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Lecture Two Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; Popular Ballads

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1 Lecture Two Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; Popular Ballads

2 Part one Geoffrey Chaucer
Ⅰ. Life 1.Geoffrey Chaucer, the founder of English poetry, was born, about 1340 in London. 2. he went to France at 19. 3. he married Philippa, a maid of honour to the queen and relative of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, who became his patron. 4. he was sent to the Continent on diplomatic missions, two of which took him to Italy.

3 Chaucer's political background can be seen from his relation with John of Gaunt, his patron. John of Gaunt was a friend of John Wycliffe (c ) the radical reformer who founded a sect of poor preachers called the "Lollards”. These Lollards preached a teaching against the Catholic Church, and thus helped in preparing the Rising of Under these influences, Chaucer adopted an attitude of opposition against Catholicism and attacked the corruption of the contemporary church government, in his poems:

4 Ⅱ. Chaucer's Literary Career
his literary career can be divided into three periods corresponding with the stages of his life. 1. The first period consists of works translated from French, as "The Romaunt of the Rose”. 2. The second consists of works adapted from the Italian, as "Troilus and Criseyde". 3. The third includes " The Canterbury Tales", which is purely English.

5 III. "The Canterbury Tales" (1387-1400)
"The Canterbury Tales" is Chaucer's masterpiece and one of the monumental works in English literature. 3.1. Outline of the Story On a spring evening, the poet, moved by the passion for wandering drops himself at the Tabard Inn in Southwark at the south end of London Bridge. Here he meets nine and twenty other pilgrims ready for a journey of 60 miles on horseback to Canterbury. Chaucer joins this company. At the suggestion of the host of the inn, they agree to beguile the journey by story-telling. Each is to tell two stories going and two returning. The best story-teller shall be treated with a fine supper at the general expense at the end. The host is to be the judge of the contest. This is a good idea, and a gigantic plan, too. For it should be an immense work of 124 stories. Only 24 were written.

6 3. 2. Strengths of Canterbury Tales
these tales cover practically all the major types of medieval literature: courtly romance, folk tale, beast fable, story of travel and adventure, saint's life, allegorical tale, account, and others. ALL these tales but two are written in Verse.

7 3. 3. Allegory 1.It is a fictional literary narrative or artistic expression that conveys a symbolic meaning parallel to but distinct from the literal meaning. 2. Allegory has also been defined as an extended metaphor. The symbolic meaning is usually expressed through personifications and other symbols. 3. Related forms are the fable and the parable, which are didactic, comparatively short and simple allegories. 4. The art of allegory reached its height during the Middle Ages, especially in the works of the Italian poet Dante and the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and during the Renaissance. Two early examples of allegory are Le Roman de la Rose and Piers the Plowman.

8 3. 4. the poet succeeded in linking the stories together through two ways.
A. The personality of the host affords a clear string of connection from the first to the last tale; he gives a unity to the whole work, inviting, criticizing, admiring, denouncing, but always keeping himself in evidence. B. There is an intimate connection between the tales and the Prologue, both of which complement each other.

9 3.5.1.The Prologue: The Prologue provides a framework for the tales. It contains a group of vivid sketches of typical medieval figures. They range from the knight and squire and prioress, through the landed proprietor and wealthy tradesman, to the drunken cook and humble plowman. There are also a doctor and a lawyer, monks of different orders and nuns and priests, and a summoner, a sailor, a miller, a carpenter, a yeoman, and an Oxford scholar. Finally, in the centre of the group is the Wife of Bath, the owner of a large cloth-factory. Every figure is drawn with the accuracy of a portrait. It is no exaggeration to say that the Prologue supplies a miniature of the English society of Chaucer's time. That is why Chaucer has been called "the founder of English realism.”

10 3.5.2. Excerpt of The Prologue
Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour; 5 Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye, 10 That slepen al the nyght with open eye- (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages); Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; 15 And specially from every shires ende Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke. Bifil that in that seson, on a day,

11 20 In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage To Caunterbury with ful devout corage, At nyght was come into that hostelrye Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye 25 Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle, That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde. The chambres and the stables weren wyde, And wel we weren esed atte beste; 30 And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste, So hadde I spoken with hem everichon That I was of hir felaweshipe anon, And made forward erly for to ryse To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.

