Sunday, 27 November 2016

CHAUCER'S SUCCESSORS AND IMITATORS/CHAUCER’S INFLUENCE ON THE LATER ENGLISH POETS OF HIS AGE

Chaucer's influence on English poetry, even after his death, appears almost unparalleled in the history of English Literature . In fact,immediately after him, there was a trend to follow and imitate him and to produce literary works on his model.Of course,his successors and imitators were not quite successful in their imitation of their mighty master. In fact,the standard achieved by them is found below Chaucer's.
chaucer


Lydgate

Of Chaucer's immediate followers and imitators,John Lydgate is considered the most remarkable literary figure. He is even given a rank very near to his great master.But actually his literary achievements are nothing exceptional.His literary works have never the recognition of Chaucer's. 

Lydgate is taken as the most prolific author of the fifteenth century, rather of the whole of the middle English period. His composition is found to include about 1,43,000 lines.Lydgate's longest poems are The Storie of Thebes and The Troy Book,both of which are taken from notable French romances. His other works include Fall of Princes or Tragedies of John Bochas, adopted from Boccaccio's De Casibus Illustrium Virorum. The Temple of Glass and The Assembly of Gods are written in an allegorical vein.Lydgate is also the author of another voluminous work -The Pilgrimage of the Life of Man-which is sort of translation from the French works of Guillaume De Guileville. This iis also a sort of allegory and may be taken as forerunner of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.Of course, Lydgate has noting of Bunyan's moral conviction,character -painting and vigorous description. The best and most poetical among Lydgate's enormous works is,perhaps, The Life of Our Lady, containing several lives of the saints. This appears to bear the Cynewulfian tradition to versify the lives of saints.

Lydgate has some shorter verses, not at all of a high order,but well indicative of his poetical genius. Of them two of his bestiaries -The Churl and the Bird and The Horse, the Sheep and the Goose-may be mentioned as quite lively works. These two works are somewhat fables, written on the modelof Aesop.Chaucer's influence is noted here, though Lydgate never attained the chaucer-as-chronicler height.


Hoccleve

Among the English Chaucerians,Thomas Hoccleve is not as prolific an author as Lydgate, But like him, he is found to imitate Chaucer's, without any noticeable success.

Hoccleve is particularly noted for his Regement of Princes, based on the Latin work De Regimina Principum. The poem,of course a long one, contains some 5500 verses dealing with the matters of varied interests -political, ethical,ecclesiastical, and so on. The poem reveals his gift of story -telling, imitated from Chaucer.There are,no doubt, some dissertations,with illustrations,that make the work didactic.


Some other Literary Names

Besides Hoccleve aand Lydgate,the best known English Chaucerians,therw are a number of other followers and imitators.They include Benedict Burgh,George Ashby,John Walton and Henry Bradshaw.Their verses,mainly didactic, illustrate amply the decadence that came over Chaucer's imitators.

In addition to those imitators,there are several poems,written by other poets but there is no definite indication of authorship here.Of such poems,bearing Chaucerian traits, may be mentioned The Second MerchantLydgate is taken as the most prolific author of the fifteenth century, rather of the whole of the middle English period. His composition is found to include about 1,43,000 lines.Lydgate's longest poems are The Storie of Thebes and The Troy Book,both of which are taken from notable French romances. His other works include Fall of Princes or Tragedies of John Bochas, adopted from Boccaccio's De Casibus Illustrium Virorum. The Temple of Glass and The Assembly of Gods are written in an allegorical vein.Lydgate is also the author of another voluminous work -The Pilgrimage of the Life of Man-which is sort of translation from the French works of Guillaume De Guileville. This iis also a sort of allegory and may be taken as forerunner of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.Of course, Lydgate has noting of Bunyan's moral conviction,character -painting and vigorous description. The best and most poetical among Lydgate's enormous works is,perhaps, The Life of Our Lady, containing several lives of the saints. This appears to bear the Cynewulfian tradition to versify the lives of saints.

Lydgate has some shorter verses, not at all of a high order,but well indicative of his poetical genius. Of them two of his bestiaries -The Churl and the Bird and The Horse, the Sheep and the Goose-may be mentioned as quite lively works. These two works are somewhat fables, written on the modelof Aesop.Chaucer's influence is noted here, though Lydgate never attained the Chaucerian height.

Hawes

The last important name among the English chaucerians is Stephen Hawes .He wrote towards the end of the fifteenth century and in the opening of the sixteenth, at aa time when the courtly poetry of the Chaucerian tradition had become almost antiquated. In fact,in Stephen Hawes is found the last exponent of that great tradition. 

