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abstract and the concrete, the real and the ideal, were not in the “Faery Queene” as completely fused as they had been by Chaucer, as they were to be by Shakespeare, as they have been by all great artists from Homer down to Kipling. The allegory, as a matter of fact, both in sculpture and in poetry, is as crude and primitive a device as is quantitative versification. The “ Faery Queene” has one other fundamental defect. It lacks unity of design. The “Iliad ” has only one theme, Achilles's wrath. The“ Odyssey ” has only one theme, the return home of Ulysses. “Hamlet” has only one theme, the fate of the man who hesitates. But the "Faery Queene" has countless themes. Its only unity, if unity it can be called, springs from the fact that it deals with the eternal struggle of right with wrong. It is overladen with glittering details. bears the same relation to the Iliad that a delicatessen shop bears to a dinner. It contains too much to be consumed at one sitting. And yet, open it where you will, you are sure to find food for the spirit. It is an inexhaustible mine for anybody who has the patience to dig. It is not without reason, therefore, that Spenser has been called the poets' poet. Into his treasure-house he has gathered the best things from most of the poets who preceded him. From it ever since poets great and small have stolen-secure for the most part from detection for two reasons: first, because nobody reads Spenser through; second, because nobody reads them at all.

While Spenser was engaged on his great poem, great events were happening. In 1585 William Shakespeare came up to London; in 1586 Spenser's friend Sir Philip Sidney was killed in a skirmish at Zutphen; in 1587 Mary Queen of Scots was executed; and in 1588 the Spanish Armada was destroyed. The following year there came to Kilcolman a distinguished guest who had borne a large share in that great event, and who was himself, as has already been said, no mean poet. This was Sir Walter Raleigh. In “ Colin Clout's Come Home Again,” Spenser describes his visit:

“He, sitting me beside in that same shade,

Provokëd me to play some pleasant fit;
And, when he heard the music which I made,

He found himself full greatly pleased at it;
Yet, aemuling my pipe, he took in hond

My pipe, before that aemulëd of many,
And plaid thereon (for well that skill he cond),

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Himselfe as skilful in that art as any,
He pip’d, I sung; and, when he sung, I pipëd;

By change of turns, each making other mery;
Neither envying other, nor enviëd,

So pipëd we, until we both were weary.”
In other words, Spenser showed Raleigh the three books of the

Faery Queene ” which he had completed; and Raleigh, like the true poet that he was, at once perceiving their value, insisted that Spenser should accompany him to London for the double purpose of astonishing the court and publishing the treasure, of course with the idea of securing for Spenser some substantial recognition that might enable him to live in England.

The “Faery Queene” was licensed to be printed December 1, 1589. In the dedication Spenser consecrates these his labors to Elizabeth to live with the eternity of her fame.” Bold as the prophecy was, it has proved true. The merit of the work was at once recognized. On its first page it bore a sonnet by Raleigh which expresses with surprising accuracy the esteem in which it has ever since been held:

“Me thought I saw the grave where Laura lay,

Within that temple where the vestall flame
Was wont to burne; and passing by that way

To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tumbe fair love and fairer vertue kept,

All suddenly I saw the Faery Queene;
At whose approach the soul of Petrarke wept,

And from thenceforth those graces were not seene,
For they this Queene attended, in whose steed

Oblivion laid him down on Laura's herse.
Hereat the hardest stones were seene to bleed,
And grones of buried ghostes the hevens did perse,

Where Homer's spright did tremble all for griefe,

And curst the accesse of that celestiall thiefe." The Queen was pleased to the extent of granting Spenser a pension of fifty pounds; but Burleigh was still powerful, and, in spite of his fame, the poet could get no other advancement. In his despair he wrote “Mother Hubberds Tale,” in which he took an ample revenge on Burleigh and incidentally painted his own grief in lines that still burn and tremble with indignation:

“ Full little knowest thou, that hast not tride,
What hell it is in suing long to bide,
To loose good dayes, that might be better spent,

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To waste long nights in pensive discontent;
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow;
To feed on hope, to pine with feare and sorrow;
To have thy Princes grace, yet want her Peeres;

To have thy asking, yet wait many yeres.” In 1591 he was back in Ireland, which, after the pitfalls of the court, probably did not seem so inhospitable after all, if we may judge from“ Colin Clout's Come Home Again,” an autobiographical poem which he wrote at this time and in which he described the visit to England from which he had just returned. He was not without other consolations. There now swims into our ken a certain Elizabeth, in whose honor he wrote 88 sonnets and an Epithalamium,” or marriage song, from which it appears that he wooed her, that she long denied his suit, and that at length they were wed. This happy event occurred in 1594.

