
Giorgio Coniglio's Grandson (ed.) - June 27, 2016 - Report this comment
@Ernie; Credit is due. How came thysse worke to be posted haire posthumously? I laud the effort, but it's no longer time for lyppes to be shutte.
Al Silver - June 27, 2016 - Report this comment
It is I who submitted this parody on behalf of the late, great Ms. Wax. Having read it in real time when it appeared as an editorial in the NY Times, and as a follower of the Watergate Hearings and an amateur parodist myself, it had a lasting impact on me. I am happy to have provided a service to this site and I wish it to be a tribute to Judith Wax, Chaucer scholar and Playboy editor.
Giorgio Coniglio's Grandson - June 27, 2016 - Report this comment
Al+5Ag+5
Al Silver - June 28, 2016 - Report this comment
Here is Chaucer/Wax on the subject of middle-age:

“I telle you that ripeness is the beste.
I vow that midlyfe’s bettyr than the reste.
I swear young folk have naught on myddl-agyrs,
(I swear, also, I’m Far y-Fawcett-Majyrs.)”

There will be another submission from Ms. Wax tomorrow.
Eric le Red - February 19, 2017 - Report this comment
Thought I'd lost this gem forever when I found your site. Thanks for making a small masterpiece available to all. (Time magazine wants you to subscribe before allowing access--and they were just reprinting it?). Finally, please fix the "cache" to read "eache".
Bruce Coppola - May 21, 2017 - Report this comment
Ful well do I remember how the use of "at this point in time" by the Nixon administration henchmen was roundly mocked, as in this classic, as the apogee of pretentious official-speak; but has, alas, become unironically commonplace.
Chevy - December 17, 2018 - Report this comment
40+ years later, I remember this parody as one of the funniest and wittiest I've ever read. Judith Wax perished in a plane crash shortly thereafter - a great loss as she was much too young at the time.
Carolyn Wardle - January 13, 2020 - Report this comment
I think this is the greatest piece of political satire ever written, a masterpiece of parody. I saved it from Time Magazine and still have it now. 'And who can say if cumen in impeache?' We have been asking ourselves the same question for the last couple of years! I await someone with Judith Wax's wit and talent to pen a piece of similar quality.

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