Whan that Aprill ... The annual eternal universal


From Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, April 17:

According to legend, it was on this day in 1397 that Geoffrey Chaucer recited The Canterbury Tales (books by this author) to the court of Richard II. Although there is no evidence that this actually happened, it is easy to imagine the scene, in part because of a famous painting of Chaucer reciting his poetry to the court, painted in the early 15th century. The prologue of Canterbury Tales opens with the famous lines:
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, kowthein 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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