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Bob Lind, Published October 25 2012

Neighbors: Some Middle English prose to jog the memory bank

Neighbors has enough trouble with today’s English language, let alone English from the Middle Ages.

Still, Roger Butler, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., sends in a bit of classic literature from that period.

He was inspired to write because of stories carried here about students in past years being required to learn poetry.

Those columns reminded him of the best teacher he ever had, Roger says.

“The first day in English class in my senior year of 1950-1951 (in Bemidji, Minn.),” Rog says, “he wrote his name on the blackboard: Joe Hoehl.

“He said, ‘It’s pronounced Hale, and don’t ask me how you get Hale out of Hole.’

“As unforgettable as that was,” Rog says, “so was hls insistence we learn the prologue of ‘Canterbury Tales’ in Middle English.”

He sends along part of that prologue. Have fun trying to figure it out:

“Whan that aprille with his shoures soote

“the droghte of march had perced to the roote

“and bathed every veyne in swich licour

“of which vertu engendered is the flour …” (etc. – he can’t remember the rest, Rog says).

As to Hoehl, Rog believes he had been an Army Air Corps pilot during World War II and had participated in the invasion of Sicily.

“I remember him staring out the window for several minutes after he told us his best friend had been shot down there,” Rog says.

Hoehl eventually quit teaching because of the low salary. Rog thinks he then became an insurance agent.

Anyhow, thanks to Rog for adding a little culture to this column. It can use all it can get.

Two poetic requests

Concerning columns about poetry, Shirley Beck, 72, of Portland, N.D., says she has a copy of the supplement to the State Course of Study in Literature for the Elementary Grades of North Dakota, published in 1925 and containing poems mentioned here earlier.

The cover is a bit worn, but the pages are in good shape, she says.

Shirley says she’s willing to sell it.

Richard Roberts has another request involving a poem.

He says his mother used a recite a poem that included every U.S. president from Washington to the one in office at the time.

“I wish that I had written it down,” Richard says, “but like so many things in life, it didn’t get done.”

So now he wonders if any reader of Neighbors knows of this poem, and where he could get a copy. If he could get hold of one, he’d like to pass it on to his children and grandchildren.

His phone number: (701) 281-5917. His address: 1610 15th Ave. E., West Fargo, ND 58078.

Neighbors is glad to help with these requests because, you know it, everyone loves a poet.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com

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