In my British Literature class, I was tasked with writing a Canterbury Tales style prologue for a journey I recently took and describing the people I traveled with in poetry. I decided to write about my trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.
Prologue to The Williamsburg Tales
As summer wound to a saddening close
The shade of college applications rose,
And so I was made to confront my fears
Of living far from home in coming years.
My mother and father and brother all
Joined me for a great trip during the fall.
Traveling south to Virginia, we found
We were joined by a host traveling ‘round
The country, with stops in the land down south.
When the flight’s came from somebody’s mouth
Anger and boredom distracted me from
My fears and concerns about times to come.
Just then the captain suggested we tell
A series of tales to pass the time well.
Two stories each, these passengers would spin
While the rest could sit and take it all in.
The captain would judge story telling skill.
The finest tale told would count as the bill
For one’s airfare and refreshments on board
The old plane (quite a generous reward.)
The Lawyer was first to spin his long yarn,
His suit was dusty and his briefcase worn.
A traveler he’d been since he was a boy,
Though now he conducted it with somewhat less joy.
A shadow of his former self, he was,
Swallowed by life’s great clamping jaws.
He’d lost himself in a darkling haze
Of business, work, and occupied days.
In defense of criminals he plied his trade;
By unjust claims his money was made.
His family was broken, driven in two
By his greed — his sadness, which had eaten him through.
In his bag he kept a picture of his young son
Whom he’d long been without on his business run.
This pitiable fellow sat right directly across
From a woman of forty, her lipstick semigloss.
The feminist was unremarkable
In her style as she left the terminal.
She bristled with anger at any thought
That opposed the ideals for which she fought.
Some bickering children, a baby’s cry,
These things she would not withstand while we fly.
Given all she could want from a young age,
This women had no suffering to gauge
That of others by. She lived in a world
Where her opportunities were unfurled
Before her each day at work, school, and home.
Despite her charmed life, she lived with such hate
And disgust, all things would make her irate.
Down the row from this lady sat my own
Close kin, a bag in hand, his face a grin.
My own brother, an artist through and through
Sat comfortable by window sipping coke,
Listening to music as the captain spoke.
Mark is his name, an affable young lad,
Never content with a popular fad.
He wore warm colored clothes and shoes of red,
He listened to Rat Pack, flight moving ahead.
Mark was accosted more than once
By the feminist and some other dunce,
But he was not offended by all this
Preferring to stay in his musical bliss.
Most of the flight he spent in deep sleep
With little regard for our airborne leap.
In front of my brother sat an old man
Deep in thought, perhaps making some plan.
The old man was grey, although fast in his step,
He seemed to love life, even this long schlepp.
A professor of english he was in his work,
Now traveling south, so as not to overwork.
A brown striped suit with dark pants did he wear
With the same old stripes of grey in his hair.
In a brown leather bag he kept all his books,
Great literature of old with numerous hooks
To draw in the reader and hold his attention,
These truly made the old man brighten.
At the passengers he took no offense
Only of his thoughts did he have any sense.
The old man was truly a scholarly
Student and teacher of things which he
Knew quite as he knew his own kith and kin.
The captain was a man of stout build
Jovial and well suited for the office he filled.
He walked with a strong air of confidence
With which he had earned his flying license.
The telling of tales was his fine plan
And he fancied himself more the man
For his great suggestion for passing time
With the passengers’ many wonderful rhymes.
He wore a white shirt with golden pins
To signify his role as flight begins.
His hat of blue and pants of black
Could be seen all the way from the plane’s back.
He ruled the plane from wing to wing
And judged the tales that each would sing.
The pilot announced that the flight would take off
And the passengers fastened their belts with a cough.
The plane sped off onto our journey to the south
And prepared to pass time by the use of the mouth.
The journey began with a single tale.