Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Chaucer's poetic style - his use of epithets: Page 9

An epithet is a term used to characterise a person or thing, such as “rosy-fingered” in “the rosy-fingered dawn” or “the Great” in “Catherine the Great.”
It is a term used as a descriptive substitute for the name or title of a person, such as “The great communicator” for Tony Blair and “The iron lady” for Mrs Thatcher.
“Fresshe May” from "The Merchant's Tale".
Does Chaucer always involve irony when he uses epithets or are can they just be interpreted as part of the formulaic base of oral phrases that his audience would have expected to hear? Or does exploit each way of interpreting them between as part of his expressive range?
See page 2 for instructions on activities.

Chaucer's poetic style -hyperbole: P8

Another oral characteristic in Chaucer's tales and in particular, "The Merchant's Tale", is hyperbole – that is, exaggeration in description, effects, numbers. It adds emphasis and/or heightens the comedy, danger, passionate, dramatic, etc.

There is more hyperbole in Chaucer’s style than is usually consciously recognised.

Hyperbole is a fundamental human characteristic which gives ordinary speech much of its emotional and imaginative impact. “There were thousands of them!” (meaning an unexpected number.) and “I’m frozen”, hyperbole and a metaphor for being cold.
Chaucer stylistically uses hyperbole to bring discipline, point and heightening.

For the patient Griselda Chaucer uses hyperbolical feelings and actions – through her extreme patience and the cruelty of her husband is extreme, etc.

The patient Griselda from “The Clerk’s Tale”

Audiences were not always expected to give their full sympathy to characters whose actions were hyperbolic.

See Page 2 for instructions on activities.

Chaucer's poetic style - addition and association (metonymy) and, and, and - Page 7

Another aspect of "The Redundant Style".
Common speech, and oral verse and prose, tend to proceed, as the above example suggests, by the addition of material and events, rather than by analysis.
For instance, in The General Prologue there are lively character sketches but they are not analytical. One detail is added to another. This is true of the sequence of events in traditional stories.
In general the oral poet is not much interested in causation, because he uses pre-existent underlying patterns and structures.
Whenever you see a series of “ands” you have a additive and non-analytical style. There are few subordinate clauses and every detail seems to be presented with the same prominence. There is, as it were, no perspective. (For instance, the Bible’s –Genesis – on creation).
(Chaucer definitely has a perspective and so does his narrators but there are points in their storytelling that is simply additive.)

Association, more technically called metonymy, is created by, juxtaposition, likeness (metaphor) and connection.

Fundamental for oral poetry and speech, metonymy depends on associations formed by habit (memory and experience)
By metonymy words can be relied on to evoke particular associated accepted ideas and feelings. These words naturally depend on social, moral, and intellectual structures, some of which have been lost.
We therefore may easily overlook the richness of oral poetry because we do not know, or we neglect the social, moral, and intellectual context, which is the associative structure.

Metonymy works with other elements of style.
Although metonymy depends on association and addition, not likeness, to make connections, it may join with likeness contribute towards various kinds of wordplay that characterise oral poetry. For instance, puns where the likeness of sound can have two different meanings, often with comic effect.
As literacy progressed and became dominant from the seventeenth century onwards, puns became despised and other wordplay disliked. Puns are used in Shakespeare but were later regarded as a fault, but were overlooked in Chaucer until recently.

See page two for an explanation of the activites.

Chaucer and "the redundant style” - the influence of an oral culture - Page 6

At first this sounds odd if we apply the modern meaning to the word, redundant, as superflous. Here this term applies to a style of writing that was steeped in rhetoric and the oral culture prevalent before printing changed the medieval world.

•The kind of style, aiming at eloquence and copiousness is technically described as “The redundant style” and it is based in a social oral culture.
•Redundancy, having established the central point, emphasises it by repetition and then allows the audience to meditate on its implications.
•Poetry that has a social oral base helps turn literate learned matter into an oral style.
•Such speeches need to be read with the ear, without impatience to get on with the action. (Leisurely progress.)
•When listening, an audience needs guide-lines to what is going on, advance notice of the next subject, and appreciates the sense of leisurely collaboration.

