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Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Prologue, 1-18


Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

When Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,

And smale fowles maken melodye,

That slepen al the night with open ye,

So priketh hem nature in hir corages:

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

And palmers for to seken straunge strandes

To ferne halves, couthe in sondry landes;

And specially, from every shires ende

Of Engeland, to Caunterbury they wende,

The holy blisfull martir for to seke

That hem hath hoppen whan that they were seke.


When in April the sweet showers fall

And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all

The veins are bathed in liquor of such power

As brings about the engendering of the flower

When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath

Exhales an air in every grove and heath

Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun

His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run

And the small fowl are making melody

That sleep away the night with open eye

(So nature pricks them and their heart engages)

Then people long to go on pilgrimages

And palmers long to seek the stranger strands

Of far-off saints, hallowed in sundry lands,

And especially from every shire's end

Of England, down to Canterbury they wend

To seek the holy blissful martyr, quick

To give his help to them when they were sick.

Underlined words are derived from Teutonic (Anglo-Saxon) languages. Underlined words are derived from Greek or Latin.

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