top of page

the poetry of fly fishing

Canturbury Tales

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour

Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(so priketh hem Nature 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.

When April with his showers sweet with fruit

The drought of March has pierced unto the root

And bathed each vein with liquor that has power

To generate therein and sire the flower;

When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,

Quickened again, in every holt and heath,

The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun

Into the Ram one half his course has run,

And many little birds make melody

That sleep through all the night with open eye

(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-

Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,

And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,

To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.

And specially from every shire's end

Of England they to Canterbury wend,

The holy blessed martyr there to seek

Who helped them when they lay so ill and weak

IMG_9847 v2.jpg

First hints of Spring awakening on First Roach Pond in Maine

Geoffrey Chaucer may have composed one of the earliest Spring Summons to The Water in western literature though many may have overlooked it thinking instead that he was merely writing of a Pilgrimage to Canturbury to visit Tom Becket.  I am fairly certain, however, that Chaucer was assembling all fly anglers to the Kentish Stour to seek the Fordham Trout now that the April rains had returned life to the winter lands.  Of course, only 29 “anglers” RSVP’d and they were not all able to make it, and, of course, I may be mistaken about his intentions, but Chaucer quite effectively calls on me “to goon on pilgrimages” and join the “smale fowles maken melodye” on the Roach River there “the hooly blisful Brookie for to seke”.

bottom of page