Geoffrey Chaucer as a Poet | Exploring the Legacy of a Poet

Geoffrey Chaucer as a Poet

The medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer is often referred to as the “Father of English Literature”. His contributions to English poetry have solidified his place in literary history. This video delves into Chaucer’s life, his literary achievements, and his enduring influence on English literature.

Early Life and Background

Geoffrey Chaucer was born around 1343 in London, England, during the Middle Ages. He came from a family of wine merchants, indicating a moderate social standing. Chaucer received a quality education, likely attending St Paul’s Cathedral School, where he would have been exposed to classical literature and languages.

Literary Career

Chaucer’s literary career began in the royal court. He was a page to Elizabeth de Burgh, the Countess of Ulster. His early works, such as “The Book of the Duchess” and “The House of Fame”, demonstrate his mastery of courtly love poetry and his skill in imitating French and Italian literary traditions.

Chaucer’s diplomatic missions exposed him to various cultures and languages. These missions enriched his understanding of human nature and inspired his later works. It was during this time that he likely encountered the works of Italian writers such as Dante Alighieri and Giovanni Boccaccio, whose influence is evident in his writing.

The Canterbury Tales

Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is a collection of stories written in Middle English and framed as a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. The diverse group of pilgrims represents different social classes and occupations. Each tells a tale during the journey, showing Chaucer’s keen observation of medieval society and his ability to craft distinct narrative voices.

Chaucer explores timeless themes such as love, betrayal, greed, and redemption through vivid characters and intricate plots. These themes make “The Canterbury Tales” a rich tapestry of medieval life and literature.

Legacy and Influence

Chaucer’s impact on English literature cannot be overstated. His innovative use of vernacular English created a way for future writers. His method helped to establish English as a literary language. His realistic portrayal of characters and settings set a precedent for the development of the novel as a literary form.

Chaucer’s works have been studied, adapted, and reinterpreted by scholars, writers, and artists around the world. His influence can be seen in the works of William Shakespeare, John Milton, Geoffrey Hill, and countless others.


In conclusion, Geoffrey Chaucer’s legacy as a poet transcends time and continues to shape the landscape of English literature. His profound insight into the human condition, mastery of language and narrative technique, ensures that his works will be cherished and celebrated for future generations.