Language: The English language was undergoing a period of rapid change between Chaucer and Shakespeare. Chaucer was writing in what was termed Middle English towards the end of the Great Vowel Shift which was a major change in the way English vowels were pronounced and Shakespeare and the Elizabethan poets wrote in Modern English, after the great vowel shift had been completed.
Meter: Old English poetry was written in purely accentual poetry of a type known as "strong stress", normally with four beats per line and a fixed pattern of alliteration and caesuras. whereas Chaucer represents the beginnings of iambic pentameter and the use of accentual syllabic poetry fusing the French syllabic and Anglo-Saxon accentual prosodies. In Shakespeare and the Elizabethan poets we find a more fluid use of iambic pentameter, more varied meters, and more heavy use of enjambment.