The Cipher of Leonardo

Myn gentil rederes alle, ich dide thynke ich wolde teste out sum newe materiale on yow bifor ich do trye to publishe yt. Ich haue layde plannes for to enditen what ich do calle a ‘romaunce thrillere’ – all of the actioune of a romaunce, but wyth sum puzzle solvynge and mysteriousness and sum thynge of an expose of the chirche. Ich do calle yt ‘The Ciphere of Leonardo,’ and ich thynke yt ‘has legges,’ as they saye. Here ich shal pooste a ‘tesere’ for thee – thys ys the firste fitt of the poeme:


Oon night ther forwarde dide ystagger fayntynge
A man hight Saunierye who knewe of payntynges
Thurgh archwaye vaulted of the Louvre he passid
And seised at nerest canvass as yf gassid;
A Carravage yt was, wyth gilded frame,
Ovt from the walle thys man dide tere the same.
In hepe beneth the canvas doun yfallen
From far aweye he herde thalarme to callen.
He thoght hym ‘ich yet lyve’ and caste his eyen
Arounde the roome a refuge for to spyen.
As crawlede he forth a voys dide saye ‘Halt, stop!’
So close yt was! Yn feere hys jawe did drop.
And ther thurgh irene barres he sawe a man
-for, ich sholde saye, accordynge to the plan
Of Palais-Louvres securitee ful grete
By cause of the alarum from lyne VIII
Ther hadde ydropped a gate of muchel strengthe
That trappid Saunierye yn that roomes lengthe.
The man on thothir syde (art thou stille wyth me?)
Was an albino, ful pale and straunge to se
For nothynge striketh feere yn mortal soules
Lyk to the pale! A boate ful of hooles
Ich rather wolde thurgh sharke-rich watirs stere
Than oones come to an albino neere!
A pistole from his coat the pale man drewe
And aymed yt at Saunieyre the trewe.
In accent odd, ‘Was litel vse to runne,’
He sayde, ‘Now wher ys yt? Or get the gunne!’
‘Tolde thee I haue,’ the gode man dide proteste
‘Of what thou spekst ich haue nat the fainteste’
‘Thou liest’ thalbino sayde, ‘Thou and thy brotheres
Kepen sum thynge that by ryght longeth to otheres.’
Adrenalin in Saunieyres veynes dide synge
‘How coud he,’ thoght he then, ‘knowe of thys thynge?’
‘Tonighte,’ pale weirdo seyde, ‘the rightful men
Thys thynge in seisin holden shal ayein –
Telle forth and lyfsblud for thynselfe reservest
But telle me nat and by my gunne thou stervest.’
So Sauyniere lyk Sinon storye tolde
False as the devil, and seyde yt forth ful bolde
For he hadde yt rehersd many a yeer
(Ye notice, o myn gentil rederes deere,
Ich telle yow nat of what thys ‘thyng’ might be-
Yt ys a tricke poetic vsid by me
To kepe yow yn confusioun most plesynge
Thurgh alle thys vague and nonspecific tesyng).
So, wyth the tale of thys McGuffin tolde
Sire Lilye-White did logh, ‘Ich knowe of oold
Thys storye false, for oothirs haue yt seyde’
Sauyniere dide gaspe and blaunchen lyk a mayde:
Yf pale-face spoke the treuthe, than al the thre
Of senechaux (aske me nat what they be)
Had dyede the deeth and tolde the selfsame tale.
Was no man evir yn gretere nede of ale
Than thys Sauyniere, he was so reuthe.
‘Whan thou art dede, no man shal knowe the treuthe
But me,’ thalbino seyde, and shot Sauyniere.
The bullete sange yts hotte waye thurgh the aire
And lodged yn hys cheste, o payne so soore!
And caspere raysed the gunne for yet oon moore.
And yet a clikke, no bullet yet remayneth
For whiche to dryve a passage thurgh hys brayne.
‘Payne ys goode,’ the pale man seyde to hym
And disappearede. By cause he knewe of werre
And eek of woundes he long agoon had seene
Sauyniere coud rekne he hadde minutes XV
Bifor the gunshot wolde bryng forth his deeth
And so he cast aboute wyth hys last breeth
To fynde whiche payntynge nereby he colde see
Well suited to sum light cryptographie
With which to leave sum puzzle or sum clewe
For to be solved by Hanks and Miss Tatou.

