"Well may I weene, faire Ladies, all this while
Ye wonder, how this noble Damozell
So great perfections did in her compile,"
Not really. I'm not a Lady and like most of the readers I want us to get back to Britomart. Something I see from looking ahead, that we will not be doing for a while.
I am interested that at this point Spenser thinks he readers will be Ladies.
We begin with some creepy stuff about Belphoebes origins, including a reference to our old friend;
"Jove laught on Venus from his souveraigne see,
And Phoebus with faire beames did her adorne,"
It seems that Belphoebe is extra-super-mega-pure;
"Pure and unspotted from all loathly crime,
That is ingenerate in fleshy slime."
Her mother was Chrysogonee, daughter of Amphisa, a high born Faerie. And she was impregnated while sleeping, (wait, it gets better), by the sun. Because;
"Great father he of generation
Is rightly cald, th'author of life and light;
And his faire sister for creation
Ministreth matter fit, which tempred right
With heate and humour, breedes the living wight."
So then she wanders round in the forest, not understanding what has happened to her (i.e. she was raped by the fucking sun, so far all Night has done is try to help out her family be healing someone), until she falls into a magical sleep.
Meanwhile - our scene shifts to the house of the goddess Venus;
"The house of goodly formes and faire aspects,
Whence all the world derives the glorious
Features of beauties, and all shapes select,
With which high God his workmanship hath deckt;"
She has lost her son;
"(So oft from her often he had fled away,
When she for ought him sharply did reprove,
And wandred in the world in strange aray,
Disguiz'd in thousand shapes, that none might him bewray.)"
So she searches the Courts, the Cities and the Country and everywhere they say this guy is terribe because of his 'sharpe darts and whot artillerie;', but he's not there (probaby).
"She sweetly heard complaine, both how and what
Her sonne had to them doen; yet she did smile thereat."
|"Hey son, stop being such a massive rapist."|
"Okay, sorry for asking."
"She having hong upon a bough on high
Her bow and painted quiver, had unlaste
Her silver buskins from her nimble thigh,
And her lancke loynes ungirt, and brests unbraste,
After her heat the breathing cold to taste;
Her golden lockes, that late the tresses bright
Embreaded were for hindring of her haste,
Now loose about her shoulders hong undight,
And were with sweet Ambrosia all besprinkled light."
Diana gives her some crap about her son (it's Cupid). The defence of Venus is interesting;
"As you in woods and wanton wildernesse
Your glory set, to chace the savage beasts,
So my delight is all in joyfulnesse,
In beds, in bowres, in banckets, and in feats:
And ill becomes you with your loftie creats,
To scorne the joy, that Jove is glad to seeke;
We both are bound to follow heavens beheats,
And tend our charges with obeisance meeke:
Spare, gentle sister, with reproach my paine to eeke.
And tell me, if that ye my sonne have heard,
To lurke emongst your Nymphes in secret wize;
Or keepe their cabins: much I am affeard,
Least he like one of them him self disguize,
And turne his arrowes to their exercize:
So may he long himself full easie hide:
For he is faire and fresh in face and guize,
As any Nymph (let not it be envyde.)
So saying ever Nymph full narrowly she eyde."
Then Diana gets pissed off again;
"... goe seeke your boy,
Where you him lately left, in Mars his bed:"
Does that mean what I think it means? Were they in Mar's bed together?
They end up wandering around in the forest looking for Cupid where they find;
"Faire Crysogone in slombry traunce whilere:
Who in her sleepe (a wonderous thing to say)
Unwares had borne two babes, as faire as spriging day."
THEN THEY STEAL THE BABIES WHAT THE FUCK
This brings us to the third part of the Canto; Diana takes one baby - this is Belphoebe, Venus takes the other - named Amoretta, to her home in the garden of Adonis, a mirror to the bowre of blisse, but good this time, for some reason.
"... there is the first seminarie
Of all things, that are borne to live and die,
According to their kindes."
You know the drill by this point, this one has walls o 'yron' and 'bright gold' and;
".. double gates it had, which opened wide,
By which both in and out men moten pas;
Th'one faire and fresh, the other old and dride:"
There is a porter here, Genius, the real one this time, not the bad sinful one that Guyon threatened in Book Two. Genius is up to some stuff which does not sound like Christianity to me...
"A thousand thousand naked babes attend
About him day and night, which doe require,
Such as him list, such as eternall fate
Ordained hath, he clothes with sinfull mire,
And sendeth forth to live in mortall state,
Till they again returne backe by the hider gate.
After that they againe returned beene,
They in that Gardin planted be againe;
And grow afresh, as they had never seene
Fleshy corruption, nor mortall paine.
Some thousand yeares so doen they there remaine;
And then of him are clad with other hew,
Or sent into the chaungefull world againe,
Till thither they returne, where first they grew:
So like a wheele around they runne from old to new."
I'm not an expert but I don't remember that shit from the bible.
We get a whole, whole lot about the garden of Adonis. Its a little like a good version of Acrasias bower of bliss and a little like a life-based opposite to Mammons realm. And a bit freaky and pagan/Buddhist/Warhammer in some elements, as this strange verse;
"Daily they grow, and daily forth are sent
Into the world, it to replenish more;
Yet is the stocke not lessened nor spent,
But still remaines in everlasting store,
As it at first created was of yore.
For in the wide wombe of the world there lyes,
In hatefull darknesse and in deepe horrore,
And huge eternall Chaos which supplyes
The substances of natures fruitful progenyes."
And this strange buisness with Adonis himself;
"There wont faire Venus often to enjoy
Her deare Adonis joyous company,
And reape sweet pleasure of the wanton boy;
There yet, some say, in secret he does ly,
Lapped in flowres and pretious spycery,
By her hid from the world, and from the skill
Of Stygian Gods, which doe her love envy;
But she her selfe, when ever that she will,
Possesseth him, and of his sweetnesse takes her fill.
And sooth it seemes to say: for he may not
For ever die, and ever buried bee
In balefull night, where all things are forgot;
All be he subject to mortalitie,
Yet is eterne in mutabilitie,
And by succession made perpetuall,
Transformed oft, and chaunged diverslie:
For him the Father of all formes they call;
Therefore needs mote he live, that living gives to all."
|Titian, Venus and Adonis (1554), Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain|
There is much, much more on the Garden of Adonis if you want to listen to the Podcast, or read the book.