Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Spenser as The Poets’ Poet
It was Charles Lamb who called Spenser ‘The Poets’ Poet’. At least there are two reasons why Spenser is regarded as the poets’ poet and the second father of English Poetry. Firstly, Spenser rendered incalculable service to English poetry in a variety of ways and left behind him models of poetic excellence to be imitated and followed by a host of poets who came in his wake. He is also called the “Prince of Poets of his time”. He coached more poets and more eminent ones than any other poets. Besides, he is the poets’ poet because he is not the poet of the common man, but only of the scholars and poets with well-versed in classical tradition and humanistic studies. During the Renaissance, Spenser’s poetry could really be appreciated by those who were familiar with classical writers and authors of the Renaissance. Since only scholars and poets had that necessary equipment to understand Spenser, and the common man had not that facility to understand him, Spenser is called the poet of poets and not the poet of the ordinary man. Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, a host of poets followed him, called him their master, and exalted him as their guide and mentor. Dryden acknowledged him as his master and added that, “No man was ever born with a greater genius or more knowledge to support it”. Pope is all praises for him, and James Thomson referred to him as “my master Spenser”, Shelley, Byron and Keats wrote their best poems in the Spenserian stanza (a long stanza of nine lines with the rhyme a-b-a-b-b-a-b-a-a). He is the poets’ poet in the true sense for he is the fountain-head of al those excellencies and beauties which are scattered in the works of subsequent poets, and for which they expressed their indebtedness to him and called him their master.