It's kind of amazing, after the 10th Canto of Book One, I didn't think it could get that bad again, and here we are, back with a second 10th Canto, and it's worse.
The opening line at least isn't bad;
"Who now shall give unto me words and sound.
Equall unto this haughtie enterprise?"
So its not a direct appeal to the muse but a more 'how to I even write something so amazing and important? Then we go into more pathetic courtier crawling to Elizabeth (apparently there's no evidence she ever even read the whole thing), then we go right into Monmouth.
If you haven't already read Monmouth then this will be less shit, if you have then its essentially Monmouth-in-rhyme, with most of it being a very, very, veeeeeery long list of almost-certainly imaginary people fucking each other over.
Its like someone reading out a Lexicanium article.
Some fun fragments;
Britain before humans is essentially the Chaos Wastes;
"But farre in land a savage nation dwelt,
Of hideous Giants, and halfe beastly men,
That never tasted grace, nor goodness felt,
But like wild beasts lurking in loathsome den,
And flying fast as Roebucke through the fen,
All naked without shame, or care of cold,
By hunting and by spoiling lived then;
Of stature huge, and eke of courage bold,
That sonnes of men amazd their sternnesse to behold."
Apparently these were born of Diocletians fifty daughters, who came here by chance and;
"Where companing with feends and filthy Sprights,
Through vaine illusion of their lust unclene,
They brought forth Giants and such dreadful wights,
As farre exceeded men in their immeasured mights."
Then Brutus the Trojan arrives with his guys and starts fighting the Giants and stuff, and throwing them about and things end up being named after dead Giants or the guys that killed them. And that does sound like a cool RPG setting actually.
Theres a slight proto-feminist gloss due to is being aimed at Elizabeth.
Verse 18 has Guendolene, the betrayed daughter of a king fighting her pervy husband, capturing him and ruling the country till her son comes of age.
We then get the whole King Lear story in much more detail than anything else and with Cordelia, again, avenging injustice and ruling, apparently, alone;
""He to Cordelia him selfe addrest,
Who with entire affection him receav'd,
As for her Syre and king her semmed best;
And after all an army strong she leav'd,
To war on those, which him had of his realm bereav'd.
So to his crowne she him restor'd againe,
I which he dyde, made ripe for death by eld,
And after wild, is should to her remaine:
Who peaceably the same long time did weld:
And all mens harts in dew obedience held:
Till that her sisters children, woxen strong
Through proud ambition, against her rebeld,
And overcommen kept in prison long,
Till wearie of that wreched life, her selfe she hong."
Verse 42 has a lady law-maker;
"A woman worthy of immortal prayse,
Which for this Realme found many goodly layes,
And wholesome Statues to her husband brought;
Her many deemd to have been on of the Fayes,
As was Aegerie that Numa tought;
Those yet of her be Mertian lawes both nam'd & thought."
Bouducia gets a pair of verses, then;
"And yet though overcome in haplesse fight,
She triumphed on death, in enemies despight."
Then blah, blah, blah, Romans etc.
It gets interesting at the end where we zoom back to Arthur reading all this in the old mans room. Because for him, this is the story of his family, which he doesn't know yet, so this is a Telenovella moment.
Then we get some not-that-good stuff from Arthur about the importance of patriotism;
"How brutish it is not to understand,
How much to her we owe, that all us gave,
That gave unto us all, what ever good we have."
Yes, very nice.
But, what about Guyons book about the history of Elves. Are we going to get another 70 verses just on that? Because I would read that shit.
Ne yet has ended: for it was a great
And ample volume, that doth far excead
My leasure, so long leaves here to repeat:"
So in this case we just get a summary.
It turns out that Elves were made by Prometheus;
"A man of many partes from beasts derived
And then stole fire from heaven to animate
ELVES ARE FRANKENSEINTS!
So the first Elf, called Elfe, goes wandering and in the gardens of Adonis, finds;
"A goodly creature, whom he deemd in mind
To be no earthly wight, but either Spright,
Or angell, th'authour of all woman kind;
Therefore a Fay he her according hight,
Of whom all Fayryes spring, and fetch their liniage right."
So fay are Frankenstein/Ghost (possibly angel) hybrids. Clearly they are from a 90's RPG.
The fresh race of Elves conquers the whole world, including America, builds a city called Celopolis, surrounded by a golden wall.
"His sonne was Elfinell, who overcame
The wicked Gobbelines in bloudy field:"
So there was an epic world-wide Elf-Goblin war.
A place called Panthea built "all of Christall".
A guy called Elfinor;
"..who was in Magik skild;
He built by art upon the glassy See
A bridge of bras, whose sound heavens thunder seem'd to bee."
Eventually we get Oberon, who, dying;
"... left the fairest Tanaquill,
Fairer and nobler liveth none this howre,
Ne like in grace, ne like in learned skill;
Therefore they Glorian call that glorious flowre,
Long mayst thou Glorian live, in glory and great powre."
And that's where the Faerie Queene comes from.