In "The Merchant's Tale", from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the Merchant tells the story of an old knight named January who wishes to marry in order to have an heir to his fortune. He chooses a beautiful young maiden named May, but when January is struck blind, May takes his handsome young aide, Damian, as her lover. With this tale, the Merchant reinforces his negative view of both marriage and women. Chaucer can be tricky to perform, but Clive Swift manages to be both loose and precise as he navigates Chaucer's language with an impressive and melodic dexterity.
This is a story from the Canterbury Tales I: Modern Verse Translation collection. Chaucer's greatest work, written towards the end of the fourteenth century, paints a brilliant picture of medieval life, society and values. The stories range from the romantic, courtly idealism of "The Knight's Tale" to the joyous bawdy of the Miller's; all are told with a freshness and vigor in this modern verse translation that make them a delight to hear.