By Edward Albert
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Additional resources for A History of English Literature, Edition: 5th
Its tone is impersonal and detached, and there is little or none of the composer's personality to be felt. The verse form (most commonly abcb, with alternating lines of four and three iambic feet) was subject to considerable variation, but was always simple and easily memorized. Frequent use of a refrain and of repetition are, similarly, products of this necessity to memorize the ballad, which also led to a concentration of emphasis (usually on a single incident), a complete lack of ornamental detail, and a rapidity of movement which made each stanza a definite step in the development of the story.
36 There is also mention of a few short early poems, such as Origines upon the Maudeleyne, which have been lost. During his lifetime Chaucer built up such a reputation as a poet that many works were at a later date ascribed to him without sufficient evidence. Of this group the best examples are The Flower and the Leaf, quite an excellent example of the dream-allegory type, and The Court of Love. It has now been settled that these poems are not truly his. 3. His prose. The two prose tales may be apposite, but are not among Chaucer's successful efforts.
John Gower, the date of whose birth is uncertain, died in 1408. He was a man of means, and a member of a good Kentish family; he took a fairly active part in the politics and literary activity of the time, and was buried in London. The three chief works of Gower are noteworthy, for they illustrate the unstable state of contemporary English literature. His first poem, Speculum Meditantis, is written in French, and for a long time was lost, being discovered as late as 1895; the second, Vox Clamantis, is composed in Latin; and the third, Confessio Amantis, is written in English, at the King's command according to Gower himself.