Whan That Aprille Day 2015

Chaucer ipadI would like to remind the readership that “Whan That Aprille Day 2015” is upon us.

For more on this distinguished day see Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog.

Maken Melodye on Whan That Aprille Day 2015


Yt doth fill my litel herte wyth gret happinesse to invyte yow to the seconde yeare of a moost blisful and plesinge event.

On the first daye of Aprille, lat us make tyme to take joye yn alle langages that are yclept ‘old,’ or ‘middel,’ or ‘auncient,’ or ‘archaic,’ or, alas, even ‘dead.’

Thys feest ys yclept ‘Whan That Aprille Day.’ For thys yeare, ‘Whan That Aprille Day 15.’

Ich do invyte yow to joyne me yn a celebracioun across the entyre globe of the erthe. Yn thys celebracioun we shal reade of oold bokes yn sondrye oold tonges. We shal singe olde songes. We shal playe olde playes. Eny oold tonge will do, and eny maner of readinge. All are welcome. We shal make merrye yn the magical dreamscape of ‘social media,’ and eke, yf ye kan do yt, yn the ‘real worlde’ too.

Ye maye, paraventure, wisshe to reade from the beginning of my Tales of Caunterburye, but ye maye also wisshe to reade of eny oothir boke or texte or scroll or manuscript that ye love. Ye maye even reade the poetrye of John Gower yf that ys yower thinge.

What are sum wayes to celebrate Whan That Aprille Daye?

Gentil frendes, yf yt wolde plese yow to celebrate Whan That Aprille Daye 2015, ye koude…

• Counte downe to Whan That Aprille Daye wyth the good folke of TEAMS Middel Englisshe Textes on twytter: @METS_Texts

• Maken a video of yowerself readinge (or singinge! or actinge!) and share yt on the grete webbe of the internette.

• Make sum maner of cake or pastrye wyth oold wordes upon yt, and feest upon yt wyth good folke and share pictures of yower festivitee.

• Yf ye be bold, ye maye wisshe to share yower readinge yn publique, yn a slam of poesye or a nighte of open mic.

• Yf ye worke wyth an organisatioun or scole, ye maye wisshe to plan sum maner of event, large or smal, to share writinge yn oold langages.

• And for maximum Aprillenesse, marke all tweetes and poostes wyth the hashtagge #whanthataprilleday15

What ys the poynte of Whan That Aprille Daye?


See the rest there.


In observance of Whan That Aprille Day 2015, here is a helpful video so that you, too, can speak a little Middle English.

Whan that Aprille 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,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open yë,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages):
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
(And palmers for to seken straunge strondes)
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Skeinster says:

    If nothing else intervenes, I will knit up the Wife of Bath cowl pattern I bought
    from the PhD.- in- Medieval-Literature-turned-fiber-artisan and wear it.
    Even though it’s hot in Aprille in Texas.

  2. HyacinthClare says:

    According to Herbs 2000, “rue” has an “obnoxious fragrance” that once smelled, is never forgotten, Sounds like a good item to leave out of the interesting concoction.

  3. Mariana2 says:

    Skeinster, art thou on Ravelrie?

    Ich koude worke on mine cotte and surcotte.

  4. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    It is lovely to think that as Nature incites the little birds to make melody, so “folk” are moved with longing to go on pilgrimages, and especially out of thankfulness to the martyr St. Thomas who by his intercessions “helped them when they were sick” (however realistically various of those depicted by Chaucer have mixed motives, including quite bad ones, in fact):

    And smale foweles maken melodye,
    And small fowls make melody,
    10 That slepen al the nyght with open ye
    Those that sleep all the night with open eyes
    11 (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
    (So Nature incites them in their hearts),
    12 Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
    Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,
    13 And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
    And professional pilgrims to seek foreign shores,
    14 To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
    To distant shrines, known in various lands;
    15 And specially from every shires ende
    And specially from every shire’s end
    16 Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
    Of England to Canterbury they travel,
    17 The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
    To seek the holy blessed martyr,
    18 That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
    Who helped them when they were sick.

