Friday, December 10, 2010

"CHAUCER" by Ted Hughes

INTRODUCTION

The poem ‘Chaucer’ as its name clearly suggests, is a tribute from Ted Hughes to the great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. In one of his interviews talking about influences on his poetry Hughes said: “….One poet I have read more than any of these is Chaucer…’. In this poem, “Chaucer” Hughes advocates in reply to the criticism from conservative and conventional critics on Chaucer’s treatment of thought of metre.

The very first line of the poem ‘what that Aprille with his shoures soote’ serves as a literary allusion and directly refers to the prologue of the all-time-famous creation of Chaucer: ‘Canterbury Tales’. According to Hughes, the shower of Chaucer’s verse has cleaned and rendered freshness to the bushes and plants. It suggests that the poetry of Chaucer rendered a freshness to and newness to the prevailing poetic tradition of his times.
Chaucer is considered to be the father of English literature. He stands head and shoulders above the classical figures of the English literature. His experimentation with metre and language paved the way for modern poetry with realistic approach. That is what Hughes has tried to set in this poem.

CRITICAL APPRECIATION
‘Chaucer’ as its name suggests, is a tribute from Ted Hughes to the great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. In one of his interviews talking about influences on his poetry Hughes said: “….One poet I have read more than any of these is Chaucer…’. In “Chaucer” Hughes stands in face of the criticism from conservative and conventional critics on Chaucer’s treatment of thought of metre and defends Chaucer.
The very first line of the poem ‘what that Aprille with his shoures soote’ serves as a literary allusion and directly refers to the prologue of the all-time-famous creation of Chaucer: ‘Canterbury Tales’. Chaucer is considered to be the father of English literature. His experimentation with metre and language paved the way for modern poetry with realistic approach. Talking about the less knowledgeable critics who criticise Chaucer’s experimentation with metre and poetic art, Hughes calls them ‘cows’ for they keep on practicing and preaching the old ideas like cows who keep on chewing the fodder. They are not ready to accept the change and freshness brought to literature. Hughes talks about their animal instinct that attracts them to sensual beauty of nature. The poem moves ahead with a slow tempo. Hughes starts it by quoting a line from Prologue to Canterbury Tales and then moves on to introduce us with Chaucer’s art and work. Hughes seems to have two kind of groups in his mind: one, the readers who shall read this poem, the other, the imaginary audience whom he is looking with his poetic eye and at the same time he has in his mind the actual critics who talk against Chaucer’s art and techniques though the imaginary audience and the actual somewhat anti-Chaucerian critics are part of one whole. It is, no doubt, his poetic skills that he takes along these groups skilfully with the flow of the poem. The poem has, clearly, a satirical note in it however it has a blend of humour as well. Hughes’s branding the name cows for the so called critics and their reaction to the character of wife of Bath are noteworthy in this respect. The language of the poem is not a selected one or some specific language. It is simple yet impressive and is beautified more with the imagery style used by Hughes. 

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