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12,000 acres. The poet was obliged to reside on characters and events. The queen Gloriana and his estate, as this was one of the conditions of the the huntress Belphæbe are both symbolical of grant; and he accordingly repaired to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth ; the adventures of the Redcross and took up his abode in Kilcolman Castle, near Knight shadow forth the history of the Church of Doneraile, which had been one of the ancient England; the distressed knight is Henri IV.; and strongholds or appanages of the Earls of Desmond. Envy is intended to glance at the unfortunate The poet's castle stood in the midst of a large Mary Queen of Scots. The stanza of Spenser is plain, by the side of a lake ; the river Mulla ran the Italian ottava rima, now familiar in English through his grounds, and a chain of mountains at poetry; but he added an Alexandrine, or long a distance seemed to bulwark in the romantic line, which gives a full and sweeping close to the retreat. Here he wrote most of the Faery Queen, verse. The poet's diction is rich and abundant. and received the visits of Raleigh, whom he fanci- He introduced, however, a number of obsolete fully styled 'the Shepherd of the Ocean;' and here expressions, 'new grafts of old and withered words,' he brought home his wife, the 'Elizabeth' of his for which he was censured by his contemporaries sonnets, welcoming her with that noble strain of and their successors, and in which he was cerpure and fervent passion which he has styled the tainly not copied by Shakspeare. His 'Gothic Epithalamium, and which forms the most magnifi- subject and story' had probably, as Campbell cent spousal verse' in the language. Kilcolman conjectures, made him lean towards words of the Castle is now a ruin-its towers almost level with olden time,' and his antiquated expression, as the the ground; but the spot must ever be dear to the same critic finely remarks, 'is beautiful in its lovers of genius. Raleigh's visit was made in antiquity, and, like the moss and ivy on some 1589, and according to the figurative language of majestic building, covers the fabric of his language Spenser, the two illustrious friends, while reading with romantic and venerable associations. The the manuscript of the Faery Queen, sat
Faery Queen was enthusiastically received. It
could scarcely, indeed, be otherwise, considering Amongst the coolly shade
how well it was adapted to the court and times of Of the green alders, by the Mulla's shore.
the Virgin Queen, where gallantry and chivalry We may conceive the transports of delight with and earnestness induced by the Reformation, and
were so strangely mingled with the religious gravity which Raleigh perused or listened to those strains considering the intrinsic beauty and excellence of of chivalry and gorgeous description, which re- the poem. The first few stanzas, descriptive of vealed to him a land still brighter than any he Una, were of themselves sufficient to place Spenser had seen in his distant wanderings, or could have above the whole hundred poets that then offered been present even to his romantic imagination! incense to Elizabeth. The guest warmly approved of his friend's poem ;
The queen settled a pension of £50 per annum and he persuaded Spenser, when he had com
on Spenser, and he returned to Ireland. His pleted the first three books, to accompany him to smaller poems were next published: The Tears England, and arrange for their publication. The of the Muses, Mother Hubbard, &c. in 1591 ; Faery Queen appeared in January 1589-90, dedi- Daphnaida, 1592 ; and Amoretti and the Epithacated to her majesty, in that strain of adulation lamium (relating his courtship and marriage) in which was then the fashion of the age. To the volume was appended a letter to Raleigh, explain the lamented Sidney, appeared about this time.
1595. His Elegy of Astrophel, on the death of ing the nature of the work, which the author said in 1596, Spenser was again in London to publish was a continued allegory, or dark conceit.' He the fourth, fifth, and sixth books of the Faery states his object to be to fashion a gentleman, or Queen. These contain the legend of Cambel and noble person, in virtuous and gentle discipline, Triamond, or Friendship; Artegal, or Justice ; and that he had chosen Prince Arthur for his and Sir Caledore, or Courtesy. The double allehero. He conceives that prince to have beheld gory is continued in these cantos as in the prethe Faery Queen in a dream, and been so enam-vious ones : Artegal is the poet's friend and patron, oured of the vision, that, on awaking, he resolved Lord Grey; and various historical events are to set forth and seek her in Faery Land. The related in the knight's adventures. Half of the poet further devises' that the Faery Queen shall original design was thus finished ; six of the keep her annual feast twelve days, twelve several adventures happening in that time, and each of not unlike Ovid's description of the creation of man; the soul just them being undertaken by a knight. The adven- severed from the sky, retains part of its heavenly power:
And frames her house, in which she will be placed, tures were also to express the same number of
Fit for herself.