Repetition with variation (the redundant style)
This is often used to create heightened feeling. (i.e. Hamlet’s “To be or not to be speech” is a set of variations which are repetitions on the same theme.)
The social context of orality allows repetition to develop poetic power.

It is easily misunderstood because its oral origins have been forgotten.

To repeat (the redundant syle)
In opera it fulfils the role of an aria – it involves repetitions and variations on a given theme.

It emphasises through its repetitions and allows the audience to meditate on its implications.

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender! " Part of the famous speech by Winston Churchill in 1940.

See instructions for activities on page 2

Chaucer's poetic style - sententiousness (a style full of aphorisms – instructive sayings.) Page 5

Traditional social wisdom is articulated using formulas and set phrases, ‘What oft was thought’, results in a particular tone and style.
The use of proverbs and “sentences”: remarks long accepted in society for their general truth and applicability. The idea of summing up fraught situations with apt traditional phrases.

These phrases can be ironical but are not necessarily so.
“As many schools make students hard to collar,
A woman many-schooled is half a scholar.” Januarie, L. 1427-8 ("The Merchant's Tale".

The sententious style lends itself to authorial comment of the kind familiar to oral narrative and song. The story-teller comments on his story to the listening audience and his comments may be serious or comic according to the effect desired.

Proverbs are used “to enforce with th’ effect of my mateere”.
Chaucer’s style is continuously sententious throughout his work with a deeply proverbial style.

Alliteration hammers home the familiar.

Apostrophe is a form of direct address that gives the narrator’s moral attitudes and these can sometimes be ironic.

See page two for instructions for activities

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


Interesting analysis on where we are with gold. Gold and silver bugs feel bombed on at present!'

More on the Chaucer presentation and tasks when I have more time.

A Revision Time-table that you can fill in and print off

If you need a revision time-table in which you can allocate the time and topics that you intend to revise. Try this:

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Chaucer's poetic style

More on this presentation and suggested activities to establish Chaucer's poetic style will follow soon.

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

Chaucer's poetic style - Activities for A2 Page 3

Orality and literacy

Chaucer stands poised between oral and literate cultures and he actively exploits his participation in both.

Firstly, he invites us into the warm, ancient oral world of the listening group of friends to which we in imagination are joined.

Secondly, he invites us into the world of books.
He also makes the stylistic effort to absorb literacy into orality by blending the new world of literate thought into the old but always current world of personal direct speech and relationship.

Style and the speaking voice
  • Notice the oral character of Chaucer’s style with the use of direct address to the audience.

  • Modern poems rely on the stability of print in which the poet/narrator and reader exist unknown to each other.

  • Oral storytelling is at the centre of “The Canterbury Tales”. (There are several narrators/tellers and a group of listeners.)

  • The paradox is that the poet’s speaking voice is also addressed to us.

See page two for instructions

Chaucer's poetic style - A2 activities Page 2

When working on a part of this presentation find:

  • Two or three examples of the poetic style you have been assigned.

  • Give their contexts and comment on them as fully as you can.

  • If you have access to computers find suitable (modern or symbolic) images to illustrate this aspect of Chaucer’s style and remodel the page(s).

The text for A2 is "The Merchant's Tale".

Each activity page has this image

Chaucer’s poetic style (language) Activities For A2 Page 1

Beneath the “gleaming surface” you will find:
•Paradox (A paradox is an apparently contradicting statement with an element of truth in it...)
•Further implication
•Unexpected depths

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Alex Wallenstein on Friday's take down of gold and silver

It's an interesting take, and there may be more than a grain of truth to it!
Why Gold Was 'Hacked' Friday- and How

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Inflation - Gold - Oil

Today's flush in gold is preparing the way for a far higher gold price in the coming weeks. The main market eagerly grabs at straws. Oil is hitting new highs and so will inflation. The hardest thing is to sit and do nothing and not get out of position by trading. Still, to those who were able to take advantage of today's fall in gold and silver, well done.

Some are saying that oil will hit $150-160 by the autumn. If that comes to pass wither goes the main market? Next year is going to be "a doozy".

