Abstract

Charles d'Orléans's final English narrative poem describes a circular chasing-game he calls “post and pillar.” As he plays, “Charles” meets his new English beloved; their conversation leads him to write her a ballade sequence. Scholars understand the post-and-pillar game as a literary symbol for courtly life and love. This article also interprets it as an allegory of Charles's collaborative English writing, of “making feet” with others. Several symbolic textiles in the poem (“kerchiefs of plesaunce”) indicate self-reflexively the veil of allegory, and the final of these “kerchiefs” lifts in the post-and-pillar scene, inviting us to seek extratextual referents. When we do, “post and pillar” suggests the de la Poles and their circle, William de la Pole, his wife Alice (née Chaucer), and the friends and writers associated with them. Charles allegorizes the de la Pole circle as a literary community where his creative life renews itself in competitive play.

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