Life on Earth - Elliot Eton

            Background: This poem is written from the point of view of the Monk, as he dines at the Tabard in 13th-Century England, awaiting a pilgrimage to Canterbury (General Prologue, The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer).


                       In Southwerk at the Tabard I dined,

            Relaxing and awaiting the morne,

            When I would wake bright and early

            To the sounds of the rooster calling. My palfrey

5          Would be frolicking about, his eyes looking in every direction,

            Redy to depart for a pilgrimage, onwards to Canterbury.

            As I sipped from my fin win and swallowed morsels

            Of the scrumptious fat swan,

            I could hear in the distance my bridle,

10         Swinging across my hors’s mane, chiming

            As, some may tell you, dooth the noon bell.

            But my ears only heard a similar to when my daggere,

            Clanked against my shield by my side, as I

            Chased a fowle across the vast forest.

15                     In the midst of all the joviality in that inn,

            A povre PERSOUN carefully opened the broun

            Wooden door and entered the hall, walking alongside

            His brother, a stocky PLOWMAN, dressed

            In a broun and dusty tabard. They were welcomed

20         By the HOOST, a murye man, who joyfully led them

            To the wooden, crooked bench across the table from me,

            And sat them down next to the FRERE,

            A curious solempne man, dressed

            In a tipet stuffed with elegant knives.

25         I glanced towards the YEAMAN, and admired

            His hood of grene, his bright collection of pecok arwes,

            And his gleaming sword. And when my eyen returned,

            I saw the PERSOUN frown when he learned that

            The ol’ FRERE only seeks gold. This povre homme

30         Never kept gold for happiness, but believed following

            The Lord’s teaching was the key to a riche life. Why could he not

            Enjoy worldly luxuries like my ornate love-knotte pin?

            I will be able to go through that needle of which Christ preaches, as I

            Am not one who holds wealth. I wander

35         The lands, spreading God’s wisdom.

            I say, if man finds happiness in earthly luxuries, like the activities

            In which he participates, he should be able to continue

            Enjoying them. This pitiable PERSOUN eek believes

            In living the holy life on earth, yet

40         He fails to experience or embrace the world outside his parisshe.

            How can he survive, sequestered to that holy home?

            His teachings to his flock of followers are based in tradition,

            But he lives in the present day. Could he not let go of customs outdated

            And forgotten? He must stop clinging to vestiges of an ancient

45         Time. Besides, what can those like Seint Maure or Seint Beneit do?

            I still carry religious teachings throughout my homeland.

            My head is still ful balde. I have grown to

            Enjoy worldly items and animals, as I find them everywhere

            I wander as outridere. Man should naught sequester

50         Himself to a small parisshe or monastery when he can

            Also roam the forests with his trusty Grehoundes, swift as fowle in flight,

            And his goose-hawk, chasing the harts and the hares.

            Why starve, too, when one has access to scrumptious delights like

            Any roost? I live this life on earth to understand my fellow brethren,

55         As should the PERSOUN, and I am still a fine prikasour and a fair prelat.



            Palfrey: palfrey is a type of horse highly valued as a riding horse in the Middle Ages

            Fin win: fine wine

            Bridle: A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse.

            Dooth: does”

            Fowle: animals

            Povre: poor

            Tabard: in this case, a short coat common for men during the Middle Ages

            Murye: pleasant, cheerful, sweet-sounding

            Solempne: sumptuous, splendid, cheerful

            Tipet: hanging part of a sleeve

            Homme: man

            Love-knotte: knot-shaped

            Grene: green

            Pecok arwes: peacock arrows

            Parisshe: parish

            Outridere: religious figure who traveled across regions to spread God’s message

            Harts: deer

            Roost: roast

            Prikasour: huntsman

            Prelat: church dignitary



            PERSOUN: Parson

            PLOWMAN: Farmer

            HOOST: Host

            FRERE: Friar

            YEAMAN: Yeoman

            Seint Maure or Seint Beneit: Saint Maurus was the first disciple of Saint Benedict of Nursia (6th Century

                        BCE) and an example of the ideal Benedictine monk