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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Hawks and Handsaws
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1499  Thursday, 14 June 2001

From:           Michael Jeneid <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Jun 2001 09:53:28 -0700
Subject:        Re: Hawks and Handsaws

Dear Editor,

Surely it is worth noting, for the sake of the mechanicles among your
students, that a hawk is a plasterers tool and a handsaw a carpenters?
They would get the point of Hamlet's comment. They may not, I think,
have known the difference between a hawk and a hernshaw, which was the
Elizabethan contraction of heronsew.

I have explained this wonderful falconer's comment in my book Chaucer's
Checklist, on pages 60 and 61. The point is that handsaw is a play on
hernshaw, is a contraction of heronsew, is specifically a young heron
(Tatlock-and he got this one right). The haut vol du sport in falconry
was to match a peregrine falcon-a heroner-against a heron. Chaucer has
no less than three observations on the subject of the heron as the
target for this falcon. It was of course the best event to watch because
the heron is so big and so slow, and it all takes place over open
terrain. And of course the wind was in the nor -nor-west because that's
where it was when Chaucer asked for help to endite his poem...The
Parliament of Fowls.

My website, jeneidoutdoors.com, tells something of this book of mine; it
covers Chaucer's entire ornithology.

Yours cheerfully, Jeneid.

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