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a.When, ifever, does the poem allow “oth

a.When, ifever, does the poem allow “oth

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Introduction



o.



xxxi



In what ways do The Faerie Queene and Spenser’s View of the

Present State of Ireland complement or contradict each other as

analyses of England’s colonial prospects in Ireland?

p. According to Spenser, are justice and nature antithetical, cooperative, identical, unable to communicate with each other,

both dependent on some third thing, or what?

q. How does this poem define types of fraud, and what are their

sources?

r. What is the relationship between civility and pity in Book

Four?

s. In what literary communities does this poem participate, and

how?

t. In what ways do Spenser’s minor poems (e.g., the Epithalamion, the Amoretti, and The Shepheardes Calender) complement

or reinterpret particular passages of The Faerie Queene?

u. What patterns of metaphor does Spenser use, and where? What

mileage does he get out of these patterns?

v. To which details does the poem ask us to pay attention, and

which does it encourage us to overlook?

w. What relationship does this poem construct between the

reader and the narrator? What sort of reader does this poem

assume or induce?



Title page to the 1590 edition of The Faerie Queene (STC 23081).



TO THE MOST MIGHTIE AND MAGNIFICENT EMPRESSE ELIZABETH, BY THE

GRACE OF GOD QVEENE

OF ENGLAND, FRANCE

AND IRELAND DEFENDER OF THE FAITH

&c.



Her most humble

Seruant:

Ed. Spenser



The thirde Booke

of the Faerie Queene.

Contayning



The Legend of Britomartis.

OR



Of Chastity.

1



It falls me1 here to write of Chastity,

The fayrest vertue, far above the rest;

For which what needes me2 fetch from Faery

Forreine ensamples,3 it to have exprest?

Sith it is shrined in my Soveraines brest,4

And formd so lively in each perfect part,

That to all Ladies, which have it profest,

Neede but behold the pourtraict5 of her hart,

If pourtrayd it might bee by any living art.



2



But living art may not least part expresse,

Nor life-resembling pencill it can paynt,

All were it Zeuxis or Praxiteles:6

His dædale7 hand would faile, and greatly faynt,

And her perfections with his error taynt:

Ne8 Poets witt, that passeth Painter farre

In picturing the parts of beauty daynt,9

So hard a workemanship adventure darre,

For fear through want10 of words her excellence to marre.



1



symbol both of consummate artistry and of

overly confident ambition.

8

Ne: nor. No one really knows how this

word—which Spenser uses frequently—

would have been pronounced. The OED

gives a long e; Monty Python gives a short i

(in “The Knights Who Say ‘Ni’”); some

scholars read the word aloud with a long a;

and others use the schwa (an unstressed

vowel sound, as in the a of “about,” the e of

“item,” or the i of “edible”).

9

daynt: dainty; delightful; precious;

choice.

10

want: lack.



falls me: falls to me; is up to me.

what needes me: why would I need.

3

ensamples: examples.

4

Sith: since; in my Soveraines brest: see

Introduction, 5b.

5

pourtraict: portrait.

6 Zeuxis or Praxiteles: artists famed in ancient Greece for their skill in depicting

women.

7 dædale: referring to Daedalus, who made

wings for himself and his son, Icarus, out of

wax and feathers. Icarus flew too near the

sun, which melted the wax and caused him

to fall to his death. Daedalus is thus a

2



3



4



The Faerie Queene: Book Three



3



How then shall I, Apprentice of the skill,

That whilome1 in divinest wits did rayne,

Presume so high to stretch mine humble quill?2

Yet now my luckelesse lott doth me constrayne

Hereto perforce. But O dredd3 Soverayne

Thus far forth pardon, sith that choicest witt

Cannot your glorious pourtraict figure playne,

That I in colourd showes may shadow itt,4

And antique5 praises unto present persons fitt.



4



But if in living colours, and right hew,6

Thy selfe thou covet to see pictured,7

Who can it doe more lively, or more trew,

Then that sweete verse, with Nectar sprinckeled,

In which a gracious servaunt pictured

His Cynthia, his heavens fayrest light?8

That with his melting sweetnes ravished,

And with the wonder of her beames bright,

My sences lulled are in slomber of delight.



5



But let that same delitious Poet lend

A little leave unto a rusticke Muse

To sing his mistresse prayse, and let him mend,

If ought amis her liking may abuse:9



1



whilome: formerly.

The fact that it was standard practice for

an author to claim his own inadequacy does

not mean we should take Spenser’s self-deprecation lightly. He had no assurance that

the Queen would approve of his poem,

which allegorized her failings as well as her

virtues, and he knew he was undertaking a

project that could seem presumptuous: to

write England’s first national epic.

3 I.e., yet my duty is to do precisely this (to

dare to write about Elizabeth); dredd:

dreaded. Monarchs were praised for inspiring a combination of fear, admiration, and

love in their subjects.

4 I.e., that I may hint at your glory through

the beauties of allegory. See “The Letter to

Raleigh” (p. 451) for Spenser’s discussion of

his conception of allegory.

2



5



antique: pun on “antic,” meaning “absurdly fantastic.” Spenser’s admiration for

the medieval Chaucer prompted him to

adopt some of Chaucer’s antiquated English

vocabulary and phrasing, which caused

some ribbing from fellow authors.

6 hew: form; condition.

7 pictured: three syllables. Reading

Spenser aloud with attention to the meter

will give a feel for the times when he expects normally silent endings to be pronounced.

8 Spenser’s friend Sir Walter Raleigh had

composed “Cynthia, the Lady of the Sea,”

an elegy to Elizabeth.

9 I.e., let him correct my poem if she dislikes any of it.



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