EIGHT
THE KINGDOM OF OUR LANGUAGE

SPENSER, so counter to present taste, might appear in the stocks more often if he seemed to our critics important enough.* Only Mr. William Van O'Connor has recently troubled to pillory him:

"In the first four lines Spenser presents the theme:

"Oft when my spirit doth spred her bolder winges
In mind to mount up to the purest sky,
It down is weighd with thoght of earthly things,
And clogd with burden of mortality:

"In the next four lines the reader expects to find some exploration of the theme, but finds, instead, simply further statement:

"Where, when that soverayne beauty it doth spy,
Resembling heavens glory in her light,
Drawne with sweet pleasures bayt, it back doth fly,
And unto heaven forgets her former flight.

"In the well-constructed lyric one would expect in the last lines to discover the intellectual resolution. Here, however, there is no dramatic emotional situation to be resolved. There is merely further explanation couched in terms of graceful tribute:

"There my fraile fancy, fed with full delight,
Doth bath in blisse, and mantleth most at ease;
Ne thinks of other heaven, but how it might
Her harts desire with most contentment please.
Hart need not wish none other happinesse,
But here on earth to have such hevens blisse.

____________________
*
An exception is the perceptive appreciation of Spenser in Mr. Donald Stauffer's Nature of Poetry.

-259-

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