Tuesday, 8 October 2019

The biography of Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the great figures of English literature and is held up as the father of modern English. He is best known as the author of The Canterbury Tales, but was a polymath distinguished in philosophy, astronomy and politics.

While good records exist for time as a public servant, we have only estimates for the year of his birth in 1343, death in 1400 after which he disappeared from the public records. He married around 1366 to Philippa Roet and they are believed to have had four children.

He was buried in Westminster Abbey and his remains were later moved in 1556 to the area that became the famous Poet's Corner.

He came from a wealthy family of wine merchants and moved in Royal circles even from a young age, as a page to Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster. This was to prove very useful to Chaucer when he was taken prisoner in France in 1359 and King Edward III, paid his ransom and later sent him to Europe as a diplomat.

His public service continued and included prestigious roles as the Controller of Customs in 1374 and as a Member of Parliament and Justice of the Peace in 1386. He was later the Clear of the King's Works in charge of the King's building projects. This role ended after Chaucer was robbed and most likely injured in 1391. He was granted a pension of £20 a year in 1394 by Richard II.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Compleinte of Chaucer to his empty purs

To you, my purs, and to non other wight  
- Compleyne I, for ye be my lady dere!  
I am so sory now that ye be Hght;  
For certes, but ye make me hevy chere, 
Me were as leef be leyd up-on my bere,  
For which un-to you mercy thus I crye:  
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye!   
Now voucheth sauf this day or hit be night 
That I of you the bhsful soun may here,  
Or see your colour lyk the sonne bright  
That of yelownesse hadde nevere pere.  
Ye be my lyf, ye be myn hertes stere,  
Queue of comfort and of good companye:  
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye!   
Now purs, that be to me my lyves light,  
And saveour, as doun in this world here,   
Out of this toune help me through your might,   
Sin that ye wole nat been my tresorere;   
For I am shave as nye as any frere.   
But yit I pray un-to your curtesye:   
Beth hevy ageyn, or elles mot I dye.   
Lenvoy de Chaucer   
O conquerour of Brutes Albioun!  
Which that by lyne and free eleccioun  
Ben verray king, this song to you I sende;  
And ye, that mowen al our harm amende,  
Have minde up-on my supplicacioun!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton

This time a letter from Chaucer to Bukton
My maister Bukton, whan of Crist our kinge  
Was axed what is trouthe or sothfastnesse, 
He nat a word answerde to that axinge.  
As who saith, ''No man is al trewe," I gesse.  
And therfore, thogh I highte to expresse  
The sorwe and wo that is in mariage,  
I dar not wryte of hit no wikkednesse  
Lest I my-self falle eft in swich dotage.   
I wol nat seyn how that hit is the cheyne  
Of Sathanas, on which he gnaweth evere,  
But I dar seyn, were he out of his peyne.  
As by his wille, he wolde be bounde nevere.  
But thilke doted fool that eft hath levere  
Y-cheyned be than out of prison crepe,  
God lete him nevere fro his wo dissevere,  
Ne no man him bewayle though he wepe.   
But yit, lest thou do worse, tak a wyf :  
Bet is to wedde than brenne in worse wyse.  
But thou shalt have sorwe on thy flesh thy lyf,  
And been thy wyves thral, as seyn these wyse, 
And if that holy writ may nat suffyse.  
Experience shal thee teche, so may happe.  
That thee were lever to be take in Fryse  
Than eft to falle of wedding in the trappe.   
This litel writ, proverbes, or figure,  
I sende you, tak keep of hit, I rede.  
Unwys is he that can no wele endure;  
If thou be siker, put thee nat in drede.  
The Wyf of Bathe I pray you that ye rede  
Of this matere that we have on honde.  
God graunte you your lyf frely to lede  
In fredom; for ful hard is to be bonde.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lenvoy de Chaucer a Scogan 261

Another one for the real Chaucer afficionados: letter from Chaucer to Scogan no. 261
Than shul we for our labour han no mede.  
But wel I wot thou wilt answere and seye:  
''Lo! olde Grisel Hst to ryme and pleye!"   
Nay, Scogan, sey not so, for I mexcuse,  
God helpe me so! in no rym, doutelees,  
Ne thinke I nevere of sleep to wake my muse,  
That rusteth in my shethe stille in pees.  
Whyl I was yong, I putte hir forth in prees,  
But al shal passe that men prose or ryme:  
Take every man his turn as for his tyme.   
Scogan, that knelest at the stremes heed   
Of grace, of alle honour and worthinesse.   
In thende of which streem I am dul as deed,   
Forgete in solitarie wildernesse:   
Yet Scogan, thenk on Tullius kindenesse;   
Minne thy frend ther it may fructifye!   
Far-wel, and loke thou nevere eft Lov^ defye!