Monday, November 17, 2014

The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene is an English epic written by Edmund Spenser in the sixteenth century. We often think of Shakespearean language as archaic, but Spenser, living at the same time as Shakespeare, deliberately used an English (Chaucerian English) that was old at the time when writing The Fairie Queene.

The Faerie Queene is divided into books, each telling the story of one knight who exemplifies and learns about one virtue. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Book 1, the tale of the Redcrosse Knight and holiness:

"A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,
     Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shield,
     Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,
     The cruell markes of many a bloudy field;
     Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
     His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
     As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
     Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt."

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