SONNET of Chaucer: Legende of Goode Wimmen

For thy trespas, and understond hit here:
Thou shalt, whyl that thou livest, yeer by yere,
The moste party of thy tyme spende
In making of a glorious Legende Of Goode Wimmen, maidenes and wyves,
That weren trewe in lovinge al hir lyves;
And telle of false men that hem bitrayen, That al hir lyf ne doon nat but assayen

(Legend of Good Women or as he wrote: Legende of Goode Wimmen)

Isn’t it just wonderful? I do love the way the words are so recognizeable even today when one considers that these lines were written sometime between 1385-1386! As you know, I do love words and the beauty of languages  is in the expressions and the use of words, and this is no exception, for it really appeals to me very much indeed.

Chaucer wrote in continental accentual-syllabic metre, a style which had developed since around the twelfth century as an alternative to the alliterative Anglo-Saxon metre. Chaucer is known for metrical innovation, inventing the rhyme royal, and he was one of the first English poets to use the five-stress line, the iambic pentameter, in his work. The arrangement of these five-stress lines into rhyming couplets, first seen in his Legend of Good Women, was used in much of his later work and became one of the standard poetic forms in English. His early influence as a satirist is also important, with the common humorous device, the funny accent of a regional dialect, apparently making its first appearance in The Reeve’s Tale.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – October 25, 1400) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat courtier, and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars with being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French or Latin. His name is derived from the French chausseur, meaning shoemaker.

The Prologe of IX Goode Wimmen

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A thousand tymes have I herd men telle,

That ther is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle;
And I acorde wel that hit is so;
But natheles, yit wot I wel also,
That ther nis noon dwelling in this contree,
That either hath in heven or helle y-be,
Ne may of hit non other weyes witen,
But as he hath herd seyd, or founde hit writen;
For by assay ther may no man hit preve.
10 But god forbede but men should leve
Wel more thing then men han seen with ye!
Men shal nat wenen every-thing a lye
But-if him-self hit seeth, or elles dooth;
For, god wot, thing is never the lasse sooth,
Thogh every wight ne may hit nat y-see.
Bernard the monk ne saugh nat al, parde!

A possible indication that his career as a writer was appreciated came when Edward III granted Chaucer a gallon of wine daily for the rest of his life for some unspecified task. This was an unusual grant, apparently, according to Wikipedia where this information comes from. Chaucer had a very interesting career as a diplomat, author, poet et al so there is so much what one could write on him but this is it for now.

Rii xx

Source: Wikipedia

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One Response

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