—Last spring, our poetry class encountered "The Prioress's Tale,"1 altogether ignorant, altogether repugnant. The attitudes and biases that led to such a tradition harmed my kind, and still do, although one line in it the critic Matthew Arnold singled out as perhaps the most pure in our language. How much fault was Chaucer's? Should that poem be deleted, as it is a vile insult to a people?Certainly, being at court, Chaucer knew no Jew had been in England since the expulsion of 1280. But he shared, I believe, the resonant and horrid vision of child murdering fostered by the church and found convenient by occasional kings. By sharing, I mean he moved under its influence, like a sail that has caught the wind, for lies and mistruths and prejudice have such power if they tap into whatever silent and deep-running sources drive poetry. The cripple, the
Coe FL. In Loring Park-Reply. JAMA. 1994;271(1):28. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510250044030
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