Saturday, February 06, 2010

Pilgrims All

Our reason for going to Canterbury was not only to see the cathedral. Rather like Chaucer's pilgrims, we too wanted to see the sights. I am not one to adulate a person, or ascribe deep feeling to standing on the spot of one's martyrdom. If I felt anything, it was a sense of history, not of religious reverence.

I did enjoy the journey and the destination. Chaucer would have approved.

I have referenced Chaucer's Canterbury Tales several times. This work is one of the most important in all English literature--it was to English literature what Dante's Divine Comedy is to Italian literature. In writing Canterbury Tales, Chaucer struck the first modern note in literature to that time. He wrote it in the vernacular--the language of the common folk-- where up to that time literature had been written in the scholarly language of Latin. His subject was also wholly approachable by the common reader. His characters are drawn from every day life--a mixture of society of the day complete with a chivalrous knight, church folk, and a bawdy wife from Bath. As one analyst points out, these characters represent the three dominant classes in society of the day: those who fight, those who pray and those who work.

So off we too go to Canterbury. We traveled from London by train--where Chaucer's pilgrims would have walked--and stayed at inns along the way, where the various tales were told.

To enter old Canterbury, you go through a gate--even though the gate constricts traffic, I did see a large bus go through that gate. If you look closely, you can see it coming through.

The center of old Canterbury is all only for pedestrians--wonderful. We could stroll along, shopping, gawking, taking in the sights. The doorway above led to an old hostel type place, old enough to have housed pilgrims over the centuries.

A small canal cut through the city, offering a delightful view.

I regretted the boat with its inopportune blue tarp--I even considered "Photo-Shopping" it out, but decided not to. Note above the boat--is that a dunking chair?

I love the mixture of the old and the new. The lovely old windows--in two different styles no less--combined with a sign for an expresso bar below.

We went looking for a pub to eat in--and considered the one pictured above. But we weren't quite hungry, so we kept walking. Eventually, we came to this one. It, however, turned out NOT to be a pub, but a regular restaurant. We ate there anyway, and only saw the sign afterwards announcing how old the actual place is. Had I known that date, I might have gone looking for pilgrims long gone and missing.

The interior windows were yet another treat, offering a view of the aforementioned canal.

Finally, one photo of our fellow pilgrims--we were pilgrims all, and just as with Chaucer's travelers, we too were in good company.

I have one or two more tales from our London trip--saved for another day.


Anvilcloud said...

I look forward to all of your Canterbury Tales.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It must be so nice to stroll through a place that is limited to pedestrians. The down is very picturesque and must have a feel of "days of yore" about it.

What a good looking couple of pilgrims you are sharing this experience with. [)

Jayne said...

It always amazes me to see such old buildings... we are such a young country in comparison!

dguzman said...

Wow, 1500! Amazing. What life-soaked place that must be.

Ginnie said...

I envy you. You certainly were in a different time and space from here in the US.

Dog_geek said...

I'm enjoying reading about your travels. Somehow, I seem to have made it all the way through school without ever having to read The Canterbury Tails. I don't know how it slipped though the cracks, but it did. I may have to pick it up some day, although it won't be the same without scary old Mrs. Campbell to grill me on what it all means...