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Geoffrey Chaucer

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The Beginning of the Pilgrimage

From the Canterbury Tales

Chosen By Christiane

When that April with his showers soote(1)
The drought of March hath pierced to the roote,
And bathed every vein(2) in such licour
Of which virtue(4) engendered is the flowr;
When Zephyrus(5) eke with his sweete breath
Inspired(6) hath in every holt and heath
The tender croppes(7), and the younge sun(8)
Hath in the Ram his halve course yrun,
And small foweles(9) maken melodye,
That sleepen all the night with open eye
(So pricketh them Nature in their coràges(10));
Then longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers(11) for to seeken strange strands,
To ferne hallows(12), kouth(13) in sundry lands;
And specially from every shire's end
Of Engeland to Canterbury they wend,
The holy blissful martyr for to seek,
That them hath holpen(14) when that they were seek(15).

Befell that in that season on a day,
In Southwark at the Tabard(16) as I lay
Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with full devout coràge,
At night was come into that hostelry
Well nine and twenty in a company,
Of sundry folk, by aventure(17) yfalle
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they alle
That toward Canterbury woulden ride.

(2)the veins of the plants
(3)from whose potency
(4)western wind in springtime, whose sweet breath was said to produce flowers and fruits
(5)breathes on and aroused
(6)wood, copse
(7)the new growth of the season
(8)the sun is in the second half of his course through the part of the zodiac named after the constellation of the Ram
(11)names of pilgrims who brought back a palm from the Holy Land
(12)to faraway shrines
(16)sleeveless coat
(17)by chance
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