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While The Faerie Queene counts as his masterpiece, it is in his shorter poetry that Edmund Spenser showed his supreme versatility and skill as eulogist, satirist, pastoral poet and prophet. The Shepheardes Calendar marks a turning point in literary history, as the anonymous author confidently asserts his faith in the native vigour of the English language and stakes his claim to be the successor of Virgil and Chaucer. The Amoretti and Fowre Hymnes reveal an acute sense of how erotic and even religious love are shot through with vanity and narcissism. Mother Hubberds Tale-an Elizabethan Animal Farm-savagely satirizes the sexual jealousy and political disarray at the heart of the Queen's court. And even the Epithalamion, a rare celebration of consummated desire, is offset by far darker echoes.
Although he is most famous for The Faerie Queene, this volume demonstrates that for these poems alone Spenser should still be ranked as one of England's foremost poets. Spenser's shorter poems reveal his generic and stylistic versatility, his remarkable linguistic skill and his mastery of complex metrical forms. The range of this volume allows him to emerge fully in the varied and conflicting personae he adopted, as satirist and eulogist, elegist and lover, polemicist and prophet. The volume includes The Shepeardes Calender, Complaints, and A Theatre for Wordlings.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599) was educated in London and Cambridge and in 1580 moved to Ireland as secretary to the Lord Deputy. His poem, The Faerie Queene, was the first English epic. Richard McCabe is a Fellow in English at Merton College Oxford and a lecturer at the University of Oxford. He has published widely on Renaissance Literature.