Education, History, Literature, Medieval

Occasional Quote of the Day: The First Eighteen Lines

I know many of you know them by heart. I’ve seen some of you say so, on Ricochet, over the past nine years. At some point in your lives, you probably had them thrust at you; you might have struggled through them; maybe you cheated with the Cliffs Notes; perhaps you said you couldn’t possibly figure them out; you didn’t believe you could just “read them out loud” and understand them; and when you did, you couldn’t quite believe that your mouth, and your larynx had made such weird sounds; perhaps you memorized them; and very likely you either hated, or you loved, your taskmaster and teacher.

I loved my teacher of forty years ago. And a couple of years after the class in which all of the above thoughts ran through my mind at one point or another, we married each other. I don’t know how far we’ll get into the next forty together, but we’ve had a pretty good run. And now, it’s April again, the Ram has run his “half-course,” the world is greening, and, as happens every year at this time, I’m reminded.

This is for Frank. And Geoffrey. With whom hyt alle bigan. With love.

Loose translation, by She: When April, with its sweet showers has watered and wet down March’s drought, all the way to the roots, and every leaf is bathed in the water of life, the power of which begets the flowers: When the sweet breath of the West Wind has breathed life into the tender leaves in every wood and meadow, and the young Sun has run half his course in the Sign of the Ram. And little birds sing tunefully and sleep at night with their eyes open, so full are their hearts with Nature and life. Then, folks long to take pilgrimages, some seeking journeys to foreign shrines in far-away and sundry lands; but especially from every part of England, pilgrims find their way to Canterbury, where they seek the shrine of the holy, blessed martyr who helped them when they were sick.

Is there a piece of poetry or prose you love so much that you’ve memorized it for life? Please share.

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