A Golden Age of English Poetry
Edited By Gerald Morgan
BARRY WINDEATTPlea and Petition in Chaucer 189
Barry Windeatt Plea and Petition in Chaucer The claim of this essay is that Chaucer’s works ref lect, and ref lect upon, their context in a petitionary culture and more specifically a culture of prayerful petition. In such a culture, writing is often necessarily a petition- ary process, with Chaucer the ‘maker’ and courtly poet casting himself as a petitioner. By extension, in the focus of many poems exploring courtly themes and experience, courtship defines itself as a petitionary process and writing is a form of courtship. In a pattern that develops across his works Chaucer makes petitionary scenes key to the structure and themes of his poems, sometimes modifying or adding to his sources so that moments involving acts of petition and the experiences of supplicants are enhanced or more substantially recast. This pattern includes both scenes of public supplicating by the subjected and powerless to the lordly and powerful as well as more private instances of supplication within the family and within relationships. The recourse to petition and the petitionary stance comes to symbolise the dilemmas of absent or qualified power, together with all the circumscription and subjection suf fered by the protagonists of Chaucer’s narratives. It is variations and reversals of acts of petitioning that may serve to bring thematic implications more sharply into focus, so that petition becomes integral to the narrative process and imaginative texture of Chaucer’s poems and hence to their meaning. As both an author and also a government employee with links to...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.