Monday, 14 April 2008

"My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns (repost)

This post along with several others is not coming up in the blog's searches. Therefore I've decided to repost it.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

P.B. Shelley's "Ode To A Skylark" read aloud

This is a worthy rendition of Keats's poem. It is expressive and gains something from being read by someone from the Indian subcontinent. It's always worth hearing poems rather than just reading them as their meaning(s) can be made more evident. This poem is in Edexcel's AS English Anthology. You need to find out about the poem's title and form and then see if you can divide the poem's lines into sections of the poet's argument to establish his structure.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Very bullish price action in RGLD

Royal Gold's price action suggests the next leg up is imminent. It's positive against a fall in gold. According the Cyclist from the forum "Gold's Action" the third week of April has been slated as the week in which the metals and their equities make a strong rise. He also thinks that this rise will last into early June. Others such as Goldrunner think that the HUI, the US gold bug index of unhedged equities, will almost treble this year! We'll see. But these respected posters have a history of being right and the fundamentals also back their analyses. This is also the year Presidential Cycle. Stocks has historically done well in at least the last 10 out of the last 12 US elections. That's another important reason for gold and silver stocks to rise.

The juniors have been in a bear market since 2005. They are now cheaper than they have EVER BEEN in this bull market! Some may go to the wall. Poor old Thistle Mining did not make it. But the others should make up for this in spades. Patagonia Gold could be a real sparkler over the next year. They may have THREE possible gold mines in addition to their resources in the Chabut, which may also see a mining ban lifted. Minerva Resources (MVA.L) is my hunch for the bigtime. They have a number of promising drilling results to be announced once they have been processed in the labs. I've increased my position in this one - as it is being given away at under 4p! They have exerienced, good management and great mining prospects.

Looking forward to the sparklers in the juniors this year. The gold complex should move up substantially into year's end.

Here is a contrary view of education from what governments are feeding us

Such an approach - that is, reinstating "ethics", "moral obligations" and "values" (not "value added") would go a long way to improving an education system severely degraded by governments pushing market approaches and solutions to improving schools and colleges. The real values of equality and democracy should determine that people have access to local schools and colleges that offer educational fulfilment for everyone regardless of class, race, or postcode. Currently, British education with its class-divides between private schools (confusedly called public schools), grammars, privately faith-led academies (a mad government idea) and comprehensives of various hues seems to be returning us to the Victorian age once again.

This post is indebted to the ideas of Professor Stephen J. Ball who has written extensively on this subject.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Stupidity "knows" no boundries

It hardly matters which country - a large number of people know very little. Years of education or propaganda through the media has made no impression on many people's general knowledge. Whether it is the US, the UK or any of the Anglo-Saxon countries, state education or years of television news has not penetrated an unknown number of heads which might as well be filled with the air-filled vacuum of billiard balls. Newspapers that require thought and intellect are only read by a minor proportion of the population. The following clips would have been almost certainly edited to include mostly the empty-headed. Funny? Yes. An indictment of the relevance of education and knowledge in people's lives? Less so.

Given how the economic landscape is changing rapidly one wonders how a large section of the population who have grown up with a number of economic "certainties", such as the price of homes will rise, will cope.

This is a two year-old clip from the USA

This is another from the UK

Mark Twain:

"First, God created idiots. That was just for practice. Then He created school boards."

Given the irrelevance of the state-managed education curriculums in each country and the inequalities at work within their education systems, it's a wonder that "most of us can chew gum and walk at the same time".

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Price of Gold

$887.50 should be support, if not, we could see $850 and then $770. The bounce from any of these points will be something to behold.

With UBS losing $19 billion and other banks in the same hole - nothing has changed. The fundamentals remain so I remain unperturbed. RGLD should break up strongly when this has blown over.

Key gold shares did not follow the recent rise in gold - because it was known that there would be this setback. The same happened in 2003 months before the invasion of Iraq. Gold rose and the shares would not follow. This was followed by a severe downturn in gold but the shares did not go down percentage-wise in the same way. The shares then rose and gold followed. We may be soon witnessing the turn point in which the gold and silver shares lead the metals once again - and it has been a long time coming. The turn may take place in days or at the very latest by the last week of this month. May and June should be stunning months for PMs and their equities.

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.