Geoffrey Chaucer

Chaucer Meets American Pie

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For out of olde feldes, as men seith,
Cometh al this new corn fro yeer to yere;
And out of olde bokes, in good feith,
Cometh al this newe science that men lere.

Chaucer, Parlement of Foules

 

 

 

Hattip to Mrs. Darwin. Nicholas Jackson has transcribed Chaucer’s version of American Pie:

 

 

A longe longe tyme sithen, and yet yt me remembreth yn what maner that musique was wont to make me smyle.

And Ich wiste wel, hadde Ich a chaunse, thanne Ich mighte maken the folk to daunse, and peraventure thei wolde feele mirthe a litel while

Yet Fevrier did maken me to quake, wyht everye lettir patent Ich did take. Ill tidinges at the gate-hous, and barely Ich koud get oute.

Ne me myndeth whethir Ich wepte, whane Ich knewe of sorwe a widow kepte. But myn inwit did much agrieve, the daye the musique took yts leave

And thei were singinge…

Bye, bye, Englisshe Jakke of Dover, drove my palfrey almoste halfwey but the tourney was over.

And the fayre goode lordes were sippinge ypocras and rhenish, and sayinge thys daye my lyf shal be finisshede.

Hast thou writte the boke of love, and kepestow feyth yn God above, yf the scrypture sayeth so?

And believestow yn rokke and rolle, kan vernacular vers saven thy mortale soule, and kanst thou teache me howe to daunse the saltarello?

Ich knowe thou lovst hym paramours, for Ich sawe yow on the palais floor. Ye doffede yower krakowe shoon, and than did thos trumpetes blowen

A solitarye valet burninge in loves biere, wyth a livery badge and a destrier, & Ich ful wel was yn despayre, the day the musique perisshede

Bye, bye, Englisshe Jakke of Dover, drove my palfrey wel nigh halfwey but the tourney was over.

And the fayre goode lordes were sippinge vernange and rhenish, and sayinge thys daye ower lyves shal be finisshede. Continue reading

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