Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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Middle English:

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes


and pilgrims seek new shores

This line derives from the prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. If you’re trying to make a one-for-one comparison between the two, to understand the transition, the most difficult thing is probably “palmeres” becoming “pilgrims.” Wiki has an explanation for that, and it’s pretty interesting.

In the Middle Ages, a palmer (Latinpalmarius or palmerius) was a Christian pilgrim, normally from Western Europe, who had visited the holy places in Palestine and who, as a token of his visits to the Holy Land, brought back a palm leaf or a palm leaf folded into a cross. Palmers were often highly regarded as well-natured holy men because of their devotion to Christ along the pilgrimage. The word is frequently used as synonymous with “pilgrim“.

One of the most prominent literary characters to have been a palmer was Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the title character of the book by Sir Walter Scott. A palmer also plays a significant role representing Reason in Book II of Edmund Spenser‘s epic poem The Faerie Queene.