April 17th 1397
Geoffrey Chaucer narrated The Canterbury Tales for the first time to the court of Richard II.
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 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;
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.
For A level English Literature my year group studied The Prologue, The Pardoner’s Tale and The Prioress’s Tale.
Fortunately, a paperback translation was available!
I can’t say that I enjoyed studying The Canterbury Tales when at school in the 1960s. I was more interested in The Valley of the Dolls.
But, many years later, I saw The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Canterbury Tales and enjoyed it immensely.
The only quote I can remember from my English Literature class is part of The Prioress’s Tale:
She wore a small coral trinket on her arm
A string of beads and gauded all with green;
And therefrom hung a brooch of golden sheen
Whereon there was engraved a crowned “A”,
And under, Amor vincit omnia.
Amor vincit omnia.
Love conquers all.
Yes, indeed it does!
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