A friend of mine used to quote a poem that told the fictionalized story of Chaucer writing the first lines of the Prologue of The Canterbury Tales:

"Whan that Aprill with his ... ".

When he gets to the word for "showers" he paused and had to choose between the French version of the word and "shoures", which is Anglo-Saxon. He chooses "shoures", and the English language is launched.

I've been searching all over for where this delightful poem comes from and I can't find it anywhere. Does it ring any bells with you? Can you end my search?

  • 2
    I've already spent a long time hunting for this. It's hard to find a good set of search terms, because most things will just give you material on The Canterbury Tales itself, rather than poems ABOUT The Canterbury Tales. We may, as you say, need to get an answer from someone else who's already read it.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 1:08
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    Also read 20ish poems about The Canterbury Tales following a request about this on project-wombat and found none fitting your description. You're facing a tough one, not sure it's been published.
    – VicAche
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 23:10
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    Thanks to everybody who has and is researching this. Yes, it's a tough one.
    – D Mac
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 21:31
  • Still looking for the answer. I'd love to find it because it celebrates Chaucer's decision to tilt his work towards English instead of French. I think the poem has a line about "English" was saved, or something to that effect.
    – D Mac
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 4:20

1 Answer 1


Like others, I have not been able to find the poem you are looking for, but I wonder if the source is actually the last few stanzas of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. The stanza that begins with “Go, litel book” is followed by a stanza in which Chaucer comments on his use of English and worries that the language, because it is so “diverse,” might be misunderstood:

And for ther is so greet diversitee
In English and in wryting of our tonge,
So preye I god that noon miswryte thee,
Ne thee mismetre for defaute of tonge.
And red wher-so thou be, or elles songe,
That thou be understonde I god beseche!
But yet to purpos of my rather speche.

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