The First 18 Lines of the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

The optional prompt for the last day of NaPoWriMo is to translate a poem from another language, so here is my translation of the first 18 lines of the General Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  My goal was to get the meter of the original right and not worry about the rhyme.

When April’s showers come to ease the drought

of March that shrivels every flower’s roots,

and bathe each leaf in soothing, liquid balm;

his power germinates the waiting flowers;

when Zephyr softly blows with his sweet breath

and turns the brown and barren groves and fields

to green with newly growing leaves and shoots;

and the new year is half through Ares’ course;

then once again the birds begin to sing

throughout the day and hardly sleep at night

(with Nature’s help and her encouragement);

then people start to think about their souls.

They want to make a holy a pilgrimage and go,

to foreign lands and visit famous shrines;

and specially from every English shire,

these pilgrims want to visit Canterbury,

to seek the holy blessed martyred saint

who helped to cure them of their winter ills.


A World of Monsters

So monsters really do exist.  I know.

They do.  I saw another one last night.

I’d gone to call the dog, and there it was.

It wasn’t my imagination.  No.

I stood and watched it as it walked right past

my feet.  The thing was close enough to touch,

but it ignored me.  Treated me as if

I wasn’t even there, like I’m the myth

and it reality.  I wonder if

there possibly could be some truth to that.

If we are merely figments, nightmares, dreams

that will be banished with the rising sun.

Odysseus Lived

Though much is taken, much abides, and yet

too often all that anyone can see

is what is taken, what is gone, is lost.

You ask a kid of twenty, “What is old?”

and he might tell you forty, forty-five;

and he’ll be right.  He will be old by then.

He will be old because he’ll think he’s old.

And fifty-five?  A senior citizen.

His life is over.  When can he retire?

And where’s the warehouse where he can be put

until he does the world a favor and

he dies?  I look at people who are old

in years and in infirmities and yet

they are not old.  They do not wait to die.

Instead they live.  For them the world awaits.

It isn’t over till you think it is.

How dull it is to pause and make an end.


It Isn’t Armageddon Yet

It isn’t Armageddon.  So?  So What?

The lilacs blooming in the Spring are worse.

Remember Eliot’s disdain, disgust

about them growing when the land is dead?

Forget about the lilacs.  Anyway

it’s not about the lilacs.  They are just

a metaphor, a blazing semaphore

at sea.  I know I’m mixing metaphors.

That’s not the point.  The point is it’s about

the . . . . Now you’ve got me all confused again.

It isn’t Armageddon.  Yes, I know

it’s been already said.  Don’t interrupt.

It isn’t Armageddon.  It’s about. . . .

I don’t care that you think that it’s about.

It isn’t what you think.  That isn’t it

at all.  That really isn’t it at all.

Just let me finish.  Would you, just for once?

The Gloop from the Gloppita Gloppita Machine

My wife was worried when I told her of

the plot line of my favorite movie.  How

it was about a murder.  Did I love

the plot because a wife was killed, and now

she had to worry, possibly, that I

would murder her or at the very least

I didn’t really love her.  Should she flee

from me before I proved myself a beast?

I couldn’t understand that she had thought

that I would even think of that at all.

I mean I know I’m dense, but still she ought

to know I’d never think of such a thing.

The movie about murdering a wife

is just a comedy.  It isn’t life.


A Successful Grafting Season

It’s been a couple months so probably

the grafts have either taken or they’ve failed.

I know the Dapple Dandy apricot

has failed to take.  And once again the nectarines

and peaches were a total waste of time.

I know you bud graft later in the spring

with nectarines and peaches.  Yes I know

but still there was a chance that they would take.

Besides, it doesn’t matter if the grafts have failed

on half the trees.  On half the trees they took,

and anyway the end result’s the same.

It’s like the lottery.  You pay and play

to dream.  You don’t expect you’re gonna win.

But still until the numbers are announced

there is a chance, however slight, you will.

A couple bucks is the admission price

to hours and days of fantasies and dreams.

It isn’t that I need another tree.

It’s all about the castles in the sky,

the dreams, imagining the warm, ripe fruit

I pick and eat while standing underneath

a tree that’s only there because of me.

It doesn’t matter if a graft has failed.

The only thing that matters are the dreams.