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Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
'', an epic poem and fantastical
allegory As a literary device A narrative technique (known for literary fiction Literary fiction is a term used in the book-trade to distinguish novels that are regarded as having literary merit, from most commercial or "genre" fiction. However, the b ...

allegory
celebrating the
Tudor dynasty The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July ...

Tudor dynasty
and
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to i ...

Elizabeth I
. He is recognized as one of the premier craftsmen of nascent Modern English verse and is often considered one of the greatest poets in the English language.


Life

Edmund Spenser was born in East Smithfield, London, around the year 1552; however, there is still some ambiguity as to the exact date of his birth. His parenthood is obscure, but he was probably the son of John Spenser, a journeyman clothmaker. As a young boy, he was educated in London at the
Merchant Taylors' SchoolMerchant Taylors' School may refer to: *Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood (founded 1561), is a British independent school originally located in the City of London and now located in Northwood in Middlesex . *Merchant Taylors' Boys' School, Crosby ...
and matriculated as a
sizar At Trinity CollegeTrinity College may refer to: Australia * Trinity Anglican College, an Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican coeducational primary and secondary school in , New South Wales * Trinity Catholic College, Auburn, a coeducational ...
at
Pembroke College, Cambridge Pembroke College (officially "The Master, Fellows and Scholars of the College or Hall of Valence-Mary") is a Colleges of the University of Cambridge, constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college is the third-oldest col ...

Pembroke College, Cambridge
. While at Cambridge he became a friend of
Gabriel Harvey Gabriel Harvey (c. 1552/3 – 1631) was an English writer. Harvey was a notable scholar, whose reputation suffered from his quarrel with Thomas Nashe. Henry Morley, writing in the ''Fortnightly Review'' (March 1869), has argued that Harvey's Lati ...

Gabriel Harvey
and later consulted him, despite their differing views on poetry. In 1578, he became for a short time secretary to John Young, Bishop of Rochester. In 1579, he published ''The
Shepheardes Calender ''The Shepheardes Calender'' was Edmund Spenser's first major poetic work, published in 1579. In emulation of Virgil's first work, the ''Eclogues'', Spenser wrote this series of pastorals at the commencement of his career. However, Spenser's m ...
'' and around the same time married his first wife, Machabyas Childe. They had two children, Sylvanus (d. 1638) and Katherine. In July 1580, Spenser went to Ireland in service of the newly appointed
Lord Deputy The Lord Deputy was the representative of the monarch and head of the Irish executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of s ...
,
Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton The Rt Hon. Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton, KG (1536–1593), was a baron Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that ha ...

Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton
. Spenser served under Lord Grey with
Walter Raleigh Sir Walter Raleigh (; – 29 October 1618), also spelled Ralegh, was an English statesman, soldier, writer and explorer. One of the most notable figures of the Elizabethan era The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period The ...

Walter Raleigh
at the
Siege of Smerwick The Siege of Smerwick took place at (known in English as Smerwick, a Norse-derived name meaning 'Butter-bay') in 1580, during the Second Desmond Rebellion in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an i ...
massacre. When Lord Grey was recalled to England, Spenser stayed on in Ireland, having acquired other official posts and lands in the
Munster Plantation File:Flight of the Earls.jpg, A more detailed map of the areas subjected to plantations Plantation (settlement or colony), Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland involved the confiscation of Irish-owned land by the Kingdom of England, En ...
. Raleigh acquired other nearby Munster estates confiscated in the
Second Desmond Rebellion The Second Desmond Rebellion (1579–1583) was the more widespread and bloody of the two Desmond Rebellions The Desmond Rebellions occurred in 1569–1573 and 1579–1583 in the Irish province of Munster Munster ( gle, an Mhumhain or ...
. Sometime between 1587 and 1589, Spenser acquired his main estate at Kilcolman, near
Doneraile Doneraile (), historically Dunerayl, is a town in County Cork County Cork ( ga, Contae Chorcaí) is the largest and the southernmost county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesCh ...
in North Cork. He later bought a second holding to the south, at Rennie, on a rock overlooking the river
BlackwaterBlackwater or Black Water may refer to: Health and ecology * Blackwater (coal), liquid waste from coal preparation * Blackwater (waste), wastewater containing feces, urine, and flushwater from flush toilets * Blackwater fever, an acute kidney diseas ...
in North Cork. Its ruins are still visible today. A short distance away grew a tree, locally known as "Spenser's Oak" until it was destroyed in a lightning strike in the 1960s. Local legend claims that he penned some of ''The Faerie Queene'' under this tree. In 1590, Spenser brought out the first three books of his most famous work, ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
'', having travelled to London to publish and promote the work, with the likely assistance of Raleigh. He was successful enough to obtain a life pension of £50 a year from the Queen. He probably hoped to secure a place at court through his poetry, but his next significant publication boldly antagonised the queen's principal secretary, Lord Burghley (William Cecil), through its inclusion of the satirical ''
Mother Hubberd's Tale ''Mother Hubberd's Tale'' is a poem by English poet Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for ''The Faerie Queene'', an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the House of Tudor, T ...
''. He returned to Ireland. In 1591, Spenser published a translation in verse of
Joachim Du Bellay Joachim du Bellay (also Joachim Du Bellay; ; c. 1522 – 1 January 1560) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (fren ...

