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Elizabethan English Poetry

Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Qveene

16th century, Elizabethan English. Numerous printed copies.

The old man Malbecco finds a cave, where he lives like a bird with one eye open and one eye closed, feeding on toads and frogs. Yet can he never dye, but dying lives...

After an evening spent with Britomatis and many days afterwards with a knight who is a stranger, the young lady Hellenore dances with the satyrs and is taken away by them to the place where they live. As darkness falls one evening, her elderly husband Malbecco, in an attempt to reach her, creeps amongst the satyrs’ goats and is taken back with them in the evening to the satyrs' dwelling. When everybody is asleep, he creeps to Hellenore’s bed which she shares now with a satyr who rises to make love to her on nine separate occasions during the night. At last, Malbecco is able to move to her side and wakes her, imploring her to return with him to his castle where things will be just as they were before. She bluntly refuses and, as morning breaks, Malbecco creeps back amongst the goats and is let out of the pen where they all trample him underfoot. Running wildly away, he reaches a spot where he had buried his gold only to find that others have got there before him.

Like a wild man he runs through the forest, ignoring bushes and thorns, torn with grief and self-hatred, until he comes to a high sea cliff and hurls himself over. But so torn is he with anguish, and so wasted and light, that he is not dashed to pieces but lands weightlessly on the jagged rocks where he scrambles about with crooked claws until he finds a cave, where he lives like a bird with one eye open and one eye closed, feeding on toads and frogs. Yet can he never dye, but dying lives...

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book III, Canto X.

See for yourself

Edmund Spenser – Wikipedia

The Faerie Queene – Wikipedia

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