The themes John Gower wrote about


John Gower was an English poet, a contemporary of William Langland and a personal friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. He is remembered primarily for three major works, the Mirroir de l'Omme, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis, three long poems written in French, Latin, and English respectively, which are united by common moral and political themes.


Few details are known of Gower's early life. He was probably born into a prominent Yorkshire family which held properties in Kent, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. It is thought that he practiced law in or around London.

While in London, he became closely associated with the nobility of his day. He was apparently personally acquainted with Richard II: in the prologue of the first edition of the Confessio Amantis, he tells how the king, chancing to meet him on the Thames (probably circa 1385), invited him aboard the royal barge, and that their conversation then resulted in a commission for the work that would become the Confessio Amantis. Later in life his allegiance switched to the future Henry IV, to whom later editions of the Confessio Amantis were dedicated. Much of this is based on circumstantial rather than documentary evidence, and the history of revisions of the Confessio Amantis, including the different dedications, is yet to be fully understood.

Gower's friendship with Chaucer is also well documented. When Chaucer was sent as a diplomat to Italy in 1378, Gower was one of the men to whom he gave power of attorney over his affairs in England. The two poets also paid one another compliments in their verse: Chaucer dedicated his Troilus and Criseyde in part to "moral Gower", and Gower reciprocated by placing a speech in praise of Chaucer in the mouth of Venus at the end of the Confessio Amantis.

At some point during the early 1370s, he took up residence in rooms provided by the Priory of St Mary Overie (now Southwark Cathedral). In 1398, while living here, he married, probably for the second time: his wife, Agnes Groundolf, was to survive him. In his last years, and possibly as early as 1400, he became blind.

After his death in 1408, Gower was interred in an ostentatious tomb in the Priory church (now Southwark Cathedral), which remains today.

This text is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License