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 hat in every holt and heeth
The tendred croppes, and the younge sonne
Hath inthe Ram his half cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages),
Thann longen folk to goon on pilgrimages...
My 12th grade teacher made us memorize that for our English class. I can still recite the first four lines by heart. They ran on a loop in my head while I was in Canterbury making my own nerdy pilgrimage.
One presumes that Chaucer's pilgrims did not stop at Subway on their way toward the gate:
At least, they didn't in the final draft of the poem.
This is so impressive as a work of art today. What splendor and awe it must have invoked to peasant eyes unfamiliar with tall structures and spectacles that our 21st century eyes consider so mundane.
The passage under the altar to accommodate pilgrims visiting the Martyrdom:
The Martyrdom visited by modern-day pilgrims, schoolchildren:
I'm a vile atheist myself, but my grandmother was not, nor my other three grandparents. She had died a week earlier, so I lit a candle for her and them.
One of the places where Thomas Becket's bones lay:
The other was in the crypt below, but pictures were forbidden there. Henry VIII, magnificent jackass that he was, destroyed them -- or the monks removed them before he arrived -- in the dissolution of the monasteries. This was a surprisingly gruesome site for a church, if you think about it. After all, the account of Becket's actual murder involved cutting his head open and kicking his brains about, right where those schoolboys stood. Then, the disinterment and crushing of already long dead bodies. Very nasty all about.
Then, the monks sold vials of Becket's blood as medicine; or so the Museum of London told us in this exhibit of pilgrims' souvenirs:
I must admit, I loved the idea of medieval tchotchkes!
Before you leave:
World War II haunts the southern coast of England. Fucking Nazis.
The West Gate to the city:
This pilgrim stayed just outside of it, at an inn called the Falstaff. Shakespeare did not come from Canterbury, but his comrade-in-theater, Philip Marlowe did.:
Alas, his namesake theater was not playing Shakespeare's Henry V until the following week. The fare for this week? Grease. "It's quite popular," said the infant manning the box office. Poetic arts do not pay for themselves, I suppose, so Grease must.