and differ strikingly from Spenser's earlier and more conventional treatment of the English rivers.23 The adjectives attached to the names of the Irish rivers seem to have a ring of realism, and to be an accurate and just description. The author of Edmund Spenser, for instance, says of the description of the Liffy, 24

There was the Liffy welling downe the lea, that the words are strictly applicable.25 P. W. Joyce 26 feels that Spenser's epithets describe the several streams with great force and truthfulness. The descriptions of the Liffy, the “sandy Slane,” the spacious Shenan spreading like a sea,” and of many other rivers, picture, he feels, the prospects very vividly in the mind of the reader. It would seem that Spenser's life in England was urban or at least that his attention was not directed chiefly to rural scenery; whereas in Ireland, far from the court and with few congenial spirits, he turned perforce to nature.

Aside from these more specific references in the Faerie Queene there are a number of passages, in which Spenser may or may not have had some special locality in mind. Sea and storm passages are very common in the Faerie Queene probably because of the


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23 F. Q., IV, 11. According to Professor Osgood (Spenser's English Rivers, Transact. of the Conn. Acad. of Arts and Sciences, Jan. 1920, XXIII, 65 ff.) the names and epithets of the English rivers Spenser gleaned for the most part from Holinshed, Camden's Britannia, and from maps, and thus they lack the spontaneity and freshness of his references to the Irish rivers in the same canto. There are a number of adjectives which he uses which seem to have originated with him, such as Gray Thetis," “Morish (Mairhdy) Cote," " soft sliding Brane," but on the whole Professor Osgood feels that the material is not first-hand.

34 Stanza 41.

25 “ The words are strictly applicable, as the aspect of the river at this part of its course, where having left its mountain source, it assumes the proportions and the vigour of an ample stream.”.

26“. . . The dryness of a mere catalogue is relieved by the happy selection of short descriptive epithets which exhibit such a variety that no two of them are alike, and describe the several streams with great force and truthfulness. The manner in which the Liffy is pictured is extremely just and natural, for this river, after bursting from the highlands of Wichlow . . . flows for more than half its course through the lovliest lea lands in all Ireland ... the plains of Kildare.” In his very able paper Joyce also identifies the rivers represented by fictitious names—the Mole, Mulla, Armulla, as rivers about Kilcolman.

vicinity of Kilcolman to the sea and because of Spenser's frequent channel trips. The following verses illustrate this type :

Scarce had he saide, when hard at hand they spy
That quicksand nigh with water covered;
But by the checked wave they did discry
It plaine, and by the sea discoloured. 27
Like as a gloomie cloud, the which doth beare
An hideous storme, is by the northerne blast
Quite overblowne, yet doth not passe so cleare,
But that it all the skie doth overcast
With darkness dred.28

A few miscellaneous nature-references in the Faerie Queene remain:

They fled before him ...
As withered leaves drop from their dryed stockes
When the wroth western wind does reave their locks. 20
As when a vulture greedie of his pray
Through hunger long, that hart to him doth lend,
Strikes at an heron with all his bodies sway,
That from his force seemes nought may it defend;
The warie fowle, that spies him toward bend
His dreadful soure, avoydes it, shunning light,
And maketh him his wing in vaine to spend
That with the weight of his owne weeldlesse might,
He falleth nigh to ground, and scarce recovereth flight.30

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27 F. Q., II, 12, 18.

28 F. Q., IV, 1, 45. Other somewhat parallel passages in the F. Q., are: 1, 11, 21; II, 8, 48; II, 12, 4; II, 12, 30; III, 4, 7; III, 4, 13; III, 5, 39; V, 11, 29; VI, 6, 26. According to the author of the Edin. Review article, III, 4, 13, is a reference to Kilcolman, and III, 5, 39, is a reference to the vale of Arlo. Some of these examples are perhaps doubtful, e. g., the passage II, 12, 34:

“ When suddenly a grosse fog overspred
With his dull vapour all that desert has,
And heavens' chearfull face enveloped
That all things one, and one as nothing was

And this great universe seem'd one confused mass."
It would seem at first glance to be first-hand realism; it is possibly, how-
ever, from The Voyage of St Branden (cf. Lois Whitney: St. in Phil.,
XIX, 149 ff.)

29 F. Q., II, 11, 19.

30 F. Q., IV, 3, 19. Passages somewhat similar occur frequently:-1, 10, 48; I, 11, 9; 1, 11, 34; II, 8, 9; 11, 8, 50; III, 7, 39; IV, 3, 9; IV, 7, 18;

Though there are a number of rural nature passages in the Minor
Poems, this type of realism is largely confined to the Faerie
Queene. Yet among those references which do occur in the Minor
Poems are a few which are very just, and accurate in detail:

The streaming Themmes
Whose rutty bancke, the which his river hemmes

Was paynted . . . 81
The word "rutty” is, of course, the word to be applied to the
Thames at this point. Again:

There when they came, whenas those bricky towres
The which on Themmes brode aged backe doe ryde
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers

Where whylome wont the Temple Knights to byde.32
In Colin Clouts Come Home Againe similar passages occur, when
Colin rehearses his travels :

There to our ship her course directly bent,
As if the way she perfectly had knowne,
We Lunday passe; by that same name is ment
An island which the first to west was showne.
From thence another world of land we kend,
Floating amid the sea in jeopardie,
And round about with mightie white rocks hemd
Against the seas encroaching crueltie.38

