Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: Old Geoff Edition

In modern life, I'm not a fan of using Christian belief to argue political and social goals. Mostly because it seems like something vital is probably missing in a person who needs a book to explain to them that abusing themselves and others is a poor life plan. I am, however, a HUGE fan of taking the paradigm that a person/some people might use to justify abuses, and really holding them to all of it, even the inconvenient side. Chaucer does just that, I think, in this poem. [Sadly, the glossed terms refuse to migrate over to the side, so I had to remove them. I'm pretty sure the poem is comprehensible without the gloss.]

"Gentilesse"
Geoffrey Chaucer


The firste fader and findere of gentilesse,
What man desireth gentil for to be
Most folwe his traas, and alle his wittes dresse
Vertu to sue, and vices for to flee:
For unto vertu longeth dignitee,
And nought the revers, saufly dar I deeme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

This firste stok was ground of rightwisnesse,
Trewe of his word, sobre, pietous, and free,
Clene of his gost, and loved bisinesse
Against the vice of slouthe, in honestee;
And but his heir love vertu as dide he,
He is nat gentil, though he riche seeme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

Vice may wel be heir to old richesse,
But ther may no man, as ye may wel see,
Bequethe his heir his vertuous noblesse:
That is appropred unto no degree
But to the firste fader in majestee,
That maketh his heir him that wol him queme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

2 comments:

morganlf said...

thanks for posting this! I had forgotten how beautiful it is.

HeoCwaeth said...

Morgan,
Thanks for commenting. I lovelovelove this poem, so it was a joy for me to re-read and post it.