Gower Bibliography

Rich Words: Gower's Rime Riche in Dramatic Action

Zarins, Kim. "Rich Words: Gower's Rime Riche in Dramatic Action." In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth, and Hines, John, and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 239-53.


Citing Tony Hunt's work (Miraculous Rhymes: The Writing of Gautier de Coinci) as seminal in the recent re-discovery of rime riche as a powerful poetic tool, and noting that "rime riche in medieval poetry is very frequent, featuring in 650 couplets of the French and English poetry of Gower alone," Zarins asks "what is the dramatic power of rime riche? What brilliance and authority are conferred upon a character who speaks with such rhymes, and on what level do fellow characters hear them?" (239) Her essay makes a good job of offering persuasive answers. She takes up Chaucer as well as Gower (an appendix very helpfully listing the loci she discusses concludes her piece), by way of comparison and contrast, illuminating the practices of each, and along the way her claim that rime riche most often emanates from the mouths of speaking characters. She concludes that "Rime riche is only one means for a character to enrich speech, but, uniquely, it uses sameness to speak with difference. Though most rime riche speakers within Chaucer's tales are rich men, Gower seems interested in diversifying these sententious voices to include peasants and women and empowers them in the way he best understood — by giving them poetic power to make their couplets sing. Though Chaucer's pilgrims delight us with their mixed estates and unlikely camaraderie, Gower presents mixed voices that are not just playful, but match and even outdo authority . . . . Gower graces peasant and female speech with rime riche like overtones of Arion's restorative music, to make the world a richer one by helping kings listen rather than speak" (251). [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Style, Rhetoric, and Versification

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