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that it was in fashion, and put it on as he did his ruff, not because it was becoming, but because it was the only wear. The true use of him is as a gallery of pictures which we visit as the mood takes us, and where we spend an hour or two at a time, long enough to sweeten our perceptions, not so long as to cloy them. He makes one think always of Venice; for not only is his style Venetian, Was not this picture painted by Paul Veronese, for example? Arachne figured how Jove did abuse Europa like a bull, and on his back Her through the sea did bear:. . . . She seemed still back unto the land to look, And her playfellows' aid to call, and fear The dashing of the waves, that up she took Her dainty feet, and garments gathered near. . . . . Before tile bull she pictured winged Love, With his young brother Sport,. . . . And many nymphs about them flocking round, And many Tritons which their horns did sound. Muiopotmos, 281-296. Spenser begins a complimentary sonnet prefixed to th
. K. was Spenser himself, with occasional interjections of Harvey. Who else could have written such English as many passages in this Epistle? I look upon the Shepherd's Calendar as being no less a conscious and deliberate attempt at reform than Thomson's Seasons were in the topics, and Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads in the language of poetry. But the great merit of these pastorals was not so much in their matter as their manner. They show a sense of style in its larger meaning hitherto displayomething in Spenser that pleases one as strongly in one's old age as it did in one's youth. I read the Faery Queen when I was about twelve with a vast deal of delight; and I think it gave me as much when I read it over about a year or two ago. Thomson wrote the most delightful of his poems in the measure of Spenser; Collins, Gray, and Akenside show traces of him; and in our own day his influence reappears in Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Landor is, I believe, the only poet who ever
with the more generous side of Puritanism I think he sympathized to the last. His rebukes of clerical worldliness are in the Puritan tone, and as severe a one as any is in Mother Hubberd's Tale, published in 1591. Ben Jonson told Drummond that in that paper Sir W. Raleigh had of the allegories of his Faery Queen, by the Blatant Beast the Puritans were understood. But this is certainly wrong. There were very different shades of Puritanism, according to individual temperament. That of Winthrop and Higginson had a mellowness of which Endicott and Standish were incapable. The gradual change of Milton's opinions was similar to that which I suppose in Spenser. The passage in Mother Hubberd may have been aimed at the Protestant clergy of Ireland (for he says much the same thing in his View of the State of Ireland), but it is general in its terms. There is an iconoclastic relish in his account of Sir Guyon's demolishing the Bower of Bliss that makes us think he would not have regrett
William Wordsworth (search for this): chapter 2
ecognized the distinction between simplicity and vulgarity, which Wordsworth was so long in finding out, and seems to have divined the fact th in the mind. (See Haslewood's Ancient Crit. Essays, Vol. II.) Wordsworth, an excellent judge, much admired Daniel's poem to the Countess o attempt at reform than Thomson's Seasons were in the topics, and Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads in the language of poetry. But the great merit. But Spenser had fortunately almost as little sense of humor as Wordsworth, There is a gleam of humor in one of the couplets of Mother Huinest sight God looked down on was a fine man on a fine horse. Wordsworth, in the supplement to his preface, tells us that the Faery Queen faded before Sylvester's translation of Du Bartas. But Wordsworth held a brief for himself in this case, and is no exception to the proverb ashow traces of him; and in our own day his influence reappears in Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Landor is, I believe, the only poet
Spenser Chaucer had been in his grave one hundred and fifty years ere England bad secreted chre, intelligible English, which was spoken in Chaucer's time, and is spoken in ours; equally unders are after they are wrought. Spenser, like Chaucer a Londoner, was born in 1553. Mr. Hales, ie was buried in the neighboring Abbey next to Chaucer, at the cost of the Earl of Essex, poets bearoverlooks the whole chasm between himself and Chaucer, as Dante between himself and Virgil. He called Chaucer master, as Milton was afterwards to call him. And, even while he chose the most artificut for manner he instinctively turned back to Chaucer, the first and then only great English poet. g hitherto displayed by no English poet since Chaucer. Surrey had brought back from Italy a certaig and move to measures harmonious and noble. Chaucer had done much to vocalize it, as I have triedat wiseacres used to call the riding-rhyme of Chaucer, he fails most lamentably. He had evidently
