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April Manuscript Image from the Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Berry
April, from the Trés Riches Heures de Duc de Berry, c1406-9.

Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. General Prologue ll.1-42.
Audio Reading by Anniina Jokinen, ©2006.
Anniina studied Chaucer at UCLA under V. A. Kolve.

For the direct .MP3 file, click here.




Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote°
The droghte° of Marche hath perced to the rote,°
And bathed every veyne° in swich licour,°
Of which vertu° engendred is the flour;
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;1
And smale fowles° maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open yë°—
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages2
Than longen° folk to goon° on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,3
To ferne halwes,° couthe° in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir4 for to seke,°
That hem hath holpen,° whan that they were seke.°

     Bifel° that, in that seson 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 into that hostelrye°
Wel nyne and twenty in a companye,
Of sondry folk, by aventure° y-falle°
In felaweshipe, and pilgrims were they alle,
That toward Caunterbury wolden° ryde.
The chambres° and the stables weren wyde,°
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 made forward° erly for to ryse,
To take oure wey, ther as I yow devyse.°

     But natheles,° whyl I have tyme and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace,°
Me thinketh it acordaunt to resoun5
To telle yow al the condicioun6
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.

  sweet showers
dryness / root
vein / such moisture
By power of which
the west wind
Breathed into / wood / heath


Then long / go

far-off shires /known

helped / sick

It befell
(an inn) / lodged
chance / fallen
wished to
bedrooms / spacious
made comfortable / in the best
each and every one

(will) tell

pass on

seemed to me
what / status

  1. Has run his half-course in the Ram; i.e., has passed through half the zodiacal sign of Aries (the Ram), a course completed on April 11.  A rhetorically decorative way of indicating the time of year.
  2. Nature so spurs them in their hearts.
  3. And pilgrims to seek foreign shores.
  4. Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in 1170 and canonized shortly thereafter.  The place of his martyrdom was the greatest shrine in England and much visited by pilgrims.
  5. It seems to me reasonable (proper).
  6. Character, estate, condition.

Text source:

Chaucer, Geoffrey. "The General Prologue." The Canterbury Tales.
       V. A. Kolve, ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1989. 3-4.

Page citation:

Chaucer, Geoffrey. "The General Prologue." The Canterbury Tales.
       Audio Reading. Anniina Jokinen, narrator. Luminarium.
       28 Nov 2006. [Date you accessed this article].

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on November 28, 2006. Last updated on February 3, 2023.


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