3: A Calming Relic

Scarcely an English class goes by in which I don’t harness a portion of the wisdom imparted to me by one of my favorite English teachers. If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Dead Poet’s Society, you most definitely know the type. He was a larger than life character, who had the humility to behold and welcome the daily miracles of life, but even better, he taught his students to view life with those same thankful eyes. It was one fine morning, probably in March since these kinds of people have a sixth sense for fitting circumstances, when he encouraged (nay, forced) our class to march around the school chanting this melodic, seemingly foreign hymn. We assumed that he was once again teaching us the vigorous lesson of not taking ourselves too seriously.

Later, we would learn that our incantation was the very prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales:

WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan 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 strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.


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