Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Chaucer's poetic style - Diction of formulas and set phrases - Activities for A2 - Page 4

There is a long tradition of fixed phrases in oral poetry going back to Homer. Chaucer uses them with “an underlying habit of mind” using “traditionalist” diction.

This diction aims at familiar effects for audiences, ready communication, sympathetic attention. It is transparent, does not call attention to itself, is modest, collectivist, not individualised.
  • This diction rests on a static concept of the true nature of the world, or of the world as how it ought to be, as a harmonious whole, etc.

  • The familiarity of this diction establishes the link between the poet and audience.

  • It makes attention easier, characters and actions clearer and more memorable.

  • Familiarity, transparency and self projection are themselves poetic effects that convey warmth, sympathy and anxiety.

  • The use of familiar phraseology is more common in the style at the beginning of poems, to introduce the poet, establish a bond with the audience, express an attitude to the forthcoming story, and to start it off. This can also be seen in adjectival phrase, “fresshe May” from "The Merchant's Tale".

See page 2 for instructions

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I teach Film, Media and English Lit.