Archive for ‘Germany’


“I say, Charles, don’t you ever crave…”

Twelve hundred years ago tomorrow—January 28, 814—the Franks lamented the death of a tall, paunchy, mustachioed king whom they already knew was one of the most important people in European history: Karl or Charles the Great, Karolus Magnus, Charlemagne. His biographers cataloged the omens that presaged his death, and poets insisted that all the world wept for him. But they mourned too late; the old man they interred in the cathedral had long been lost to legend and myth.

The Charlemagne most of us know is a literary creation: a chivalric ancestor, an Arthur-like figure encircled by heroes, an enigma whose name legitimizes fundamentalist prophecies, spurious movie quotes, heavy-metal concept albums, and (mirabile dictu) overpriced shower gel. Across centuries, Karl’s propagandists can rightly claim victory—but as someone suspicious of power, I’m interested in a different judgment of the man, one that shows how some people felt about him when he wasn’t yet cold in his tomb.

In 824, on the island of Reichenau, a book-obsessed monk named Wettin fell ill. He crawled into bed and suffered terrifying visions: First, he saw an evil, robed spirit looming over his bed with torture devices; then he went on a vivid tour of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven led by his own guardian angel.

From his deathbed, Wettin recounted his revelations to a monk named Haito. Two years later, one of Wettin’s former students, Walafrid Strabo, rewrote the account as a long poem, “The Vision of Wettin.” Walafrid later tutored Charlemagne’s grandson and served as abbot of Reichenau. His flair for poetry and his love of gardening have earned him a tag on this blog and a poem in the gargoyle book, but when you’re assessing Charlemagne, one scene from his “Vision of Wettin” really stands out.

Here it is, hastily translated (by me) from Latin into metrical, alliterative lines:

 Casting his eyes over the landscape,
 He beheld the late king of the high-born Romans
 And all of Italy unable to move,
 Rent by a beast that ravaged his genitals;
 Left free of ruin was the rest of his body.
“Explain this!” cried Wettin, witless with horror.
“Many things fell to this man in his life:
 Attempting to nourish a new age of laws,
 Goading the teachings of God to prosper,
 Nobly protecting his pious subjects,
 Eventually reaching that rare summit
Where upholding virtue invites sweet praise,
But here he is held under horrid conditions,
Enduring great pain and punishment. Why?”

“This torment engulfs him,” his guide replied,
“Because he disfigured with filthy pleasures
His noble deeds, and doubted not
That his sins would be subsumed by his goodness,
Ending his life in the usual sordidness.
Even so, he will toil to attain splendor
And delight in the honor his Lord has prepared.”
               (MGH Poetae II 318–319, ll. 446–465)

Make what you will of the prospects for Charlemagne’s soul; after his death, people grew comfortable recording in writing what they’d likely been saying for years. Heirs and hangers-on had reasons for praising or damning the actual man—but before long, medieval people were more interested in letting the real Karl rot while recasting “Charlemagne” to suit their own needs. In the year ahead, we’ll rediscover how true that still is.

Tomorrow’s anniversary kicks off the “Karlsjahr,” a flurry of Karolocentric commemorations, exhibitions, symposia, and other events coinciding with the septennial Catholic pilgrimage to Charlemagne’s cathedral at Aachen. The city will host three major exhibitions of artifacts and art; an artist will install 500 Charlemagne statues in a public square; and a new Aachen Bank card will show off the famous reliquary bust. The town of Ingelheim will host an exhibition, and the abbey church in the Swiss village of Müstair will serve up a display about Carolingian architecture, a “collage-opera” about Charlemagne’s imperial coronation, and a comedy performance, “Karl and the White Elephant”—and these are only the events I’ve discovered so far.

For 1,200 years, Europeans have crafted a Karl for all seasons. Later medieval kings grafted him to their family trees, Crusaders invoked him, the French made him an icon of education, and Napoleon and Hitler believed they were continuing his work. His latest incarnation is also explicitly political: When the 1957 Treaty of Rome created the European Community, the six signatory nations covered almost the exact same territory as his empire. The EU’s headquarters in Brussels, the dull Charlemagne Building, enshrines him as the patron saint of European unity—and someday, perhaps, of murky bureaucracy. Statues rise, stained glass dazzles, and the source of the legend is lost.