John Norris (search for this): chapter 2
ything, not beyond recognition, but to an ideal distance where no mortal, I had almost said human, fleck is visible. Instead of the ordinary bridal gifts, he hallows his wife with an Epithalamion fit for a conscious goddess, and the savage soil This phrase occurs in the sonnet addressed to the Earl of Ormond and in that to Lord Grey de Wilton in the series prefixed to the Faery Queen. These sonnets are of a much stronger build than the Amoretti, and some of them (especially that to Sir John Norris) recall the firm tread of Milton's, though differing in structure. of Ireland becomes a turf of Arcady under her feet, where the merchants' daughters of the town are no more at home than the angels and the fair shapes of pagan mythology whom they meet there. He seems to have had a common-sense side to him, and could look at things (if we may judge by his tract on Irish affairs) in a practical and even hard way; but the moment he turned toward poetry he fulfilled the condition which hi
ion. Yet the praise of well-languaged, since it implies that good writing then as now demanded choice and forethought, is not without interest for those who would classify the elements of a style that will wear and hold its colors well. His diction, if wanting in the more hardy evidences of muscle, has a suppleness and spring that give proof of training and endurance. His Defence of Rhyme, written in prose (a more difficult test than verse), has a passionate eloquence that reminds one of Burke, and is more light-armed and modern than the prose of Milton fifty years later. For us Occidentals he has a kindly prophetic word:— And who in time knows whither we may vent The treasure of our tongue? to what strange shores The gain of our best glory may be sent To enrich unknowing nations with our stores? What worlds in the yet unformed Occident May come refined with accents that are ours? During the period when Spenser was getting his artistic training a great change was going o
N. J. Halpine (search for this): chapter 2
perfunctorily bemoaned in his pastorals. The late Major C. G. Halpine, in a very interesting essay, makes it extremely probable that Rosalinde is the anagram of Rose Daniel, sister of the poet, and married to John Florio. He leaves little doubt, also, that the name of Spenser's wife (hitherto unknown) was Elizabeth Nagle. (See Atlantic Monthly, Vol. II. 674, November, 1858.) Mr. Halpine informed me that he found the substance of his essay among the papers of his father, the late Rev. N. J. Halpine, of Dublin. The latter published in the series of the Shakespeare Society a sprightly little tract entitled Oberon, which, if not quite convincing, is well worth reading for its ingenuity and research. Before the publication of his Shepherd's Calendar in 1579, he had made the acquaintance of Sir Philip Sidney, and was domiciled with him for a time at Penshurst, whether as guest or literary dependant is uncertain. In October, 1579, he is in the household of the Earl of Leicester. In
plicity. He is the Ulysses of his own prose-epic. This is the secret of his power and his charm, that, while the representation of what may happen to all men comes home to none of us in particular, the story of any one man's real experience finds its startling parallel in that of every one of us. The very homeliness of Bunyan's names and the everydayness of his scenery, too, put us off our guard, and we soon find ourselves on as easy a footing with his allegorical beings as we might be with Adam or Socrates in a dream. Indeed, he has prepared us for such incongruities by telling us at setting out that the story was of a dream. The long nights of Bedford jail had so intensified his imagination, and made the figures with which it peopled his solitude so real to him, that the creatures of his mind become things, as clear to the memory as if we had seen them. But Spenser's are too often mere names, with no bodies to back them, entered on the Muses' muster-roll by the specious trick o
irst flush of its spring. (The yonge sonne Had in the Bull half of his course yronne.) And just at this moment of blossoming every breeze was dusty with the golden pollen of Greece, Rome, and Italy. If Keats could say, when he first opened Chapman's Homer,— Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He stared at the Pacific, and all his men Looked at each other with a wild surmise, if Keats could say this,ssoms. Here is one of his, suggested by Homer: Iliad, XVII. 55 seqq. Referred to in Upton's note on Faery Queen, B. I. c. VII. 32. Into what a breezy couplet trailing off with an alexandrine has Homer's pnoiai\ pantoi/wn a)ne/mwn expanded! Chapman unfortunately has slurred this passage in his version, and Pope tittivated it more than usual in his. I have no other translation at hand. Marlowe was so taken by this passage in Spenser that he put it bodily into his Tamburlaine. Upon the
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