How shal the world be served?

from Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue) on Rap Genius

Meaning

(= How should the world be served?)

In Chaucer’s time, clergy would often take secular employment, which caused a great deal of controversy (the Clerk condemns this later on in the General Prologue, and in 1395 the Lollards petitioned Parliament to ban the practice, but it was defended by Richard II’s chaplain, Roger Dymmok. The image shows Roger Dymmock refuting the Lollard’s heresey, as it was portrayed:

Chaucer is, heavily ironically, asking how the clergy can maintain these secular jobs if they devote their lives to religious duties and manual labour.

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