14 April 2010

Welcome To Spring

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales has always been one of my favorite pieces of literature both in the original Middle English and modern translations.  The language can be intimidating to students who have to slog a bit to understand the jokes, puns, ribald tales, and heartfelt depiction of human beings in all their flaws.  Here is a teacher showing how to make learning fun enough that studying seems like it might be a good idea.

The Prologue Rap by Dr. Enelow

The Prologue

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

Modern English

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage


Travis said...

I was exposed to this at too young an age and soured on it very quickly. But I do intend to go back to it some day, with a new perspective based on the love of language that I've developed over the years.

Linda said...

We watched "Much Ado About Nothing" as part of Chick Flick Sunday this past week and my dispatch partner asked me, "Did they really talk like that??" Indeed, yes, they did! And yes indeed, it's hard to follow but oh so worth it!

This Eclectic Life said...

How funny! I love that rap. And, I love Chaucer. I was fortunate enough in school to have a teacher who understood that if she showed us how bawdy the words were then we would love it. The Wife of Bath cracks me up.