12 But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace, Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun To telle yow al the condicioun Of ech of hem, so as it semed me, 40 And whiche they weren, and of what degree, And eek in what array that they were inne; And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne. A KNYGHT ther was, and that a worthy man, That fro the tyme that he first bigan 45 To riden out, he loved chivalrie, Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie. Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre, And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre, As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse, 50 And evere honoured for his worthynesse.

13 Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
At Alisaundre he was, whan it was wonne. Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne Aboven alle nacions in Pruce; In Lettow hadde he reysed, and in Ruce, 55 No Cristen man so ofte of his degree. In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye. At Lyeys was he and at Satalye, Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete See 60 At many a noble armee hadde he be. At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene, And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo. This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also 65 Somtyme with the lord of Palatye Agayn another hethen in Turkye. And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys; And though that he were worthy, he was wys, And of his port as meeke as is a mayde. 70 He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde

14 3.6. Characteristics of Chaucer's language:
1. now called Middle English, is vivid and exact. 2. He is a master of word-pictures. 3. His verse is among the smoothest in English. 4. hardly a single Word will offer difficulties to a man of tolerable reading in modern English.

15 3.7. Chaucer’s attribution to English Literature:
1.Chaucer is the first great poet who wrote in the English language. 2. establishing English as the literary language of the country. 3. Chaucer did much in making the dialect of London the standard for the modern English speech.

16 Part Two Popular Ballads
1.1.The most important department of English folk literature is the ballad. A ballad, is a story told in song, usually in 4-1ine stanzas, with the second and fourth lines rhymed. When it was chanted by ballad-singers, the audience joined in a refrain which usually followed each stanza. 1.2. The subjects of ballads are various in kind, as the struggle of young lovers against their feudal-minded families, the conflict between love and wealth, the cruelty of jealousy, the criticism of the civil war, and the matters of class struggle. Of paramount importance are the ballads of Robin Hood.

17 II. The Robin Hood Ballads
2.1. Brief Account: Robin Hood, a legendary popular hero, is depicted in the ballads as a valiant outlaw, famous in archery, living under the greenwood tree with his merry men, taking from the rich and giving to the poor, waging war against bishops and archbishops, and constantly hunted by the sheriffs, whom he constantly outwits.

18 2.2. Comments: The character of Robin Hood is many-sided. Strong, brave and clever, he is at the same time tender-hearted and affectionate. He is a man with a twinkle in his eye, a man fond of a merry joke and a hearty laugh. But the dominant key in his character is his hatred for the cruel oppressors and his love for the poor and downtrodden. His particular enemies are the upper ranks of the nobility-earls, barons, archbishops, bishops and abbots. And the king's officials are the object of his most intense animosity, as typified in the ballads by the Sheriff of Nottingham, a man noted for rapacity and treachery, who meets his death at the hands of Robin Hood and his merry men of the greenwood.

19 2.4. Answer the following questions.
1. What is the influence of the Prologue of “the Canterbury Tales”? 2. What is Chaucer’s contribution to English language? 3. What is the social significance of “ the Canterbury Tales”? 4. What is a ballad? The characteristics?

20 2.5. Keys to the questions There is an intimate connection between the tales and the Prologue, both complementing each other. The Prologue provides a framework for the tales in the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer’s language is vivid and exact. His verse is smooth. His words are easy to understand. He introduced from the rhymed stanzas of various types, especially the rhymed couplet. He is the first important poet to write in the current English language, making the dialect of London the foundation of modern English.

21 3. Chaucer gives us a true-to-life picture of the society of his time
3.Chaucer gives us a true-to-life picture of the society of his time. He affirms man and opposes the dogma of asceticism preached by the church. As a forerunner of humanism, he praises man’s energy, intellect, wit and love of life. His tales expose and satirize the evils of his time. 4.A ballad, is a story told in song, usually in 4-1ine stanzas, with the second and fourth lines rhymed. The subjects of ballads are various in kind, as the struggle of young lovers against their feudal-minded families, the conflict between love and wealth, the cruelty of jealousy, the criticism of the civil war, and the matters of class struggle.

