It’s been a nice afternoon moment of rest with a cup of rose tea & reaching the end of this book today…
An epic poem written in the 1500s by the English author Edmund Spenser which contains a nice blend of sometimes ‘opposing’ beliefs or folk cultures. It’s written in Early Modern English and reading the words as they’d sound as if you don’t know how to spell yourself helps a lot with comprehension, I feel, as well as slowing down more than you might when reading contemporary English or a non-epic poem.
Now this author seems to have a great moral governance of his words and conscience by what felt to me to be from The Roman Catholic Church with his expressions of the deadly sins as characters and the virtues reminiscent of the Church or maybe even The Episcopal Church of England, just my impression.
He also brings fairy folklore and Roman and Greek mythology into the narrative (even if skimming the notes I see scholars are noting where he may not have perfectly accurate details to the cultures’ myths he references.) The Faery Queene, Book I blends in elements of horror too but not too elaborate for me which was fine, with plenty of strangeness and a little gore. I like that we are presented with a pure maid, Queene, a lyon, and sprights.
I did imagine while reading this that the author maybe had been just slightly tipsy on wine when he’d written this (not drunk as the poetic form is playful but also consistent and he seems pretty conscious himself of living very virtuously). Maybe he’d loosely lift a finger toward the words that amused him when he’d written them but not with conceitedness, just like, ha…(Just so you get an idea of this reading experience.)
Scholars will call this work ‘one of the most difficult to understand poems’ which may intimidate readers to even try reading it or doubt their comprehension, but my view is that they be may noticing ‘conflicting preferences of belief systems’ and a slightly-free use of the English language.
I can see how the author was really shining in his addition of faeries and mythical creatures within the world of the great virtues and the downfalls of humanity, while also showing he was maybe working through some conflicting principles within himself and the culture he was surrounded by (an encouraging task).
He may not hand you in this book this notice: ‘This is precisely why you’re going to read my book now.’ I myself like free art and letting meaning be genuine, and letting some things be unsolved or contrasting, if not solvable at the time. Please, not a stiff, store-paid bow just to wrap up a story if it just doesn’t fit itself nicely there.
There’s Book Two of The Faery Queene to read and I’m curious about continuing this journey but to not spoil any plot or anything else, I will not tell you how we’re going… (and I wonder, where are we headed…? 🙂 )
Earlier today: My Poems, A Budding Playlist, and a Very Practical Thing