Apr. 13, 2002

The Canterbury Tales (prologue)

by Geoffrey Chaucer

(RealAudio) | How to listen

: lines from the prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Lines from 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;
When Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen all the nyght with open ye
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrames,
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.

It's the birthday of Irish poet Seamus Heaney, born in rural County Derry, in Northern Ireland (1939).

It's the birthday of writer Eudora Welty, born in Jackson, Mississippi (1909). Except for a year at Columbia University, she spent nearly her entire life in Jackson. She's the author of many short stories and several novels, including Delta Wedding (1946), Losing Battles (1970), and The Optimist's Daughter (1972). Her first story collection was A Curtain of Green (1941), which included one of her best known works, "Why I Live At the P.O."

It's the birthday of Irish author, poet, and playwright Samuel Beckett, born in Foxrock, a suburb of Dublin (1906), best known for his plays Waiting for Godot (1952), Endgame (1957), and Krapp's Last Tape (1959). After college he went to Paris, where he was James Joyce's secretary for a time. He served in the French Resistance during World War II. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, but gave the money away to artists in need. He continued to live simply, in a working class neighborhood of Montparnasse, in an apartment overlooking a prison.

It's the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, born on his father's plantation at Albermarle County, on the western fringes of the Virginia settlement (1743). He was just 32 when he went up to Philadelphia as a delegate to the Continental Congress and drafted the Declaration of Independence. He served as Governor of Virginia (1779-81), and then foreign minister to France (1784-85). He became the first U. S. Secretary of State, and then Vice President to John Adams. In the election of 1800, he was tied with Aaron Burr in the electoral college; the choice went to the House of Representatives, and Jefferson was elected. His administration was marked by the prohibition of the slave trade, and the Louisiana Purchase (1803). In 1809 he retired permanently to Monticello, where, among other things, he brought about the chartering of the University of Virginia (1819), and designed many of the buildings on the campus.

On this day in 1742, Messiah, by George Frideric Handel, was first performed at the New Music Hall on Fishamble Street.

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