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and this use is especially noticeable in the Alexandrine, where the assonance will often be found to emphasize the caesura :

A worke of wondrous grace, and able soules to saue. (1. ix. 19.)

That like a rose her silken leaues did faire vnfold. (v1. xii. 7.)

At times he carries his assonance through a whole stanza, as in the following, where he emphasizes the rhyme vowels ai and e by contrasting them with the harder sound of i:

So there that night Sir Calidore did dwell,

And long while after, whilest him list remaine,
Dayly beholding the faire Pastorell,

And feeding on the bayt of his owne bane.
During which time he did her entertaine
With all kind courtesies, he could inuent;
And euery day, her companie to gaine,
When to the field she went, he with her 'went:

So for to quench his fire, he did it more augment. (VI. ix. 34.)1 But Spenser's most persistent artistic device is alliteration, which he uses alike to mark his rhythm and knit his verse together, to enforce his meaning, and for its pure melodic beauty. He was attracted to it, doubtless, by his study of that earlier poetry which is alliterative by structure, but his knowledge of Chaucer had showed him its greater artistic value when it is accidental rather than structural; and he developed its musical possibilities to their utmost, so that it became for him an integral part of his melody, capable of sustaining his verse even when his poetic inspiration was at its lowest. Many of his favourite phrases, 'loving lord', 'girlonds gay', 'silver sleepe', 'lovely layes', 'wide wildernesse', are born of his love of alliteration, and so natural an element of his music does it become that at times it influences, almost unconsciously, his choice of words:

I knockt, but no man aunswred me by name;

I cald, but no man answerd to my clame. (IV. X. 11.)

Its use for emphasis is obvious enough, as in the description of the giant who 'with sturdie steps came stalking in his sight' (1. vii. 8), or of the studied hypocrisy of Archimago:

Sober he seemde, and very sagely sad, (1. i. 29.)

or of the gloom of the Cave of Despair :

Darke, dolefull, drearie, like a greedie graue. (1. ix. 33.)

Like Milton, he knew the power of alliteration upon w to give the sense of vastness and desolation:

In all his wayes through this wide worldes waue. (1. x. 34.)2

1 Cf. also VII. vii. 44, where Spenser enforces the contrast between Day and Night by emphasizing throughout the stanza the vowels a and i.

Cf. also II. vii. 2, I. ix. 39.

Certain combinations of consonants, indeed, are associated in his mind with definite feelings or conceptions, and he will carry their use through several lines, sometimes through a whole stanza. Particularly effective is his alliteration upon s and l to convey a sense of peace, wherein the senses lulled are in slumber of delight'. The argument of Despair is rendered almost irresistible by the music in which it is phrased :

Is not short paine well borne, that brings long ease,
And layes the soule to sleepe in quiet graue?

Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas,


Ease after warre, death after life does greatly please. (1. ix. 40.)

And so of Arthur, dreaming of the faerie queene :

Whiles euery sence the humour sweet embayd,
And slombring soft my hart did steale away,

Me seemed, by my side a royall Mayd

Her daintie limbes full softly down did lay. (1. ix. 13.)1

It will be noticed that in all these passages the effect of the alliteration is strengthened by the use of the alliterative letter in the middle and end as well as at the beginning of the words.

But apart from these special uses, assonance and alliteration run through all his verse as an integral part of its melody, a kind of sweet undertone, blending with the regular rise and fall of the verse and enhancing its rhythmical appeal, so as to form a total effect of indefinable grace and beauty.

The peculiar dangers and temptations of such a style are obvious, and Spenser did not escape them. Though his finest music is wedded to his noblest imaginings, he could convey, in music of a kind, any idea, however trivial, and it was not always worth the carriage. In such moments he parodies his poetic self; the inspiration is gone; and those devices which are the natural and inevitable expression of his mode of thought seem little better than the threadbare artifice of a cunning metrical trickster. He fills out the rhythmical structure of his stanza with words and phrases that add nothing to his picture, and gives whole lines of comment that is trite and commonplace. His characteristic manner has the exuberance of a garden set in rich and fruitful soil, and it needs a careful tending; for even its choicest flowers may put on such luxuriant growth that they wellnigh choke each other, and if weeds chance to take root there they will grow apace. Spenser never learnt the art to prune, he was not over careful to weed. And his verse, though it has a vigour of its own, is seldom rapid; it is the counterpart of that brooding contemplative mood in which he looked habitually at life. Its sustaining principle was a slow circling movement that continually returned upon itself. Wordsworth's

1 Cf. also II. vi. 3, II. v. 30, 32, III. xii. 1.

inspired lines sum up far better than any prose criticism can do, his essential quality:

Sweet Spenser moving through his clouded heaven

With the moon's beauty and the moon's soft pace.

To him the significance of the situations that he describes and his attitude with regard to them were more than the situations themselves; the music in which his imagination phrased them was a part of their significance. To admit this is to deny him a supreme place among narrative poets, even among those whose narrative is romance; and readers who love a story for its own sake will often find him tedious, and turn with relief to Ariosto, Byron, or Scott. Spenser is never outside his subject, delighting in a spectacle of movement or of passion, allowing to his creation the irresponsible freedom of actual life, and curbed only by life's capricious laws. All that he creates is alike moulded and controlled by his personal emotions, and is deeply charged with his own reflection. The world of reality was profoundly dissatisfying to him; it was filled with baffling contradictions, where splendour clashed with meanness, and high endeavour was tainted with base self-seeking. As a man he was ready to play his part in it, and the part he played was courageous and noble, worthy of his ideals. But as an artist it was his aim to escape from it, into the delightful land of his dream, whose ways

Are so exceeding spacious and wide
And sprinkled with such sweet variety
Of all that pleasant is to ear and eye,

that his travel never wearies him-a land of clear spiritual vision, in which truth is always sure of triumph, and the fierce conflicts of earth are heard faintly as from a distance, hardly disturbing the enchanted atmosphere of serene beauty. Here it was that his art found its home, with careless Quiet

Wrapped in eternall silence, farre from enemyes;

and when his voice broke in upon this paradise of his imagination' Silence was pleased'.




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