In Becoming Charlemagne, I likened Karl’s tiny capital to the king himself: “almost civilized and unexpectedly alive: ambitious, forceful, clearly Christian, slightly cruel.” He once slaughtered helpless Saxon captives, an atrocity that shocked his contemporaries, and it wasn’t always propitious to be his relative. His failings, both personal and political, were as great as his ambitions.

But take a second look: There’s a remarkable, complex person beneath centuries of rhetoric and legend. It’s the rare leader indeed who can smile at endless flattery, enjoying obsequious poems praising him as a second David, yet still demonstrate, through his actions, that he knows he isn’t the apotheosis of his civilization—that the future needs books, buildings, and institutions that endure.

At this, Karl failed—but 1,200 years later, individuals, nations, and vast institutions still clamor for a piece of him. This summer, through music, theater, religion, and art, his heirs will convene in the shadows he cast. The Christian emperor, the lustful king, the cold-hearted brother, the egomaniac, the mourning father, the blood-spattered warlord, the pragmatic diplomat, the debatable saint, the barely literate patron of learning—there are myriad Charlemagnes to remember, and nearly as many we choose to forget. The story goes on, and the “Karlsjahr” in Europe is about more than the past, so look closely: Amid all the tourists, new Charlemagnes rise.

“With a torch in your pocket, and the wind at your heels…”

Disentangling sickly cucumber vines, dispatching peppers that chose not to thrive—the maudlin side of late summer gardening got me thinking this week about Walahfrid Strabo, the 9th-century abbot and gardener who tutored Charlemagne’s grandson. Walahfrid was famously unafraid of hard work, so perhaps I cheapened his memory when I sat down to translate his poem “To a Friend.”

Because the poem is only 10 lines long and grammatically compact, I made the same careless assumption as the day I broke ground in my garden: “How hard can this be?”

AD AMICUM

Cum splendor lunae fulgescat ab aethere purae,
Tu sta sub divo cernens speculamine miro
Qualiter ex luna splendescat, lampade pura,
Et splendore suo caros amplecitur uno
Corpore divisos, sed mentis amore ligatos.
Si facies faciem spectare nequivit amantem,
Hoc saltem nobis lumen sit pignus amoris.
Hos tibi versiculos fidus transmisit amicus;
Si de parte tua fidei stat fixa catena,
Nunc precor, ut valeas felix per saecula cuncta.

I haven’t been in a Latin classroom for 15 years, so when I try to translate verse, I get that Flowers for Algernon feeling—but it’s not hard to render this poem into clunky English prose:

“TO A FRIEND: When the splendor of the moon glitters from the pure heavens, stand under the sky and behold with wonder as you see the pure light shine from the moon, see its brilliance embrace dear ones divided bodily but connected by love in their minds. If face may not gaze on beloved face, then at least let this light be proof of our love. Your faithful friend has sent these little verses. If, for your part, your bond of loyalty stands firm, then I pray you be happy and well forever.”

Translating Latin poetry into English is a nasty job; you’re duty-bound to smother some gasping aspect of meaning or form and bury it deep in your notes. Lines of Latin verse don’t rhyme at the ends; they’re ruled by vowel quantity, using long and short vowels where we use stressed and unstressed syllables. Walahfrid composes hexameter lines: the first four feet have to be dactyls or spondees, the fifth foot is usually a dactyl, and the sixth foot is always spondaic—but there are also three places where a good Latin hexameter line ought to have a caesura, and at least two places where it’s verboten to break up a word across different feet.

Ever versatile, “Hexameter Hank” Longfellow adapted the form for English metrical verse in the 1,400-line Evangeline: “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks.” (I’ve tried it too by adapting elegiac couplets, which alternate hexameter and pentameter.)

So I sat down to translate Walahfrid’s poem, expecting to be done in a day.  I stumbled first on the diction: A poet who varies his language is a translator’s dream, so I frowned to realize that Walahfrid twice uses both pura (“clear, pure, simple, plain”) and splendor (“brilliance, brightness, luster”).

