In my article about the origin of April Fool's Day
, which I wrote a few years ago, I noted that the first explicit reference to April 1st being a day for pranks can be found in a poem written in late-medieval Dutch (around 1561) by Eduard De Dene. The title of the poem is "Refereyn vp verzendekens dach / Twelck den eersten April te zyne plach." Marco Langbroek kindly translated this for me as: "Refrain on errand-day / which is the first of April."
But it recently occurred to me that although I knew about the poem, and had the title translated, I had never seen the full text of the poem itself. And in fact, I don't believe the poem has ever been translated into English. To me, this seems like a glaring omission in our knowledge of the history of April Fool's Day.
So I've tracked down the poem, which originally appeared in De Dene's work Testament Rhetoricael
. I found it on the Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren
. I've copied it below, but the version on the dbnl includes a few extra footnotes.
I'm hoping the internet can do its magic and help me get this poem translated. Any Dutch speakers out there? Marco? I'm guessing the language in the poem may be a bit of a challenge even for native Dutch speakers.