31 comment "The Cipher of Leonardo"

  1. BSL! I am speechless. I would be laughing to the point of pain if I weren't so distracted by the genius of your versification.

  2. Oh man. So awesome. Sadly, I can't translate that into Middle English, but you get the point. *g*

  3. Dan Chavcer ben a poette of renown
    Bettir by far than thatte hacke Dan Brouun.

  4. Ywis thatte Maistre Chavcer should indite that the San Graal and the Sang Real ben the same thing. Thvs, goode kynge Rjcharde ben the heir nat juste of the kingdomes of Engelonde, Fraunce, and Irlonde, butte of alle Christendoom.

  5. Thou art a mischievous knave of brilliance supreme.

  6. SUPERB. Just change the last word - Tautou is the actress, Tatou is the vertically challenged person from Fantasy Island "De plane, Boss, de plane!"

  7. "SUPERB. Just change the last word - Tautou is the actress, Tatou is the vertically challenged person from Fantasy Island "De plane, Boss, de plane!""

    Tee hee! An error that saith muche abovte myn entertainemente preferaunces. Ich shal chaunge yt when time shal allowe. Grant merci for drawynge that mistake to my attencioun.

    Le Vostre

  8. No mention of the pale fellow's startling resemblance to the poet as a younger man?

  9. You are my new fucking hero.


  10. Myn cher geoffroy, wouldst get mee wythe chylde? For Ich wouldst have thine baybye.

  11. audibile ridendus.

  12. Verily, I am in awe. Master Chaucer, this is brilliance.

  13. I am officially in love.

    Thank you, thank you, thankyou.

  14. You are a gent, and a star.
    Genius blog.

  15. Of that long book, you chose to cast in verse,
    The best of it; the plot soon gets much worse.

  16. In adoration, may I link thy blog from myne ?

  17. I believe that it was England not the UK. The UK came into being after the Lord Protector annexed


  18. I hate this blog.
    I have an exam tomorrow and I have just spent approximately an hour reading this blog.
    Curse the author.

  19. Puissant Geoffroy, noble bloggeur, thou rockest.

  20. I wish I had thought of this... Your versification is brilliant!

  21. Christi RichardsonJune 6, 2006 at 10:27 AM

    I LOVETH your blog, Chaucer...I would fair give thee an award just for "The cipher of Leonardo", but sadly, I lack one. I am fair enjoying learning the language of they clime, as well.

  22. O hou this misterye yntrigues me! Yt ys wonderfull to rede thys tayl thrugh ayeyn and understaynd yt yn a newe wai. I am quyte fonde of thus novele and wishe I culde lyve a dryven lyfe lyke that...

  23. Ich am amazede. Yow haseth doon Dan Brouun justice. Yt is lyke yow art thou, but betir. Ich fynd hyt funye thatte Dan Brouun haseth ben rumourede to ben steelynge, and yow yt pere haveth the stoury same. Ich choseth thou versoune.

  24. Truly, do Ich wishe yow had writen the moovie "The Cipher of Leonardo", not "thatte hacke Dan Brouun" as oon othere commentaire seid. Also, thy referense to "Caspere" didst brynge a smyl to myne face. Bravo!

  25. Ich to am a Leanardo fanne. Ich founde it to be veri passiounate. Ich am noot to goode at understonding yowr langage but Ich thynke yow are veri talented. What is yowr favorite payntnyng?

  26. You have a very good blog that the main thing a lot of interesting and useful!

  27. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and
    I am waiting for your next write ups thanks once

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