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And after winter folweth grene May

Sunday, 1 May, 2016

The poem Troilus and Criseyde shows Geoffrey Chaucer at the top of his game and he displays great elegance in the challenging Rhyme royal measure. The tale was old when Chaucer took it over in the 14th century from Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato, making some changes to the characters and lengthening the yarn. Boccaccio had borrowed it from an earlier Italian, Guido delle Colonne, who got his version from the French Roman de Troie by Benoit de Ste-Maure, who pretended that he got it from the Romans Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis. Two centuries after Chaucer died, Shakespeare retold the story in Troilus and Cressida. For the day that’s in it (May Day), here’s Chaucer:

“But now help God to quenchen al this sorwe,
So hope I that he shal, for he best may;
For I have seyn, of a ful misty morwe
Folwen ful ofte a mery someres day;
And after winter folweth grene May.
Men seen alday, and reden eek in stories,
That after sharpe shoures been victories.”

May


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