About Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the prominent English poets. He is also known as the father of English poets. However, it doesn't signify that there was no concept of poets or poetry before Geoffrey Chaucer. But the National language was missing; there were only several regional languages before Chaucer came into the field of poetry. Back then, Chaucer used one of the regional languages, East Midland. Being a pro, he managed to elevate it to the position of National language of England, and that's how he acquired the title of the father of English poetry as well as the father of the English language. Chaucer was first-ever England's national poet. During those eras, William Langland and John Gower were considered order poets. However, their poetry is barely enjoyed or read today, whereas Chaucer stayed as an enjoyable and fresh poet.

Chaucer - The Earliest of the Great Moderns

Edward Albert calls Chaucer- "The earliest of the great moderns" Chaucer stands at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era. He has been called "The Morning Star of the renaissance."

Chaucer's poetry depicts the medieval essence. It also displays the Italian Renaissance. The term Renaissance was first perceived in England in Chaucer's era. He was highly tributed to keeping his genius out of sight for the coming one hundred and fifty years. There was no one caliber of Chaucer's poetry. But later, about 170 years, we had Edmund Spencer, regarded as the poet of the poets. As a matter of fact, he is being relished with the same zeal today, even after the span of five centuries. Meanwhile, the English language went through radical changes. Spencer stands out among his successors, contemporaries, and the father of English poetry.

The realism of Geoffrey Chaucer

The modernism of Chaucer is perfectly described in his realism. He depicted the real-life of England during his time. He started his career by adhering to the tradition of drama poetry, allegory, and courtly love. But he didn't follow that tradition for very long and turned his vision toward the people and life of his times. He became famous and successful with his masterpiece 'The Canterbury tales.' His prologue given to the Canterbury tales is considered the epitome of 14th century England. He has portrayed the people and life of his times with realism and great force. His realism has been nowhere deemed more promising than in the illustration of the characters. A.C. Ward states Chaucer is the first most renowned painter of Character, and with a few artful touches, he efficiently manages to give life to the Character. They are individuals at the same time. Every different person, profession, and rank of his time discovered an explicit expression in his 29th pilgrims. He displays his period as a whole, not in fragments.

Chaucer as the Creator of Modern English

Chaucer deserted the tradition of medieval poetry. He got himself free from following the religious effect of the Middle Ages. The medieval practices and religious beliefs were yet dominating aspects of his period. But those influences were crushed by the soul of the Italian Renaissance in him. Chaucer is the ''Morning Star of the Renaissance." The secular spirit and facade define themselves first in our English poetry with the help of him. He adores human nature and embraces all its shortcomings. He takes pleasure in all the pleasing elements of life. He shows interest and also enjoys the company of his fellowmen. He doesn't get repelled by the rascals, the foolish, and the wicked. Chaucer is very much aware of the corruption around the church. However, unlike his contemporary, Langland, he nowhere showed fierce about the same. His gentle humanity, sympathy, and tolerance make him stand first among the great moderns.

Chaucer as the Humorist

In English literature, Chaucer is regarded as the first true humorist. His humor is a strong expression of tolerance, sympathy, and delight in life. We can say, humor is the essence of his work. Like Shakespeare or Dickens, his humor is all-pervasive and multi-faceted. His eyes take over a bright sparkle when they meet wickedness or idiocy of human nature. He never harshly backlashes at vice or folly but stares at them and smiles. He is the first-ever great modern humorist in England.

Chaucer is also considered England's first great national poet. He evolved as the founder of English poetry. He released himself from foreign influence and exercised his own native tongue to exhibit his art. Chaucer fully utilized his energy in the growth of his native language. He marked it a suitable platform for literary expression. In this respect, Lowel states, "He found English a dialect and left it a language." Chaucer alone was termed National, whereas his other contemporaries were local and temporary. He bestowed modern ease, smoothness, suppleness, and flexibility to the English language. He lived and breathed a high poetic life into it. He is indeed what Spencer labeled him, "The well of English undefiled." He gave people a reformed language that acts as a mighty instrument for thought expression.

Chaucer's Versification Modern Note

Chaucer is among the most musical English poets. Initially, his English appears very different. But it can be learned efficiently with the help of little toil and persistence. After eliminating irregular old English lines and alterations, he switched to the modern note. He further embraced regular end-rhymes and meters of the French method. He abandoned the complex stanza forms. In his verses, he gained the union of freedom and simplicity for the first time. He transformed the Heroic Couplets into English Verses. He invented the Rhyme Royal.

Descriptions of Chaucer are masterpieces. The description of places, manners, and men hold a vivacity that drives his poetry to be unique. He relishes the beauty of nature and the companionship of his fellowmen. Emile, to this respect, says for Chaucer-

"It is more than a literary innovation. It is a change of mental attitude. Poetry turned with tolerant curiosity to the study of mob and manners. For the first time, the relation between individuals and ideas is clearly realized."

Like Shakespeare, Chaucer didn't come up with his own tales. He took them from English, French, Italian, and Classic sources. However, he framed them by giving his style of narration. In verse, he is considered an exceptional storyteller. He has a remarkable sense of narration in comparison to his other contemporaries. This proficiency in the art of narration compelled many to quote him as the father of the English novel. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales are present in plentiful novels but in miniature. They are just left to be converted into prose to turn them into many Modern Novels. In this respect, William J. Long has termed his Canterbury Tales prologue "the prologue to modern fiction."

S.D. Neil states, "Had Chaucer written in Prose; it is possible that hid Troilus and Criseyde, and not Richardson's Pamela would be celebrated as the first English novel."

Chaucer's certain limitations may not be cited. He exemplifies the growth of intellect and the consequent decline of imagination and passion. Since lyricism is related to vision and enthusiasm, there is a scarcity of lyricism in Chaucer's poetry. Matthew Arnold didn't regard Chaucer as a great classic when he found out that Chaucer wanted high seriousness and sublimity. However, considering the above illustration stated about Chaucer, we can say that his poetry has some limitations. Maybe, he isn't a poet of the first order and, therefore, we couldn't receive any philosophical or moral guidance from him. He may not evolve to the high pathos or tragedy. But we definitely get a lot of zeal for life and a refreshing pleasure in the beauty of nature. So, his place undoubtedly remains as the father of English poetry.

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