26 April 2007

Rain in April: Poetry Edition

Although some of my esteemed colleagues have celebrated April as National Poetry Month, I have been remiss in doing so. I keep meaning to, but time is always short, and on top of that, my taste in poetry, like my sense of fashion, is sorely lacking in a number of ways.

But it's raining today, and that brings to mind a couple of poems that I simply must share. The first is what might possibly be the first major poem in modern English, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Here are the first 18 lines of 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,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
Then, of course, there's always my man T.S. Eliot, who wrote that wonderful account of the crisis of modernity, The Waste Land. It, too, begins with an account of April's showers, albeit a much bleaker one:
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
So, whether you're feeling Eliotish or Chaucery, I hope you have a good day, and if you're someplace near rain, may it inspire you to think good thoughts.

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