Chaucer, Anyone?

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….

My students are memorizing this. These and the other fourteen opening lines of the General Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

A few of them (small handful) actually like this assignment. I’m guessing that Most of them Don’t. And a very vocal and very small few have made it Abundantly Clear that they Don’t Approve At All.

I didn’t have to memorize it in school. Heck, I didn’t even read it in school– and I was in honors English all the way through my senior year. And I was at a Very Good public high school.

I have no explanation. I have no excuse.

But I am enjoying it now. Absolutely and For Certain. How often does one get to speak in Middle English? How often (outside of speaking Spanish) does one get to trill one’s r’s with such abandon? How often does one get to say less than one sentence and within it Appropriately Use both French and German pronunciation?

Don’t tell my students, but I Am Loving This.

3 thoughts on “Chaucer, Anyone?

  1. Oh, I had to memorize this my sophomore year of high school! It was the *one* thing that Mrs. Corpening did as a teacher that I loved. Sadly, I can’t recite it now but as soon as I saw those first words on your post, the sound and the feel of them on my tongue came rushing back. Ignore the cries of despair from your students, I’m thrilled that at the very least they will hear such exquisite and lyrical words…


  2. Oh, man. I remember my prof drilling that ME pronunciation…oral exams for pronunciation, even! And I loved every bit of it (as a French minor, I had a bit of an advantage, I guess). Still, what a nerd. I’ve got to see if I can dig out those Chaucer fridge magnets for you!


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