The most general feature of the Chaucer-type is that the speaker does something in uttering it, beyond the uttering itself. Some of Shakespeare’s Sonnets reflect on poetry as a form of action while enacting the very acts they name and reflect on. Others name the acts they reflect on to avoid performing them, or to deny that the speaker is in a position to perform them. Sonnet 85, as a deep and subtle study of ‘speaking in effect’, is particularly worth further study. It combines awareness of the subtle doublings and correspondences between what is said and what is true, between what is thought and what is done, with a lively and reflective sense for the ways and means by which all this is achieved. It also puts the first person deeply in question, sharpening our philosophical awareness of this essential component of Chaucer-type utterances.
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