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himself, but because that was the poetical way of doing it. And however faithfully he studied Plato and Aristotle, his politics are those of the England of his day and of the party to which he belonged, just as his philosophy is in the last resort that of the English Church of which he was a member. All his ideas involve balance and organization : the good life is the wellorganized life, balanced in its duties toward God and man and self; such a life is possible only in a well-organized and stable community. The lesson was driven home by his experience in Ireland. Spiritual disorder which permits one indulged passion to destroy the individual life, disorganization which allows a fair country to be desolated by robber bands and ignorant mobs—these are the enemies he combats; the virtues he preaches are responsibility and control, in the individual by the self-conscious soul, in the state by a strong government, in both to be acquired by experience and directed by thought.
Compared with that of Shakespeare or Wordsworth, 7 Spenser's poetry may appear bookish, for Spenser loved books. But while it is 'adorned with labour and learning', it is all informed with the divine gift and heavenly inspiration'. Learned in many places and from many masters, his verse and style are unmistakably his own. Only a powerfully poetic mind could assimilate the learning which had defeated Ronsard and combine it with the romance which had misled Ariosto, and though the fusion is not always complete, the spirit of Spenser is never overcome. His personality is clear throughout, his individual emotion and his individual mind. The reasons he gives are academic commonplaces, but it was not a critical theory that first turned his thoughts to the history of King Arthur. The pastoral image expresses desires too personal to him to be wholly borrowed from Virgil or Mantuan. Beauty is something more than a theme for quasi-Platonic declamation; it is a presence and a passion. His heart was in all these things.
Above all, his heart was in poetry. He took poetry early to be his career, and, with the examples of Virgil, Ariosto, and Ronsard before him, hoped, and believed, that worldly advancement would follow from poetic success. There is no false humility about Spenser ; he declares his allegiance to Chaucer and Virgil without servility, and intends to overgo Ariosto. But it was on his vocation as poet, above all, that he based his dignity. The Muses were symbolic, but they symbolized something real, and as a gift of God Spenser's art was to be taken very seriously and used to high purpose. Material reward was of least account in his eyes, contemporary praise a small thing. His poetry was a challenge to Greece and Rome, to France and Italy : it was a challenge also to Death and Time. Chaucer, the mediaeval man, accepted the inevitable end :
But al shal passe that men prose or ryme;
Take every man his turn, as for his tyme. But poetry freed the man of the Renaissance from the Wheel of Change :
Wise wordes taught in numbers for to runne,
Recorded by the Muses, live for aye. It was more than a Horatian commonplace : it was a confession of faith in poetry. In proclaiming this faith Spenser is the leader of the Elizabethan poets who followed his bier to Westminster Abbey, as Camden tells, 'with lamenting elegies, and casting into his grave the pens wherewith they had written them'. By that pride and that faith, no less than by his accomplishment and by the ́vertuous and gentle discipline' of his great poem, by his confidence,-'the conquering mind', in the words of his old schoolmaster, ‘such as he must have, which sekes to se his cuntrie tung enlarged',-he worthily earned the title of his epitaph,
THE PRINCE OF POETS IN HIS TYME.
V 1552 (about). Edmund Spenser born in London. Raleigh born.
1560. Death of Joachim du Bellay. VI564. Shakespeare and Marlowe born. 1569. Spenser leaves Merchant Taylors' School for Pembroke Hall,
Cambridge. Translations (anonymous) in van der Noodt's
Theatre . . . for Worldlings. 1573. Takes degree of B.A. 1576. Takes degree of M.A. 1578. Spenser at this time secretary to Dr. John Young, Bishop of
Rochester. 1579. In household of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
The Shepheardes Calender. 11580. Goes to Ireland as secretary to Arthur, Lord Grey of Wilton,
Spenser-Harvey Correspondence published by Harvey. 1581. Clerk of Degrees and Recognizances to the Irish Court of Chan
cery. Takes lease of lands and Abbey of Enniscorthy.
Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata. 1583-5. Giordano Bruno in England. 1585. Death of Ronsard. 1586. Death of Sir Philip Sidney. 1588. Spenser Clerk to Council of Munster. Occupies Kilcolman
Castle. Death of Earl of Leicester. 1589. Comes to England with Raleigh. 1590. The Faerie Queene, I-III. 1591. Returns to Ireland. Receives pension from the Queen.
Complaints (The Ruines of Time; The Teares of the Muses ;
Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberds Tale ; The Ruines of Rome, by Bellay ; Muiopotmos; Visions of the Worlds vanitie ;
Bellays visions ; Petrarches visions). 1593. Death of Marlowe. Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis. 1594. Marries Elizabeth Boyle, June 11th. Shakespeare's Rape of
Lucrece, Titus Andronicus. 1595. Comes to England.
A moretti and Epithalamion. Colin Clout's Come Home Againe
(dedication dated 27 December 1591) and Astrophell. Death of Tasso.
1596. The Faerie Queene; I-VI.
Foure Hymnes and Prothalamion. 1597. Returns to Ireland. Death of Burghley. Bacon's Essays.
Shakespeare's Richard II, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet. 1598. Spenser Sheriff of Cork. O'Neill's Rebellion. Kilcolman burned
(October). Comes to London. Shakespeare's Henry IV, Love's Labour's Lost. The Merchant of Venice entered on the
Stationers' Register. Jonson's Every Man in his Humour. 1599. Death of Spenser, Westminster, January 16. Buried Westminster
Abbey. 1609. Folio edition of The Faerie Queene, containing fragments of
Book VII. 1611. Folio, Works 1633. A Short View of the Present State of Ireland (written 1595-7).
WORKS NOT EXTANT, OR INCORPORATED IN OTHERS Dreames, Legendes, Court of Cupide (see page 23); The English Poet (page 43); Slomber (i.e. A Se'night's Slomber, mentioned by Ponsonby), Epithalamion Thamnesis, The Dying Pellicane (page 175); Stemmata Dudleiana, Nine Comedies (Spenser-Harvey Correspondence, 1580); Ecclesiastes, Canticum Canticorum, Hell of Lovers, Purgatorie, Howers of the Lord, Sacrifice of a Sinner, Seven Psalms (mentioned by Ponsonby, the publisher, in his Preface to Complaints).