So I am doing this in two seperate parts. The first will cover Guyon and his Palmer in their ocean adventure as they try to reach the Bowre of Blisse, the second what happens when they get there.
We open with Guyon and his Palmer already at sea for two days;
"Ne ever land beheld, ne living wight,"
What follows is a series of ocean adventures in which Guyon, the Palmer and the 'Boteman' (the invisible working classes in Chivalric literature again doing most of the work behind the scenes), essentially dodging or avoiding monsters till they can get to the island.
Its intersting to us (me) mainly for the invention and beauty of the poetry.
They pass the Gulf of Greedieness, the Rock of Vile Reproach, which is as good a study as any of some of Spensers poetic methods;
"For thy, this hight The Rocke of vile Reproch,
A daungerous and detestable place,
To which nor fish nor fowle did once approach,
But yelling Meawes, with Seagulles horse and bace,
And Cormoyrants, with birds of ravenous race,
Which still sate waiting on that wastfull clift,
For spoyle of wretches, whose unhappie cace,
After lost credit and consumed thrift,
At last them driven hath to this despairfull drift."
Use of Italics as name signifiers, shifting a bit of text slightly into a different realm of thought, though it remains a smooth part of the spoken line.
Whenever I'm speaking these I add a slightly arch or mannered element to the speech, because I am referring to something, this thing has a name, and that name is not a casual one. It's almost like a super-nounification, like the print of an official seal on the smooth text, something like the feel you would get from an academic reference, with all its intimation of sobriety, hierarchy and confirmed meaning. And of course, almost all the things so super-noun'd are made up, though some are made up by ancient Greeks, and some by Spenser.
Flowing or irregular alliteration in the verse-form.
So in classical anglo-saxon poetry the alliteration goes (I think), sound - sound - sound - offsound, with the sound almost always being at the beginning of the word and the exact syllables not that important,and that's the structure of the form.
Here we have a regular syllable count (largely) and the structure being maintained by the rhyme, of which only one needs to be locked-in, and that an end of word sound at the end of each line with the lines always in the same rhyme pattern.
(I know this is some basic shit but I am not an expert and I am thinking aloud here.)
So one of the things we get is that we still have lots of alliteration but instead of being the foundation, or the load-bearing element of the verse it becomes play, indulged in irregularly and mainly for the pleasure of it.
1. Rock .. Reproach
2. daungerous .. detestable
3. fish .. fowle
4. (this line has completely differnt start-word sounds each major stress)
5. ravenous race
6. still sate .. waiting .. wastfull
7. wretches ... whose
8. credit ... consumed
9. driven .. despairfull .. drift
Verses 14-6 has one of my favourite baddies turn up, apparetly just for the pleasure of it;
"A daintie damzell, dressing of her heare,
By whom a litle skippet floting did appeare.
She them espying, loud to them can call,
Bidding them nigher draw unto the shore;
For she had cause to busie them withall;
And therewith loudly laught: But nathermore
Would they once turne, but kept on as afore:
Which when she saw, she left her lockes undight,
And running to her boat withouten ore,
From the departing land it launched light,
And after them did drive with all her power and might.
Whom overtaking, she in merry sort
Them gan to bord, and purpose diversly,
Now faining dalliance and wanton sport,
Now throwing forth lewd words immodestly;
Till that the Palmer gan full bitterly
Her to rebuke, for being loose and light:
Which not abiding, but more scornefully
Scoffing at him, that did her justly wite,
She turnd her bote about, and from them rowed quite.
That was the wanton Phoedria, which late
Did ferry him over the Idle lake;"
Verse 20 has a beautiful flow;
"On th' other side they see that perilous Poole,
That called was the Whirlpoole of decay,
In which full many had with haplesse doole
Beene suncke, of whom no memorie did stay:
Whose circled waters rapt with whirling sway,
Like to a restlesse wheele, still running round,
Did covet, and they passed by that way,
To draw the boate within the utmost bound
Of his wide Labyrinth, and then to have them dround."
Verses 23 to 25 have some wonderful monsters and a Lovecraftian touch at the end;
"Most ugly shapes, and horrible aspects,
Such as Dame Nature selfe mote feare to see,
Or shame, that ever should so fowle defects
From her most cunning hand escaped bee;
All dreadfull pourtraicts of deformitee:
Spring-headed Hydraes, and sea-shouldering Whales,
Great whirlpooles, ehich all fishes make to flee,
Bright Scolopandraes, arm'd with silver scales,
Mighty Monocros, with immeasured tayles.
The dreadfull Fish, that hath deseru'd the name
Of Death, and like him lookes in dreafull hew,
The griesly Wasserman, that makes his game
The flying ships with swiftnesse to pursew,
The horrible Sea-satyre, that doth shew
His fearfull face in time of greatest storme,
Huge Ziffius, whom mariniers eschew
Lo lesse, then rockes, (as travellers informe,)
And greedy Rosmarines with visages deforme.
All these, and thousand thousands many more,
And more deformed Monsters thousand fold,
With dreadfull noise, and hollow rombling rore,
Came rushing in the fomy waves enrold,
Which seem'd to fly for fear, them to behold:
Ne wonder, if these did the knight appall;
For all that here on earth we dreadfull hold,
Be but as bugs to frearen babes withall,
Compared to the creatures in the seas entrall."
Which shows another of Spensers common methods; the list of legend, or the rythm-list. In this case combined with his tricky use of brackets '(as travellers informe,)'.
