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Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Aprille, with his shoures snowie
"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,
And Tremulus Aescgar responded with a translation of the Prologue to the "Canterbury Tales" in the English of two or three centuries earlier:
HwŠt! đa Eostre-mona■ mid his regne swete,
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,