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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
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
A few miscellaneous nature-references in the Faerie Queene remain:
They fled before him ...
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
And this great universe seem'd one confused mass."
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
The streaming Themmes
Was paynted . . . 81
There when they came, whenas those bricky towres
Where whylome wont the Temple Knights to byde.32
There to our ship her course directly bent,
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,
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.
There did a loftie mount at first us greet,
That seemd amid the surges for to fleet,
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 ...
There are many touches similar in tone:
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
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
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,
38 F. Q., VI, 1, 24.
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.