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Dr. Joseph Turner, University of Louisville
From its opening with the word "whan" or "when," Chaucer's General Prologue demonstrates a deep interest in time. The poem begins with cosmic time, and then descends from the cosmos to dwell on the here-and-now of a group of rowdy pilgrims talking noisily on pilgrimage to Canterbury. These competing temporalities, one eternal and one contemporary, reveal multiple attitudes toward the power of poetry.