So every spirit, as it is most pure,
And hath in it the more of heavenly light, 'a lady knight, representing Chastity. There
So it the fairer body doth procure was thus a blending of chivalry and religion in the
To habit in, and it more fairly dight'
With cheerful grace and amiable sight; design of the Faery Queen. Spenser had imbibed
For of the soul the body form doth take; - probably from Sidney-a portion of the Platonic
For soul is form, and doth the body make. doctrine, which afterwards overflowed in Milton's Spenser afterwards wrote two religious hymns, to counteract the Comus, and he looked on chivalry as a sage and effect of those on love and beauty, but though he spiritualises his serious thing. Besides his personification of the passion, he does not abandon his early belief, that the fairest body
incloses the fairest mind. He still says: abstract virtues, the poet made his allegorical per
For all that's good is beautiful and fair, sonages and their adventures represent historical
The Grecian philosophy was curiously united with puritanism in
both Spenser and Milton. Our poet took the fable of his great The Platonism of Spenser is more clearly seen in his hymns poem from the style of the Gothic romance, but the deep sense on Love and Beauty, which are among the most passionate and of beauty which pervades it is of classical origin, elevated and exquisite of his productions. His account of the spirit of love is purified by strong religious feeling.
twelve adventures and moral virtues were pro- the texture of some of its most delicious embelduced; but unfortunately the world saw only some lishments) still leave him the merit of his great fragments more of the work. It has been said moral design--the conception of his allegorical that the remaining half was lost through the 'dis- characters—his exuberance of language and illusorder and abuse' of a servant sent forward with it tration-and that original structure of verse, to England. This is highly improbable. Spenser, powerful and harmonious, which he was the first who came to London himself with each of the to adopt, and which must ever bear his name. former portions, would not have ventured the His faults arose out of the fulness of his riches. largest part with a careless servant. But he had His inexhaustible powers of circumstantial denot time to complete his poetical and moral gal- scription betrayed him into a tedious minuteness, lery. There was an interval of six years between which sometimes, in the delineation of his per his two publications, and he lived only three years sonified passions, becomes repulsive, and in the after the second. During that period, too, Ireland painting of natural objects led him to group was convulsed with rebellion. The English set- together trees and plants, and assemble sounds tlers, or 'undertakers, of the crown-lands were and instruments, which were never seen or heard unpopular with the conquered natives of Ireland. in unison out of Faery Land. The ingenuity and They were often harsh and oppressive; and even subtlety of his intellect tempted him to sow dark Spenser is accused, on the authority of existing meanings and obscure allusions across the bright legal documents, of having sought unjustly to add and obvious path of his allegory. This peculiarity to his possessions. He was also in office over of his genius was early displayed in his Shepherd's the Irish (clerk of the council of Munster); he Calendar; and if Burleigh's displeasure could have had been recommended by the queen (1598) for cured the poet of the habit, the statesman might the office of sheriff of Cork'; and he was a stren- be half forgiven his illiberality. His command of uous advocate for arbitrary power, as is proved musical language led him to protract his narrative by a political treatise on the state of Ireland, to too great a length, till the attention becomes written by him in 1596 for the government of Eliza- exhausted, even with its very melody, and indifferbeth, but not printed till the reign of Charles I. ence succeeds to languor. Had Spenser lived The poet was, therefore, a conspicuous object for to finish his poem, it is doubtful whether he would the fury of the irritated and barbarous natives, not have diminished the number of his readers. with whom 'revenge was virtue.' The storm soon His own fancy had evidently begun to give way, burst forth. In October 1598, an insurrection was for the last three books have not the same rich organised in Munster, following Tyrone's rebellion, unity of design, or plenitude of imagination, which which had raged for some years in the province fills the earlier cantos with so many interesting, of Ulster. The insurgents attacked Kilcolman, lofty, and ethereal conceptions, and steeps them and having robbed and plundered, set fire to the in such a flood of ideal and poetical beauty. The castle. Spenser and his wife escaped ; but either first two books (of Holiness and Temperance) are in the confusion incidental to such a calamity, or like the first two of Paradise Lost, works of from inability to render assistance, an infant child consummate taste and genius, and superior to of the poet (* new-born,' according to Ben Jonson) all the others. We agree with Mr Hazlitt, that was left behind, and perished in the flames. The the allegory of Spenser is in reality no bar to the poet, impoverished and broken-hearted, reached enjoyment of the poem. The reader may safely London, and died in about three months, in disregard the symbolical applications. We may King Street, Westminster, on Saturday the 13th allow the poet, like his own Archimago, to divide January 1599. He was buried near the tomb of his characters into 'double parts,' while one only Chaucer in Westminster Abbey, the Earl of Essex is visible at a time. While we see Una, with her defraying the expense of the funeral, and his hearse heavenly looks, that attended -as Camden relates-by his brother