Using the same word twice (and then doing it twice) emphasizes a bond between two friends, but that’s just a small part of what’s going on in this poem. You don’t need to know a word of Latin to see it:

Cum splendor lunae fulgescat ab aethere purae,
Tu sta sub divo cernens speculamine miro
Qualiter ex luna splendescat, lampade pura,
Et splendore suo caros amplecitur uno
Corpore divisos, sed mentis amore ligatos.
Si facies faciem spectare nequivit amantem,
Hoc saltem nobis lumen sit pignus amoris.
Hos tibi versiculos fidus transmisit amicus;
Si de parte tua fidei stat fixa catena,
Nunc precor, ut valeas felix per saecula cuncta.

Rhyme! Medieval Latin poets often played with internal rhyme, but one German scholar in 1965 spotted Walahfrid doing something special: Each line has two rhyming syllables, one on a rising, stressed syllable, the other on a falling, unstressed syllable. Like Walahfrid and his friend, they’re distant, and a little bit different, but share a bond. At the end, the tenth line brings them as close as can be in an idiom that means “forever.”

Are there artful ways to render this in English? I tried:

“When the pure moon sends forth its brightness in splendor from the heavens…”

Bleah. Even if I pretend that’s a proper rhyme, the hexameter is lifeless, and the diction is novice, pocket-dictionary stuff. Walahfrid may have bonded by moonlight with his long-distance friend, but I won’t be the one to craft an English translation that illuminates modern readers with a medieval truth: that the body and soul of a poem are one.

“Won’t you fly across that ocean, take a train on down…”

“The origin of our city will be buried in eternal oblivion,” wrote Washington Irving in his satirical History of New York, the 1809 book that made the 26-year-old Manhattanite one of America’s first literary celebs. Two centuries later, Irving’s “Knickerbocker History” is by turns funny, baffling, and obscure, but what intrigued me was how full of Charlemagne it is:

The origin of our city will be buried in eternal oblivion, and even the names and achievements of Wouter Van Twiller, Wilhelmus Kleft, and Peter Stuyvesant, be enveloped in doubt and fiction, like those of Romulus and Remus, of Charlemagne, King Arthur, Rinaldo, and Godfrey of Bologne.

As it turns out, Irving was a bit of a Charlemagne buff. Elsewhere in the History, his alter ego Diedrich Knickerbocker looks to the Carolingians to explain why New York City’s “ancient magistrates” were chosen, naturally, by weight:

As a board of magistrates, formed on this model, think but very little, they are the less likely to differ and wrangle about favourite opinions—and as they generally transact business upon a hearty dinner, they are naturally disposed to be lenient and indulgent in the administration of their duties. Charlemagne was conscious of this, and therefore (a pitiful measure, for which I can never forgive him) ordered in his cartularies, that no judge should hold a court of justice, except in the morning, on an empty stomach—a rule, which, I warrant, bore hard upon all the poor culprits in his kingdom. The more enlightened and humane generation of the present day have taken an opposite course…

Jolly old Diedrich Knickerbocker also trots out several mock-heroic references to Roland, the “Orlando” of romance. Two of them occur in battles between Dutchmen and Swedes, while the third anchors a preposterous yarn about the death of trumpeter Antony Von Corlear, whose race to aid his fellow Dutchmen is stymied when a devil drags him to the bottom of the Harlem River:

Luckless Antony! scarce had he buffeted half way over, when he was observed to struggle most violently as if battling with the spirit of the waters—instinctively he put his trumpet to his mouth and giving a vehement blast—sunk forever to the bottom!

The potent clangour of his trumpet, like the ivory horn of the renowed Paladin Orlando, when expiring in the glorious field of Roncesvalles, rung far and wide in through the country, alarming the neighbors round, who hurried in amazement to the spot…

Irving later visited relatives in England (where he wrote two of his most famous stories, “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”) and spent 17 years wandering Europe. He had mined German folklore for two of his biggest hits and expected further inspiration. “I mean to get into the confidence of every old woman I meet with in Germany,” he told a friend, “and get from her, her budget of wonderful stories.”

The romantic New Yorker, pushing 40, soon met the drab reality of history. Visiting Aachen in 1822, he noted in his journal that he had seen the “fountain with bronze statue of Charlemagne” and “Charlemagne’s Chair in Town Hall,” both of which are still tourist landmarks, but he saved his grousing for a darkly amusing letter to his sister:

I am disappointed in Aix-la-Chapelle. To me it is a very dull place, and I do not find that others seem more pleased with it.

[. . .]

