Great men of history have been speaking and writing many great things and ideas. Some of them have influenced the humanity in such away that their sayings have been carried on by men as if they were proverbs of eternal importance. Saying this phrase, Chaucer has the spell over the humanity all over the world.
The great English laureate here borrows from the chemistry of metals. We know that iron rusts in presence of humidity. Humidity is the breeding ground for rusting in iron. Increased rusting of iron material ends the story and the existence of the iron.
It means the rusting of iron is the decay of a tough material. We usually give examples with iron as an embodiment of toughness. But it too rusts. Now coming to another metal the story is altogether different. Gold is a metal which does not rust.
Though this metal does not represent toughness it says a different story. Gold is one of the most precious metals which we have coveted to own since time immemorial. Presence of gold is an auspicious thing. This metal is the embodiment of purity and genuineness all over the world.
Gold has been valued as a representative of bonafide existence. Men have been compared with its quality. Musicians have been told to have golden touch. Gandhi has been called to be honest like gold.
But here comes Chaucer to think that if gold start rusting what will happen. Here rusting is symbolised as something vile and some mixture of duplicity. If there is a process of rusting in gold what will happen to iron – this is what he asks surprisingly.
This is as if Mahatma Gandhi has started to lie. This is as if Gautama Buddha started to preach violence and so on. If Buddha starts preaching violence what other people will do. Buddha is the embodiment of non-violence. He has taught and preached more on non-violence •than any single man in the whole human history. So in surprise, Chaucer says that if gold rusts what will iron do.