Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Poem's Two Bodies

The Poem's Two Bodies: The Poetics of the 1590 Faerie Queene

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 312
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Poem's Two Bodies
    Book Description:

    The role of the human body as a poetic and ideological construct in the 1590 Faerie Queene provides the point of departure for David Lee Miller's richly detailed treatment of Spenser's allegory. In this major contribution to the study of Renaissance literature and ideology, Miller finds the poem organized by a fantasy of bodily wholeness that, like the marriage of Arthur and Gloriana, is both anticipated and deferred in the text.

    Originally published in 1991.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5967-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-28)

    The title of this study is meant to suggest the particular constellation of interests I bring to a reading of Spenser’sFaerie Queene,Books I–III. Most obvious is the allusion to Kantorowicz,¹ whose influential account of Tudor “political theology” started me thinking more seriously about Spenser’s poem as a historical and political act. I speak of thepoem’stwo bodies in deference to the specific form of Spenser’s discourse, and as a way of insisting on both halves of the venerable and pointless debate between historicism and formalism. It is necessary for historical criticism to acknowledge the textual force...

  6. 1. “her imperiall Maiestie to frame”
    (pp. 29-67)

    My subject in this chapter is the way Spenser’s early publications consolidate an image of their author as “Englands Arch-Poet”—the title that adorns the first folio edition of his collected works in 1611. Like the personal self, this public identity emerges within a system of specular relations. The identification that informs all others is stressed in the phrase “EnglandsArch-Poet”: Spenser as mirror to the nation incorporate. This mirroring informs every aspect of his relation to Elizabeth, including his position in the ranks of a bureaucracy constituted by the doctrine of royal sovereignty, his participation in creating Elizabeth as...

  7. 2. The Poem’s Two Bodies
    (pp. 68-119)

    On the fifteenth of January 1559, a sacred transformation was wrought in the person of Elizabeth Tudor. The ceremony of royal coronation had not technically been classed as a sacrament since the twelfth century, but in many ways it still bore the stamp of its ecclesiastical original, the ordination of a bishop; each smallest detail of word, gesture, and regalia was understood as “the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”¹ At the heart of this inwardness, created and sustained by an impressive array of sacred objects and solemn actions, lay the archmystery that anchored all others,...

  8. 3. Arthur’s Dream
    (pp. 120-163)

    It is said that Elizabeth’s first response to the death of her sister Mary was to quote in Latin the twenty-third verse of Psalm 118: “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” If so, she was also quoting a motto inscribed on the gold sovereigns Mary had issued in reforming the coinage.¹ Accurate or not, the story of this barbed thanksgiving reflects the pointed rivalry within which the royal sisters had all their lives been eclipsing one another. As daughters of Henry’s castoff queens they traded roles in an alternation neither could control: by the...

  9. 4. Alma’s Nought
    (pp. 164-214)

    Queen Elizabeth swore frequently and, one presumes, with some relish. Like authority itself, oaths were a masculine prerogative she could flourish. Her male counselors naturally disapproved—the younger Cecil once wrote that “she was more than a man, and, in troth, sometimes less than a woman.”¹ But they disapproved of so much: her reluctance to submit to the yoke of honorable matrimony, her galling presumption in expecting to be “the ruler or half-ruler” of the kingdom,² her strategic preference for misdirection and delay in foreign policy, her refusal to settle the succession, her flirtations with a string of “favorites”—the...

  10. 5. The Wide Womb of the World
    (pp. 215-281)

    Historicism affirms that human existence is historical, not a phenomenon of nature. Yet human beings are also living organisms, whose apprehension of themselves and their world is mediated by the body as biological substratum of all consciousness, perception, and existence in general. There is no way to grasp human existence in a purely natural or purely cultural moment; instead we tend to grasp nature in terms of culture, culture in terms of nature, constructing each as an allegory of the other. Attempts to understand the phenomenon of gender in human beings proceed along both sides of the unstable boundary between...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 282-288)

    The 1590 text ofThe Faerie Queeneends with the rapturous fusion of Scudamour and Amoret, who look as if “growne together quite” (st. 46.5). Once againAmoretti67, with its exchange of active and passive roles and its tremors of surrendered autonomy, offers an illuminating parallel. In stanza 44 Scudamour, not Amoret, is compared to “a Deare, that greedily embayes / In the coole soile, after long thirstinesse, / Which he in chace endured hath, now nigh brethlesse” (lines 7–9). Florimell was earlier compared to a fleeing hind (III.vii. I.I–4); transferring the image to a male lover,...

  12. Index
    (pp. 289-297)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 298-298)