House of Fame 3:1215.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)
And eke in ech of the pynacles
Weren sondry habitacles,
In which stoden, al withoute –
Ful the castel, al aboute –
Of alle maner of mynstralles
And gestiours that tellen tales
Both of wepinge and of game,
1200 Of al that longeth unto Fame.
Ther herde I pleyen on an harpe,
That sowned bothe wel and sharpe,
Orpheus ful craftely,
And on his syde, faste by,
Sat the harper Orion,
And Eacides Chiron,
And other harpers many oon,
And the Bret Glascurion;
And smale harpers with her glees
1210 Sate under hem in dyvers sees,
And gunne on hem upward to gape,
And countrefete hem as an ape,
Or as craft countrefeteth kynde.
Tho saugh I stonden hem behynde,
Afer fro hem, al be hemselve,
Many thousand tymes twelve,
That maden lowde mynstralcies
In cornemuse and shalemyes,
And many other maner pipe,
1220 That craftely begunne to pipe,
Bothe in doucet and in rede,
That ben at festes with the brede;
And many flowte and liltyng horn,
And pipes made of grene corn,
As han thise lytel herde-gromes
That kepen bestis in the bromes.
The House of Fame is over 2,000 lines long in three books and takes the form of a dream vision composed in octosyllabic couplets. Upon falling asleep the poet finds himself in a glass temple adorned with images of the famous and their deeds. With an eagle as a guide, he meditates on the nature of fame and the trustworthiness of recorded renown. This allows Geoffrey to contemplate the role of the poet in reporting the lives of the famous and how much truth there is in what can be told.
Welch (1911/1961: 16)