The next year he crossed again to England, carrying with him Books IV, V, and VI of his great poem, and also a prose work, a “ View of the Present State of Ireland.” When he arrived in London he found Shakespeare splendidly fulfilling the promise of his early years, Ben Jonson just becoming known to fame, and Francis Bacon already attracting to himself the eyes of men. At the Mermaid Tavern, where Raleigh had instituted a club, he may have met all three. He became intimate with the Earl of Essex, who was then the reigning favorite. The three new books of the “Faery Queene" were immediately published, with a reimpression of the first three, and raised him to the highest pinnacle of fame. But with fame he had to be content. His connection with Essex barred the door to profitable employment and certain references in the poem to Mary Queen of Scots caused her son, the King of Scotland and the heir to the English throne, angrily to demand the poet's punishment.

In the second instalment of the “Faery Queene” the slight thread of unity which holds the first together almost entirely disappears. Somebody has said that you cannot lose your way in it, for there is no way to lose. It is like a primeval forest, rich and charming with all the riotous prodigality of nature. The subject of Book IV is Friendship, of Book V Justice, and of Book VI Courteisie. The inspiration of Book IV is drawn somewhat from

“Dan Chaucer, well of English undefiled,

On Fame's eternal beadroll worthy to be filed "; in Book V Spenser pays tribute under the name of Artegall to his first employer, Lord Grey, who had died in 1593, broken-hearted by his failure to subdue Ireland; and the hero of Book VI is the matchless Sidney, first of all English gentlemen.

Spenser remained in England until the middle of 1597. During his stay he was reprimanded-mildly we may guess

by certain noble ladies for his “Hymns to Love and Beautie," and in order to make his peace with them he composed his “Hymns to Heavenly Love and Heavenly Beautie.” Toward the close of 1596 he also wrote his

Prothalamium," a spousal verse made in honor of the double marriage of the two honorable and virtuous ladies, the lady Elizabeth and the lady Katherine Somerset. This is a graceful and melodious poem, and it was his last.

Spenser's anxiety to remain in England probably sprang partly from a keen sense of the insecurity of his situation at Kilcolman. In his work on the state of Ireland he gives a picture of a noble realm, sunk in woe, conquered but not subdued, with a native population seething with wrath, and foreign masters in whom cupidity and the desire to attain a just and lasting peace strove for the mastery, a contest in which cupidity mostly won. He himself saw no solution of the problem except in relentless severity. Three hundred years of English statesmanship have not apparently succeeded in getting much closer to a satisfactory answer. Modern statesmen indeed have tried conciliation. But the events of the early months of 1914 seem to indicate that there are only three ways (all equally impracticable) of preserving peace in Ireland: (1) Kill or deport all the Irish; (2) kill or deport all the English; (3) start a foreign war which will enable both parties to gratify their love of fighting at the expense of a foreign foe. Spenser indeed says, “Men of great wisdom have often wished that all that land were a sea-pool."

When he returned in 1597 it was, however, apparently quiet. In 1598 he reached the zenith of his prosperity. In August of that year died the great obstructor of his advancement, Lord Burleigh. In September arrived a letter from the court recommending his

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appointment as Sheriff of Cork. His domestic life was serene. Two sons had been born to crown his wedded bliss. He was the recognized prince of living poets. The early autumn of 1598 found him in the enjoyment of all these accumulated happinesses.

Then in October the Irish rose. His occupation of the old castle had been regarded with fierce jealousy. While he had mused and sung in the valley, the natives had cursed him from the adjacent hills. The day of their vengeance had now arrived. They rushed down upon Kilcolman; his home was plundered and burned; one little child, new born, perished in the flames; the rest of the family barely made their escape. In their flight the remaining six books of the" Faery Queene " are said to have been lost. Almost penniless and prostrated in body and spirit by the horrors and hardships of this experience, Spenser made his way to London, where, on January 16, 1599, he died in a tavern in King Street, Westminster.

He was buried in Westminster Abbey near Chaucer. The Queen ordered a monument to be erected over him, but the money was stolen by one of her agents. In 1620 Anne, Countess of Dorset, erected the present monument; but the stonecutter, like some of his modern successors, was weak in orthography and spelled the poet's name

Spencer " instead of “ Spenser."

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QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES

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1. In what way did Spenser's studies at Cambridge reflect the spirit of the

time in which he lived ? 2. Did he hold to the Latin and Greek metrical system or did he develop

another? 3. What is a bucolic? Who were Spenser's classic forerunners? James

Whitcomb Riley and Spenser have both written of the country.

Compare their treatment of Nature. 4. What is an allegory? Name some allegories other than the Faery

Queene.” 5. What are the special attributes of the “Faery Queene"? 6. Spenser has been called the poets' poet. Do you think that the greatest

of

poet is he who appeals to the trained minds or he who appeals to the masses ? Back your opinion with examples of men who have done

either or both.
7. In a two-minute talk tell the story of Spenser's life.
8. Who were the contemporaries who apparently exercised the greatest

effect for good or evil upon Spenser's career ?
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