Made a sunshine in the shady place, poets, who threw ‘mournful elegies' into his grave. À monument was erected over his remains, thirty or Belphæbe flying through the woods, or Britoyears afterwards, by Anne, Countess of Dorset
. martis seated amidst the young warriors, we need His widow, the fair Elizabeth, whose bridal bower not stop to recollect that the first is designed to at Kilcolman he had decked with such 'gay gar- represent the true church, the second Queen lands' of song, returned to Ireland, and married Elizabeth, or the third an abstract personification a second time. The poet left two sons, Sylvanus of Chastity. They are exquisite representations and Peregrine. A son of the latter, Hugolin of female loveliness and truth, unmatched save Spenser, was restored to the Irish estate by Charles in the dramas of Shakspeare. The allegory of II.; he afterwards lost it by adhering to the cause Spenser leaves his wild enchantments, his picof James II. ; but, through the interest of Halifax, turesque situations, his shady groves and lofty it was, about the year 1700, restored to another trees descendant, William Spenser. Spenser is the most luxuriant and melodious of
Not pierceable by power of any starall our descriptive poets. His creation of scenes his Masque of Cupid, and Bower of Bliss, and and objects is infinite, and in free and sonorous all the witcheries of his gardens and wildernesses, versification he has not yet been surpassed. His without the slightest ambiguity or indistinctness. á lofty rhyme' has a swell and cadence, and a con- There is no haze over his finest pictures. We tinuous sweetness, that we can find nowhere else. seem to walk in the green alleys of his broad In richness of fancy
and invention, he can scarcely forests, to hear the stream tinkle and the fountain be ranked below Shakspeare, and he is fully as fall, to enter his caves of Mammon and Despair, original. His obligations to the Italian poets to gaze on his knights and ladies, or to join in (Ariosto supplying a wild Gothic and chivalrous his fierce combats and crowded allegorical promodel for the Faery Queen, and Tasso furnishing cessions. There is no perplexity, no intercepted
lights, in those fine images and personifications. pure and innocent, as that same lamb, They may be sometimes fantastic, but they are She was in life and every virtuous lore, always brilliant and distinct. When Spenser fails
And by descent from royal lineage came to interest, it is when our coarser taste becomes
Of ancient kings and queens, that had of yore palled with his sweetness, and when we feel that
Their sceptres stretcht from east to western shore, his scenes want the support of common probability
And all the world in their subjection held ;
Till that infernal fiend with foul uproar and human passions. We surrender ourselves up
Forewasted all their land and them expelled : for a time to the power of the enchanter, and
Whom to avenge, she had this knight from far witness with wonder and delight his marvellous
compelled. achievements; but we wish to return again to the world, and to mingle with our fellow-mortals in Behind her far away a dwarf did lag, its busy and passionate pursuits. It is here that That lazy seemed in being ever last, Shakspeare eclipses Spenser; here that he builds Or wearied with bearing of her bag upon his beautiful groundwork of fancy-the high
Of needments at his back. Thus as they past and durable structure of conscious dramatic truth
The day with clouds was sudden overcast, and living reality. Spenser's mind was as purely
And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain poetical, and embraced a vast range of imaginary
Did pour into his leman's lap so fast,
That every wight to shroud it did constrain, creation. The interest of real life alone is wanting.
And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain. Spenser's is an ideal world, remote and abstract, yet affording, in its multiplied scenes, scope for Enforced to seek some covert nigh at hand, those nobler feelings and heroic virtues which A shady grove not far away they spied, we love to see even in transient connection with That promised aid the tempest to withstand ; human nature. The romantic character of his Whose lofty trees, yclad with summer's pride, poetry is its most essential and permanent feature. Did spread so broad, that heaven's light did hide, We may tire of his allegory and 'dark conceit,'
Nor pierceable with power of any star : but the general impression remains; we never
And all within were paths and alleys wide, think of the Faery Queen without recalling its
With footing worn, and leading inward far : wondrous scenes of enchantment and beauty, and
Fair harbour, that them seems; so in they entered are. feeling ourselves lulled, as it were, by the recol
And forth they pass, with pleasure forward led, lected music of the poet's verse, and the endless
Joying to hear the birds' sweet harmony, flow and profusion of his fancy.