  5. Denis Crnkovic says:

    ?? ???? ?? ?? ??????, ??????,
    ?????? ??????? ???????
    ???????? ???????? ??????? ?????
    ?????? ?? ?? ??? ?????
    ?? ???????? ??????? ???????,
    ? ?? ?? ?????????? ??? ?????

    [Use Unicode HERE]

  6. Muv says:

    Seeing “yow” written always makes me laugh. I grew up in a town where that pronunciation of you still lives on.

  7. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Here is the “uniencoded” version. Thanks for the link. I would hate to see the world get by without Old Russian…

    Не лепо ли ны бяшетъ, братие,
    начяти старыми словесы
    славныхъ повестий старыхъ поръ?
    Начати же ся тъй песни
    по былинамь старого времени,
    а не по замышлению сей поры?

  8. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    More than a century ago, Hilaire Belloc researched and then walked the ancient way from near Winchester to Canterbury. It is a route along the south slopes of the North Downs, high above the Weald with good drainage in the chalk and warmed by the southern exposure. It far pre-dates the Romans and was apparently abandoned during that era. It was revived in the 13th century as one of the principal pilgrim routes to Canterbury, but then abandoned again after the 16th century.

    He wrote a book about it, The Old Road (1904), available on Kindle. Parts of the road still survive, at least some of it in parkland. I have walked a section near Dorking, south of London. The book is fascinating and the experience of walking a path that was trod millennia ago is rare. It must have been familiar to Chaucer.

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thanks to Grateful to be Catholic for the Belloc recommendation! The Old Road is a title I had heard of, I think, but I had no sense of what it was about. I see that the Internet Archive has three scanned copies, and a free audiobook version (which I have not yet tried), listed.

  10. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Sumer is ycumen in
    Lhude sing cuccu
    Groweþ seede
    and bloweþ meede
    and springþ þe weede nu
    Sing cuccu

    Awe bleteþ after lomb
    lhouþ after calue cu
    Bulluc sterteþ
    bucke uerteþ

    murie sing cuccu
    Cuccu cuccu
    Wel singes þu cuccu
    ne swik þu nauer nu

    Sing cuccu nu • Sing cuccu.
    Sing cuccu • Sing cuccu nu

  11. stillkickin says:

    Just went to Amazon and the kindle version of “The Old Road” was free.

  12. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    To follow up Gregg the Obscure,

    This is sometimes sung from Magdalen Tower on May Morning, for example:


    The manuscript also contains a Latin Christian text, beginning ‘Perspice Christicola’ (for which see, for example, the English Wikipedia article, “Sumer is icumen in”: content warning for Ezra Pound’s parody of the English, down the page, however!).

    Various solutions as to what to do about the “Pes” part for the Latin version are to be found on YouTube, for example:


    The Venerable Bede dated the beginning of summer to 9 May, though he was aware that St. Isidore of Seville (whose feast is 4 April!) dated it to 24 May, and St. Isidore tended to be followed in the later Middle Ages, with a one-day shift to the Feast of St. Urban (25 May).

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    If Fr. Z’s YouTube version of the first lines has whetted anyone’s appetite for hearing the whole Prologue, Professor Jess B. Bessinger Jr. fine reading is available at Internet Archive (all 49 minutes’ worth!):


    (If anyone wants an interlinear translation, I found the one I quoted above via the external links of the Wikipedia Chaucer article:

    http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/teachslf/tr-index.htm )

  14. Skeinster says:

    Mariana 2,

    No, I tend to avoid the internet pattern sites- a deluge of temptation.
    I got this at the local annual Fiber Fest- only two days of behaving like
    a drunken sailor in port. If he liked yarn…

  15. oldconvert says:

    A medieval MS exists of this song, found in the British Library. You can view it online from that site, I think.

    To introduce a sour note, the song when heard always reminds me of the last scene of The Wicker Man, where the community sings it heartily, while sacrificing the victim.

  16. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Following up on oldconvert’s comment, here is a link:


    The Wikipedia article which I mentioned above (with content warning!) includes the text of what is described as a “mixed translation by Anthony Shaffer” for “the 1973 British film The Wicker Man”. Without venturing to say much one way or another about that film, I think it might well be the sort of hijacking of culture which the sort of artificial neo-pagan cult depicted would indulge in.

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