This is the birthplace, and was once the seat of empire of Charlemagne, that monarch so renowned in history and song. His tomb is in the cathedral, and is only marked by a broad slab of black marble, on which is the inscription, Carolo Magno. The Cathedral is an extremely ancient, venerable-looking pile. Every night I hear the hours chimed on its bells; and the midnight hours announced by the watchman from its tower. The Germans are full of old customs and usages, which are obsolete in other parts of the world . . .

The people have an antiquated look, particularly the lower orders. The women dress in peculiar costumes. As to the company at the hotels and public saloons, it is composed of all nations, but particularly northern nations: Russians, Prussians, Germans, Dutch, &c. Everywhere you see military characters, in fierce moustaches and jingling spurs, with ribbons and various orders at their button-holes. Still, though there are many personages of rank here, the place is not considered the most fashionable, and there are many rough characters in the crowds that throng the saloons. Indeed it is somewhat difficult to distinguish a gentleman from a common man among these northern people; there is great slovenliness of dress and coarseness of appearance among them; they all smoke; and I have often been surprised to hear a coarse-looking man, whom I had set down for some common tradesman, addressed as Monsieur the Count or the Baron. The weather has been very bad for several days past.

A recent biographer points out that Irving was suffering from an illness, perhaps the gout, which the famous waters of Aix-la-Chapelle failed to cure—but he wasn’t the last tourist to find Aachen underwhelming. A 2003 Rick Steves guidebook dismisses “unassuming Aachen” near the “unromantic Rhine,” and when I sat in Aachen Cathedral on a frigid February weekend in 2008, I heard tourists mumble that the place was too small to have been worth the trip.

Despite their gripes, I found that the “concentrated magnificence” of the octagonal chapel at Aachen repays real contemplation, and trying to see it backwards across a 1,200-year gulf is a worthy (if futile) ambition. Tourists to Aachen wish for eighth-century streets; if Washington Irving’s imagination failed him in Charlemagne’s town, what hope can their be for the Lonely Planet crowd?

Two years after sulking in Aachen, Irving wrote in Tales of a Traveller: “The land of literature is a fairy land to those who view it from a distance, but like all other landscapes, the charm fades on a nearer approach, and the thorns and briars become visible.” He later found his European dreamworld in Spain, especially Granada, where he briefly lived and wrote at the Alhambra. As the author of the most popular 19th-century book about Christopher Columbus, Irving convinced Americans, wrongly, that medieval people believed the world was flat. It’s tempting to wonder what myths he might have spun about Charlemagne if he’d just passed through Aachen in sunnier health. Generations of teachers perhaps can be glad he did not.

(Photo of Aachen taken in February 2008.)

“Diamond rings, and all those things…”

For five years, this blog has documented medievalism from Louisiana to Serbia to Ossetia to the banks of the Potomac and the putting greens of Ocean City, but there’s one manifestation I’ve dreaded: Nazism. I don’t hesitate to point out dreary forms of medievalism, but I figured the Third Reich’s version of it would be especially awful. It is—so I’m grateful to Sidney D. Kirkpatrick for summarizing it in what’s probably the only book to feature both Nazis and art historians that can properly be called a great “beach read.”

Published in 2010, Hitler’s Holy Relics tells the story of the late Walter Horn, known to medievalists as co-founder of the art history department at UC-Berkeley and co-author of The Plan of St. Gall. As World War II wound down in Europe, Horn was a 36-year-old lieutenant for the U.S. Army; he was born and educated in Germany and had fled as recently as 1938, which made him useful as an interrogator. In February 1945, after a desperate prisoner squealed about a secret bunker under Nuremberg Castle, Lieutenant Horn investigated an incredible stash of artwork and relics, including the reputed Holy Lance and the coronation garments of the Holy Roman Emperor.

There was one problem: the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire—the crown, globe, scepter, and two swords—were missing, and the Allies feared the objects might be used to rally neo-Nazis as the Nuremberg trials began.

Horn was uniquely qualified to search for them. He had studied under magisterial art historian Erwin Panofsky at Hamburg and personally knew many of Germany’s top curators, art historians, and dealers. Plus, unlike many members of the Army’s commission on monuments and antiquities, he wasn’t a curator looking to enhance a museum collection back in the States. (A true academic, Horn carried a draft of his scholarly article about a Florentine basilica across seven countries. He fearlessly interrogated Nazis but was reluctant to submit his work for peer review.) In late July 1945, Horn was given just three weeks to find the lost Crown Jewels before a repatriation conference in Munich would render his mission moot—and the faster he could get it done, the more time he’d have to search the Soviet Zone for the family he left behind.

