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Home » » Why would you call Chaucer the father of English poetry?
With Chaucer is perceived the beginning of an era-a new epoch -in the history figure before the Renaissance and the greatest name among the English men of letters before Spenser and Shakespeare . But what is more , this is not all , for to him belongs the credit to usher in modern English literature . In various ways , Chaucer gave a new impulse and a new vitality to English literature , and raised an edifice of all gold over the rough stone of Anglo Saxon literature and the barren field of Anglo-Saxon literature and the barren field of Anglo-Norman. Chaucer's genius was versatile , as his life was varied and chequered. The variety of experiences, with which he was confronted in his personal life in various capacities -as a page, yeomen, soldier esquire, diplomat,courteir, official,Member of Parliament, and so on - was the source of his astounding and nobel literary inspiration. His multiplicity of involvements and occupations enabled him to grasp the numerous experience of life that include even his humble occupation as a page in the household of the countess of Ulster and captivity as a soldier during the seige of Rheims. The rare literary genius in him successfully transmitted all those experiences into his writings to create several lasting works of art. To the varied experiences of his life were added Chaucer's acquaintances with the literature of other countries, particularly of Italy and France, where he went on diplomatic mission. Guillaume de Machaut,Jean Clopinel and Guillaume de Lories of France abd Dante,Boccaccio and petrarch of Italy immensely inspired him.Of course,Chaucer's foreign preceptors had divergent influences on him. That was why Chaucer could produce so divergent and so commendable literary works in English.

Under the French influence Chaucer wrote some of his earlier works, rather lyrical and allegorical. His love -lyrics, possibly his first works, works at present not extant. His earliest work was the translation of a long love poem in French - Roman de la Rose. But the authenticity of Chaucer's full contribution to in not free from doubts. Among his allegorical works mention may be made of The Boke of the Blanche of Lancaster, the first wife to John of Gaunt,his literary patron. It is a courtly and aristocratic elegy in octo-syllebic couplets. The poem is also an allegory and contains an instruction for beauty as symbolished in the deceased duchess. The Parlement of Foules and The Hous of Fame are also two allegorical works of Chaucer. They reveal, once again, his power to blend realism with allegory and exhibit his fine sence of wit and humour. The former poem presents a parliament of different birds- big birds of prey as also small,common birds. The other work,left unfinished, relates allegorically the caprices of fame. The Italian influence on Chaucer is felt in his two famous romances. His indebtedness goes to Boccaccio for both of them.These are knightes Tale and TroilusandCriseyde. In bot these works,the thrill of chivalrousand adventurous life and the tenderness of a warm and true love are dealt with all through. Through Chaucer was indebted to Boccaccio for the plot of his poems,his originality is remarkably perceived all through and the mere adventurous events of Boccaccio's tales are found transformed by him into highly impulsive love poems in the English language.These poems are, no doubt,romances, but they stand on a muxh higher footing than themetrical romances of the pre-Chaucerian medieval age.

The Legende of  Good Women, though left unfinished by Chaucer , is another remarkable production.  It is not a thoroughly allegorical work , for the Prologue is here only allegorical. The work bears out amply Chaucer's story-telling power, art of characterisation,  love of nature and poetical sensuousness and melody . The crowning piece of Chaucer's literary genius is certainly The Canterbury Tales. He began that ambitious literary project about 1387, in which year his wife possibly died. He continued to work on it till his own death,  thirteen years later, but left it unfinished . The Canterbury Tales, as a piece of literary work, is an unforgettable creation in English literature.  Chaucer will be remembered ever, at least for it, if not for anything else .In its plan,  conception,  execution and matter of wit and humour , The Canterbury Tales remains an unassailable literary work.Chaucer is found to have demonstrated here amply his power to reflect life in its variety , illuminate what is basically humdrum and probe deep into the motives and action of different men and women , engaged in diverse professions.

Chaucer's literary production is vast,  gigantic , comprehensive and impressive. It is not merely profile in bulk,  but also unique in his creative power and originally.  In fact , when his literary production is studied against the background of his age , none , but Shakespeare, seems to have surpassed his creative originality and novelty .

Chaucer's greatest is, perhaps,  most significantly manifested in his art of characterisation. Non before him is found to have treated human beings individually.  In the works , preceding Chaucer , different men and women are not found to have any individual entity.  They are only known as shoemakers , inn-keepers,  priests , princes and so on. But Chaucer is the first literary master to penetrate into the mystery of individuality . His works present not merely a band of men and women,  but some individuals with certain special characteristics,  moods and tendencies.

Again, Chaucer stands triumphantly in his power of description. His description and narrative gifts truly possess rare qualities . He, in fact,  remains the first great English story-teller in verse. The employment of verse,  as a vehicle of Story-telling , is certainly Chaucer's most notable contribution . The modern age of English literature is greatly indebted to him in this respect .What is more remarkable and o original in Chaucer is his perception of the fun of life and his wonderful sense of humour. Humour with him is always invigorating and delightful. Chaucer is found to have moved here much more forward than his age and his predecessors . In his great works, like The Hous of Fame, The Parlement of Foules and The Canterbury Tales may certainly be claimed as the first great English humorist .

As a poet, his eminence depends much upon his technical command over versification . His mastery is manifested in the striking originality effected by him in versification.  It is almost impossible to exaggerate the part that Chaucer has played as the maker of English versification.  The octo-syllabic lines, used in the works of his predecessors , finds a total renovation in Chaucer.  Not Only that, he is also found to have aptly imported and introduced the pattern of versification from France. Indeed,  Chaucer's metrical innovations alone are enough to earn him the title of' father of English poetry, ' bestowed on him by Dryden . The use of the line of five stresses , called the pentameter , was possibly first introduced by him in onr of his earliest translations,  An A.B.C in The Parlement of Foules, The intricate structure of France ballad forms is found cut down and simplified by him to produce a seven-line stanza, called rhyme-royal.  That proves to be the successful medium in such long narrative poems,  as Troilus and Criseyde.  Finally the rhyming pentameter or heroic verse,  which is the metre of the greatest English poetry of all times , owes its origin in England to Chaucer's use of decasyllables.

Indeed , Chaucer is not only , as Keats has called him, 'one just great meterist.'He is also
'an absolute master of rhyme, that essentially artificial device , to which only the great poets succeeded in giving a resemblance of inevitability.
But what is more about Chaucer is his application of the common dialect of London and its neighbourhood as his poetic diction.  This is known as the King's English which became , owing largely to his own work,  the sole literary language throughout England.
The Chaucerian literary world is not antique,  but modern.  This has an absolutely modern environment  in an old setting . His genius has put fresh and formative spirits into old things and turned gross into gold.  Albert is quite right in his observation,
Chaucer is, indeed ,a genius,  he stands alone,  and for nearly two hundred years none have claim equality with him
In the language of David Daiches with Chaucer,  the English language and English literature grew at a bound to full maturity . 


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