I think that the rhyme of The Canturbury Tales is essential to its sound and artistry, and for that reason I have attempted a rhyming translation of the first few lines. Granted, one has to bend the idiom of the text in order to achieve this, but I tried to preserve the meaning as much as possible throughout.

WHEN April with its sweetest showers
From March's drought has brought forth flowers,
Which, dew-covered and bearing new fruit,
Have sprung alive from the pierced root;
When the west wind Zephirus, who, breathing sweet,
Has revived the fields and made them replete
With newly-born crops, and also the sun
Has in the Ram his full course half-run
And small birds which bring forth melody
Sleep open-eyed all night in their tree,
(Such, Nature-spurred, their little hearts are)
Then folks long to travel and journey afar,
And pilgrims seek far-away places, where,
In far-away shrines they carry their prayer;
And from all ends of England these men make their drive
Hoping at Canterbury one day to arrive:
The holy, blissful martyr there they seek
Who cured them of sickness when once they were weak.

It happened that in that season, on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard Inn, as I lay
Ready to depart, with restless motion,
Towards Canterbury with my full devotion,
At night came into that hostelry
Well nine and twenty in a company
Of various folk, who by chance did fall
Into fellowship, and were pilgrims all,
That aimed to ride towards Canterbury.
The bedrooms and stables were both wide and airy,
And we were all treated quite well for guests.
After the sun had fallen through its rests,
So I had spoken with each member attending
With whom on this trail my time I'd be spending,
And arranged with each one to awaken at dawn
And depart before the morning dew was gone.

But nonetheless, while it is opportune,
And before I proceed with the rest of my tune,
I think only sensible to give some statistics
About the most notable characteristics
Of each of the others, as they seemed to me,
And which they were, and of what nobility,
And what clothing that they were dressed up in;
And with a Knight I will first begin.