A fearsome closeup of the dragon facing down the Redcrosse knight makes full use of Spenser’s nine-line stanza formThis week we’re looking at stanzas X-XV from Canto XI, Book One, of Edmund Spenser’s vast allegorical poem The Faerie Queene. In fact, Spenser published a little over half of his projected epic. Some of the new material may have been lost when Irish rebels set fire to the Spensers’ estate, Kilcolman Castle, the year before his death. Inspired by a range of sources, particularly Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fanciful History of the Kings of Britain, and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, the six published allegories celebrate the private virtues: holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice and courtesy. The public virtues were to have been examined through the adventures of Prince Arthur in the next six books. Each 12-canto book describes the challenges faced by one of the knights dispatched by the Faerie Queene (Elizabeth I) during her 12-day festival, and Book One is the story of the Redcrosse knight, representing holiness and England (he will in fact turn out to be St George). The parents of his beloved Una, who embodies the true church (Anglican, of course), are enclosed in a “brasen towre”, terrorised by …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books