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This subject being dispatched, the assembly CHAP. of birds, who had been exceedingly eager for their dismission, is dissolved.
1358. The conclu. sion.
And lorde the blisse and joye which that
they make! For ech gan other in his wingés take, And with her neckés eche gan other 'winde,
, Thankinge alway the noble goddesse of kinde.
At length, the shouting that “ the foules made at her flight away' rouses the poet from his dream.
I woke, and other bokés took me to
This couplet deserved to be quoted as an Chaucer's evidence of the poet's habits. We have propensihere Chaucer's own testimony, that he was a man of incessant reading and literary curi
CHAP. osity, and that, even at thirty years
age, and amidst the allurements of a triumphant and ostentatious court, one of the first and most insatiable passions of his mind was the love of books.
OUTLINE OF THE POEM ENTITLED CHAUCER'S
CHAUCER'S next production is that en- crap. titled his Dream, and was first printed by Mr. Speght, in the edition of 1597. It may regarded as an epithalamium upon the marriage of the earl of Richmond and the princess Blanche, which took place on the nineteenth of May 1359. It was therefore written after, probably immediately after, that pe
Walsingham, ad ann. She is styled countess of Richmond, in a patent in Rymer, dated 28 August in this year; Foedera, Tom. VI.
1359. Story of the poem.
CHAP. riod : in the eighth line the author speaks of
May as the season of its composition.
poem is peculiarly wild, and is a finished specimen of that species of composition which was most the taste of the day. Chaucer feigns himself to be transported in his sleep into a country inhabited only by women, which was adorned with every beauty that could charm the sense, and was emphatically the seat of peace,
innocence and joy. The queen of this country was bound, by the law of her sovereignty, to repair once in seven years to a far distant island, for the purpose of gathering three apples, each of them possessing a secret and supernatural virtue; the first preserving for ever the beauty and youth of the possessor, the second nourishing by the bare sight more powerfully than the choicest meats, and the third having the property of defending its possessor from all attacks of sorrow or disquietude. The queen is absent on this expedition at the time of Chaucer's arrival ; but her return is soon after announced.
She returns however less fortunate than
she had been on former occasions.
her on board his ship. He was prevented from accomplishing his design by the lady who had gathered the apples.
It afterward appears, that this knight, who was also the son and heir of a king, had been many years on his travels, in quest of an unknown lady whom he felt himself destined to espouse.
He no sooner sees the queen who had sailed to the island of the apples, than he is convinced that she is the object in pursuit of whom he had visited a thousand countries; and, transported at so fortunate a discovery, he is hurried into an act of violence of which he speedily repents. The stranger lady takes both the queen and knight on board her vessel, and conducts them to the country where the return of the former had been impatiently expected.