Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Faerie Queene--Part 7
IV. xi. 19 (7-9) Sorry. At this site we celebrate all allusions to sensual vigor in aging men in real literature:
".....So wise is Nereus old,
And so well skild; nathlesse he takes great joy
Oft-times amongst the wanton Nymphs to sport and toy."

I like much the catalogue of English rivers in IV/xi. Such a treatment is an honor to a place and the people associated with it, a minor one perhaps, but in the scrum of day-to-day life that most people live it is not that insubstantial if you can develop some capacity for feeling its force. For a sample I chose 36, 1-5, which calls on the river's role in human history to give it such a character as might stir a spirited breast:
"Next these came Tyne, along whose stony bancke
That Romaine Monarch built a brasen wall,
Which mote the feebled Britons strongly flancke
Against the Picts, that swarmed over all,
Which yet thereof Gualsever they doe call:"

IV. xii. 6 This could be the new epigraph for the blog:
"Though vaine I see my sorrowes to unfold,
And count my cares, when none is nigh to heare,
Yet hoping griefe may lessen being told,
I will them tell though unto no man neare:
For heaven that unto all lends equall eare,
Is farre from hearing of my heavy plight;
And lowest hell, to which I lie most neare,
Cares not what evils hap to wretched wight;
And greedy seas doe in the spoile of life delight."

The idea expressed in line 3 is widely discredited among the serious people of our own day, the doing classes; we can allow Spenser to have had it because it can be assumed he believed both in a human soul that was susceptible to healing, as well as Christian doctrine to by our standards a fairly advanced degree.

I don't know what this painting is. Someone had stuck it on a page where the Faerie Queene was being discussed but there was no identification on it. I am pretty sure we are talking Italian, mid-15th century, possibly second half; I am not advanced enough to identify an artist or a city, though I am 85% certain it is either from the Tuscan or Venetian school. Is it Titian perhaps? Are the characters Minerva, Cupid & Venus? What is the tomb, and why is Cupid rummaging through it? Is there a party game which involves puzzling out allegories?

IV. xii. 13 Speaking of Cupid, here is a good image of the means by which he conquers Man:
"Thus whilst his stony heart with tender ruth
Was toucht, and mighty courage mollifide,
Dame Venus sonne that tameth stubborne youth
With iron bit, and maketh him abide,
Till like a victor on his back he ride,
Into his mouth his maystring bridle threw,
That made him stoupe, till he did him best ride:
Then gan he make him tread his steps anew,
And learne to love, by learning lovers paines to rew."

There is an excellent fight scene in a river between the knight Artegall, representing Justice, and a pagan that takes up much of Canto ii in Booke V. Some favorite selections are 16 (8-9):
"So ought each Knight, that use of perill has,
In swimming be expert through waters force to pas."

and 18 (3-8), on the brutality of death:
"That as his head he gan a litle reare
Above the brincke, to tread upon the land,
He smote it off, that tumbling on the strand
It bit the earth for very fell despight,
And gnashed with his teeth, as if he band (cursed)
High God, whose goodnesse he despaired quight..."

At this point I noted, more hopefully than anything else, that this was a book that at least would help me to read other books in the future and...what? Hasn't it been demonstrated that literature is utterly useless and has no measurable positive effect on at least 97% of the people who still insist on indulging in it in today's world? Yes, well, the thing is, it all still seems like it would be such fun to really get it, really be a master of all that history and philology and myth, to have it all functioning and rolling about smoothly in the brain like the Sirocco (sorry, I forget the names of the other winds; I know this is the hot one) rippling through a grove of olive trees on an Aegean hillside.

V. ii. 41 (3-6) My sentiments exactly:
"The hils doe not the lowly dales disdaine;
The dales doe not the lofty hils envy.
He maketh Kings to sit in souverainty;
He maketh subjects to their power obey..."

V. iv. 31 (3-9) Subjection of men by an enchantress:
"First she doth them of warlike armes despoile,
And cloth in womens weedes: And then with threat

Doth them compell to worke, to earn their meat,
To spin, to card, to sew, to wash, to wring;
Ne doth she give them other thing to eat,
But bread and water, or like feeble thing,
Them to disable from revenge adventuring."

I don't think Jim Swan liked this passage either. He made much use of his pink underliner in it.

V. v. 50 (7-9) Like the rhyme:
"And lay upon him, for his greater dread,
Cold yron chaines, with which let him be tide;
And let, what ever he desires, be him denide."

V. vi. 25 This is an excellent verse. It is actually rather Shakespearean now that I look at it again:
"Ye guilty eyes (sayd she) the which with guyle
My heart at first betrayd, will ye betray
My life now to, for which a little whyle
Ye will not watch? false watches, wellaway,
I wote when ye did watch both night and day
Unto your losse: and now needes will ye sleepe?
Now ye have made my heart to wake alway,
Now will ye sleepe? ah wake, and rather weepe,
To thinke of your nights want, that should yee waking keepe."

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