Complaint to His Purse.

March 10, 2008

a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer

1. Describe the form called rime royal: meter, rhyme scheme, stanza form.
The form of poetry known as rime royal, or rhyme royal consists of 7 lines in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme as follows: ababbcc. Each stanza may be as tercet and two couplets or a quatrain and a tercet.

2. What is the structure of the poem? How do the imagery and argument of each stanza develop and intensify the appeal?
The poem is based on the speaker’s plea for sustenance. In the first stanza he notes the light weight of his purse, and appeals to his lady for some money so he doesn’t starve. In the next stanza the speaker flatters his lady and declares his allegiance to her. He tells her, “ye be my life, ye be myn hertes steere.” He then again asks again for aid, else he must die. In the third stanza he calls her his “saviour” and begs her, if she can not fill his purse, to at least help him escape his creditors.

3. In exploring the extended metaphor of the poem, consider how diction accounts for the humor of Chaucer’s parody.
Chaucer relates his purse to his love, speaking ambiguously about them throughout the poem. He flatters her and builds her image. He calls her “my lady dere,” “My life,” “myn hertes steere,” ” Queene of confort and of good compaignye,” and “my lives light/ And savior.”

4. How does the envoy continue the tone of the poem even as it addresses a specific person?
The envoy continues the tone of the poem with similar diction and theme. Chaucer again requests something of one higher rank than he after some flattery. He calls Henry IV, “O conquerour of Brutus Albioun,” and endorsese that he is not a tyrant by stating, “which that by line and free eleccioun/ Been verray king, this song to you i sende:” He then makes a request that the king does not forget his need.

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