Entries tagged with “Chaucer”.

Today I submitted the final piece of work for my two undergrad degrees. I will not deny that it feels absolutely glorious to be done! As I was in a bit of a playful mood, and in honour of the fact that April is National Poetry Month in both the United States and Canada, I wrote the following minor parody of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Enjoy!

Epilogue to the Academic Tales

With Apologies to Chaucer

When that April has with seas of ink
Borne witness just how little students think,
And covered every page with such a blot
That teachers search in vain for proof of thought;
When graduands have breathed a sigh of rest
For theses writ, submitted, and professed
Before committees; and curriculum
Unto the end its course has fully run;
And little first years lift a mournful cry
That study all the night with open eye —
So finals do prick them in their fear —
Then do I long to go for beer!

Mathew Block
April 28, 2010

February 14th, St. Valentine’s day, has just passed us by. There is nothing specific about Valentine which should lead us to revere his day of remembrance as somehow linked with romanticism. Indeed, it is actually to Geoffrey Chaucer that we may attribute the connection between Valentine’s and love. For in his “Parliament of Fowls,” Chaucer sets the day (for no obvious reason) as the day upon which birds would annually join together in council to choose their mates. “For this was on Seynt Valentynes day, Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make” (309-10).

It is in this poetic reference that the Valentine’s love tradition finds its origins. Chaucer could have chosen any other day (or at least any other spring day; in Chaucer’s time February 14th would have been considered part of the season of spring). But it happens that he chooses St. Valentine’s Day. And so it is in our time.

While in the contemporary era Valentine’s has been degraded to a day of mass commercialism, the concept of true love is one worthy of respect and praise. Paul admonishes us: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Certainly within these things, we may include the noble pursuit of true love between man and woman.

Thus, to commemorate such love, I here provide some minor sampling of my own feeble poetry on the subject. Within Scripture there are many examples of what true and goodly love can be like. This particular sonnet borrows imagery from the Book of Genesis in its attempt to portray romantic love.

It is not good for man to be alone

The LORD God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18a)

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:23-24)

When God created man, He soon declared,
“It is not good for man to be alone.”
And so, while Adam slept, the LORD prepared
To fashion flesh from flesh, and bone from bone.
God took a rib; a woman He returned,
The perfect match for Adam’s lonely lot.
God willed that they should live in bliss unearned,
To love each other, and to love their God.

And so, my love, I give to thee this poem,
And speak to thee of that which God hath willed
To be the cause for man to leave his home,
To seek his second half; his void be filled.
My rib thou art; be now rejoined to me,
And may we two be one in sanctity.


When that ends the month of Janvier
And Queen of Cities deep in slumber lays
Beneath the hoary ice and biting snow,
And for the weather none would dare to go
From out their sleepy homes, wood-warmed and sealed
‘Till Boreas’ season be repealed,
Then unto me came blessed news so sweet
Which softened all my heart, and so t’was meet
To take up pen and page to frame the day
Within its good and pleasant jolitée.

A message swift as light flew from the west
And settled here within my beating breast,
A word which came from Captain George’s land
Vancouver, city ever old and grand:
“Unto us this day a child is born
Within the rooster’s sounding of the morn.”

A blessing be he to his parents both
And through his life bring peace whe’er he goeth.
One name “strong” and “brave” at every time.
The other “King of All,” his name sublime.
So may he be a valiant monarch true
And emulate the King of All Virtue.

Oh, rear this child in godly living, friends
And when he ages up, his will shall bend
To love the LORD his God with heart and soul
And mind, as well with all his body whole.
My words be on you, father, mother, son,
That God will bless you all. E’en so. Amen.

And so I end my writ. Down pen, I lay.
And thus so sends this blessèd Janvier.

January 30-31st, 2008