Which therein shrouded from the tempest dread,
Much can they praise the trees so straight and high,
The sailing pine, the cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop elm, the poplar never dry, A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,
The builder oak, sole king of forests all,
The aspin good for staves, the cypress funeral.
The laurel, meed of mighty conquerors
And poets sage, the fir that weepeth still, His angry steed did chide his foaming bit,
The willow, worn of forlorn paramours, As much disdaining to the curb to yield :
The yew obedient to the bender's will, Full jolly knight he seemed, and fair did sit,
The birch for shafts, the sallow for the mill, As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fit.
The myrrh sweet bleeding in the bitter wound,
The warlike beech, the ash for nothing ill, And on his breast a bloody cross he bore,
The fruitful olive, and the plantain round, The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
The carver holme, the maple seldom inward sound : For whose sweet sake that glorious badge he wore, And dead-as living ever-him adored :
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way, Upon his shield the like was also scored,
Until the blustering storm is overblown, For sovereign hope, which in his help hé had :
When, weening to return, whence they did stray, Right faithful true he was in deed and word;
They cannot find that path which first was shewn, But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad :
But wander to and fro in ways unknown, Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their own: Upon a great adventure he was bound,
So many paths, so many turnings seen, That greatest Gloriana to him gave
That which of them to take, in divers doubt they been. That greatest glorious queen of Faery londTo win him worship, and her grace to have, Which of all earthly things he most did crave;
Adventure of Una with the Lion. And ever as he rode, his heart did yearn
Nought is there under heaven's wide hollowness, To prove his puissance in battle brave
That moves more dear compassion of mind, Upon his foe, and his new force to learn ;
Than beauty brought to unworthy wretchedness, Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stern.
Through envy's snares or fortune's freaks unkind.
I, whether lately through her brightness blind, A lovely lady rode him fair beside,
Or through allegiance and fast fealty, Upon a lowly ass more white than snow;
Which I do owe unto all womankind, Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide
Feel my heart pressed with so great agony,, Under a veil that wimpled was full low,
When such I see, that all for pity I could die. ... And over all a black stole she did throw, As one that inly mourned : so was she sad,
Yet she, most faithful lady, all this while And heavy sate upon her palfrey slow;
Forsaken, woful, solitary maid, Seemed in heart some hidden care she had,
Far from all people's press, as in exile, And by her in a line a milk-white lamb she led. In wilderness and wasteful deserts strayed,
To seek her knight; who, subtily betrayed
One would have thought-so cunningly the rude Through that late vision which th' enchanter wrought, And scorned parts were mingled with the fineHad her abandoned; she of nought afraid
That nature had for wantonness ensued Through woods and wasteness wide him daily sought; Art, and that art at nature did repine; Yet wished tidings none of him unto her brought. So striving each th' other to undermine,
Each did the other's work more beautify; One day, nigh weary of the irksome way,
So differing both in wills, agreed in fine: From her unhasty beast she did alight;
So all agreed through sweet diversity,
This garden to adorn with all variety.
And in the midst of all a fountain stood
Of richest substance that on earth might be, As the great eye of heaven, shined bright,
So pure and shiny, that the silver flood And made a sunshine in the shady place;
Through every channel running one might see; Did never mortal eye behold such heavenly grace.
Most goodly it with curious imagery
Was overwrought, and shapes of naked boys, It fortuned, out of the thickest wood
Of which some seemed with lively jollity A ramping lion rushed suddenly,
To fly about, playing their wanton toys, Hunting full greedy after savage blood :
While others did embay themselves in liquid joys. Şoon as the royal virgin he did spy, With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
And over all, of purest gold, was spread To have at once devoured her tender corse :
A trail of ivy in his native hue:
For the rich metal was so coloured,
That wight, who did not well advised it view,
Would surely deem it to be ivy true :
Low his lascivious arms adown did creep, Instead thereof he kissed her weary feet,
That themselves dipping in the silver dew, And licked her lily hands with fawning tongue;
Their fleecy flowers they fearfully did steep, As he her wronged innocence did weet.
Which drops of crystal seemed for wantonness to weep. O how can beauty master the most strong, And simple truth subdue avenging wrong!
Infinite streams continually did well Whose yielded pride and proud submission,
Out of this fountain, sweet and fair to see,
The which into an ample laver fell,
And shortly grew to so great quantity,
That like a little lake it seemed to be ; And drizzling tears did shed for pure affection.
