The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer, a new verse translation by Burton Raffel

While some may question the necessity of a modern verse translation of the Canterbury Tales, given that Chaucer’s Middle English isn’t that hard to work through for anyone inclined to make the attempt, veteran poet and translator Burton Raffel has at least gone and done a decent job of it. In general his version is both responsible and fluid, and even offers a less painful alternative to the original in a couple of instances (like the Parson’s interminable tale). Purists, however, will note many places where there has been no improvement in sound or sense, and cringe at new pilgrims like “the Pardon-Peddler” and “the Cleric-Magician’s Servant.”