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The Middle Ages in the Modern WorldTwenty-first century perspectives$
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Bettina Bildhauer and Chris Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266144

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266144.001.0001

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Chaucer’s and Wordsworth’s Vivid Daisies

Chaucer’s and Wordsworth’s Vivid Daisies

Chapter:
(p.219) 11 Chaucer’s and Wordsworth’s Vivid Daisies
Source:
The Middle Ages in the Modern World
Author(s):

Elizabeth Robertson

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266144.003.0012

In 1802, shortly after William Wordsworth read and translated Chaucer, he set down to write a series of poems that mark a shift from his primary focus on the rural poor to tiny and seemingly insignificant natural objects, insects, birds and small common flowers such as the celandine and, above all, the daisy. While Wordsworth’s identity as a nature poet has long been observed, literary critics have yet to notice that among the poems that Wordsworth read and indeed knew well was Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, written in 1386 or thereabouts, a poem whose prologue also includes not only close observation of the daisy but also a consideration of the kind of poetic language one should employ when encountering nature. Close study of Chaucer’s poem and Wordsworth’s multiple poems to daisies within the frame of Timothy Morton’s stimulating theory of ecomimetic ambient poetics reveals that for Wordsworth, Chaucerian medievalism offered a language for thinking through the strengths and limits of poetic encounters with nature.

Keywords:   Wordsworth, Chaucer, daisies, nature, ecomimetic, poetics, medievalism, Legend of Good Women

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