Faerie Queene

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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The Faerie Queene Britomart gazes upon the many tapestries as Spenser wields his magnificent writing capabilities to bring their stories to light. There are a great numbers of stories within the tapestries but one in particular is eye catching to myself. Spenser outlines this tale in stanza forty and forty-one.

The general make up of the stanzas follow a 1, 2, 1, 2, 2, 3, 2, 3, 3, format and as you can see, nine lines make up its existence. What I mean by the 1, 2, 1"¦ is that the ending of the last word of each line has the same last two or three letters as its corresponding number so that it makes up a rhyming scheme. Spencer implements just about all the poetic foot combinations, pentameter, heptameter, hexameter, and so on. He also utilizes Iambic feet along with Trochaic feet throughout stanza forty and forty-one. This combination of rhyming and poetic tool usage make for a very dramatic seen.

Spencer starts the stanza off as a description of Neptune, which invokes light and godly images, " divine resemblance wondrous lyke,"� and then in the same turn making them into dark and intimidating images, " His face was rugged, and his hoarie hed/ Dropped with brackish deaw"�. This intimidating godly image is carried through the stanzas up until almost the end. Spenser changes this image in the last four lines. Spenser takes away the godly image by imposing ungodly attributes, " for privy love his brest empierced had"�. One would not think a god could love and lose. Nor, as Spencer describes in these two lines, " The God himselfe did pensive seeme and sad,/ And hong adowne his head, as he did dreame"�. This image does not invoke a godly connotation. A picture of a saddened man who cannot have his true love becomes the image that is illuminated.

Britomart probably conjures up many thoughts and images when looking at this particular tapestry and if she is smart she will understand the metaphoric meaning. Which is to say that if a god among gods is struck by Cupids arrows, no matter how strong and feared, he to will succumb to the burning desire in which they invoke. Another point worth mentioning is that in most of the other stanzas the gods come to their lovers in the forms of animals. In these two particular stanzas seahorses chauffeur around Neptune. Spenser goes into detail about them and one line in particular has the animals perpetuate the god through their actions. "Did shine with silver and shoot forth his beame."� Spencer does not have Neptune take an animal form but he does manage to put the two into conjunction.

Stanzas forty and forty-one are just a very small sample of Spencer's work, but I feel they give a good showing of his literary capabilities as a poet and storyteller. To give such a vivid picture of an account, while following poetic guidelines, keeping a rhyming scheme and throwing in a metaphor show a very diligent and talented writer.