The Wisdom of Chaucer


Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – 1400) is known as the Father of English literature and is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages.

Author, philosopher, and astronomer, Chaucer had an active career in the civil service as a bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Among his many works are The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, The Legend of Good Women and Troilus and Criseyde. He is best known today for The Canterbury Tales.

He was the first poet to be buried in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Before Chaucer, the dominant literary languages in England were French and Latin. His work marks the beginning of the rise of the new language of English, and you will recognise some of the sayings in this selection of quotes from his work.

'And high above, depicted in a tower,

Sat Conquest, robed in majesty and power,

Under a sword that swung above his head,

Sharp-edged and hanging by a subtle thread.'

'Patience is a conquering virtue.'

'But Christ's lore and his apostles twelve,

He taught and first he followed it himself.'