Joachim Du Bellay
's sonnets, ''Les Antiquités de Rome'', which had been published in 1558. Spenser's version, ''Ruines of Rome: by Bellay'', may also have been influenced by Latin poems on the same subject, written by Jean or Janis Vitalis and published in 1576. By 1594, Spenser's first wife had died, and in that year he married a much younger Elizabeth Boyle, a relative of
Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork (13 October 1566 – 15 September 1643), also known as the Great Earl of Cork, was an English politician who served as Lord Treasurer of the Kingdom of Ireland. Lord Cork was an important figure in the continuing ...
. He addressed to her the sonnet sequence ''
Amoretti
Amoretti
''. The marriage itself was celebrated in ''
Epithalamion An epithalamium (; Latin form of Greek ἐπιθαλάμιον ''epithalamion'' from ἐπί ''epi'' "upon," and θάλαμος ''thalamos'' nuptial chamber) is a poem written specifically for the bride on the way to her marital chamber. This form c ...
''. They had a son named Peregrine. In 1596, Spenser wrote a prose pamphlet titled ''A View of the Present State of Ireland''. This piece, in the form of a dialogue, circulated in manuscript, remaining unpublished until the mid-seventeenth century. It is probable that it was kept out of print during the author's lifetime because of its inflammatory content. The pamphlet argued that Ireland would never be totally "pacified" by the English until its indigenous language and customs had been destroyed, if necessary by violence. In 1598, during the
Nine Years' War The Nine Years' War (1688–1697), often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was a conflict between France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a ...
, Spenser was driven from his home by the native Irish forces of . His castle at Kilcolman was burned, and
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
, who may have had private information, asserted that one of his infant children died in the blaze. In the year after being driven from his home, 1599, Spenser travelled to London, where he died at the age of forty-six – "for want of bread", according to
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
; one of Jonson's more doubtful statements, since Spenser had a payment to him authorised by the government and was due his pension. His coffin was carried to his grave in
Poets' Corner Poets' Corner is the name traditionally given to a section of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey because of the high number of poets, playwrights, and writers buried and commemorated there. The first poet interred in Poets' Corner was Geoff ...
in
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes ...

Westminster Abbey
by other poets, who threw many pens and pieces of poetry into his grave with many tears. His second wife survived him and remarried twice. His sister Sarah, who had accompanied him to Ireland, married into the Travers family, and her descendants were prominent landowners in Cork for centuries.


Rhyme and reason

Thomas Fuller Thomas Fuller (baptised 19 June 1608 – 16 August 1661) was an English churchman and historian. He is now remembered for his writings, particularly his ''Worthies of England'', published in 1662, after his death. He was a prolific author, and ...

Thomas Fuller
, in ''Worthies of England'', included a story where the Queen told her treasurer, William Cecil, to pay Spenser one hundred pounds for his poetry. The treasurer, however, objected that the sum was too much. She said, "Then give him what is reason". Without receiving his payment in due time, Spenser gave the Queen this
quatrain A quatrain is a type of stanza In poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, soun ...
on one of her progresses:
I was promis'd on a time, To have a reason for my rhyme: From that time unto this season, I receiv'd nor rhyme nor reason.
She immediately ordered the treasurer pay Spenser the original £100. This story seems to have attached itself to Spenser from
Thomas Churchyard Thomas Churchyard (c. 1523 – 1604) was an English author and soldier. He is chiefly remembered for a series of autobiographical or semi-autobiographical verse collections, including ''Churchyardes Chippes'' (1575); ''Churchyard's Choise'' (1579 ...
, who apparently had difficulty in getting payment of his pension, the only other pension Elizabeth awarded to a poet. Spenser seems to have had no difficulty in receiving payment when it was due as the pension was being collected for him by his publisher, Ponsonby.


