The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Time Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
Amorwe, whan that day bigan to springe,
Up roos oure Host and was oure aller cok.
(General Prologue 822 – 832)
It's fitting that the Host would be the rooster here, since, as the frame story progresses, he is the character most concerned with time. He's constantly urging the pilgrims to hurry up and tell their stories already, for time is passing! This moment is important foreshadowing of that role.
As many a yeer as it is passed henne
Syn that my tappe of lif bigan to renne.
(Reeve's Prologue 35 – 36)
By comparing the years of his life to a barrel of wine that's draining, the Reeve emphasizes the way that we are powerless to stop the flow of time, however much we might wish to. Wine is something desirable, that we'd like to have around forever. But no matter how much we desire to keep it, it always runs out eventually.
Sey forth thy tale, and tarie nat the tyme.
Lo Depeford, and it is half-wey pryme!
Lo Grenwych, ther many a shrewe is inne!
It were al tyme thy tale to bigynne.
(Reeve's Prologue 51 – 54)
Half-way prime is only about 7:30am, but the Host is already worried the pilgrims are running out of time. Part of what's going on here could be a medieval Christian idea that waste, even the waste of time, is morally wrong. All time should be spent doing something productive, which is why the Host urges the pilgrims to tell stories.