Born at a time when serious poetry was produced across the Channel, Chaucer would live to put the English language on the literary map. He began with the spoken word, pioneering the use of English in the royal court in a time when French was the tongue of choice. In the transition to writing, Chaucer
When Abraham raised his sword to slice off the head of his son Isaac, he did so with absolute faith in God. Dante Alighieri, on the other hand, was not so convinced. Dante was a devout Christian who believed that divine love required a journey towards, not a blind acceptance of, religion. Unlike Abra
Oh, plagued no more with Human or Divine,
To-morrow's tangle to itself resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The Cypress-slender Minister of Wine.
The work of Omar al-Khayyam makes it pretty clear that Middle Eastern scholars were light-years ahead of their European counterparts durin