Sometime last year I wrote in this blog that I wanted to read more poetry. I have also had in the back of my mind a latent determination to learn more about Britomart, since Diana Wynne Jones mentions this female warrior in an essay, I believe, on writing Fire and Hemlock and on creating a female hero. The short-term result was placing Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, an extended and extraordinary allegory written in Elizabethan times depicting embodied aspects of Christian belief with Greek and Roman mythology and the chivalric-Romantic ideals, composed in nine-line stanzas, on my reading list this past autumn. (*Pause for breath.*)
As December is free-for-all month, I was wondering… anybody want to do a read-along?
More seriously, I find that since I’m not studying poetry in school anymore, I tend to read it much less often. I forget the form entirely for long periods of time, then “rediscover” poetry, and wonder why I ever stopped reading it. Poetry has beauty in its bones, in its very economy, in what it doesn’t say as much as in what it says. Reading poetry is like breathing deeply and finding clean pine-needle-sharp air when I had grown used to car exhaust; relearning how vast my lung capacity is and unlearning to live on the shallow minimum survival requires. Reading poetry wakens my soul from inert slumber.
In short, I want to make poetry an integral part of how I live.
To this end I began reading The Faerie Queene a few months ago. Rather to my surprise, I found I liked it immensely – so much that I wanted to share it with you and see if anyone else wanted to read with me, too. Starting today and continuing throughout December and probably into the new year I’ll chronicle my adventures in the realm of The Faerie Queene – reactions, thoughts, analyses, and just the plain fun of reading verse. Sometimes this will mean a paean to the breathtaking beauty of the spoken word, i.e. mostly quoted passages with a few sentences of my own written in awe and wonder. I hope you’ll pardon my conceit in talking so much about myself. This will be a bit more of a personal response than a researched academic series; I’ve never formally studied Spenser or his masterpiece, so take my words with a grain of salt. But I’d like to create something of a poetry corner, where we can talk about poetry both academically and as readers-just-for-the-joy-of-it. Whether a given poem is intended for a child audience or not.
Here’s to living with poetry – and to The Faerie Queene.