Don’t Let Anyone Tell You That You Can Read Chaucer’s Untranslated Prologue -The Toast

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If there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that high school literature teachers love convincing you that Middle English is close enough to Modern English for you to stumble along without a translation through Chaucer’s prologue, and I’m here to tell you that is some nonsense and you don’t have to stand for it. Also, I think that mutually intelligible conversation Eddie Izzard pulled off with that Frisian farmer or whatever was 100% staged, and it’s weird to pretend that Appalachian English is some sort of perfectly preserved bubble of Elizabethan speech. Anyhow, Middle English is stupid hard and it’s impossible to guess what it means, so stop making me feel stupid by suggesting I should just be able to guess what gypon means. Look at this gibberish:

WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
When that April with his sooty showers??
The drought of March hath pierced to the root, ok fine that one was a gimme
And bathed every vein in switch licorice,
Of which virtue engendered is the flower

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,
When the Zephyr…ekes?? with his sweet breath
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth, how can you inspire hath
The tender crops, and the young sun
okay see the individual words translate maybe 70% of the time but you need a translator to PULL MEANING OUT OF THESE ENGENDERED LICORICE HOLTS
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And small birds make melody
That sleep all night with open eyes
So pricks hem nature in her courages (WHAT)
Then people long to go on pilgrimages (WAIT WHY THOUGH? “BIRDS ARE AWAKE AT NIGHT SO I’D BETTER LEAVE TOWN?”)

And palmers for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,

And palmers for to seek strange…stronds
To ferne halwes, couthe in sundry lands (THE FUCK)
And specially, from every shire’s end

The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.
Bifel that, in that sesoun on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay

The holy blissful martyr for to seek
That he would help, when they were seeking him??
Bifel that, in that season on a day
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay

Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,
At night was come in-to that hostelrye
Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye,

Ready to wend on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with full, devout courage
At night I came to that hostelry
With nine and twenty people in a company (are they with him? Are they just there at the hostel already? SURE WOULD BE HELPFUL TO HAVE A TRANSLATOR)

Of sondry folk, by aventure y-falle
In felawshipe, and pilgrims were they alle,
That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde;
The chambres and the stables weren wyde,

Of sundry folk, by adventure…they fell??
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all
That toward Canterbury they…would??? ride;
The chambers and the stables were wyde (okay I guess)

And wel we weren esed atte beste.
And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everichon,
That I was of hir felawshipe anon,

And well we were even at best
And shortly when the son was resting
So had I spoken with hem everybody (???)
That I was of her fellowship anon

And made forward erly for to ryse,
To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.
But natheles, whyl I have tyme and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace,

And made forward early for to rise
To take our way, there as I yow devise
But nonetheless, while I have time and space
Ere that I further in this tale pace
mmm, I went to bed, something devices, but I have time and space so I’m going to talk first?? is that what this section says?

Me thinketh it acordaunt to resoun,
To telle yew al the condicioun
Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degree;
And eek in what array that they were inne:
And at a knight than wol I first biginne.

I think it according to reason
To tell you all the condicion
Of each of them, oh shit is “hem” them?? SORTED, as it seemed to me
And which they were, and of what degree,
And…eke…in what array that they were in
And at a knight then will I first begin.
fuck middle English

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