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Chaucer’s poetry is meant to be spoken, rather than read silently. The words were, in the old sense of the word, broadcast to an appreciative audience at the courts of Edward III (1327–77) and Richard II (1377–99). We, today, need to re-create that sense of audience: we need to be involved in the active process of listening. To do this effectively we must hear the sound patterns, tune the ear to the rhymes and acquire some awareness of the assumptions shared by his original listeners.
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