''The Shepheardes Calender''

''
The Shepheardes Calender ''The Shepheardes Calender'' was Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for ''The Faerie Queene'', an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the House of Tudor, Tudor dynasty and ...
'' is Edmund Spenser's first major work, which appeared in 1579. It emulates
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
's ''
Eclogues The ''Eclogues'' (; ), also called the ''Bucolics'', is the first of the three major works of the Latin poet Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in Englis ...
'' of the first century BCE and the ''Eclogues'' of Mantuan by Baptista Mantuanus, a late medieval, early renaissance poet. An eclogue is a short pastoral poem that is in the form of a dialogue or soliloquy. Although all the months together form an entire year, each month stands alone as a separate poem. Editions of the late 16th and early 17th centuries include woodcuts for each month/poem, and thereby have a slight similarity to an emblem book which combines a number of self-contained pictures and texts, usually a short vignette, saying, or allegory with an accompanying illustration.


''The Faerie Queene''

Spenser's masterpiece is the
epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
''The Faerie Queene''. The first three books of ''The Faerie Queene'' were published in 1590, and the second set of three books were published in 1596. Spenser originally indicated that he intended the poem to consist of twelve books, so the version of the poem we have today is incomplete. Despite this, it remains one of the longest poems in the English language. It is an
allegorical As a literary device A narrative technique (known for literary fiction Literary fiction is a term used in the book-trade to distinguish novels that are regarded as having literary merit, from most commercial or "genre" fiction. However, the b ...

allegorical
work, and can be read (as Spenser presumably intended) on several levels of allegory, including as praise of
Queen Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to i ...

Queen Elizabeth I
. In a completely allegorical context, the poem follows several knights in an examination of several virtues. In Spenser's "A Letter of the Authors", he states that the entire epic poem is "cloudily enwrapped in allegorical devises", and that the aim behind ''The Faerie Queene'' was to "fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline".


Shorter poems

Spenser published numerous relatively short poems in the last decade of the sixteenth century, almost all of which consider love or sorrow. In 1591, he published '' Complaints'', a collection of poems that express complaints in mournful or mocking tones. Four years later, in 1595, Spenser published ''Amoretti and Epithalamion''. This volume contains eighty-eight sonnets commemorating his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. In '''', Spenser uses subtle humour and parody while praising his beloved, reworking Petrarchism in his treatment of longing for a woman. ''
Epithalamion An epithalamium (; Latin form of Greek ἐπιθαλάμιον ''epithalamion'' from ἐπί ''epi'' "upon," and θάλαμος ''thalamos'' nuptial chamber) is a poem written specifically for the bride on the way to her marital chamber. This form c ...
'', similar to ''Amoretti'', deals in part with the unease in the development of a romantic and sexual relationship. It was written for his wedding to his young bride, Elizabeth Boyle. Some have speculated that the attention to disquiet, in general, reflects Spenser's personal anxieties at the time, as he was unable to complete his most significant work, ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
''. In the following year, Spenser released '' Prothalamion'', a wedding song written for the daughters of a duke, allegedly in hopes to gain favour in the court.


The Spenserian stanza and sonnet

Spenser used a distinctive verse form, called the
Spenserian stanza The Spenserian stanza is a fixed verse form invented by Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for ''The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English Epic poetry, epic poem by Edm ...
, in several works, including ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
''. The stanza's main meter is
iambic pentameter Iambic pentameter () is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of ...
with a final line in
iambic hexameter Alexandrine is a name used for several distinct types of Verse (poetry), verse line with related Metre (poetry), metrical structures, most of which are ultimately derived from the classical French alexandrine. The line's name derives from its use i ...
(having six feet or stresses, known as an
Alexandrine Alexandrine is a name used for several distinct types of Verse (poetry), verse line with related Metre (poetry), metrical structures, most of which are ultimately derived from the classical French alexandrine. The line's name derives from its use ...
), and the rhyme scheme is . He also used his own rhyme scheme for the sonnet. In a Spenserian sonnet, the last line of every quatrain is linked with the first line of the next one, yielding the rhyme scheme . "Men Call you Fayre" is a fine Sonnet from Amoretti. The poet presents the concept of true beauty in the poem. He addresses the sonnet to his beloved, Elizabeth Boyle, and presents his courtship. Like all Renaissance men, Edmund Spenser believed that love is an inexhaustible source of beauty and order. In this Sonnet, the poet expresses his idea of true beauty. The physical beauty will finish after a few days; it is not a permanent beauty. He emphasises beauty of mind and beauty of intellect. He considers his beloved is not simply flesh but is also a spiritual being. The poet opines that he is beloved born of heavenly seed and she is derived from fair spirit. The poet states that because of her clean mind, pure heart and sharp intellect, men call her fair and she deserves it. At the end, the poet praises her spiritual beauty and he worships her because of her Divine Soul.


