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Truth

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Balade de Bon Conseyl

Flee fro the prees and dwelle with sothfastnesse;
Suffyce unto thy thing, though it be smal,
For hord hath hate, and climbing tikelnesse,
Prees hath envye, and wele blent overal.
Savour no more than thee bihove shal,
Reule wel thyself that other folk canst rede,
And trouthe thee shal delivere, it is no drede. (Lines 1-7)

Tempest thee noght al croked to redresse
In trust of hir that turneth as a bal;
Gret reste stant in litel besinesse.
Be war therfore to sporne ayeyns an al,
Stryve not, as doth the crokke with the wal.
Daunte thyself, that dauntest otheres dede,
And trouthe thee shal delivere, it is no drede. (Lines 8-14)

That thee is sent, receyve in buxumnesse;
The wrastling for this world axeth a fal.
Her is non hoom, her nis but wildernesse:
Forth, pilgrim, forth! Forth, beste, out of thy stal!
Know thy contree, look up, thank God of al;
Hold the heye wey and lat thy gost thee lede,
And trouthe thee shal delivere, it is no drede. (Lines 15-21)

Envoy
Therfore, thou Vache, leve thyn old wrecchednesse;
Unto the world leve now to be thral.
Crye him mercy, that of his hy goodnesse
Made thee of noght, and in especial
Draw unto him, and pray in general
For thee, and eek for other, hevenlich mede;
And trouthe thee shal delivere, it is no drede. (Lines 22-28)

Explicit Le bon counseill de G. Chaucer

Introduction

Chaucer’s possible reference to “cow” could be an allusion to the lower social status, that of a rural lifestyle in England.

"Truth" is one of Chaucer's poems that includes an envoy, a section of the poem that addresses a specific individual. The envoy in this poem is for Sir Philip de Vache, a nobleman's son, and a acquaintance to Chaucer. In general, the language in "Truth" is very encouraging, as this poem is thought to act as motivation for a downtrodden Vache. Most of the thoughtful words in this poem are thought to have been from Boethius, a work which Chaucer translated himself (Latin to Middle English).

Critical Commentary

It was not uncommon for Chaucer to have multiple versions of his poems. "Truth" is one such example. The envoy to Vache was not included until later versions of the poem; there were over 20 separate versions. Critics are unsure whether or not Chaucer is completely sincere with his words in "Truth". Dissection of the name Vache, which alternatively means "cow", might point to the mocking nature of Chaucer towards Vache. This poem was written during the time period when Vache himself was falling out of favor with the royal court as a political figure, so encouragement was pertinent. Even if Vache was not the intended audience, the message of "Truth" can be applied to all people; personal truth comes from self evaluation rather than social status.

Links to Other Resources

A Literary Analysis on "Truth"

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