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Written in the stars--part 1
Here's Taurus

Well, the presentation at the poets' convention was all I could have wanted. Room was filled. Sold all the books I'd brought. And the new handout was a big success. I'll enter it here in 4 parts.

In the allegory of the Canterbury Tales, the introductions of zodiac constellations disguised as Chaucer's Pilgrims have identifiers all in clear view--if you look for them. They involve mythology and animal characteristics (where they apply) as well as stars that make up the figure. And one rule of allegory is--once you've recognized the guiding pattern, all the parts must be there. Once you know one of the signs, the challenge is to find all twelve.

Aries/ the Friar Hamal and Sheratan are a distinctive pair of stars in the head of Aries, who is the first of the zodiac ring. The sign appears in the chill of March, so Chaucer indicates these stars by saying the Friar's eyes twinkled in his head as do stars in the frosty night. Being the first is noted with the allusion to the Friar's pleasant "In principio." The wooly ram image is found in the Friar's short cloak of double worsted.

Taurus/ the Miller As a constellation, Taurus has been recognized since ancient times. The dominant star, Aldebaran, has the distinction of being yellow and the brightest star in the zodiac. The Miller's thumb of gold corresponds to brilliant Aldebaran. The animal image plays a large part. We see the Miller as stout, big of brawn and bones, short-shouldered, with a broad, thick, gnarled body. His nostrils are wide and black and he could heave a door off its hinges by running into it with his head

Gemini/ the two brothers--the Parson and Plowman The poet gives no physical description of these brothers. Single stars--Castor and Polluz--indicate the head of each. Alhena, the bright yellow star in Pollux, was also seen as "red." Chaucer captures the idea with--If gold rusts, what shall iron do? As Gemini rises, Castor (the Plowman) is seen first; Pollux (the Parson) comes into view later. The poet notes this when the Parson (Pollux) says--I am a Southern man. He is the "Southern man" because he is south of his brother.

Next entry will tell about Cancer, Leo and Virgo.