The Scottish Chaucerians
Chaucer's literary influence in his age was not confined to England only.It extended to scotland and proved instrumental to the emergence of the golden age of Scotish poetry in the 15th century .As a matter of fact,the Scottish poets,inspired by Chaucer.

Friday, 25 November 2016

POETRY IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER (EXCEPT CHAUCER)/CHAUCER'S CONTEMPORARIES

The most domineering figure in Middle English literature is definitely Chaucer . His vast and varied works constitude the bulk of its glory and quality .  Yet , there are some other works by some other literary men. his contemporaries. 
Those works of his time are not comparable with Chaucer's madterpieces . Yet these have shares in the contribution to the enlargement of English literaturein the later half of the Medieval age and the preparation for the impending Renaissance in the realm of English art and literature . 

Geoffrey Chaucer
Chaucer's contemporaries are more or less found his imitators or followers. His majestic influence on them is evident  iin greater or lesser degrees. Of such contemporaries William Langland, John Gower and Barbour are to be mentioned in particular.

William Langland

The name of William Langland has a celebrity in the English language for singular work -The Book of Piers, the plowman. In the English literature of the fourteenth century, Langland's Piers Plowman stands out as the most renowned work , save Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales . Whereas the later is a social chronicle, with engaging tales, Piers Plowman is an impressive allegory, more deeply concerned with religious, ethical, social and economic problem of the time. Piers Plowman is definitely a nnovel and radical work for his age. This is aa provocative probe into the depth of the social and moral life of the age. Like Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales this remains a fine mirror of the variety and complexity of medieval life.

Like The Canterbury Tales, Piers Plowman has a prologue that has the typical dream convention of medieval literature. This describes how the author falls asleepon tthe May morning on the Malvern Hills. He has a vision of a fair field, full of folk from different ranks and occupations.This Prologue, as in Chaucer's Prologue,records a graphic picture of the English society of the fourteenth century.Social scenes,rather than Chaucer's social types, however are more conspicuous in Langland's Prologue.

The frame work of Language's poem is allegorical. This describes a series of remarkable visions.This dreamer, that is the poet himself,has these visions in tthe dream. Langland's convictions of the moral faith and the social vices of his age find expression through these visions. His ethical point of view is quite clear here. His emphasis is on the supreme sermons of truth, work and love. Mans chief task is to seek truth. to have faith to succeeded in his work and love alone leads him to heaven. Piers Plowman.stands in the pivotal position of the entire theme. He symbolizes the moral virtues of life -truth, work and love. He remains the very object and inspiration for noble living.

Langland's Piers Plowman is a mighty achievement in the English literature of the fourteenth century.It ranks very high as a social study and a  moral sermon. Its significance lies mainly in its threefold manifestation. First,its is aa graphic picture of contemporary life and manners.Second,it is aa penetrative satire on social and ecclesiastical follies and vices. Third,it is a powerful allegory of human life and morality. As a social picture,the poem throws interesting side lights on medieval life.

John Gower

John Gower,who lived between 1325 and 1408, was Chaucer's contemporary, and had,perhaps, some intimacy with him. Of course,he was more medieval than the great master, and was a little behind his time. His major works,mainly narrative, were written in the eighties of fourteenth century, at aa time written in the eighties of the fourteenth century, at a time when Chaucer had already reached the height of his literary excellence.

Gower's first important work,Speculum Homms or Speculam Meditantis is in French. This is aa long sermon against the sins of the time. His next work Vox Clamantis is in Latin. This is a dream allegory with a social -political theme. This is about the peasants' uprising of the fourteenth century.

John Gower's last important work,produced in 1383-84, is in English. This is Confessio Amantis, an ambitious project to present in pleasing verses numerous stories  ,thaken from various sources.

John Barbour

Like Langland,John Barbour (poet)our was a literary follower of Chaucer.But,unlike Langland, he was a Scottish poet. Though himself a chaurchman, he was no author of religious or ethical works.His principal work The Bruce is rather political and patriotic. 

Barbour's The Bruce, written between 1373 and 1378,is a sort of the national epic for the Scottish people. The author is found to present and preserve here poetically the memorable history of the heroic struggle of the Scottish people,under Bruce's leadership and their ultimate success.

Though based on history, Barbour's The Bruce like other national epics,contains a good deal of fictional matters.Lots of the material of romances are found mingled with the facts of history. All this, however,serves to add to the poetical as well as popular appeal of the work.

Barbour,of course,is not found to possess the hightest gifts of an epic or narrative poet. But he possesses a style that is simple, sincere and straight -forward,with a high degree of rapidity and sonority.