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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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steepholm steepholm
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Dry Marches
"Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote..."

Okay, we all know about April showers, but what about the drought of March? March certainly isn't a month that feels particularly dry, and in recent decades Met Office data confirms that in London it has been, if anything, rather wetter than April.

Of course, poetic licence and all that, but surely the lines wouldn't have been so successful if Chaucer had been saying something palpably untrue?

Well, the climate was probably a bit different: Chaucer was living through the early years of the little ice age, after all, and perhaps dry Marches go with that territory - but I don't remember anyone else mentioning them, ever.

Rosemund Tuve (whose work I know better on personifications) apparently proposes a number of potential sources including the Secreta secretorum. So Pseudo-Aristotle. I'd have to read her argument to see if I find it any more convincing. But I'm quite willing to accept the argument that "droghte" mean "dry spell" rather than the modern sense of the drought.

As, I remember Rosemund Tuve as a fine Spenserian!

I'd assumed that "droghte" didn't mean drought in the severe modern sense: I doubt that Britain has ever suffered one of those in winter, at least in recorded history.