Influences

Though Spenser was well-read in classical literature, scholars have noted that his poetry does not rehash tradition, but rather is distinctly his. This individuality may have resulted, to some extent, from a lack of comprehension of the classics. Spenser strove to emulate such ancient Roman poets as
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
and
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom ...

Ovid
, whom he studied during his schooling, but many of his best-known works are notably divergent from those of his predecessors. The language of his poetry is purposely archaic, reminiscent of earlier works such as ''
The Canterbury Tales ''The Canterbury Tales'' ( enm, Tales of Caunterbury) is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 and 1400. It is near-unanimously seen as Chaucer's ''Masterpiece, mag ...

The Canterbury Tales
'' of
Geoffrey Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet and author. Widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and coll ...

Geoffrey Chaucer
and ''
Il Canzoniere ''Il Canzoniere'' (; en, Song Book), also known as the ''Rime Sparse'' ( en, Scattered Rhymes), but originally titled ' ( en, Fragments of common things, that is ''Fragments composed in vernacular''), is a collection of poems by the Italian huma ...
'' of
Francesco Petrarca Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases ...

Francesco Petrarca
, whom Spenser greatly admired. An Anglican and a devotee of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth, Spenser was particularly offended by the anti-Elizabethan propaganda that some Catholics circulated. Like most Protestants near the time of the Reformation, Spenser saw a Catholic church full of corruption, and he determined that it was not only the wrong religion but the anti-religion. This sentiment is an important backdrop for the battles of ''The Faerie Queene''. Spenser was called "the Poet's Poet" by Charles Lamb, and was admired by
John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best kno ...

John Milton
,
William Blake William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his life, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the Romantic poetry, poetry and visual art of t ...

William Blake
,
William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of ...

William Wordsworth
,
John Keats John Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English poet prominent in the second generation of Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18t ...

John Keats
,
Lord Byron George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, ( el, Λόρδος Βύρωνας, translit=Lórdos Výronas, translit-std=ISO; 22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), simply known as Lord Byron, was an English poet and peer Peer may refer to: Socio ...

Lord Byron
,
Alfred Tennyson Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was a British poet. He was the Poet Laureate A poet laureate (plural: poets laureate) is a poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themse ...
and others. Among his contemporaries
Walter Raleigh Sir Walter Raleigh (; – 29 October 1618), also spelled Ralegh, was an English statesman, soldier, writer and explorer. One of the most notable figures of the Elizabethan era The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period The ...

Walter Raleigh
wrote a commendatory poem to ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
'' in 1590, in which he claims to admire and value Spenser's work more so than any other in the English language. John Milton in his ''
Areopagitica ''Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing, to the Parlament of England'' is a 1644 prose polemic A polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which ...
'' mentions "our sage and serious poet Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than
Scotus Scotus or SCOTUS may refer to: * Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S. ...

Scotus
or
Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Dominican may refer to: * Someone or something from or related to the Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, ...

Aquinas
". In the eighteenth century,
Alexander Pope Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is seen as one of the greatest English poets and the foremost poet of the early 18th century. He is best known for satirical and discursive poetry, including ''The Rape of the Lock ''The Rape o ...

Alexander Pope
compared Spenser to "a mistress, whose faults we see, but love her with them all."


''A View of the Present State of Ireland''

