The poetry page this month celebrates a return to spring with an extract from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: General Prologue written in the 14th century. It was not uncommon at this time of year for travellers to set off on a Pilgrimage to visit the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral where they would offer their thanks to the Martyr for helping them in their hours of need. It was this ritual that inspired Chaucer to write a collection of over 20 stories in Middle English, about pilgrims of different characters and professions, wending their way from Southwark to Canterbury in early April. As Mother’s Day falls into this same period it seems only fitting to include a tribute to Mother’s everywhere by including a dedicatory poem. Mother O’Mine a poem by Rudyard Kipling unveils how a mother’s love can transcend all things mortal and moral in a few resourceful and musical lines.
From The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue
Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú 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,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye,
So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
Bifil that in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,
At nyght were come into that hostelrye
Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
Of sondry folk, by áventure y-falle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes 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 everychon,
That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
And made forward erly for to ryse,
To take oure wey, ther as I yow devyse.
But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
To telle yow al the condicioun
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 Knyght than wol I first bigynne.
Mother o’ Mine by Rudyard Kipling
|If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine
I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
If I were damned of body and soul,
The Queen Mother Memorial Poetry Competition | Closing Date: 30-Mar-15
A candidate may submit any number of poems on any subject. Poem(s) must be typed/hand written in English. The poem(s) should follow the length and format as below, 3 verses, 3 lines per verse, 10 words per line. Prize Details: Computer games+ Pencil case (Children’s section) £25.00 +The Queen Mother Memorial Poetry Competition complementary pen (Adult Section). Judges: James Dooney, Cameron Connaway and Phyllis Griggs.
Entry Fee: £3 per poem or £10 for 4 poems
Send your poems/stories etc. and payment to 19, Westbourne House, SW1W 8SJ together with your name and contact details on a separate sheet