Gower Bibliography

Gower's Use of Rime Riche in Confessio Amantis: As Compared with His Practice in Mirour de L'Omme and with the Case of Chaucer

Ito, Masayoshi. "Gower's Use of Rime Riche in Confessio Amantis: As Compared with His Practice in Mirour de L'Omme and with the Case of Chaucer." Studies in English Literature 46 (1969), pp. 29-44.

Review

Ito compares the frequency and usage of rime riche in Gower's CA and MO as well as Chaucer's works. Gower uses 383 rime riches in the CA or about one for every hundred lines, whereas Chaucer uses about a third of that. Ito points out that modern translators avoid this device, "regarding it [as] too artificial, or even comical, whereas to ME poets … such sonorous, euphonic repetition of verbal sound as rime riche was far more 'poetical' than we suppose" (31). Of the CA's rime riches, three quarters are made of native words and the rest are French loan words. High frequency pairings tend to be of Old English origin and are generally used for colloquial speech or as poetic filler to complete the line. Most of Gower's rime riches play on semantic contrast, but a small number consist of words that are different only on a grammatical level. Gower's rime riches aim for "logical clarity" (36), whereas Chaucer's can also convey a sense of humour. Ito points out two passages (CA Book 5.79-90 and 8.3151-56) where multiple rime riches occur together and he notes that at times Gower uses rime riche to bridge two sentences (this is called "rime-breaking" or "a broken couplet"). Ito's conclusion summarizes the reasons for Gower's frequent recourse to rime riche wordplay and provides some final comparisons between Gower and Chaucer. [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Style, Rhetoric, and Versification
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)

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