Kirkpatrick tells this story well, painting a dense, believable picture of postwar chaos. As the occupying army compromises with conquered locals, Walter Horn sees his birth nation in ruins, wonders about the fate of his family and friends, and hunts for treasure even when questions of cultural patrimony pale against the enormity of the entire war. Despite its lurid cover, Hitler’s Holy Relics is sensitive to the stories of individuals, not armies, from a Nazi museum curator who survives by hiding his homosexuality to the personal interest Patton himself takes in the Crown Jewels.

It’s also sensitive to the allure of medievalism, as Kirkpatrick sketches out the creepy ways in which high-ranking Nazis mixed medieval myth with occultism in an effort to raise up a truly freakish world. Kirkpatrick summarizes the legends surrounding the Holy Lance, which beguiled a young Hitler when he saw it in an Austrian museum. He also describes the work of the Ahnenerbe, the SS “think tank” dedicated to such projects as locating the Holy Grail and forcing Finnish psychics to contact Nordic spirits. Kirkpatrick details Hitler’s plans to turn Nuremberg, home of the Crown Jewels, into a bizarre neo-medieval theme park, and he takes us, via Walter Horn, to Heinrich Himmler’s insane castle, which was renovated by enslaved Jehovah’s Witnesses, furnished with an Arthurian Round Table and rune-inscribed teacups, and designed to resemble, from the air, the tip of the Holy Lance.

Notably free of the usual Discovery Channel baloney—there’s only one dubious case of wild speculation, and it comes from Walter Horn himself—Hitler’s Holy Relics is a terrific read. Kirkpatrick corrects errors in earlier, more lurid accounts of Horn’s adventures and makes clear to a non-scholarly audience why art and architecture aren’t mere ornamentation, but powerful political tools. In doing so, he confirms a chilling observation by scholar Tom Shippey that’s worth keeping in mind as you suit up for the Ren Fest this fall: “There are…many medievalisms in the word, and some of them are as safe as William Morris wallpaper: but not all of them.”

“Behind bolted doors, talent and imagination…”

Two blocks south of the city center of Aachen, near the cathedral that encases Charlemagne’s famous chapel, you’ll find a gaming store with a window full of tiny knights and monsters. Its existence in this medieval city of emperors is an amusing reminder of the complex relationship between the actual past and the fantasy version of the Middle Ages we’ve never been able to shake. That relationship is always worth pondering, but it’s especially poignant today in light of the news about the fellow who was arguably one of the most influential medievalists of the latter half of the 20th century: “Dungeons & Dragons” co-creator E. Gary Gygax, who died yesterday in Wisconsin at the age of 69.

Four years ago, when hardcore gamers celebrated “Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day” amid the shuffling of graph paper and the plaintive plinking of dice against Coke cans, the event was mostly a nostalgia trip, not a notable phenomenon in its own right. That wasn’t because the culture had abandoned D&D, but because old-school paper-and-dice gaming had evolved as the larger culture embraced RPGs, developed them for new media, and midwifed their mass appeal. Online gaming? Tolkien and Beowulf movies? Girls who are unafraid to enter comic shops? All of these wonders, at one time unimaginable, can be traced back to “Dungeons and Dragons”—specifically, to the bearded sage of Lake Geneva and the arcana he co-bequeathed to the skinny-armed boys who raised fistfuls of dice in geeky solidarity during the early 1980s.

Contrast those humble nerdlings of yore with the polished, professional women who flip through Harry Potter novels during their subway commutes. These valkyries are the goddaughters of Gary Gygax and the unknowing heirs to the mainstreaming of fantasy. So are their kids, from the girls who swooned over Orlando “Legolas” Bloom—girls who, a generation ago, wouldn’t have been caught dead watching a fantasy movie—to the boys who have slain every goblin the XBox can throw at them.

