Gower Bibliography

"John Gower, Poet"

Ker, W. P. ""John Gower, Poet"." Quarterly Review 197 (1903), pp. 437-458.

Review

Ker's review of Macaulay's scholarly edition is wholly laudatory and provides a general appreciation of Gower's achievement that echoes or expands on Macaulay. Ker acknowledges that Gower will always remain a "foil to Chaucer" (437), but he praises Gower for his poetic correctness, for his ease and lack of affectation (439). This courtly style, Ker argues, shows Gower's debt to French poetry, marked as it is by a simple eloquence, by an "ironical self-possession" and "urbanity" (442), and by "an understanding between the poet and his readers, a social sympathy" (445). One sees this in other English poetry, as in the Chaucer's Book of the Duchess or in "The Owl and the Nightingale." Chaucer, however, is on the whole more influenced by Italian verse and is willing to accept metrical irregularities. Nevertheless, both writers in their use of decasyllabic verse ignored the caesura after the fourth syllable, and so foreshadowed much of the best heroic poetry in English poetry (453). Ker concludes with a rather wilting overview of Gower's French and Latin works, and with a short biography. [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:In Praise of Peace
Style, Rhetoric, and Versification
Vox Clamantis
Cinkante Balades
Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)

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