Critical Analysis of “Chaucer” by Ted Hughes
Chaucer is called the father of English literature. He is appreciated by many critics. In fact, he is ideal for many poets. He is pioneer of English language and literature. Poetry starts from him. Many poets are his fans; they have read his poetry, learned many things from him and enjoyed realistic beauty of his poems. Like other poets, Ted Hughes is also admirer of Chaucer. He has studies his famous book “Canterbury Tales”. When he was asked whether he was influenced by any poet; he replied “…One poet I have read more than any of these is Chaucer…”. Thus, Geoffrey Chaucer is his all time favourite poet. As mentioned above, many critics have appreciated the poetry of Chaucer but there are some who have criticized him. Ted Hughes did not bear their attitude, therefore, he composed this poem in order to glorify Chaucer’s work. He has also answered the so-called critics, who, without genuine reason, criticized him. Name of the poem is self-redundant. It is about Chaucer; it is about his work; it is tribute to him from his greatest fan. The poet also writes some verses about the beauty of Chaucer’s poetry.
From very start of the poem, Ted Hughes starts praising Geoffrey Chaucer. He talks about his work and referred some lines from “Prologue to Canterbury Tales”. He considers Geoffrey Chaucer as the finest poet in the history of English literature. In his eyes, Chaucer’s position is at the top. He values his poetic quality. He says that Chaucer was a realistic poet, who beautifully imitated nature. He gave nature a new freshness. Indeed, Chaucer was a realistic poet. He is known for his realistic images. He is called painter instead of poet because he created pen pictures as evident from “Canterbury Tales”. Thus, it is Chaucer, who gave freshness to every plant, tree and bush. He gave importance to reality and did not create any utopian world; instead he saw the world and depicted it in his book. He put the same word in front of his reader, which he saw during his journey to the Canterbury. Ted Hughes has wonderfully adored the beauty in Chaucer’s work. He maintains the form of poetry, which reveals his creativeness.
Ted Hughes diverts his attention towards so-called critics. He deals them with iron hands. He uses strict words for them yet these words create humour. He directly criticizes them and considers them less knowledgeable scholars. He calls them “cows”. Then he appreciates Chaucer’s beauty in portrayal of characters. He refers the character of “Wyf of Bath”, which is famous for temptation. Chaucer has created this character very minutely. It has drawn the attention of many readers. In fact, it has been quoted by many poets in their poems. This character, says Hughes, is the finest character in the history of English Literature. It has been sketched so accurately that the same creates sensation into listeners. Ted Hughes insanely admires Chaucer’s beauty in the whole poem. The poet is of the view that if one starts reading Chaucer’s work he cannot stop reading it. He appreciates the sensuous beauty in Chaucer’s work. He again and again admires Chaucer’s work while describing its different qualities. Somewhere he talks about the freshness of Chaucer’s work; somewhere he supports his style of writing. In remaining portion, he talks about the realistic beauty in Chaucer’s work. In short, in every way, he admires Chaucer’s work while considering it greatest work of all the times.
No doubt, Chaucer is the greatest poet of all times. He has been read and admired in the whole world. Some critics criticized Chaucer, which provoked Ted Hughes. He considered his duty to answer those critics. Thus, he wrote this poem, which was an honor for Chaucer. It is also a matter of fact that many writers and poets do not like critics. Some abuse them, whereas others rebuke. Samuel Becket can be referenced in this regard. He has also abused critics through his drama “Waiting of Godot”. Ted Hughes has also done the same. In his eyes, critics, who do not like Chaucer, are not sane. We know that it is the duty of critics to give expert opinions on writers’ works but mostly poets and writers do not like unfavorable remarks; therefore, they try to find ways of vengeance. Ted Hughes has not done it for his own sake but for the sake of his favourite poet. Nonetheless, it is not matter of discussion that whether it is morally good to answer critics in such a way or not but one thing is sure i.e. Ted Hughes has answered the critics but at the same time he has maintained flow in the poem.
There are two types of groups in poet’s mind while writing this poem; one is the group of people, who read Chaucer; second is the group of critics, who criticize Chaucer. Chaucer skillfully deals with anti-Chaucerian critics. The critics were not ready to accept the change which Chaucer brought to English literature and language; they have no knowledge, says Ted Hughes, therefore, he calls them cows. They criticize Chaucer without understanding his work. According to Ted Hughes, Chaucer should not be criticized. In other words, he says that Chaucer should only be praised. He should be glorified. His work should be read again and again. It is the only way to become fan of Chaucer.
At last but not the least, Ted Hughes is a famous poet. His famousness is mostly related to his technique of symbolism but this poem, which is actually an ode to Chaucer, is a masterpiece. Ted Hughes has given warnings to the critics. He has used harsh language for Chaucer’s enemies. It seems that, after reading this poem, no one will ever dare to criticize Chaucer. This poem is simple in style and nature. It has simple language, beautiful imagery, bizarre symbols, which make this poem an impressive piece of literature.