In his work ''A View of the Present State of Irelande'' (1596), Spenser discussed future plans to establish control over Ireland, the most recent Irish uprising, led by Hugh O'Neill having demonstrated the futility of previous efforts. The work is partly a defence of , who was appointed
Lord Deputy of Ireland The Lord Deputy was the representative of the monarch and head of the Irish executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of ...
in 1580, and who greatly influenced Spenser's thinking on Ireland. The goal of the piece was to show that Ireland was in great need of reform. Spenser believed that "Ireland is a diseased portion of the State, it must first be cured and reformed, before it could be in a position to appreciate the good sound laws and blessings of the nation". In ''A View of the Present State of Ireland'', Spenser categorises the "evils" of the Irish people into three prominent categories: laws, customs and religion. According to Spenser, these three elements worked together in creating the supposedly "disruptive and degraded people" which inhabited the country. One example given in the work is the Irish law system termed "
Brehon law Early Irish law, historically referred to as (English: Freeman-ism) or (English: Law of Freemen), also called Brehon law, comprised the statutes which governed everyday life in Early Medieval Ireland Early may refer to: History * The begin ...
", which at the time trumped the established law as dictated by
the Crown The Crown is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

the Crown
. The Brehon system had its own court and methods of punishing infractions committed. Spenser viewed this system as a backward custom which contributed to the "degradation" of the Irish people. A particular legal punishment viewed with distaste by Spenser was the Brehon method of dealing with
murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification (jurisprudence), justification or valid excuse (legal), excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought. ("The killing of another person w ...

murder
, which was to impose an ''
éraic Éraic (or ''eric'') was the Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the Unit ...
'' (fine) on the murderer's family. From Spenser's Protestant viewpoint, the appropriate punishment for murder was
capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ' ...

capital punishment
. Spenser also warned of the dangers that allowing the education of children in the
Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of military signs * Heraldic flag, Standard (emblem), a type of a large symbol or emblem used for identification Norms, conventions or requ ...
would bring: "Soe that the speach being Irish, the hart must needes be Irishe; for out of the aboundance of the hart, the tonge speaketh". He pressed for a
scorched earth A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organization Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the s of a so as to offer such as a may req ...

scorched earth
policy in Ireland, noting its effectiveness in the
Second Desmond Rebellion The Second Desmond Rebellion (1579–1583) was the more widespread and bloody of the two Desmond Rebellions The Desmond Rebellions occurred in 1569–1573 and 1579–1583 in the Irish province of Munster Munster ( gle, an Mhumhain or ...
:
"'Out of everye corner of the woode and glenns they came creepinge forth upon theire handes, for theire legges could not beare them; they looked Anatomies death, they spake like ghostes, crying out of theire graves; they did eate of the carrions, happye wheare they could find them, yea, and one another soone after, in soe much as the verye carcasses they spared not to scrape out of theire graves; and if they found a plott of water-cresses or shamrockes, theyr they flocked as to a feast… in a shorte space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plentyfull countrye suddenly lefte voyde of man or beast: yett sure in all that warr, there perished not manye by the sworde, but all by the extreamytie of famine ... they themselves had wrought.'"


List of works

* ''Iambicum Trimetrum'' * 1569: Jan van der Noodt's ''A Theatre for Worldlings'', including poems translated into English by Spenser from French sources, published by Henry Bynneman in LondonWeb page title
"Edmund Spenser Home Page/Biography"
, "Chronology" section (at bottom of Chronology, Web page states: "Source: adapted from Willy Maley, ''A Spenser Chronology.''"), at the website of the University of Cambridge Faculty of English website, retrieved 24 September 2009
* 1579: ''
The Shepheardes Calender ''The Shepheardes Calender'' was Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for ''The Faerie Queene'', an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the House of Tudor, Tudor dynasty and ...
'', published under the pseudonym "Immerito"Cox, Michael, editor, ''The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature'', Oxford University Press, 2004, (entered into the Stationers' Register in December) 1590: *''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
'', Books 1–3 1591: * '' Complaints, Containing Sundrie Small Poemes of the Worlds Vanitie'' (entered into the Stationer's Register in 1590), includes: ** "The Ruines of Time" ** "The Teares of the Muses" ** "Virgil's Gnat" ** "Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberds Tale" ** "Ruines of Rome: by " ** "Muiopotmos, or the Fate of the Butterflie" ** "Visions of the Worlds Vanitie" ** "The Visions of " ** "The Visions of
Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases ...

