Gower Bibliography

Metrical Similarities between Gower and Certain Sixteenth-Century Poets.

Cable, Thomas. "Metrical Similarities between Gower and Certain Sixteenth-Century Poets." In Re-visioning Gower. Ed. Yeager, R.F.. Ashville, NC: Pegasus, 1998, pp. 39-48.


Both Chaucer's and Gower's lines, Cable claims, are written in a syllable-based alternating meter rather than in the foot-based meter more characteristic of later English verse. The theoretical implications of the distinction are lost on those who are not metrists, but the practical implication seems to be that some of the variations that are possible in, say, Shakespeare's iambic line are not found either in Gower or in Chaucer, even when the latter is writing decasyllables. The alternating stress line is nonetheless quite flexible, as Cable demonstrates by comparing Gower to three sixteenth-century poets who still employed it, Gascoigne, Turberville, and Googe. In order to avoid the tub-thumping monotony to which the latter are prone, Gower takes fuller advantage of normal variations in stress by using an effective mix of monosyllabic, disyllabic, and polysyllabic words; and he softens the transition between stressed and unstressed syllables by putting normally stressed words in unstressed position and lightly stressed syllables in stressed position. He also uses his syntax very skillfully to construct units longer than the single line. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 18.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Style, Rhetoric, and Versification

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