Foreword from the Canterbury Tales

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This is an Anglish wend of the opening lines of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, first written in Middle English. This reading is made only of Old English-sprung words.


1 When Eastermonth1 with its sweet showers

2 The drought of Lide2 has bored to earthy bowers

3 And bathed every adder3 in such flow

4 By which strength the blossom is born so

5 When the West Wind eke its sweet yield

6 Has breathed into every holt and field

7 The soft saplings, and the young sun

8 In the Ram has half its time run,

9 And small fowls with song arise,

10 Those that sleep all night with open eyes

11 (So Kind has pricked 'em in their10 hearts' worth),

12 Then folk longingly go on a-southforth4

13 And southforthers for to seek faraway strands

14 To farn5 hallows,6 couth7 in sundry lands

15 And heartily from every shires end

16 Of England to Canterbury they10 wend,8

17 The holy blissful throer9 for to seek

18 Who 'em had helped when they were sick.


  1. Eastermonth as an NE shape of OE Ēaster-mōnaþ, the Old English word for April.
  2. Lide as an obsolete dialectal word for March from OE Hlȳda.
  3. adder as an NE shape of ME edre.
  4. southforth as an NE shape of OE sūþ-forþ, meaning to fare south, to Rome.
  5. farn as an NE shape of OE fern, meaning far-away.
  6. hallows as in saints.
  7. couth as in well-known.
  8. wend as in to go/fare.
  9. throer from OE þrowere, meaning martyr.
  10. they/them/their(s) may be from northern Old English dialect, backed up by Old Norse inflow, rather than straight from ON, so they have been kept as they were in Chaucer's writing.