Age of Chaucer

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Romaunt of the Rose: It’s a lengthy allegorical poem written in octosyllabic couplets and based upon Le Romaunt de la Rose of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung. According to critics, not the entire poem, but the first part of it may be written by Chaucer.

In this dream poem the narrator enters the Garden of Mirth, where he sees various allegorized figures and falls in love with a rosebud. Part A and B describe the instructions of the god of love to the dreamer. Part C is a fragment and satirizes the hypocrisy of religion, woman and the social order. (French Group)

The Book of the Duchesse: It’s probably Chaucer’s earliest poem and is written in 1369. It’s a dream poem in thirteen hundred thirty four lines in octosyllabic couplets. It is believed to be an allegorical lament on the death of Blanche of Lancaster, the first wife of John of Gaunt, who died in 1369. (French Group)

The poet falls asleep while reading the story of Ceix and Alcyone and in his dream he follows a hunting party. He meets a night in Black He meets a night in Black who played a game of chess with Fortuna and lost his queen. In answer of the dreamer’s question the knight declares that his beloved is dead now. The hunting party reappears and a bell strikes twelve. The poet awakes and decides that the dream was so wonderful that it should be set into rhyme. In the French group there are also three poems: The Compleynt unto Pite, An A.B.C. and The Compleynt of Mars. Anelida and Arcite: An incomplete poem by Chaucer. The poem tells the story of faithless Arcite to Queen Anelida. The first 270 lines are written in rhyme royal and 140 lines in varying metrical patterns. (Italian Group) The Parlement of Fouls: It’s a dream poem by Chaucer in 699 lines of rhyme royal. It has been thought to be a poem in celebration of a marriage, perhaps the marriage of the young Richard II and Anne of Bohemia in 1382. The poem is the first reference to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day was a special day for the lovers. The poet falls asleep after a prologue in which he makes the Boethian lament that he has not what he wants and he has what he does not want. He then has a vision of a garden in which three eagles pay attention to a beautiful ‘formel’ (female). Then there follows a long dispute about love and courtship. The dispute centers on the opposition between the courtly love approach of the noble eagles and pragmatism of the duck. The debate is unresolved and the birds agree to assemble a year later to decide. (Italian Group) Troilus and Criseyde: Chaucer’s longest complete poem in 8239 lines of rhyme royal, probably written in the second half of 1380s. Chaucer takes his story from Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato. In the story Troilus falls in love with Criseyde, a widow whose father Calchas leaves Troy and joins the Greeks. The first three books tell us how Troilus with the help of Pandarus, Criseyde’s uncle, finally charms her. In the fourth book, she has to go to the Greek camp because of the political reason and she promises to come back at the tenth day but she does not. Troilus writes to her but gets only evasive answers. Finally at his battle with Diamede he finds in Diamede’s hand a brooch which he had given to her. Ultimately he dies at the hand of Achilles. (Italian Group) The House of Fame: An unfinished by Chaucer in 2158 lines of octosyllabic couplets. After the prologue on dreams and an invocation on god of Sleep in Book I the poet dreams of the temple of Venus where on the walls he reads the depicted story of Dido and Aeneas. He then comes out and sees a golden eagle shining in the sky. It is from the same family of Dante’s eagle in the ninth book of Purgatorio. In Book II, the bird seizes him and carries him to the House of Fame and tells him during the journey that in the House of Fame he will learn about love affairs and hypocrisies of man. In Book III he watches in House of Fame the candidates approach the throne for fame, some being granted and others...
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