Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That Aprille with his Shoures Soote

A Very Late Spring This Year

April showers: Sweet! Radical!
Relief from March
Flowers, vines, veins, wine
Zephyr: Breath of Life
Celestial Ram
Melodic lark
Follow the West Wind;
Follow Your Heart!

my minimalist version of the
Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer


Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims as portrayed by William Blake
[Read more about the controversy
surrounding Blake's engraving of The Pilgrims]

as originally written inMiddle English, in 1380:
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote 1
The droghte 2 of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich 3 licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt 4 and heeth
The tendre croppes, 5 and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, 6
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages: 7
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes, 8
To ferne halwes, 9 couthe 10 in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende . . .

as translated by by Ronald L. Ecker & Eugene J. Crook in 1993:
When April's gentle rains have pierced the drought
Of March right to the root, and bathed each sprout
Through every vein with liquid of such power
It brings forth the engendering of the flower;
When Zephyrus too with his sweet breath has blown
Through every field and forest, urging on
The tender shoots, and there's a youthful sun,
His second half course through the Ram now run,
And little birds are making melody
And sleep all night, eyes open as can be
(So Nature pricks them in each little heart),
On pilgrimage then folks desire to start.
The palmers long to travel foreign strands
To distant shrines renowned in sundry lands;
And specially, from every shire's end
In England, folks to Canterbury wend . . .

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