Saturday, October 8, 2016

Valor, thy name is woman!

Walter Crane, "Britomart" (1900).
Here haue I cause, in men
     iust blame to find,
That in their proper prayse
     too partiall bee,
And not indifferent to
     woman kind,
To whom no share in armes
     and cheualrie
They do impart,
     ne maken memorie
Of their brave gestes and prowesse martiall;
Scarse do they spare to one or two or three,
Rowme in their writs; yet the same writing small
Does all their deeds deface, and dims their glories all,

But by record of antique times I find,
That women wont in warres to beare most sway,
And to all great exploits them selues inclind:
Of which they still the girlond bore away,
Till enuious Men fearing their rules decay,
Can coyne streight lawes to curb their liberty;
Yet sith they warlike armes haue layd away:
The haue exceld in artes and pollicy,
That now we foolish men that prayse gin eke t'enuy.

     Edmund Spenser, The faerie queene (1590- ) III.ii.1-2.  indifferent:  impartial; Rowme:  room; wont:  were wont; girlond:  garland; sith:  since; that prayse gin eke t'enuy:  that praise begin to envy too.  (And by the way, if I understand The faerie queene, all of the valor to which it makes reference, male as well as female, is more symbolic or allegorical than literal anyway.)

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