Late Fourteenth-Century Poetry (Chaucer Gower, Gower, Langland and their Legacy)’,
An introductory survey that describes the state of English literature in the last half of the fourteenth century—the privileges of Latin, the respect for French and Italian poetry, the lack of standardization in vernacular English, the rarity of self-consciously artistic poems—and assesses the methods by which Chaucer, L, and Gower responded to their situation. L often invokes French love poetry, as in the vision of the lady (B passus 2), as well as Latin models. His use of the long alliterative line is perhaps better understood as a progressive experiment than as a conservative return to an older tradition. The essay discusses L’s imaginative use of synonyms, and the experiments by all three poets with the use of technical vocabulary taken from other fields. While PPl helped to prepare the ground for developments in English vernacular poetry, scholarly examination of its influence is far from complete.