Friday, 3 November 2017

Dragon Fight! - The Faerie Queene, Book Canto 11

A Canto so RAW that the poet has to ask Calliope (in the poem itself) first, to attend directly to its creation and secondly not to get too crazy because she can drive nations mad. Also they need to save that stuff for the mega-battle at the end of the whole poem.

(This battle never arrives as Spenser never gets to his planned 12 or 24 books of poetry. So the reference to it here is all you get.)

This is a magnificent piece of Barnamesque metatextual scene-setting, very like a childrens entertainer who tells the crowd "Now were going to need a very special friend for this part!". The scene is so badass you need the direct presence of Callipoe to write it but Calliope is so dangerous you have to be extra careful when she is around.

This does not happen in the Faerie Queen.
It is not even described as happening.
The Dragon never grabs Unas Parents.

Then comes the Dragon description;

"By this the dreadfull Beast drew nigh to hand,
Halfe flying and halfe footing in his hast,"

A dragon so amazing that his scales, his wings, his tail, his sting, his jaws and his eyes all get a verse each to describe, a dragon in text as well as in flight.

Then the fight, a fight so amazing it lasts three days and has THREE different solar metaphors, Phoebeus, Titan and Aurora, which has TWO tragic ohmygodhe'sdead falls, and two unlikely saves by literalised religious or biblical metaphors.

This bit by Walter Crane also doesn't happen in the Faerie Queene.
Or at least, it doesn't happen like this.
Redcrosse loses while mounted, he wins on his feet.

(Every time I see Phoebeus in this poem I want to high-five him like a well-loved returning guest star. LIke Edward Herriman in the opening credits to Gilmore GIrls. I also just realised that 'guest star' is literally what he is.)

In previous Cantos we learnt Una was from the middle east and here we learn that this seems to be taking place in the garden of eden. How long did it take them to get there? Where is everything? What's the time scale? Who knows.

This does happen, but there are more people around.
I don't want to ruin it for you, its well worth reading on your own, and not just listening to from my poor and hesitant narration.


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