Two monks took the blood of a duck, which they renewed every week; this they put into a phial, one side of which consisted of a thin, transparent crystal; the other thick and opaque; the dark side was shown until the sinner’s gold was exhausted, when, presto! change, the blood appeared by turning the other side of the phial. Innumerable toe-parings, bones, pieces of skin, three heads of St. Ursula, and other anatomical relics of departed saints, were said to cure every disease known to man.
– Alfred Wesley Wishart, A Short History Of Monks And Monasteries (1900)
The phrase “two monks took the blood of a duck”, in the above quotation, was appropriated by the poet Dennis Beerpint as the title of a lengthy, as-yet-unpublished work. It may be that he is still writing it, but our regular Beerpint-watcher, Dan Sprawl, is currently in hospital with a case of jangling cav and pag, so news is limited.
What we do know is that the poem compares the image of monks draining blood from a duck with the concept of being “washed in the blood of the lamb”. Here is an extract:
Then Brother Fabrizius strangled another teal.
“Hand me that retort, Brother Arpad, so that I may decant into it this teal’s gore.”
Brother Arpad reached for the retort and in so doing smashed an alembic.
There was a sound of bells.
The monks were called to compline.
For each canonical hour they allocated a duck to be slaughtered for its blood.
At compline, a teal.
At matins, a merganser.
At prime, a pintail.
At tierce, a shoveler.
At sext, a wigeon.
At nones, a smew.
And at vespers, a bufflehead.
Out in the fields, sweet little lambs gambolled and frolicked.
They would not frolic for long.
Soon, in the monastery, it would be bathtime.