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Of Lords and Stars

Spenser’s Paradoxical Praise of Essex in the Prothalamion

Patrizia Grimaldi-Pizzorno    Università degli Studi di Siena, Italia    



The essay argues that glittering tribute to Essex in the Prothalamion is ambivalent and paradoxical. The author focuses on the Ovidian and Virgilian intertexts of the praise and brings to light Spenser’s hidden references to Lucifer and Phaethon, mythical emblems of pride. For the generic and stylistic inconsistencies, explicit notes of personal and political concern, and the moral seriousness that run through the poem, the Prothalamion is not a mere nuptial song and does not mark Spenser’s return to courtly poetry. On the contrary, under its epithalamic façade the poem hides a reflection and meditation on the vainglory of this world. Spenser’s last poem, like Four Hymns, is a poem of exit that marks the crisis of the Tudor poetics of praise and patronage, as well as Spenser’s own project of paidea.

01 Dicembre 2014
Copyright: © 2014 Patrizia Grimaldi-Pizzorno. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.