22 IIl. More about The Robin Hood Ballads:
The various ballads of Robin Hood are gathered into a collection called “ The Geste of Robin Hood," in which the whole life of the hero is portrayed.

23 3.1. The Origin of the Robin Hood Ballads:
Clearly the historical origin of Robin Hood and his band of outlaws is to be found in the perpetual struggles of the peasants against the landlords, against the local officials and against the king's judges. Robin Hood is a partly historical and partly legendary character. According to some historians, Robin Hood was a Saxon by birth, an outlaw, but he robbed only the rich and never molested the poor and needy. He waged a guerrilla war, say the chronicles, on the Norman invaders long after the Norman Conquest, and his archers were invincible, and the king's and baron's soldiers could do nothing to them.

24 3.2.The Character of Robin Hood:
The character of Robin Hood is many-sided. Strong, brave and clever, he is at the same time tender-hearted and affectionate. Robin Hood appears to be devout and orthodox in religion, though orthodoxy does not prevent him from despoiling the rich clergymen, especially the abbots. Another feature of Robin's view is his reverence for the King. This reverence is found in the ballads side by side with the most outspoken attacks on the lay and ecclesiastical nobility.

25 The King appears in the ballads as an intermediary between the outlaws and his officials and judges, as the humorous and understanding guest in the greenwood, feasting on his own-stolen deer. This conception of the King's position as one above the contending classes of society was. of course, an illusion. In fact, the medieval king was the representative of the feudal nobility. But it was the peasants' traditional illusion for the King that disarmed the peasants in 1381, deluded as they were by the King's false promises of freedom.

26 3.3.Excerpt to General Prologue to CT
As soon as April pierces to the root / The drought of March, and bathes each bud and shoot / Through every vein of sap with gentle showers / From whose engendering liquor spring the flowers; / When zephyrs have breathed softly all about / Inspiring every wood and field to sprout, / And in the zodiac the youthful sun / His journey halfway through the Ram has run; / When little birds are busy with their song / Who sleep with open eyes the whole night long / Life stirs their hearts and tingles in them so, / Then off as pilgrims people long to go, / And palmers to set out for distant strands / And foreign shrines renowned in many lands. /

27 And specially in England people ride /
To Canterbury from every countryside / To visit there the blessed martyred saint / Who gave them strength when they were sick and faint. And so then, with a knight I will begin. / A knight was with us, and an excellent man, / Who from the earliest moment he began / To follow his career loved chivalry. / Truth, openhandedness, and courtesy.

28 IV. Get Up and Bar the Door
1. It fell about the Martinmas time, And a gay time it was then, When our goodwife got puddings to make, And she ’s boild them in the pan. 2. The wind sae cauld blew south and north, And blew into the floor; Quoth our goodman to our goodwife, “Gae out and bar the door.”

29 3. “My hand is in my hussyfskap,
Goodman, as ye may see; An it shoud nae be barrd this hundred year, It ’s no be barrd for me.” 4. They made a paction tween them twa, They made it firm and sure, That the first word whaeer shoud speak, Shoud rise and bar the door. 5. Then by there came two gentlemen, At twelve o clock at night, And they could neither see house nor hall, Nor coal nor candle-light.

30 6. “Now whether is this a rich man’s house,
Or whether is it a poor?” But neer a word wad ane o them speak, For barring of the door. 7. And first they ate the white puddings, And then they ate the black; Tho muckle thought the goodwife to hersel, Yet neer a word she spake. 8. Then said the one unto the other, “Here, man, tak ye my knife; Do ye tak aff the auld man’s beard, And I ’ll kiss the goodwife.”

