A Time for Pilgrims

by thecustomhouse

At St. John’s, we had to memorize and recite the prologue to The Canterbury Tales  for sophomore language. I heard so many people recite it that spring (each of us with different pronunciations) that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to begin spring without thinking of it. I buy into its idea that spring is the season for pilgrims, the season for hardy souls.

“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;
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.”

 

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