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SIDNEY-SPENSER  February 2004

SIDNEY-SPENSER February 2004

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Subject:

Re: LXXV's last 3 words

From:

Andrew Zurcher <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Sidney-Spenser Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 20 Feb 2004 14:40:45 +0000

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (48 lines)

    Where whenas death shall all the world subdew,
    Our love shall live, and later life renew.

Hi Leigh,

My reading of this couplet basically develops out of, and develops, my
crazy opinion about the role of historical allegory in Spenser's works, in
The Faerie Queene, in post-Sidneian Elizabethan literature generally. The
ambiguity, as I see it, is between two meanings: the memory of our love
shall live, and renew those who come after us; and our love shall live
because those who come after us renew it. I've just given a lecture on The
Faerie Queene IV-VI, and the increasing preoccupation of the poem with
Ireland and things Irish, wherein I argued that this politicized,
historical preoccupation of the poem fulfils, rather than vitiates,
Spenser's allegorical enterprise. I chart Prince Arthur's moral
contamination in the later books as an clear challenge to Tasso's
stricture that the 'allegorical' meaning of the epic should be
subordinated to the 'moral' meaning, and locate Spenser's reasons for this
shift in his experience of the court in 1590-91, his experience of the
suppression of _Complaints_, and his experience of home-making (as Julia
Lupton has called it) in Ireland. I think Spenser was writing _Amoretti_
in part in 1594 as a bid to be restored to Elizabeth's favor, going
directly to her over the heads of her ministers (rugged foreheads all;
look at FQ IV.proem.3), thus deepening the less emphatic political
engagement of a sonnet sequence like Astrophel and Stella; and I would
want to argue that, as he declares in his 1596 dedication to Elizabeth (as
he does _not_ in the hastily-added 1590 dedication), he imagines that his
poetry will live with the eternity of her fame--not only giving life to
her fame, but taking its own life from the persistence of her fame.
Without the historical allegory, _The Faerie Queene_ loses the *passion*
of its exemplary status. I see this couplet as very much a part of that
same process of thinking (imagining Elizabeth here as Rosalind/Elizabeth
Boyle), setting out the reciprocal relationship between the verse that
will perpetuate the beloved's fame, and the beloved's fame that will
perpetuate the verse. They cannot be sundered.

andrew


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Andrew Zurcher
Gonville & Caius College
Cambridge CB2 1TA
United Kingdom
tel: +44 1223 335 427

hast hast post hast for lyfe

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