Petrarch
" 1592: * ''Axiochus'', a translation of a pseudo-Platonic dialogue from the original
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
; published by Cuthbert Burbie; attributed to "Edw: Spenser" but the attribution is uncertain * ''Daphnaïda. An Elegy upon the Death of the Noble and Vertuous Douglas Howard, Daughter and Heire of Henry Lord Howard, Viscount Byndon, and Wife of Arthure Gorges Esquier'' (published in London in January, according to one source; another source gives 1591 as the year) 1595: * ''Amoretti and Epithalamion'', containing: ** "" ** "
Epithalamion An epithalamium (; Latin form of Greek ἐπιθαλάμιον ''epithalamion'' from ἐπί ''epi'' "upon," and θάλαμος ''thalamos'' nuptial chamber) is a poem written specifically for the bride on the way to her marital chamber. This form c ...
" * '' Astrophel. A Pastorall Elegie vpon the Death of the Most Noble and Valorous Knight, Sir Philip Sidney'' * ''
Colin Clouts Come Home Againe ''Colin Clouts Come Home Againe'' (also known as ''Colin Clouts Come Home Again'') is a pastoral poem by the English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken i ...
'' 1596: * ''Fowre Hymnes'' dedicated from the court at Greenwich; published with the second edition of ''Daphnaida'' * '' Prothalamion'' * ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
'', Books 4–6 * ''Babel, Empress of the East – a dedicatory poem prefaced to
Lewes Lewkenor Sir Lewes Lewknor (c.1560–1627) was an English courtier, M.P., writer, soldier, and Judge who served as Master of the Ceremonies The office of Master of the Ceremonies was established by James I of England, King James I/VI. The Master's duties ...
's The Commonwealth of Venice, 1599. Posthumous: * 1609: ''Two Cantos of Mutabilitie'' published together with a reprint of ''
The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesth ...
''Hadfield, Andrew
''The Cambridge Companion to Spenser''
"Chronology", Cambridge University Press, 2001, , p xx, retrieved via Google Books, 24 September 2009
* 1611: First folio edition of Spenser's collected works * 1633: ''A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande'', a prose treatise on the reformation of Ireland, first published by Sir
James Ware (historian) Sir James Ware (26 November 1594 – 1 December 1666) was an Irish historian. Early life Born at Castle Street, Dublin, James Ware was the eldest son of Sir James Ware and Mary Bryden, daughter of Ambrose Bryden of Bury St. Edmunds. Sir James Wa ...
entitled ''The Historie of Ireland'' (Spenser's work was entered into the Stationer's Register in 1598 and circulated in manuscript but not published until it was edited by Ware)


Editions

* Edmund Spenser, ''Selected Letters and Other Papers''. Edited by Christopher Burlinson and Andrew Zurcher (Oxford, OUP, 2009). * Edmund Spenser, The Faerie-Queene (Longman-Annotated-English Poets, 2001, 2007) Edited by A. C. Hamilton, Text Edited b
Yamashita and Toshiyuki Suzuki


Digital archive

Washington University in St. Louis Washington University in St. Louis (WashU, or WUSTL) is a private research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher ( ...

Washington University in St. Louis
professor Joseph Lowenstein, with the assistance of several undergraduate students, has been involved in creating, editing, and annotating a digital archive of the first publication of poet Edmund Spenser's collective works in 100 years. A large grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency of the U.S. government, established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 (), dedicated to supporting research, education, pres ...
has been given to support this ambitious project centralized at
Washington University Washington University in St. Louis (WashU, or WUSTL) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfiel ...

Washington University
with support from other colleges in the United States.


References


Sources

*Croft, Ryan J. "Sanctified Tyrannicide: Tyranny And Theology In John Ponet's Shorte Treatise Of Politike Power And Edmund “Spenser's The Faerie Queene." ''Studies in Philosophy'', 108.4 (2011): 538–571. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 8 October 2012. *Johnson, William. "The struggle between good and evil in the first book of 'The Faerie Queene'." ''English Studies'', Vol. 74, *Maley, Willy. “Spenser's Life.” ''The Oxford Dictionary of Edmund Spenser''. Ed. Richard A. McCabe. 1st Ed. 2010. Print. *Rust, Jennifer. "Spenser's The Faerie Queene." Saint Louis University, St. Louis. 10 October 2007. No. 6. (December 1993) p. 507–519. *Zarucchi, Jeanne Morgan. "Du Bellay, Spenser, and Quevedo Search for Rome: A Teacher's Peregrination." ''The French Review'', 17:2 (December 1997), pp. 192–203.


External links


The Edmund Spenser Home Page at the Cambridge University
* Complete works in Verse and Prose at
Internet Archive The Internet Archive is an American digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing ...
* The works of Edmund Spenser in a single volume at
Internet Archive The Internet Archive is an American digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing ...
* ** Project Gutenberg edition of
Biography of Edmund Spenser
' by John W. Hales * *
Profile and works at the Poetry Foundation

''The Spenser Encyclopedia'' by A. C. Hamilton in Google Books Preview
* *
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