The Faerie Queene

Introduction

The Faerie Queene is an incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser. The first half was published in 1590, and a second installment was published in 1596. The Faerie Queene is notable for its form: it is one of the longest poems in the English language and the origin of a verse form that came to be known as Spenserian stanza.[1] It is an allegorical work, and can be read (as Spenser presumably intended) on several levels of allegory, including as praise of Queen Elizabeth I. In a completely allegorical context, the poem follows several knights in an examination of several virtues. In Spenser's "Letter of the Authors," he states that the entire epic poem is "cloudily enwrapped in allegorical devices," and that the aim of publishing The Faerie Queene was to “fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline.”

The Faerie Queene found such favor with Elizabeth I that Spenser was granted a pension for life amounting to £50 a year, though there is no evidence that Elizabeth I read any of the poem. This royal patronage helped the poem along to such a level of success that it became Spenser's defining work.[2]


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