Geoffrey Chaucer, The Father Of English Poetry
The English language became more prominent because of Chaucer and his works. According to Rigby and Minnis “probably less of a critical consensus. than for any other English writer and whose complex poetry continues to fascinate and to perplex modern audiences” (2014, p.2). His works became widely looked upon by modern writers. One can say that he is the Father of English Poetry because of his inheritance of both Latin and French language which enabled him to produce his own works in English language that cemented hispopularity to tell great stories through poetry which ultimately led him to think out of the box.
Chaucer’s diplomatic missions took him to France and Italy, where he came in contact with the famous works of Dante Alighieri, Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio, which greatly influenced him in his later works. According to Butterfield, “Chaucer is part of French history rather than being the background of Chaucer’s history” (2003, p.21). On his travels to France, Italy, Greek and other European countries, Chaucer acquired the linguistics of both French and Latin language resulting in him knowing the prevalent languages of literature of that time which came in as a great help to overset French and Italian texts into English literature. Hence, giving preference to English language and giving birth to the English literature. Some of the famous works which were translated by Chaucer are Astrolabe, The Parson’s Tale, Remount of the Rose and The Boece.
According to Cole on Chaucer’s translation of Astrolabe, “It is one of his most public works and one of his most visible translations” (2008, p.98). His expertise on French and Latin language was of a great advantage to him as during that time there was not any English poets that he could look up to so he steered his wheel towards French and Latin poets for motivation. Ifit was not for his multilingual skill, we would not be blessed with his extraordinary works and the English language would not be holding its current position in the modern world of literature.
Geoffrey Chaucer was notably credited to be the best story teller of the time. His description and narration technique possessed the eccentric qualities like straight forward narration, humors and unhampered narration. Chaucer’s rare gift of narration helped him to become the first ever English storyteller in verse. According to Cooper, “It is Chaucer’s brilliant handing of convention that makes his poetry so striking”(1983, p.4). In The Canterbury Tales, one of the Chaucer’s most celebrated works, the utmost storyteller is Chaucer himself in whichthe outer story is about a group of pilgrimage who were on their way to pay homage to Thomas Becket and the inside story is a collection of short stories focusing on the individual travelers. The diction in his work is quite satirical and ironical which represents the hypocrisy of that age.
In his works, Chaucer creates a frame story with his poetry and his power of storytelling is clearly depicted. This work of his has helped in the further development and broadening of English literature.During the medieval period, when people were mostly writing philosophies, histories and theories, Chaucer chose to write poetry. With his great ability to tell stories, common men found his works very appealing and relatable since his fictitious works were based on ordinary life of men to which commoners could connect to, therefore, giving voice to the throttled voice of an underrepresented majority rather than stories of heroes, Greek and Roman myths, breaking the stereotypical hero worship.
The most noted and appreciated work of Chaucer was hisThe Canterbury Tales. According to Cooper (1983), the varied tales in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales contains extraordinary attributes that no other medieval story collections possess which made it a unique and remarkable one. Most of the contemporary literature in his days were written in French and Latin, as this was the language of the dominant and educated class but unlike them Chaucer decided to write his works in English, which was nothing more than a dialect at the timeand was quietly evolving among the laymen, so that the common class could read them making literature available for all for the first time, not just for the elite and educated class.
Thus establishing English as literary languageand becoming the first English poet. Before Chaucer, there was no real concept of poetry. It was Chaucer who gave life to poetry by creating a new hybrid of poetic verse by borrowing from French and Latin.Kean (1981), places emphasis on the reasons why Chaucer is widely considered the maker of English poetry. Prior to Chaucer, poetry was not a popular genre of choice for writers. Some wrote but were in French and Latin but his effort to write in English vernacular changed things hence leading to the respect for the English language that would develop into medium for the world’s greatest literature later. The Canterbury Tales became the source for his reputation, thus leading to use of his language and way of writing. It was him who introduced English language as the language of literature and the survival of the works for many centuries indicates his power of storytelling.So, we can say that Chaucer fairly earned the moniker ‘The Father of English Poetry’ which is his ultimate reward for his great efforts and his legacy.
- Brewer, D.(2000).The world of Chaucer (3rd ed.). Slovenia: Boydell and Brewer.
- Boitani, P. &Mann, J. (2003).The cambridge companion to Chaucer (2nd ed.).NY: Cambridge University Press.
- Brown,H.J.(2006).Chaucer: celebrated poet and author. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publisher.Cole, A. (2008).Literature and heresy in the age of Chaucer. New York, NY:Cambridge University Press.
- Cooper, H. (1983).The structure of the canterbury tales.London:Unwin Brothers.Kean, P. M. (1982). Chaucer and the making of English poetry. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
- Rossignol, R.(2006).Critical companion to Chaucer: Aliterary reference to his life and work: Infobase Publisher.Rigby,S.H.(2014).
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