Academic journal article Spenser Studies

The Meaning of "Imply" in the Faerie Queene III.Vi.34

Academic journal article Spenser Studies

The Meaning of "Imply" in the Faerie Queene III.Vi.34

Article excerpt

The Garden of Adonis (Book III of The Faerie Queene) amounts to a closed-system terrarium avant la lettre, not least because its plants have no dependence on the

... water of the ford,

Or of the clouds to moysten their roots dry;

For in themselues eternall moisture they imply (III.vi.34).1

One's first impulse is to give this verb the same meaning it enjoys in I.xi. ("Striving to loose the knot, that fast him tyes / Himselfe in streighter bands too rash implyes"), where the effort of the Red Cross Knight to free himself from the dragon's coils serves only to wind them all the more tightly about himself. Here the situation fully validates the etymon "implicare" and so activates the various English significations of "imply" cited in OED, viz., "enfold," "enwrap," "entangle" and "involve." These are all transitive verbs indicating an intricate, flexible encirclement of a hard, often resistant, object from without. Whether water, impressible and unresistant, lends itself to "implication" in this sense is matter for debate, but, if it does, we still need slightly to redefine it, for Spenser is talking about the vascular enclosure of moisture within the plants-a situation better registered by the Latin "concludere" and the English sense derived from that. …

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