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Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) was an English poet, and a contemporary of William Shakespeare.

The Faerie Queene is his major contribution to English poetry; it is mostly a poem pandering (successfully!) for the favours of Queen Elizabeth I. The poem is a long allegory of Christian belief, tied into England's mythology of King Arthur. In form, the poem is an epic, in the style of Beowulf, Virgil, and Homer.

The language is purposely antique. As such, it is supposed to immediately bear comparison to such earlier works as those mentioned above, as well as the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer, whom Spenser greatly admired.

Spenser's Epithalamion is the most admired of its type in the English language, and was written on the occasion of his wedding to his young bride.

Spenser's effort to match the epic proportions of the Aeneid earned his place in place in English literature: the Spenserian stanza is now used to describe his works and the myriad of poets who copied him afterwards.

One poet influenced by Edmund Spenser was John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, and John Keats.

Faerie Queene. Book iii. Canto xi. St. 54.

 And as she lookt about, she did behold,
 How over that same dore was likewise writ,
 Be bold, be bold, and every where Be bold,
 That much she muz'd, yet could not construe it
 By any ridling skill, or commune wit.
 At last she spyde at that roomes upper end,
 Another yron dore, on which was writ,
 Be not too bold; whereto though she did bend
 Her earnest mind, yet wist not what it might intend.

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