Prologue

rosemary_outside_greenhouse

I remembered most of the Prologue from The Canterbury Tales. (Because it is April after all, and the Sun is nearly halfway run in Aries, and somehow, suddenly, we are living in a prologue to something else– pilgrimage perhaps.)

I recited the lines to Mercy while puttering in the greenhouse. She stuck her head through the trap door to listen. Many years ago my cohort memorized the twenty or so lines; each of us in turn reciting them in Middle English to Professor Greenfield. This was to prove our understanding of English pronunciation  prior to the Great Vowel Shift before continuing on to read the Tales themselves.

Mercy was not impressed. She turned around to chase a deer mouse and very nearly caught it.

mercy_head_greenhouse

*Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú 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 foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye,
So priketh hem Natúre 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.
 
 
*Text courtesy of Poetry Foundation

Author: Kim K. McCrea

Kim K. McCrea earned her BA in English before embarking on a career in technology and public service. Kim won Oregon Writers Colony 2018 essay award, Treefort’s 2017 Wild West Writing Prize, and was named runner-up in Cutbank 2018 Big Sky/Small Prose contest. Her creative nonfiction is featured in Cutbank, Tishman Review, Cagibi, and elsewhere; she is the author of the novel Pandora's Last Gift. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Kim lives in Oregon, where she studies the moon and stars and wanders with her Labrador in the rain.

7 thoughts on “Prologue”

  1. ‘…and somehow, suddenly’ – so true, Kim. A pilgrimage.

    (Deer mouse is such a pleasing coupling, isn’t it?! Wikipedia offers – ‘not to be confused with mouse deer’ – though they are equally beautiful).
    Cor, that Great Vowel Shift. What a palaver!

    Happy Eostre x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When my son was young and frustrated with a weekly spelling lesson containing the confounding word “beautiful” I sat down and told him about the Battle of Hastings and how, quite theatrically, Harold took an arrow in the eye. This appealed to his murderous seven year-old mind as adequate explanation for our tangled language and spelling

      Winds are shifting, choose wisely troubadour. Many years ago I was in London and St. Paul’s for An early April Easter, but that’s another story…

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Many years ago I made it to the south of France for one of those creepy traditional Easter-related marches they did with the pointy hoods and capes and torches coming down from the hills. But that’s another story too. Last time I had lamb I think.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That does sound creepy, although there was lamb, which is yum. Although I’m not Orthodox other than maternally, Greek Easter isn’t until May 2nd, because it must fall after the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox, AFTER Passover (whew) and it’s all about the paschal lamb and eggs dyed blood red. That seems creepy when I write it down

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Gosh wow! Easter in May. Yeah we did the mint jam thing with some English friends who do that leg of lamb meal for Easter. I think that’s the time I fell in love with Spanish rose wine (and almost got hit by a car that night). Something about torches and hoods man, no good can come from that.

        Liked by 1 person

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