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line-unit. Monotony is prevented by the occasional use of a light or feminine ending a syllable on which the voice does not or cannot rest; e.g.
“ Then choosing out few words most horrible.” (I, xxxvii.) 6. That for his love refused deity.” (III, xxi.)
“ His ship far come from watrie wilderness." (III, xxxii.) The use of alliteration, i.e. having several words in a line beginning with the same letter, is another device frequently employed by Spenser for musical effect; e.g. –
"In which that wicked wight his dayes doth weare. (1, xxxvi.) “Sweet slombring deaw, the which to sleep them biddes." (1,
5. VERSIFICATION. - In the handling of his stanza, Spenser revealed a harmony, sweetness, and color never before dreamed of in the English. Its compass, which admitted of an almost endless variety of cadence, harmonized well with the necessity for continuous narration. It appeals to the eye as well as to the ear, with its now languid, now vigorous, but always graceful turn of phrase. Its movement has been compared to the smooth, steady, irresistible sweep of water in a mighty river. Like Lyly, Marlowe, and Shakespeare, Spenser felt the new delight in the pictorial and musical qualities of words, and invented new melodies and word pictures. He aimed rather at finish, exactness, and fastidious neatness than at ease, freedom, and irregularity ; and if his versification has any fault, it is that of monotony. The atmosphere is always perfectly adapted to the theme.
6. DICTION AND STYLE. The peculiar diction of the Faerie Queene should receive the careful attention of the student. As a romantic poet, Spenser often preferred archaic and semi-obsolete language to more modern forms. He uses four classes of words that were recognized as the proper and conventional language
of pastoral and romantic poetry ; viz. (a) archaisms, (b) dialect, (c) classicisms, and (d) gallicisms. He did not hesitate to adopt from Chaucer many obsolete words and grammatical forms. Examples are: the double negative with ne; eyen, lenger, doen, ycladd, harrowd, purchas, raught, seely, stowre, swinge, owch, and withouten. He also employs many old words from Layamon, Wiclif, and Langland, like swelt, younglings, noye, kest, hurtle, and loft. His dialectic forms are taken from the vernacular of the North Lancashire folk with which he was familiar. Some are still a part of the spoken language of that region, such as, brent, cruddled, forswat, fearen, forray, pight, sithen, carle, and carke.
Examples of his use of classical constructions are: the ablative absolute, as, which doen (IV, xliii); the relative construction with when, as, which when (I, xvii), that when (VII, xi); the comparative of the adjective in the sense of “too, as, weaker (I, xlv), harder (II, xxxvi); the participial construction after till, as, till further tryall made (I, xii); the superlative of location, as, middest (IV, xv); and the old gerundive, as, wandering wood (I, xiii). Most of the gallicisms found are anglicized loan words from the French romans d'aventure, such as, disseized, cheare, chappeli, assoiled, guerdon, palfrey, recreaunt, trenchand, syre, and trusse. Notwithstanding Spenser's use of foreign words and constructions, his language is as thoroughly English in its idiom as that of any of our great poets.
“I think that if he had not been a great poet,” says Leigh Hunt, “ he would have been a great painter.”
“ After reading,” says Pope, “a canto of Spenser two or three days ago to an old lady, between seventy and eighty years of age, she said that I had been showing her a gallery of pictures. I do not know how it is, but she said very right. There is something in Spenser that pleases one as strongly in old age as it did in youth. I read the Faerie Queene
when I was about twelve, with infinite delight; and I think it gave me as much, when I read it over about a year or two ago.”
The imperishable charm of the poem lies in its appeal to the pure sense of beauty. A beautiful pagan dream,” says Taine,
carries on a beautiful dream of chivalry. The reader hears in its lines a stately and undulating rhythm that intoxicates the ear and carries him on with an irresistible fascination, he sees the unsubstantial forms of fairyland go sweeping by in a gorgeous and dreamlike pageantry, and he feels pulsing in its luxuriant and enchanted atmosphere the warm and beauty-loving temper of the Italian Renaissance. Spenser is superior to his subject,” says Taine, "comprehends it fully, frames it with a view to the end, in order to impress upon it the proper inark of his soul and his genius. Each story is modified with respect to another, and all with respect to a certain effect which is being worked out. Thus a beauty issues from this harmony,
-the beauty in the poet's heart, - which his whole work strives to express; a noble and yet a laughing beauty, made up of moral elevation and sensuous seductions, English in sentiment, Italian in externals, chivalric in subject, modern in its perfection, representing a unique and admirable epoch, the appearance of paganism in a Christian race, and the worship of form by an imagination of the North.”
EVENTS IN SPENSER'S LIFE
Birth of Edmund Spenser (about) 1552 Birth of Sir Walter Raleigh.
1553 Death of Edward VI; Mary crowned.
1563 Council of Trent. Visions of Bellay,
1569 Sonnets of Petrarch, published, 1569 Enters Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, 1569
1572 Gregory XIII, Pope of Rome.
1574 Henry III, king of France. Receives M.A., leaves Cambridge,
1576 Rudolph II, emperor. Leaves Lancashire,
1578 Elizabeth aids the Netherlands. Visits Lord Leicester,
1579 The Shepheards Calender,
1579 Goes to Ireland,
1580 Massacre of Smerwick.
1581 Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. Lord Grey's return to England, 1592
1584 Assassination of William the Silent. 1585 Sixtus V, Pope. Drake's voyage. 15$5 Leicester goes to the Netherlands.
1586 Death of Sir Philip Sidney. First marriage (before)
1587 Execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Clerk to the Council of Munster, 1588 Defeat of Spanish Armada. Death of
Leicester. Visits England with Raleigh,
1589 Assassination of Henry III ; Henry
IV crowned. The Faerie Queene, Books I, II, 1590 Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.
III, Mother Hubberde Tale, Tears of 1591 | Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, the Muses, Ruines of Time, Daph
Henry VI. naida, The Visions,
1591 Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, trans. 1593 Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's
1593 Richard III. Second marriage,
1594 Shakespeare's Richard II. Colin Clout & Come Home Again, 1595 Shakespeare's King John. Amoretti, Epithalamion, Hymns, 1595 Johnston's Seven Champions of
Christendom. Astrophel, Prothalamion,
1596 Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. The Faerie Queene, Books I-VI, 1596 Ben Jonson's Every Man in His
Humour. View of the Present State of Ire- 1598 Edict of Nantes ; Philip III crowned.
land, Death of Spenser,
1599 Revolt of Irish. Expedition of Essex