Complaint Of Chaucer To His Purse The Geoffrey Chaucer ca 1400

Unlike most of Chaucer's work, "The Complaint of Chaucer to his Purse" can be dated relatively precisely, probably sometime between late 1399 and Chaucer's death the following year. It is a 26-line ballade containing three stanzas and a final five-line envoi rhyming aabba, in iambic pentameter.

The poem is a parody of the traditional complaint genre popular during the Middle Ages. In this case, the narrator pleads to his purse to "Be heavy again, or else I must die" (ll. 7, 14, 21). The poem uses standard language from lovers' complaints, calling the purse his "lady dere" (l. 5) and pleading "unto your mercy" (l. 6) and "unto your curtesye" (l. 20). The threat of death in each refrain is also traditional of complaint poetry.

The envoi appears in only five of the poem's 11 manuscripts. It changes the poem from a parodic complaint to a begging poem, for these lines ask the "con-querour of Brutes Albyon" (l. 22)—Henry IV—to be mindful of the narrator's "supplicacion" (l. 26), indicating a plea for money.

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