Whose depth exceeded not three cubits height, 'The lion, lord of every beast in field,'
That through the waves one might the bottom see, Quoth she, ‘his princely puissance doth abate,
All paved beneath with jasper shining bright, And mighty proud to humble weak does yield,
That seemed the fountain in that sea did sail upright. Forgetful of the hungry rage, which late
And all the margin round about was set Him pricked, in pity of my sad estate:
With shady laurel trees, thence to defend
The sunny beams, which on the billows beat,
Of all that might delight a dainty ear,
Save in this paradise, be heard elsewhere: And, sad to see her sorrowful constraint,
Right hard it was for wight which did it hear, The kingly beast upon her gazing stood:
To read what manner music that might be: With pity calmed down fell his angry mood.
For all that pleasing is to living ear, At last, in close heart shutting up her pain,
Was there consorted in one harmony; Arose the virgin born of heavenly brood,
Birds, voices, instruments, winds, waters, all agree. And to her snowy palfrey got again, To seek her strayed champion if she might attain.
The joyous birds, shrouded in cheerful shade,
Their notes unto the voice attempered sweet; The lion would not leave her desolate,
Th' angelical soft trembling voices made But with her went along, as a strong guard
To th' instruments divine respondence meet; Of her chaste person, and a faithful mate
The silver sounding instruments did meet Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard :
With the base murmur of the water's fall:
The water's fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call :
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all. From her fair eyes he took commandément,
The while, some one did chant this lovely lay: And ever by her looks conceived her intent.
"Ah see, whoso fair thing dost fain to see,
In springing flower the image of thy day!
Ah see the virgin rose, how sweetly she
Doth first peep forth with bashful modesty, There the most dainty paradise on ground
That fairer seems, the less ye see her may! Itself doth offer to his sober eye,
Lo, see soon after, how more bold and free In which all pleasures plenteously abound,
Her bared bosom she doth broad display; And none does others' happiness envy;
Lo, see soon after, how she fades and falls away! The painted flowers, the trees upshooting high, The dales for shade, the hills for breathing space, 'So passeth, in the passing of a day, The trembling groves, the crystal running by;
Of mortal life, the leaf, the bud, the flower, And that which all fair works doth most aggrace, Nor more doth flourish after first decay, The art which all that wrought, appeared in no place. That erst was sought to deck both bed and bower
Of many a lady, and many a paramour;
In the foregoing extracts from the Faery Queen, we have, for the sake of perspicuity, modernised the spelling, without changing a word of the original. The following two highly poetical descriptions are given in the poet's orthography:
So faire, and thousand thousand times more faire,
Her yellow lockes, crisped like golden wyre,
The House of Sleep. He making speedy way through spersed ayre, And through the world of waters wide and deepe, To Morpheus' house doth hastily repaire. Amid the bowels of the earth full steepe, And low, where dawning day doth never peepe, His dwelling is, there Tethys his wet bed Doth ever wash, and Cynthia still doth steepe, In silver deaw, his ever drouping hed, Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black doth
spred. Whose double gates he findeth locked fast, The one fayre fram'd of burnisht yvory, The other all with silver overcast; And wakeful dogges before them farre doe lye, Watching to banish Care their enimy, Who oft is wont to trouble gentle sleepe. By them the sprite doth passe in quietly, And unto Morpheus comes, whom drowned deepe In drowsie fit he findes; of nothing he takes keepe. And more to lulle him in his slumber soft, A trickling streame from high rock tumbling downe, And ever-drizling raine upon the loft, Mixt with a murmuring winde, much like the sowne Of swarming bees, did cast him in a swowne. No other noyse, nor peoples troublous cryes, As still are wont t'annoy the walled towne, Might there be heard; but careless Quiet lyes Wrapt in eternal silence farre from enimyes.
Description of Belphæbe. In her faire eyes two living lamps did flame, Kindled above at th' heavenly Maker's light, And darted fyrie beames out of the same, So passing persant, and so wondrous bright, That quite bereaved the rash beholders sight: In them the blinded god his lustfull fyre To kindle oft assayd, but had no might; For, with dredd majestie and awfull yre, She broke his wanton darts, and quenched base desyre. Her yvorie forhead, full of bountie brave, Like a broad table did itselfe dispred, For Love his loftie triumphes to engrave, And write the battailes of his great godhed : All good and honour might therein be red; For there their dwelling was. And, when she spake, Sweete wordes, like dropping honey, she did shed; And ’twixt the perles and rubins softly brake A silver sound, that heavenly musické seemd to make
Fable of the Oak and the Brier.
Hard by his side grew a bragging Briere,
It chanced after upon a day,
Upon her eyelids many graces sate,