A report on the travels of our modern day Canterbury Pilgrims led (and written) by Mrs. Taylor....
In Aprille whan the shoures comen doun
And soke us to the skinne and drenchen and droun,
Among the twelve the spirits stirred, I trowe:
"We want to lerne and studie and ful knowe -
A trip, a trip, for Chaucer wolde we see!"
"Nay, nay," quod Shaun, "here wil greet japes be!"
Bifil that in that seson on a day
The jaunt began for that fraternitee:
Erly for to ryse, attired atte beste,
Sangwyn and ful of joye, they coude nat reste.
With bagges and boxes, bookes to kepe hem sane
Doun from hir hors they jumped abord the train -
Eleven pilgrims! They sweaten, groned and pased:
'Tis Beci missing - she most make haste!
Atte laste she cam - what nedeth wordes mo?
With big reed case al trundling on the floor.
Twelve pilgrims, ful fresshe, plus Richard their Hoste
Who knew the toun of Londoun al the most.
And sooth to seyn from Lancashire's end
From Rossendale to Caunterbury they wend,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem wil holpen when hire exams take.
Richard led us throgh the citee atte pace
To see the ende of the Marathon race.
"Off the streight and narwe we most nat go
As we passe throgh the village of Soho.
Thou most nat tarrye in this streete lewed,
Here be men and wommen naughtie and rude."
Throgh China Toun, the Mall and Leicester Square -
"Na more walking! We're tired! We nede som fare!"
Fro Westminster to finde McDonald's In
For galyngale, mortreux, blankmanger - and wyn?
The culture nexte, to the Tate Modern -
O how it made hem squeal and squirm.
Now Dave and Shaun, gentil harlots yet wood
Al for to drynken strong wyn reed as blood
Or ale or ciser, mede of any kinde,
Rushed of, as it thoght me, an in to finde.
But, gracious me, what dide these murie tweye?
They fond a ladie, shapely, al in grey
And threwen hir arms around hir cheste
And cuddled and strooked, trewely, as hem leste!
O dronkennesse! O sinne! O stynkyng cod!
Of which the end is deeth! Speke to your God!
Over the wobbling brigge quik on your wey!
On the steppes of St Paul's it behoves yow preye!
Twelve worthy pilgrims with ful devout corage
Al redy for to wenden on pilgrimage -
Er that I ferther in this tale pace
Me thynketh that whil I have tyme and space
To telle yow of ech as it semed me
Of who they weren, and of what degree,
And eek in what array that they were in;
And at a LORD than wol I first bigynne:
Yong CHRISTOPHER MARLOW, a murie wight,
Ful ofte tyme hadde been a playwright.
Discreet he was, riche of excellence,
A trewe swynkere and of greet reverence
But al ful of jolitee eek therto.
Fustian he wore, blak in hewe.
Our hoste, ycleped RICHARD, student was,
No wher so studious a man as he ther nas.
Al the tavernes in Londoun toun he knewe
He hadde visited ech one, as students doe.
His herberwe spacious was and clene . . . .
Up, up we climbed and climbed out of the rain:
A bus stop ther was short and nete -
It was no lenger neded in the strete.
With him a short, ginger persoun was seyen,
Her overeste courtepy was grene.
I trowe she was a dwarf - namoore of that.
Alwey at the front, on fote, or train ther sat
Yong SARAH and HEATHER, vertuous alweys:
No wyn, no cigarettes, no goliardeys.
Now Heather was so meeke and milde a mayde
She nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde
In al hir lyf unto no maner wight
But singynge and smylynge al day and night.
Hir freend and compeer, Sarah was addressed,
Of eighteen yeer of age she was, I gesse
So quiet she semed in everything she do
Hir talk was al of boys, with pictures too!
She was a depe one, her, it stryked me -
But funny and good compaignye.
MARGARET with fyr-stikke in hir honde,
The fynest Catholik girle thrughout the londe -
In felaweshipe wel koude she carpe and laughe,
Celebrities she knewe, no peasants naff
With whom to desport. Highbrow, of greet estaat,
Impressed with the blew painting in the Tate. . . .
Then KATIE, alwey cold, as I was war
Yet ful fetys was the blew cloke she bar.
She coude nat slepe, of Luke she spak alwey
Yet amyable of port she was al day.
Her eyen twynkled in hir heed aryght
As doon the sterres in the frosty night.
A yong man ther was, he was cleped DAVE,
A wanton harlot and a murie knave.
Ful worthy was he, and who coude say hym nay?
A janglere and dauncer, but he was nat gay
I gesse. Quyk and ful of vitalitie,
Sooth to seyn, he ran to everich hostelrye -
To liven in delight was evere his wone.
So ful of myrth and japes for the nones
Was SHAUN, so solempne a tyke
In al this world ne was ther noon hym lik.
In curtoisie was set ful muchel hir toil
Fro pub to pub he organized the crawl;
With an olde ladye in the street he was plucky,
In the Caunterbury Experience he got lucky . . .
He was al hert.
AMY and SAOIRSE, whatever they wolde do
Binary opposites I trowe these two:
Saoirse slepte al the night despit the noyse;
Amy talkative was, a-chatting to the boys
And, excitable, drank the beere so fast;
Saoirse leet nat one drop her lippes past.
Benygne they were and wonder diligent
And in adversitee ful pacient.
Bubbly and jolly the two of hem
Kind and curteis, everichon a gem.
Ever hindreste in our processioun:
BECI and HARRY, both of heigh renoun
For intelligence and brain - but, come to walk,
They were so slow. But sikerly they coude talk!
Wel loved she pizza, her favourite eating,
But in a maner straunge she did her sleping:
Clutching hir teddy, with open ye
Dreming of hir suitcase, it thoughte me.
HARRY, in a gowne of faldying to the knee,
A bobble hangynge on a laas hadde he
About his wryst. Tall he was, his brains were high,
With lokkes crulle, I wol nat lie.
Gentil he was, noisy but kynde,
A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde.
To Caunterbury we made our viage
Seeking fulfilment with devout corage -
Journeying for days via ech hostelrye
Three and ten in a compaignye
Of sondry folk, in aventure yfalle -
In felaweshipe, and studnts were we alle.
Chaucer our hero! - Becket we did nat see
Declining the Cathedral at £3.50.
Out journey finished, the Good Lord yow kepe,
Return we home to slepe and slepe