Posted by: jevcat | April 2, 2012

Chaucer’s Prologue Revisited

For the second day of April, an adaptation of the prologue to the Canterbury Tales:

When April’s sweet showers

have pierced to the very root the drought of March,

and bathed every budding leaf in such living liquid

that first flowers burst into bloom,

when God’s fragrant breath

has inspired in every field and vacant lot

tender shoots, and the young sun

has run halfway through Aries’ sign

and even smallest birds make melodies

and sleep open-eyed all the night through,

their hearts so full of nature’s joy,

then we long to go on pilgrimages,

and wander along strange strands,

seeking castles, cathedrals, and grace,

for saints known and unknown,

the source of spring, and ourselves.

The original:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

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Responses

  1. I learned to to do a fairly decent oral reading in the original tongue. It was like an east European German English accent with a Romance language sing-a-ling pitch. Beyond value as an inkling of sparse literature available to us from the time it has even more value in my opinion as a source of cultural anthropology for the times as it grants insights into the minds of people that lived life suffering through primitive times and conditions and reveals that basically they are more like us today than for we would ordinarily give credit.


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