31 9. “But there ’s nae water in the house,
And what shall we do than?” “What ails thee at the pudding-broo, That boils into the pan?” 10. O,up then started our goodman, An angry man was he: “Will ye kiss my wife before my een, And scad me wi pudding-bree?” 11. Then up and started our goodwife, Gied three skips on the floor: “Goodman, you’ve spoken the foremost word, Get up and bar the door.”

32 Appreciation The song begins with the wife busy in her cooking and other chores. As the wind picks up, the husband tells her to close and bar the door, but she insists that he do it himself. They make a pact that the next person who speaks must bar the door, and the door remains open. At midnight two thieves enter the house and eat the pudding that the wife has just made. The husband and wife watch them, but still neither speaks out of stubborn pride. Amazed, one of the thieves proposes to cut the husband's throat and molest the wife. Finally the husband shouts "Ye’ve eaten my bread, ye hae druken my ale, and ye’ll mak my auld wife a whore!" The wife responds "Ye hae spoke the first word. Get up and bar the door."

33 Among many things, this folk ballad talks about the sense of lasting competition in a relationship. The man tries to maintain his power but the woman refuses because she does not want to be treated like a doormat. The ballad makes the point that being stubborn has no benefits, by being stubborn they lost pudding and subjected their possessions to be stolen.

34 Sir Patrick Spens The King sits in Dunfermline town,
Drinking the blood-red wine; "O where shall I get a skeely skipper To sail this ship or mine?" Then up and spake an eldern knight, Sat at the King's right knee: "Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor That ever sailed the sea."

35 The King has written a broad letter, And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens,
And sealed it with his hand, And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens, Was walking on the strand. "To Noroway, to Noroway, To Noroway o'er the foam; The King's daughter of Noroway, 'Tis thou must fetch her home.“ The first line that Sir Patrick read, A loud laugh laughed he; The next line that Sir Patrick read, The tear blinded his ee.

36 "O who is this has done this deed,
Has told the King of me, To send us out at this time of the year, To sail upon the sea? "Be it wind, be it wet, be it hail, be it sleet, Our ship must sail the foam; The king's daughter of Noroway, 'Tis we must fetch her home." They hoisted their sails on Monenday morn, With all the speed they may; And they have landed in Noroway Upon a Wodensday

37 They had not been a week, a week, When that the lords of Noroway
In Noroway but twae, When that the lords of Noroway Began aloud to say, "Ye Scottishmen spend all our King's gowd, And all our Queenis fee." "Ye lie, ye lie, ye liars loud! So loud I hear ye lie. "For I brought as much of the white monie As gane my men and me, And a half-fou of the good red gowd Out o'er the sea with me.

38 "Make ready, make ready, my merry men all,
Our good ship sails the morn." "Now, ever alack, my master dear I fear a deadly storm. "I saw the new moon late yestreen With the old moon in her arm; And if we go to sea, master, I fear we'll come to harm." They had not sailed a league, a league, A league but barely three, When the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud, And gurly grew the sea.

39 The ankers brake and the top-masts lap,
It was such a deadly storm; And the waves came o'er the broken ship Till all her sides were torn. "O where will I get a good sailor Will take my helm in hand, Till I get up to the tall top-mast To see if I can spy land?" "O here am I, a sailor good, Will take the helm in hand, Till you go up to the tall top-mast, But I fear you'll ne'er spy land."

40 He had not gone a step, a step,
A step but barely ane, When a bolt flew out of the good ship's side, And the salt sea came in. "Go fetch a web of the silken cloth, Another of the twine, And wap them into our good ship's side, And let not the sea come in." They fetched a web of the silken cloth, And they wapp'd them into the good ship's side, But still the sea came in.

41 O loth, both, were our good Scots lords
To wet their cork-heel'd shoon, But long ere all the play was play'd They wet their hats aboon. And many was the feather-bed That fluttered on the foam; And many was the good lord's son That never more came home. The ladies wrang their fingers white, The maidens tore their heair, All for the sake of their true loves, For them they'll see nae mair.

42 O lang, lang may the maidens sit All waiting for their own dear loves,
With their gold combs in their hair, All waiting for their own dear loves, For them they'll see nae mair. O forty miles of Aberdeen, 'Tis fifty fathoms deep; And there lies good Sir Patrick Spens, With the Scots lords at his feet.

