Friday, May 18, 2007

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Here bygynneth the Book of the Tales of Caunterbury

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
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
(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;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

Bifil that in that seson, on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,

At nyght was come into that hostelrye
Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,

That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
And wel we weren esed atte beste;
And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,

So hadde I spoken with hem everichon
That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
And made forward erly for to ryse
To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.

But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
To telle yow al the condicioun

Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
And eek in what array that they were inne;
And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
--Geoffrey Chaucer

This is one of the Poems I memorized for extra credit points in Mr Strohm's class. I believe that for the test day at least, I had the whole thing down. I feel bad about one thing, though. When he asked for volunteers to recite for the class, my hand was first to go up because I was excited. I did the whole thing, spot on, and sat down. After that no one else would recite -- not even ten lines which I know many of them had memorized. Oh well, at least they could still get points for writing it out.

I once got the audiobook of Canterbury Tales out from the library. I listened to it for a little while, but it quickly got a little too racy for me. When even Mr. Scholar Guy who kept poking his nose in to give analysis said something along the lines of, "And the cheeks on the face are not the principal ones kissed." I knew I was done.

One last thing: We walk in the garden of his turbulence. Yaaaaay!


  1. I had to learn the first 18 lines for a class at BYU. Bits of it still float unconnectedly about in my brain.

  2. Here's my favorite Chaucer quote:
    "My Lords… my Ladies… and everybody else not sitting on a cushion! Today… today, you find yourselves equals - for you are all equally blessed! For I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure , of introducing to you a knight sired by knights; a knight who can trace his lineage back beyond Charlemagne. I first met him atop a mountain near Jerusalem, praying to God… asking his forgiveness for the Saracen blood spilt by his sword. Next, he amazed me still further in Italy, when he saved a fatherless beauty from her dreadful Turkish uncle! In Greece, he spent a year in silence, just to better understand the sound… of a whisper… And so, without further gilding the lily, and with no more ado, I give to you the seeker of serenity, the protector of Italian women, the enforcer of our lord God - the one, the only, Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein!"

  3. That's still my favorite role for that actor.

  4. Agreed, altho' he was wonderfully imaginary and created a memorable Stephen Machurin

  5. I remember that on the recording Mr Strohm gave my class to help us memorize the lines, someone played a few medieval sounding guitar chords before it began. Steve taught me how to play them on his guitar so I could add some flare to my oral recitation of it, but when it came time for me to recite it I was so nervous that only the first chord came out right and all the others were just ugly plunks. It got a good laugh though and Mr Strohm liked the idea so I got some extra points for it.

  6. That is amazing to me that you could be nervous enough to mess up the guitar chords and yet still remember the 29 (? 42?) lines of Chaucer you memorized in one day. I would have forgotten EVERYTHING. Mom