Chaucer: Experimentalist Extraordinary

  • Philip Hobsbaum


The history of English poetry is, for the most part, an attestation of unoriginality. Poet has learned from previous poet and, all too often, takes over as characteristics his master’s mannerisms. But there is an exception to this, and he occurs early in our literature. Chaucer, as W. W. Skeat said many years ago, was our first great English metrist. He employed for the first time in English the ottava rima of the Monk’s Tale; the rhyme royal of Troilus and Criseyde; the terza rima of ‘A Complaint to his Lady’; the roundel of the birds’ song at the end of The Parlement of Foules; and the heroic couplet, which is the standard metre of The Canterbury Tales.


Indirect Speech English Poetry Moral Blindness Canterbury Tale Experimentalist Extraordinary 
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© Philip Hobsbaum 1979

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  • Philip Hobsbaum

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