Unusual staff
The archaeology of the Spenserian stanza
in The art of <i>The Faerie Queene</i>
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The argument of this chapter is that during the 1590s the Spenserian stanza was a new and controversial poetic technology. This involves recontextualising the Spenserian in terms of the dominant stanza forms of the sixteenth century. At the heart of this chapter is an analysis of the way in which Spenser’s form relates to the sixain, rhyme royal, and ottava rima, which focuses on the decision to design a stanza which is both interlaced and of an odd number of lines. Such work entails detailed comparisons with writers like Southwell, Drayton, and Shakespeare. The chapter also stresses the new and radical permissive syntax which is paradoxically fostered by the Spenserian as a restrictive stanza form.


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