43 Appreciation "Sir Patrick Spens" is one of the most popular of the Ballads, and is primarily of Scottish origin.The events of the ballad are similar to an actual event. The name "Patrick Spens" has no historical record, and, like many of the heroes of such ballads, is probably an invention, although some historians believe that he was actually Sir Patrick Vans.The opening lines however, do refer to the king who is specifically located in Dunfermline where historically there was a royal residence, Malcolm's Tower.

44 The story as told in the ballad has multiple versions, but they all follow the same basic plot. The King of Scotland has called for the greatest sailor in the land to command a ship for a royal errand. The name "Sir Patrick Spens" is mentioned by a courtier, and the king despatches a letter. Sir Patrick, though honoured to receive a royal commission, is dismayed at being put to sea in the dead of winter, clearly realising this voyage could well be his last. A storm sank the ship in the initial crossing, thus ending the ballad at this point. Nearly all versions, whether they have the wreck on the outward voyage or the return, relate the bad omen of seeing "the new moon late yestreen, with the auld moon in her arms", and modern science agrees the tides would be at maximum force at that time. The winter storms have the best of the great sailor, sending him and the Scottish lords to the bottom of the sea.

45 Meters for traditional ballads are quite sing-song
Meters for traditional ballads are quite sing-song. A common one alternates iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. (It’s a pattern absolutely ingrained in the mind of anyone who’s read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or heard the theme from Gilligan’s Island.) “The Wife of Usher’s Well” (MP, p. 81) follows this meter. Sometimes ballads stick to iambic tetrameter for all four lines — “My Boy Willie” (MP, p. 82) is an example of that. Perfect meter is less of an issue than with more formal song forms — if an extra beat slips in now and then, that’s fine. The rhyme is tight and regular, usually either abab or abcb. Sometimes a ballad has a refrain at the end of each stanza, in which case the rhyme scheme is abac. Repetition is key: images, phrases, lines, and even stanzas repeat. This aspect of ballads hails back to its roots in oral performance — repetition is a crutch for the memory, and stock phrases flesh out a story.

46 Ballads do tell stories — this is an important difference from the more static song forms we’ve looked at before. They spin yarns about love, betrayal, voyages, battles, and, very characteristically, the supernatural. Proper names, often of lords and ladies, historical events, and scraps of dialogue fill the lines. But as a narrative form, the ballad is intriguingly mysterious. We’re often plunged right into things with no context and little detail. The ballad moves abruptly and sometimes mysteriously from event to event.

47 Let’s look at “Sir Patrick Spens”
Let’s look at “Sir Patrick Spens”. The first thing to notice is that it isn’t written by anyone — it’s been fashioned by consensus over time. The ballad is, traditionally, a communal form — setting common legend into simple language. The king sits in Dumferling town, Drinking the blude-reid wine: “O whar will I get guid sailor, To sail this ship of mine?” Up and spak an eldern knicht, Sat at the king’s richt knee: “Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor That sails upon the sea.” It’s verse that can be exact and mysterious all at once. The Scottish names, the antiquated diction, the positioning of that elder knight: all vivid details. But we’re not told why the king commissions poor Sir Patrick, and we never find out. The poem opens in urgency, and skips to sudden doom.

48 Feeding the urgency is that almost overwhelming repetition
Feeding the urgency is that almost overwhelming repetition. Not only do the two stanzas put quotes and even the words “sailor” and “sail(s)” in the same position, the second stanza even belabors the point that sailors indeed sail upon the sea. And look at the alliteration: Dumferling, Drinking; wine, whar will; get guid; sailor sail; knicht, knee; etc. “Sir Patrick Spens” was published in 1765 in a wildly popular collection of ballads called Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. It helped touch off an enthusiastic revival of the ballad form. Readers discovered in these rudely and anonymously crafted tales something irresistible: the imprint of a lively and unselfconscious culture. Poets down to our very day are drawn to the form for its hypnotic, communal power.

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