The Place of Spenser: Conference of the International Spenser Society

Badcoe, T. T. (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Description

‘Vntill another tide’: Spenser, Ralegh and the Space of the Tideline This paper focuses on Book IV of The Faerie Queene and Walter Ralegh’s ‘21th: and last booke of the Ocean to Scinthia’, identifying within the works of both authors a shared interest in the poetics of the tideline. The final stanzas of the sixth and seventh cantos of ‘The Legend of Friendship’, in which Spenser writes of anticipating ‘another tyde’ (IV.vi.47), suggest that it was conceived as a tidal book, in which social bonds are shown to be as changeable as the motions of the sea, but similarly enduring. At the end of canto six, Britomart and Scudamour are left searching for Amoret, waiting to hear ‘tydings […] of her estate’ (IV.vi.47); for Spenser, the ebb and flow of water becomes the medium of the message. In the formal echo found in the subsequent canto, Timias is met but not recognised by Arthur in a state where nothing can ‘ease or mitigate his paine, […]/ Till time for him should remedy prouide’: a resolution that is deferred ‘vntill another tide’ (IV.vii.47). Aspects of Spenser’s Timias have been frequently identified as created in response to Ralegh, and the work of the two poets is famously interconnected. I read their poetry alongside works of hydrography and navigation written in the period, arguing that both poets invested the processes governing the tideline with the capacity to fashion a response to Elizabeth I; the terraqueous landscape inhabited by Spenser’s Timias and Belphoebe finds an elegiac echo in Ralegh’s vision of sterile ‘brinish sand’ (l. 24), as if Ralegh inhabits the same tidal imaginary as Spenser but can admit none of the temperate renewal that shapes the work of his fellow poet.
Period19 Jun 2015
Event typeConference
LocationDublin, Ireland