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Word Count: 358
Geoffrey Chaucer had a busy official life as an esquire to royalty as the comptroller of the customs for the port of London as an active player in important diplomatic missions and in a variety of other official duties All this is richly recorded in literally hundreds of documents But such documents tell us little about Chaucer the man and poet Chaucer himself tells us very little about himself He is a lively presence in his works and every reader comes to feel that he knows Chaucer very well There is a certain consistency in the character of Chaucer as he appears in his works and occasional biographical passages such as this from The House of Fame seem to ring true Wherfore as I seyde ywys Jupiter considereth this And also beau sir other thynges That is that thou hast no tydynges Of Loves folk yf they be glade Ne of noght elles that God made And noght oonly fro fer contree That ther no tydynge cometh to thee But of thy verray neyghebores That duellen almost at thy dores Thou herist neyther that ne this For when thy labour doon al ys And hast mad alle thy rekenynges In stede of reste and newe thynges Thou goost hom to thy hous anoon And also domb as any stoon Thou sittest at another book Tyl fully daswed ys thy look And lyvest thus as an heremyte Although thyn abstynence ys lyte House of Fame 641-60 This has the ring of truth and yet we can never be sure how much is true and how much Chaucer builds himself up in his poetic role The only non-fictionalized scrap of autobiography that we have from Chaucer is the record of his deposition in the Scrope-Grosvener Trial It reveals Chaucer as a curious and sociable character rather like the man who scurried about meeting and talking to all the nine and twenty pilgrims that gathered at
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