The Earth Is Putting On Its New Clothes
Posted on April 10, 2015 in Inspirational Writings by Jack T Scully
In New England, the signs of April are slowly materializing: peepers are singing in ponds, robins are returning, crocus and daffodil have emerged from their subterranean homes, and the matted turf is turning green.
Spring’s two early blooming shrubs, bright yellow forsythia (pictured here) and white flowering dogwood, are beginning to unfold their leaves in sunny places.
In addition to nature’s signs, I always associate months with poems.
Robert Frost, of course, reminds us of December with Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?–1400) best captures April, for me, with his Canterbury Tales. You might remember it — a collection of 24 poems (half serious, half humorous) recited by a band of pilgrims journeying from London’s Tabard Inn to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. Their purpose is to thank the martyred St. Thomas a Becket, who lies buried there, for answering their prayers when they were sick.
But they also are enjoying one another’s company in the warm sunshine after a long winter of coldness and isolation.
Here then in celebration of springtime are memorable verses from the Prologue to the Tales.
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote (When April with his showers sweet)
The droughte of March hath pierced to the roote, (The drought of March has pierced to the root,)
and bathed every veyne in swich licour (And bathed each vein with liquor that has power)
Of which vertu engendred is the flour; … (To generate therein and sire the flower; )
..And palmers for to seken straunge stroundes, …(And palmers to go seeking out strange strands ...)
And specially from every shires ende (And specially from every shire’s end)
Of Engelound to Caunterbury they wende, (Of England they to Canterbury wend,)
The hooly blissful matir for to seke, (The holy blissful martyr there to seek,)
That hem hath holpen when they were seeke (who helped them when they lay ill and weak)
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage, ( Then folks long to go on a pilgraimge.)
It is no coincidence that this blog is entitled Pilgrim’s Rest. Like Chaucer’s pilgrims, we are all on a journey from our temporary homes here on earth to our permanent residence in the nether world. Whether that eternal home turns out good or bad depends, of course, on how we live our lives in this world.
Note on Chaucer texts: The first passage, in Middle English, published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., is from Albert Bough’s 1963 Chaucer’s Major Poetry; the second is from J.U. Nicolson’s superb 1931 translation of Chaucer’s original verses into Modern English.
- Doves (picturethisbyfrank.com)