When April with his showers (and snow to boot)
The end of March has trampled underfoot
Unseasonable cold swirls round our Tower
And daylight savings steals away an hour,
When illness clears with slow and creeping stealth
Quickens again the expat Aussie’s health
The teasing springtime buds, and glimpse of watery sun
Makes one think this winter’s course has run.
But Easter weekend looked set to pass us by
With sleeting rain and snow from gloomy sky
So London goads them on to rant and rage
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage.
And tourists set forth, with guide book in hands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England they to Canterbury wend
Thomas Becket’s martyr shrine to seek
And at the great Cathedral take a peek.
Befell that, at Victoria Station, on that day
We boarded on the train as it at platform lay
Ready to start upon our pilgrimage
To Canterbury, full of Architect’s homage.
We staked our claim to seats and waited eagerly
As our carriage filled and gave us company
Of sundry persons who had chanced to fall
In fellowship, and tourists were they all
That toward Canterbury town would ride.
The carriages, they spacious were, and wide.
At this point in the tale you’ll all expect
To hear the stories of this group elect
But we ignored them – this modern tale, you see
Has only two dramatis personae. ……
The Payne’s Tale
A Payne there was, and he a worthy man
Who, from the moment that he first began
A Payne by name, but not by nature he,
If pain he caused, Payne tried to remedy.
A pagan he, a pilgrim hence has been
To worship four-wheeled idol, painted green.
The train was not his choice to travel far
His preference would have been a hire car. ……
The Monk’s Tale
A Monk there was, with neither cowl nor tonsure,
Day trips away she always tried to sponsor
She loved to travel as much she was able
Whenever tied not to her working table.
A monkish love of learning stuff from books
A curse must be, or that’s the way it looks
It made her spend a day composing rhyme
A Canterbury Tale? What a waste of time!……
Now have I told you briefly, in a clause,
The state, the array, the number and the cause
Of the assembling of this company
Of two, upon the train to Canterbury.
Our pilgrimage flew by, in a short spell.
And now the time is come wherein to tell
How we did visit every famous sight
When at our destination did alight.
The first to which we headed on that day
Was the Cathedral, wherein the shrine did lay,
Of Saint Thomas Becket who is dead,
The soldiers of the king sliced off his head.
King Henry Second and this Thomas Becket
Were friends until their argument did wreck it,
A power struggle twixt the church and state
Led Archbishop Thomas to his fate
Annoyed, King Henry cried out at a feast
‘Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?’
His knights they had no reason to think twice
And granted him his way without advice,
Attacked the unarmed bishop without falter
And struck him down before the very altar.
We are but two of millions come to see
The site of Becket’s death, 1170.
The Cathedral we beheld with great delight
Inside and out, it is a wondrous sight
Immense in bulk yet soaring lightly high
Ornate, yet plain to please the Architect’s eye
From weathered stone the carved image appears
Timeless, yet victim to the touch of years.
The highest vaults with light from stained glass glow
The crypt was low and lurked with dark shadow
And filled with relics old with lustrous gleam.
The nave was filled with a youth worship team
Their modern songs were not my cup of tea
(I prefer my hymns with more complexity)
In Canterbury town we also saw
A subterranean Roman mosaic floor
No longer flat, but sloping to the eye,
With ancient hypocaust remains nearby.
Remaining time we usefully employed
With comprehensive exhibits much enjoyed
A museum in an ancient abbey hall,
We followed next the Roman city wall,
With impressive extant roman city gates
All of impressive very ancient dates.
The ruined castle unfortunately shut
We saw it from every outside angle but!
Having seen most of the famous sights
And duly purchased postcards, as is right
And so with frozen fingers, toes and face
We sought a nearby café warming place.
And with hot chocolates rested from our walk,
We sat awhile to thaw out and to talk.
Until the nonexistence of the sun
Prompted our return to train station.
Tired from our pilgrimaging day
Homeward bound we set forth on our way.
I hope you have enjoyed, with right good cheer,
Our tale complete, as it is written here.