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Aprille, with his shoures snowie

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April  April 11, 2007 11:57 AM

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"Bifor Aprille was the cruellest moneth (whatever that meneth!), it was a moneth of coloures and cries, and pilgrymages," writes Geoffrey Chaucer at his blog. (Yes, Chaucer hath a blog; he also hath high cholesterol and a wyf who is glad he's dieting: "She seyd that ich was 'blowing up lyk post-Kevin Britney.' ")

There's a reason T.S. Eliot and Chaucer had different views of April, of course -- one of those reasons is bearing down on the Northeast even now. So if you prefer Chaucer's spring -- if you still can recite "When that Aprille with his shoures soote / The droght of March hath perced to the roote," and so on -- then hie thee to Chaucer's celebration of the month.

Chaucer asked his fans for poetic readings and tributes, and he got them. "FSJL" offered these lines on another aspect of April's cruelty:

Whan that Aprille doth March displace,
with weping, walinge, and cryes folk do disporte
for there beth ne shelter ne resorte,
The IRS doth every fotestepe trace,
and will nat grante even a minute's grace,
an ye paye not, thenne the kyng his courte,
shall distrain on ye, and ye shall falle shorte.

And Tremulus Aescgar responded with a translation of the Prologue to the "Canterbury Tales" in the English of two or three centuries earlier:

Hwæt! Ða Eostre-mona‏þ mid his regne swete,
þæt drygenysse of Hreð-mona‏þ ‏þurhdrifode to þam wyrtrumum,
and baðe‏þ hwelce ædre on swelce wine,
fram hwilc gehwilce bloma bið weaxode.

If you worry that English is changing too fast, pity Chaucer's pilgrims, whose language had evolved in a comparative heartbeat. Unlike them, we can read centuries-old texts with barely a stumble; take, say, Swift's rhymes on rain in the first few lines of "Description of a City Shower" (1710):

Careful observers may foretell the hour,
(By sure prognostics,) when to dread a shower.
While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o'er
Her frolics, and pursues her tail no more.

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1 comments so far...
  1. This rocks

    Posted by ghostwriter pseudonym October 24, 08 11:36 PM
 
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