‘[T]he wordes moote be cosyn to the dede’. Comment on Chaucer's poetry in light of his aim

Chaucer wrote, ‘[T]he wordes moote be cosyn to the dede’. Comment on Chaucer's poetry in light

of his aim.


The most celebrated of the whole body of Chaucer’s work is “The Canterbury Tales”. Geoffrey Chaucer, the Father of English poetry represented versatility and greatness as a poet. In many ways he looked at the world in a tolerant and amused manner and wrote in the native dialect. He is a storyteller, a novelist, a descriptive poet as well as narrative poet.

Few Chaucerian’s today would doubt that Chaucer's little critical essay at the close of the General Prologue of the Canterbury/tales has significance well beyond the brief annotation of Robinson's second edition, and the annotation of the Riverside editions:

Crist spak himself for brode in hooly writ, And wel ye woot no vileynye is it.

Eek Plato seith, whoso lean gym rede, The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede

The key words of the passage are probably "cosyn to the dede," which have a peculiar fascination for Chaucer, as they do for Jean de Meun. In Chaucer, the phrase returns on two and perhaps more occasions: the host Harry Bailey asks why the canon is so shabbily accoutred:

Why is thy lord so sluttish, I the preye, And is of power bettre cloth to beye, If that his dede accorde with thy speech?

The fuller meaning of Chaucer's Platonic preoccupation has recendy occasioned serious study the most elaborate approach being the dissertation of Jeffrey Alan Hirshberg. Hirshberg concerns himself only with language and rhetoric expense of more fundamental consideration ontology of the Platonic myth which is central, as will be argued here, to Plato's own meaning. More recently, Rodney Delasanta has commented on the Epistemology of truth-telling in fiction. The words “moote by cosyn to the dede", and Ralph W.V Elliot in a chapter entered The Word Moote by Cosyn to the Dede" does not consider the classical background to Chaucer's allusion. Paul B. Taylor, in the best study to date of the aphorism, examines precedents in an array of classical texts in the Platonic tradition to determine Chaucer's attitude towards language-although Taylor, like Hirshberg, does not consider the mythical traditions concealed in the allusion. Finally, Robert Myles investigates concepts of philosophical realism and nominalism contemporary to Chaucer's cultural context, in connection with theories of a

speaker's intentionality in language: the "word" may also be willed not to be "cosyn" to the "dede," for, as he suggests, "the real intention is in the mind of the sign-maker". These critical approaches have substantial depth and perceptiveness, but there are further considerations involved in the Platonic dictum with which they have not come to grips.

For more doubts and Queries

Email: MegMentors@gmail.com

45 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All