And smale foweles maken melodye,

from Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue) on Rap Genius


Foweles means birds. Chaucer is describing Spring coming back after winter with sweet rain and chirping birds. Now, doesn’t that line sound nicer than ‘the birds sing’, even in Middle English? No?

Just me then…

Chaucer also introduces the theme of music. The phrase “maken melodye” has two meanings. The birds are singing, but the next line tells us their eyes are open all night—there’s not much sleeping going on. Spring is mating season, and the birds are busy.

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