It was not always thus. When I was in middle school in the dark days of 1983, a science teacher rescued me from study hall with a weekly session of RPGs and military wargaming. That class, for which several of us received academic credit, solved the mystery surrounding the sprawling scale models of the European countryside that took up half of the chemistry room and the elaborate maps of imaginary places stapled to the classroom walls. The teacher, a retired two-star general, was always an iconoclast. Years later, when faculty were forbidden to smoke on school grounds, he reportedly researched the property limits and spent his lunch hours loping just outside the borders, puffing away in furious protest. Those were the sorts of adults who embraced fantasy back then: outsiders, autodidacts, guys who literally brought their vast knowledge of military history to the table, and similar pre-Internet obsessives who made their classmates and co-workers—the type whom every eight-year-old in the Western Hemisphere now knows to call “Muggles”—very, very nervous.

Of course, for those of us who were raised outside of an academic milieu, D&D also offered a valuable experience that later served us well: the game offered a preview of the systems, organization, and culture of a worldwide scholarly community. Hardcover tomes served as authoritative published sources. Pages of rules, charts, graphs, classifications of moral and ethical philosophies, and endless systems of nomenclature were all punctuated with academic abbreviations (“cf.,” “q.v.,” and so on) that required training and memorization. Like knowing how to use the Patrologia Graeca and its accompanying scholarly apparatus, mastering the material in the various D&D manuals was a skill not easily acquired. All of this stuff was, like the foundational scholarship of any field, composed by sages whom we knew primarily through their written pronouncements. They published regular supplements, such as Dragon magazine, which featured articles as specialized and as arcane as anything in Byzantinische Forschungen. From disquisitions on the ecologies of imaginary creatures to lengthy debates about the physics of falling and its effect on the proper way to calculate hit-point damage taken by characters wearing variously configured armor, Dragon was a newsletter, marketplace, and academic journal all rolled into one. Its luminaries even hosted annual and regional meetings; in-the-know players became attuned to rumors of contentious professional politics among the inner circle.

As an adult, I’m too self-conscious and jaded to return to the world of old-school gaming. That initial interest didn’t die; it simply matured, thank goodness, and now I seek a similar buzz in hiking, traveling, teaching, and writing. I’ve never worn armor, I don’t attend Renaissance festivals, and I can’t tell one scion of the house of Gondor from another. I will admit, though, that while working on Becoming Charlemagne, I drafted sprawling, D&D-like maps of Aachen, Baghdad, Constantinople, and Rome, simply to give myself a mental picture of each setting. I loved it. So help me, I felt like I was ten again.

At this moment, countless kids are watching their Lord of the Rings DVDs, reading Harry Potter, or playing fantasy games on their computers; perhaps their parents are logging onto Web sites under handles and encountering no stigma as they play at being someone else. Twenty years ago, most of them wouldn’t have touched a set of polyhedron dice with a ten-foot pole; today, they all know what a hobbit is, and they find nothing odd about wizards and magic and the trappings of popular medievalism, recast as they have been into forms that have decreased in intelligence but certainly gained in charisma. So here’s to Gary Gygax, an unlikely popularizer whose almost wholly derivative work broadened the appeal of medievalism by energizing the geek culture that now reigns supreme. I wish him a tomb protected by ingenious traps, and an adventurous afterlife where all of the hallways are perfectly ten feet square.

“Come down off your throne, and leave your body alone…”

For more than a year now, I’ve written about Charlemagne, talked about Charlemagne, answered questions about Charlemagne, joked about Charlemagne, fielded emails about Charlemagne, translated poems about Charlemagne, and have otherwise come to see the old boy as a sort of ghostly roommate who makes dubious excuses (“dude, I totally left my wallet in my other rodent-fur cloak”) whenever he’s asked to contribute to the rent.

The thing is, there was one Charlemagne-related thing I hadn’t done—specifically, a Charlemagne-related place I hadn’t visited—and I got a little tired of people expressing surprise about that. So, on a whim and sort of at the last minute: greetings from Aachen.

A few lessons for those similarly inclined: Maastrict-Aachen Airport does not, in fact, service the city of Aachen. However, the airport does give you a wonderful opportunity to discover the Dutch language skills you didn’t know you had while you enjoy a crash course on the bus system of provincial Limburg. In the rain. Next to lots of billboards advertising a museum retrospective about Smurfs.

But you know what? As Chaucer’s Friar Hubert famously declared: It beats being in the office.