PETER SACKS


"Astrophel"

The most obvious change as one moves from Spenser's earlier elegiac works to "Astrophel" is that the poet seems to have crossed into an apparently less unreal world. The pastoral garb is more loosely worn, and the poem is not as enclosed as the Calender, with its cycle of months and its entire cast of shepherds. Nor is it located within the realm of quasi-visionary encounters such as in "The Ruines of Time" or "Daphnaida." The mourning voice is that of the poet himself, and he seems to speak from within our world:

Shepheards that wont on pipes of oaten reed,
Oft times to plaine your loves concealed smart:
And with your piteous layes have learnd to breed
Compassion in a countrey lasses hart
Hearken ye gentle shepheards to my song,
And place my dolefull plaint your plaints emong.

To you alone I sing this moumfull verse,
The moumfulst verse that ever man heard tell:
To you whose softened hearts it may empierse,
With dolours dart for death of Astrophel.

(lines 1-10)

This is clearly an assured bid for inclusion in the company of poets. Unlike the isolated Colin Clout addressing Pan, Spenser is now speaking directly to his fellow poets, commanding their audience. Some of these poets are the other elegists whose poems are published here with Spenser's. In fact, Spenser has maneuvered these poets, all of whose elegies preceded

____________________
From The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats. Copyright © 1985 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.

-239-

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Edmund Spenser
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Edmund Spenser *
  • Edmund Spenser *
  • Contents *
  • Editor's Note ix
  • Introduction 1
  • The Structure of Imagery in "The Faerie Queene" 23
  • The Structure of Allegory in Books I and II of "The Faerie Queene" 41
  • Mutability and the Theme of Process 57
  • The Marriage of the Thames and Medway 73
  • Gardens of Adonis 81
  • The Bower of Bliss 97
  • The "Mutabilitie Cantos": Archaism and Evolution in Retrospect 111
  • Allegory and Pastoral in "The Shepheardes Calender" 141
  • Imagery and Prophecy in "The Faerie Queene" 161
  • The Romance of Romance 181
  • Spenser and the City: the Minor Poems 191
  • Mythologies and Metrics in Spenser 211
  • The Image of Source in "The Faerie Queene" 219
  • "Astrophel" 239
  • "The Footing of His Feet": Spenser's Early Error 251
  • Envy in the Middest of the 1596 "Faerie Queene" 267
  • Chronology 285
  • Contributors 287
  • Bibliography 289
  • Acknowledgments 295
  • Index 297
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