Rondel of Merciless Beauty

by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;

Their beauty shakes me who was once serene;

Straight through my heart the wound is quick and clean.

     Only your word will heal the injury

     To my hurt heart, while yet the wound is clean–

     Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;

     Their beauty shakes me who was once serene.

Upon my word, I tell you faithfully

Through life and after death you are my queen;

For with my death the whole truth shall be seen.

Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;

Their beauty shakes me who was once serene;

Straight through my heart the wound is quick and keen.

If Geoffrey Chaucer should be famous for nothing else, it would be for writing in the English vernacular at a time when England was reasserting it`s own cultural identity following it`s ongoing, long, and brutal war against the French. King Edward III had invaded France to make good his claim upon the French throne and strengthen his ancestral lands across the Channel. The main intention was just possibly to acquire enough booty and big up his reputation, secure major concessions from the French, and then return home with enhanced prestige and wealth. But, the campaign had progressed so well, he quite possibly decided that the French crown really was there for the taking. Ultimately, somewhere along the line the English missed a trick, and slowly lost the initiative, and the lightning warfare which had brought Edward his gains, petered out into a long, protracted war of attrition, which favoured the French; simply because they were playing on home turf, whereas the English needed to sustain a long, expensive supply chain to maintain their position. Into this world of constant conflict came Geoffrey Chaucer; young diplomat,and some-time writer on the make. He engaged in delicate diplomatic missions for both Edward, and his successor, Richard II, to grease the wheels of negotiation and international contacts and alliances. While in Italy on one such outing, the works of the Italian poets such as Dante became familiar to him; and being a highly intelligent and literate man, they not only seeped into his literary soul, but flooded it with inspiration. His diplomatic skills were so highly thought of by his royal paymasters that he was ransomed after his capture by the French. Chaucer also had a part time job as a medieval reusable scrap metal merchant; and one could almost say he recycled and “Chaucerfied” every single literary golden nugget he ever came across on his travels around Europe on his king`s behalf. His position as the Godfather of the modern English language is unassailable. His many works of genius booted the French language permanently into the long grass, and helped the language of the ordinary English person in the street on it`s way to future world domination. Monuments are not enough to heap praise upon Geoffrey Chaucer; his words are his lasting monument and eternal gift to humanity. 

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