Then we get some mermaids and other stuff, then a 'grosse fog' which makes 'this great Universe seemd one confused mas.'
They get scared and, its about to get worse, because having used up all the monsters in the sea, the power opposing them turns to the air;
"Suddeinly and innumerable flight
Of harmefull fowles about them fluttering cride,
And with their wicked wings them oft did smight,
And sore annoyed, groping in that griesly night.
Even all the nation of unfortunate
And fatall birds about them flocked were,
Such as by nature men abhorre and hate,
The ill-faste Owle, death dreadfull messangere,
The hors Night-raven, trump of dolefull drere,
The lether-winged Bat, dayes enimy,
The ruefull Strich, still waiting on the bere,
The Whistler shrill, that who so hears, doth dy,
The hellish harpies, prophets of sad destiny."
But don't worry because we are here at last;
"Said then the Palmer, Lo where does appeare
The sacred soile, where all our perils grow;
Therefore, Sir knight, your ready armes about you throw."
Part Two - The Sexy Bits
They land and march 'fairly forth, of nough ydred'. Soon they encounter a hideous bellowing 'of many beasts'.
The beasts attack but the Palmer raises his staff;
"Of that same wood it fram'd was cunningly,
Of which Caduceus whilome was made,
Cadeceus the rod of Mercury,
With which he wonts the Stygian realms invade,
Through ghastly horrour, and ternall shade;
Th'infernall feends with it he can asswage,
And Orcus tame, whome nothing can perswade,
And rule the Furyes, when they most do rage:
Such vertue in his staffe had eke the Palmer sage."
So the staff has been a Legendary Item all this time.
They pair reach the Bowre itself, surrounded by a gate;
"....wrought of substance light,
Rather for pleasure, then for battery or fight."
This is carved from delecate 'yvory' and worked there in are the legends of Jason and of Medaea;
"Ye might have seen the frothy billows fry
Under they ship, as throrough them she went,
That seemd the waves were into yvory,
Or yvroy into the waves were sent;"
They meet a comley personage, of stature tall; this is Genius. Not the good kind of Genius that god sends us;
"Who sondrous things concerning our welfare,
And straunge phantomes doth let us oft forsee,"
This is some other guy;
"The foe of life, that good envuys to all,
The secretly doth us procure to fall,"
We get some verses on this guy. Then Guyon just smashes his shit and walks on. Puritan Mode = ACTIVATED.
Then we meet a hot girl pulling apples from a glorious tree and squeezing them into a cup. She offers it to Guoyn;
"Who taking it out of her tender hond,
The cup to ground did violently cast,"
Then this excellent verse on the beauty of the garden (there are a few of these);
"One would have thought, (so cunningly, the rude,
And scorned parts were mingled with the fine,)
That nature had for wantoness ensude
Art, and that Art at nature did repine;
So striving each th'other to undermine,
Each did the others worke more beautifie;
So diff'ring both in willes, agreed in fine:
So all agreed through sewwte diversitie,
This Gardin to adrone with all varietie."
Which is remarkable; a work of art made so that it looks like a perfect interaction between Art and Nature.
Then we get some fountains, more wanton yvie, some Laurell trees. And then we get the biggest threat of this whole Canto - six verses on two hot, naked teendage blondes wrestling each othe in a stream;
"Which therin bathing, seemed to contend,
And wrestle wantonly, ne car'd to hyde,
Their dainty parts from vew of any, which them eyde.
snowy limbs ... amrous sweet spoiles .. lilly paps .. naked except for long (wet)golden hair
Luckily for Guyon, his Palmer arrives and 'much rebukt those wandering eyes of his'
"For here the end of all our travell is:
Here wonnes Acrasia whom, we must surprise,
Else she will slip away and all our drift despise."
So they creep closer, into the centre of the Bowre of Blisse. There they find Acrasia;
"Upon a bed of Roses she was layd,
As faint through heat, or dight to pleasant sin,
And was arayd, or rather disarayd,
All in a vele of silke and silver thin,
That hid no whit her alabaster skin,
But rather shewd more white, if more might bee:
More subtlie web Arachne can not spin,
Nor the fine nets, which oft we woven see
Of scorched dew, do not in th'aire more lightly flee.
Her snowy brest waa bare to readie spoyle
Of hungry eis. which n'ote therwith be fild,
And yet through langour of her late sweet toyle,
Few drops, more cleare then Nectar, forth distild,
That like pure Orient perles adowne hit trild,
And her faire eyes sweet smiyling in delight,
Moystened their fierie beams, with which she thrild
Fraile harts, yet quencehed not; like starry light
Which sparckling on the silent waves, does seeme more bright."
And, to make it short becasue I've spent hours on this. They throw a net over her and run off with her. They encounter the beasts on the way out and the Palmer tells Guyon that these beasts are former lovers of Acrasia who she beastified with her magic. Guyon asks if they can be turned back and, for plot reasons, or maybe because shes tied up in her net, the Palmers staff can do just that;
"Streight way he with his vertuous staffe them strooke,
And streight of beasts they comely men became;
Yet being men they did unmanly looke,
And stared ghastly, some for inward shame,
And some for wrath, to see their captive Dame:
But one above the rest in speciall,
That had an hog been late, hight Grille be name,
Repined greatly, and did him miscall,
That had from hoggish forme him brought to naturall.
To whom the Palmer thus, The donghill kind
Delights in filth and foule incontinence:
Let Grill be Grill, and have his hoggish mind,
But let us hence depart, whilest wether serves and wind."
And with that, we are out. Book Two OVER.