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On Some Recurrent Expressions in Chaucer
It has recently been noted by the late professor J.M. Manly and a number of scholars that Chaucer when writing his poems was indebted, consciously or unconsciously, to the teaching of the so-called medieval rhetoricians, such as Geoffrey de Vinsauf, Matthieu de Vendsme, and the rest. The present writer with this in mind tries to deal with some recurring or amplificatory or echoing aspects of Chaucer's narrative poems, a problem which the late Miss Dorothy Everett so interestingly brought forward in her Sir Israel Gollancz Memorial Lecture 'Some Reflections on Chaucer's 'Art Poetical' (read 15 November 1950). As she suggests and clarifies, verbal repetitions and recurrences are one of the salient features of the poet's narrative technique which shows his concern with the 'art poetical'. In this paper the recurrent expressions and themes are observed either from a structural or from an internal point of view : Structurally are treated the patterns of expression which recur like the rhythmical and characterizing pattern: 'Wel koude he-' as in'Wel koude he sitte on hors and faire ryde' (Prologue 94), the introductory pattern: 'ther was' as in 'A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man' (Prologue 43), the enumerative pattern: 'I saw' as in I sawgh anoon-ryght hir figure' (House of Fame 132 and Parliament of Fowls 183, et passim), or the immediate echo of a medieval regular formula: 'Allone withouten any compaignye' (Knight's Tale 2779) into the Miller's Tale 3204 in a changed context, along with a not less remote echo which sounds in the Tale of Melibeus 1560 (for thou shalt be allone withouten any compaignyey, hence the problem of the sequene of the Tales; while, on the other hand, internally or contextually are treated some of the recurrences which are related organically to the themes, as, for instance, the key-expression which implies the loss of the lady: ...