The Parliament of Fowls
A garden saw I, full of blossomy boughs
Upon a river, in a green mead,
There as sweetness evermore enough is,
With flowers white, blue, yellow, and red,
And cold well-streams, nothing dead,
That swimming full of small fishes light,
With fins red and scales silver bright.
On every bough the birds heard I sing,
With voice of angels in their harmony;
Some busied themselves birds forth to bring;
The little coneys to here play did hie.
And further all about I could see
The dread filled roe, the buck, the hart and hind,
Squirrels, and beasts small of gentle kind.
Of instruments of strings in accord
Heard I so play a ravishing sweetness,
That God, that maker is of all and lord,
Had heard never better, as I guess.
Therewith a wind, scarcely it might be less,
Made in the leaves green a noise soft
Accordant to the fowls’ song aloft.
Th’air of that place so a-temperate was
That never was grievance of hot nor cold.
There wax also every wholesome spice and grass;
No man may there wax sick nor old;
Yet was there joy more a thousandfold
Than man can tell; never would it be night,
But always clear day to any man’s sight.
The Parliament of Fowls is perhaps the first St. Valentine’s Day poem
ever written. Brewer suggests that it was begun in May of 1382 and finished
for Valentine’s day in 1383. The above are lines 183-210 and they have been
modernized only enough so that all of the words can be found in a good desk-
top English dictionary.
“It is quite possible that in the 14th century Geoffrey Chaucer—best known for his Canterbury Tales—invented our present-day idea of this special day in his dream-vision poem ‘The Parliament of Fowls,’” says Professor Peter Travis. The poem, Travis says, “explores the ideals of cosmic order, political order, and erotic desire—all dramatized in a raucous debate carried on by a parliament of birds. At the end of this argument concerning the nature and purpose of love, Nature encourages all her birds to choose their appropriate mates.”. The poem ends with a song praising Saint Valentine, “providing promise that, even in the depths of winter, summer is not all that far off.” [fonte]