Saturday, 4 November 2017

the raskall many - Faerie Queene Book 1 Canto 12

A short, somewhat boring Canto, in which everything turns out alright for our heros.

It's livened up somewhat by the crowd scene and by that genre classic, the last-minute villain interruption.

And Phoebus is back! Verse 2;

"Scarsely had Phoebus in the glooming East
Yet harnessed his firie-footed teeme,
Ne reard above the earth his flaming creast,
When the last deadly smoke aloft did steeme,
That sign of last outbreathed life did seeme,"

Most of this Canto is standard legendary stuff, this sequence with the crowd is a bit different, is a nice counterpoint to the hoary king in sonorous line, and isn't shown in any illustrations I can find so I give it to you in full;

"And after, all the raskall many ran,
Heaped together in rude rablement,
To see the face of that victorious man:
Whom all admired, as from heaven sent,
And gazed upon with gaping wonderment.
But when they came, where that dead Dragon lay,
Strecht on the ground in monstrous large extent,
The sight with idle feare did them dismay,
Ne durst approach him nigh, to touch, or once assay.

Some feard, and fled; some feard and well it faynd;
One that would wiser seeme, then all the rest,
Warnd him not touch, for yet perhaps remayned
Some lingring life within his hollow brest,
Or in his wombe might lurke some hidden nest
Of many Dragonets, his fruitfull seed;
Another said, that in his eyes did rest
Yet sparckling fire, and bad thereof take heed;
Another said, he saw him move his eyes indeed.

One mother, when as her foolhardie chyld
Did come too neare, and with his talants play,
Halfe dead through feare, her litle babe revyld,
And to her gossips gan in counsell say;
How can I tell, but that his talents may
Yet scratch my sonne, or rend his tender hand?
So diversely themselves in vain they fray;
Whiles some more bold, to measure him nigh stand,
To prove how many acres he did spread of land."

This is kind of a Seven Samurai bit. From the point of view of the crowd, or the common people, the Hero is just someone who turns up occasionally, plays an important role, gets looked at so people can tell the story, then goes back in their box.

I think this is also the first time the common people, or 'raskall many' have shown up in this story. They tend not to play much of a part in chivalry literature.

(The Raskall Many Ran would be a good name for a pirate ship.)

Then, in the midst of describing the feast and celebrations, thankfully, Spenser tells us he doesn't have time for bullshit;

"What needs me tell their feast and goodly guize,
In which was nothing riotous nor vaine?
What needs of dainty dishes to devise,
Of comley services, or courtly train?
My narrow leave cannot in them containe
The large discourse of royall Princes state."

Well, good.

Then the King congratulates Redcrosse and praises him for his long journey and the many terible things that have happened to him.

Forgetting that his own daughter made twice as long a journey and that almost every bad thing that happened to Redcrosse was him was a result of him being a fucking idiot.


"With flying speede, and seeming great pretence,
Came running in, much like a man dismaid,
A Messanger with letters, which his message said."

Whats the message? Bluntly, ya bois been fucking another girl, as described in a gloriously deceptive and magnificently acidic letter from 'Fidessa'.

To which Redcrossse replies with the vaguest shoe-shuffling verse;

"It was in my mishaps, as hiterward
I lately travelled, that unawares I strayed
Out of my way, through perils strange and hard;
That day should fail me, ere I had them all declared."


Una breaks in to say that this is some enchantress bullshit and, furthermore, this messanger.... is ARCHIMAGO!

Wizard thrown in prison, but if you are missing your favourite bad guy, don't worry, something tells me he'll be back in classic comic-book style;

"But him they layd full low in dungeon deepe,
And bound him hand and foote with yron chains.
And with continuall watch did warely keepe;
Who then would think, that by his subtile trains,
He could escape fowle death or deadly paines?"

Aand the rest is marriage, brief moment of happieness but Redcrosse has to go back to the Faerie Queene to fulfill his oath of fighting for her but says he will come back eventually.

And we're out. That was Book One.

"Right well I wote most mighty Soveraine,
That all this famous antique history,
Of some th'aboundance of an idle braine
Will judged be, and painted forgery,
Rather than matter of just memory,
Sith none, that breatheth living air, does know,
Where is that happy land of Faery,
Which I so much do vaunt, yet no where show,
But vouch antiquities, which nobody can know.

But let that man with better sense advise,
That of the world least part to us is read:
And daily how through hardy enterprise,
Many great Regions are discovered,
Which to late age were never mentioned.
Who ever heard of th'Indian Peru?
Or who in venturous vessell measured
The Amazons huge river now found trew?
Or fruitfullest Virginia who did ever view?

Yet all these were, when no man did them know;
Yet have from wisest ages hidden been:
And later times things more unknown shall show.
Why then should witless man so much misween
That nothing is, but that which he hath seen?
What if within the Moones fair shining sphere?
What if in every other star unseen
Of other worlds he happily should hear?
He wonder would much more: yet so to some appear."

Book Two - Opening

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