Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Geoffrey Chaucer

English Poet, considered greatest English poet of the Middle Ages, first poet buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey

"For how might sweetness ever have been known to him who never tasted bitterness? Felicity exists for those alone who first have suffered sorrow and distress... By opposites does one in wisdom grow."

"Over muche reste norisseth manye vices."

"The guilty think all talk is of themselves."

"And all your dreams and other such like folly, to deep oblivion let them be consigned; for they arise but from your melancholy, by which your health is being undermined. A straw for all the meaning you can find in dreams! They aren’t worth a hill of beans, for no one knows what dreaming really means."

"Bewail lost time far more than gold in store. ‘For chattels lost may yet recovered be, but time lost ruins us for aye, says he. It will not come again, once it has fled... Let’s not grow moldy thus in idleness."

"He which that no-thing under-taketh, No-thing one achieveth, be him looth or dere... He that nought n'assayeth, nought n'acheveth."

"It is but waste to bury them preciously."

"My mind to me a kingdom is; such present joys therein I find, that it excels all other bliss that earth affords."

"Truth is the highest thing that man may keep."

"Forbid us something, and that thing we desire. "

"Time and tide wait for no man. "

"Love is blind."

"The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people. "

"People can die of mere imagination. "

"A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde also."

"A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tayl."

"Abstinence is approved of God."

"And brought of mighty ale a large quart."

"And for ther is so gret diversite in Englissh and in writyng of oure tonge, so prey I God that non myswrite the, ne the mysmetre for defaute of tonge; and red wherso thow be, or elles songe, that thow be understonde, God I biseche!"

"And for to se, and eek for to be seye."

"And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly, after the scole of Stratford atte Bowe, for Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe."

"Allas! allas! that evere love was synne!"

"And as for me, though than I konne but lyte, on bokes for to rede I me delyte, and to hem yeve I feyth and ful credence, and in myn herte have hem in reverence so hertely, that ther is game noon, that fro my bokes maketh me to goon, but yt be seldome on the holy day. Save, certeynly, when that the monthe of May is comen, and that I here the foules synge, and that the floures gynnen for to sprynge, farwel my boke, and my devocion."

"And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."

"And if love is, what thing and which is he? If love be good, from whennes cometh my woo?"

"And of his port as meke as is a mayde."

"And once he had got really drunk on wine, then he would speak no language but Latin."

"And she was fair as is the rose in May."

"And smale foules maken melodie, that slepen alle night with open eye, so priketh hem nature in hir corages; than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages."

"And then the wren gan scippen and to daunce."

"And ther he saugh, with ful avysement the erratik sterres, herkenyng armonye with sownes ful of hevenyssh melodie."

"And therfore, at the kynges court, my brother, ech man for hymself, ther is noon other."

"And theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene, on which ther was first write a crowned A, and after Amor vincit omnia."

"And what is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing."

"And when a beest is deed, he hath no peyne; But man after his deeth moot wepe and pleyne."

"And yet he hadde "a thombe of gold" pardee."

"And, for the house is crinkled to and fro."

"Be nat wrooth, my lord, though that I pleye. Ful ofte in game a sooth I have herd seye!"

"But all thing which that shineth as the gold ne is no gold, as I have herd it told."

"But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve He taughte, but first he folwed it him-selve."

"But every thyng which schyneth as the gold, nis nat gold, as that I have herd it told."

"But for to assaye, he seyde, it nought ne greveth; for he that nought nassayeth, nought nacheveth. But to attempt it," he said, "should not grieve: for he that attempts nothing will nothing achieve. [i.e., Nothing ventured, nothing gained.]"

"But manly set the world on sixe and sevene; And, if thou deye a martir, go to hevene."

"But yet that holden this tale a folly, as of a fox, or of a cock and hen, taketh the morality, good men."

"By God, if women had written stories, as clerks had within here oratories, they would have written of men more wickedness than all the mark of Adam may redress."

"By nature, men love newfangledness."

"Certes, they been lyk to houndes, for an hound whan he comth by the roser, or by other bushes, though he may nat pisse, yet wole he heve up his leg and make a contenaunce to pisse."

"Eke wonder last but nine deies never in toun."

"Every honest miller has a golden thumb."

"Experience, though non auctoritee were in this world, is right ynough to me to speke of wo that is in mariage. . . ."