In recent years, April has too often been a month of sadness. This year we have the dreadful murders at Virginia Tech and record numbers of civilians killed in Iraq. But before this year--before Ruby Ridge and Columbine, even before T. S. Eliot declared it the cruellest month--April was the month to begin pilgrimages. Of course, I'm referring to the time of Chaucer, and his book of tales.
And Chaucer is alive and well in the blogosphere. While I've been told that the author of "Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog" is really a Harvard professor emeritus, it is simply wonderful to read his commentaries on twenty-first century life in the language of the fourteeenth, and to believe, in some way that the great poet is with us still.
The blog not only has posts from Chaucer, but from Sir John Mandeville, who gives travel tips (and complains about Scottish food: "I was y-given some thyng called 'the haggis of honour' that semed to me to be the verray spare partis of a sheepe, but whych James swore was 'spices and lovely thynges.'" Katherine de Swineforrd is a contributor, as is the autobiographer Margerye Kempe (who comments on the Modern Language Association).
As Chaucer states in his post of 31 March, after complaining about his exercise regimen ("So ich haue ben yiven up to sondry peynes and tormentes far more grevous than thos recorded in the helle of Dant -- many grim machines that doon twisten myn limbes this wey and that, and bicycles the which travel no wher..."), he reminds us that:
'Bifor Aprille was the cruellest moneth (whatever that meneth!), it was a moneth of coloures and cries, and pilgrymages. Yt was, I sholde saye, myn favourite moneth. "
May it be so once again. But until then, a visit to Geoffrey Chaucer's blog is a welcome relief from the April news of 2007.