This is a very accurate description of the island of Lundy in the Bristol channel off the coast of Devon, and the white chalk cliffs of Kent. Again:

An high headland thrust far into the sea,
Like to an horne, whereof the name it has
Yet seemed to be a goodly pleasant lea:

V, 4, 42; v, 11, 22; v, 11, 58; v, 11, 59; v, 12, 5; VII, 7, 21; VII, 7, 33. Others dealing with Elizabethan sports, and the behavior of hunting animals are:-1, 3, 22; 1, 11, 24; I, 12, 35; II, 1, 12; II, 11, 11; II, 11, 33; II, 11, 47; III, 4, 46; III, 7, 1; II, 10, 53; III, 12, 17; III, 12, 4; IV, 10, 55; IV, 12, 17; V, 8, 7; V, 8, 36; V, 8, 38; V, 9, 6; VI, 4, 11; VI, 6, 12; VII, 6, 39; VII, 6, 45; VII, 6, 50; VII, 6, 52.

31 Prothalamion, l. 11 ff.
32 E. g., “ Temple Bar "_Lincoln's Inn. Prothalamion, 1. 131 ff.
38 C. C. C. H. A., l. 268 ff.


There did a loftie mount at first us greet,
Which did a stately heape of stones upreare,

That seemd amid the surges for to fleet,
Such passages are not uncommon in the Minor Poems.35 This
type of realism, however, is much more common in the Faerie
Queene, due probably to Spenser's later environment.

Although the Faerie Queene is essentially a romance, partly mediæval, partly under the influence of the sixteenth-century Italians, yet the second type of realism, comprising touches from rural life, is common and shows a tendency in Spenser to introduce, by way of simile chiefly, rustic touches where least expected. He does not do this in the fashion of Ariosto, who, with a satiric humor, dashes the reader from the height of romance into the mud of actuality, but in order to vitalize and vivify the romance, and to this end he introduces these touches in an unobtrusive fashion so that the ludicrous contrast that makes the fun behind Ariosto’s mock-chivalry, is nowhere apparent in Spenser:36 With such subtle art are these passages woven into the poem that they are not always easy to distinguish from conventional descriptions of rural scenes; the following passages seem, however, to owe a large debt to Spenser's direct observation.

As gentle shepheard in sweete eventide ...
High on a hill, his flocke to vewen wide,
Markes which doe byte their hasty supper best;
A cloud of cumbrous gnattes doe him molest,
All striving to infixe their feeble stinges,
That from their noyance he no where can rest,
But with his clownish hands their tender wings
He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their murmuring: 87


There are many touches similar in tone:

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84 C. C. C. H. A., l. 280 ff.

85 Other passages in the Minor Poems are:-In C. C. C. H. A., 11. 103 ff., 196 ff,, 214 ff.; 8. C., Feb. Ec., 1. 102 ff., Julye Ec., 11. 40 ff., 80 ff., Dec. Ec., 11. 25-36, 67-72, 104 ff.; M. H. T., 11. 614, 634 ff.

86 Cf. Dodge, Spenser's Imitations from Ariosto, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assoc., XII, 151 ff.

87 F. Q., I, I. 23. Another similar passage in the F. Q. is II, 9, 16. Other rural pictures:-of farming, III, 7, 34; IV, 3, 29; v, 11, 11; VI, 8, 12; vi, 9, 1; II, 8, 9; of milling, 1, 11, 22; vi, 1, 21; of the smithy, I, 11, 42; V, 5, 7.


He swept them away
As doth a steare in heat of sommers day
With his long taile the bryzes brush away.88


Streight down she ranne like an enraged cow,

That is berobbed of her youngling dere.30 Strangely enough in the Minor Poems such passages are uncommon. The passages in the Shepheardes Calender 40 and in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe which at first glance seem to be firsthand realism are found on further study to be merely literary conventions or at best doubtful. The following passage is one of the exceptions:

Seest howe brag yond Bulloche beares
So smirke, so smoothe, his pricked eares ?
His hornes bene as broad as rainebowe bent
His dewlap as lythe as lasse of Kent.
See how he venteth to the wind ...11

The third type, realistic description relating to people, is likewise limited almost entirely to the Faerie Queene. Such passages as that when Artegall fighting with Britomart breaks off her vizor and sees her face not a dream of beauty but very human, occur seldom in the Minor Poems:

Her face . unseene afore

appeared in sight,
Deawed with silver drops, through sweating sore,
But somewhat redder than beseem'd aright,
Through toylesome heate and labour of her weary fight.“

38 F. Q., VI, 1, 24.
38 F. Q., V, 8, 46. Others are:-IV, 8, 36; v, 1, 29; vi, 11, 17.

40 This might be accounted for partly by the fact that the 8. C. and C. C. C. H. A. are distinctly rural in tone, and it is almost impossible to separate any one realistic passage from a mass of conventional matter.

18. C., Feb. Ec. 1. 70 ff.

- F. Q., IV, 6, 19. Others are:-1, 7, 13; III, 5, 31; V, 5, 12; v, 11, 9; 1, 1, 42-43; I, 7, 21; IV, 9, 25; V, 4, 39; V, 5, 45; VI, 2, 10; VI, 3, 26; VI, 4, 18-25; VI, 5, 4. Such passages arise possibly from an effort to vitalize romance material, possibly merely from Spenser's life in Ireland. In any case the Minor Poems are for the most part satire or occasional, and offer less chance for this type of realism.

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