The contention of this article is that Chaucer is expecting, indeed exploiting, the gap between the reception of a poem when it is heard socially and its afterlife as a text, when it is a different thing altogether. I also argue that a poem’s form is itself a way of communicating ideas. The discussion focuses on Parlement of Foulys, but the conclusions may be more widely applicable.
C.W.R.D. Moseley teaches in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, and has been Director of Studies in English for several colleges of the university as well as Programme Director of the university’s International Summer Schools in English Literature and Shakespeare.