DONALD CHENEY


Gardens of Adonis

In its present state, The Faerie Queene contains no direct presentation of Cleopolis.The poem's action takes place in the undefined, neutral terrain familiar to chivalric legend: a series of open spaces serving as battlefields, bounded by wilderness and linked by devious and perilous paths. The heroes are far from home, in that other country of challenge and response. If the various palaces, cottages, and caves scattered over this terrain are sometimes presented as miniature social units, they refer specifically and primarily to the concerns of the poem's action at the time of their appearance. At most these microcosmic societies may demonstrate the ideal working of an individual virtue; but they do not pretend to be total images of the societal impulse, as does the perpetually offstage court of Gloriana.

Similarly, the "natural" settings found in the poem—the gardens, groves, and other images of retreat—offer a picture of the natural order which is always relative to the persons visiting them: they cannot be abstracted from their narrative contexts. [This essay] will examine these settings in an effort to define the images of nature and the natural order which they imply, but it will be ultimately concerned with the relevance of these images to the poem's larger purpose: a presentation of human responsibility in a world where the Golden Age is at most a distant memory of a society that can never be literally restored, one in which mankind enjoyed an easy communion with the rhythm of a friendly nature. For fallen and redeemed man, Love has taken on a new meaning beyond that attributed to it in the scheme of nature. In its more complex

____________________
From Spenser's Image of Nature: Wild Man and Shepherd in "The Faerie Queene." Copyright © 1966 by Yale University Press.

-81-

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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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