World Poetry Day is celebrated on March 21 every year. This day is marked in celebration of the most treasured poems and supports linguistic diversity through poetic expression. The day creates the opportunity for the endangered languages to be heard.
The day is dedicated to honour the poets who have contributed to the form of expression. The art of poetry lets every individual see or express a different perception of life.
In 1999, UNESCO declared March 21 as World Poetry Day with the purpose of promoting the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry all over the world.
On the auspicious day let’s remember the ‘Father of English Poetry,’ Geoffrey Chaucer. He was an English poet, author and a civil servant best known for his book ‘The Canterbury Tales.’ Chaucer was accorded as the Father of English Literature/Poetry because he was the first one to write poems and stories in the language that could be easily understood by the common people. He was also the first writer to be buried in what has since come to be called Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Although he did not stop writing and publishing, he maintained his career in the civil service as a bureaucrat, courtier, diplomat and member of parliament. Born and brought up in London in the early 1340s, Chaucer’s family is an extraordinary example of upward mobility.
Among many of his works the most preached ones are, The Book of Duchess, The House of Fame, The Legend of Good Women, and Troilus and Criseyde. These are a few poems contributed by the poet to the tradition of modern English poetry writing. In his poems, Chaucer chose to focus on ‘rhyming’, which was unusual for an English language poet of his time. He is not the one to introduce the concept of rhyming but he surely is the one to include rhyme royal in English language literature.
During the Middle English period, when dominant literary languages in England were still Anglo-Norman French and Latin, Chaucer made sure to write in common people’s language. Chaucer’s writings captures the exactness of his time with a quick and effortless command of many literary genres. His greatest achievement was to establish English as a major literary language. His poems have been loved for generations for its humanity and humour.
The Canterbury Tales is one of his greatest works and is among the most important works of the medieval literature. It is considered as a masterpiece for various reasons other than its poetic power and entertainment value. The tales depicts the social realism of the era and criticises the hypocrisy of the church and the social problems posed by the Medieval politics and social custom. There are 24 tales of the book series. Chaucer intended to write over 100 stories as part of the collection of ”tales” but could only complete over 24 of them before his death in the 1400.