More than three hundred years ago there lived in England a poet named Edmund Spenser. He was brave and true and gentle, and he loved all that was beautiful and good. Edmund Spenser wrote many poems, and the most beautiful of all is the one called ‘The Faerie Queen.’ He loved so dearly all things that are beautiful and all things that are good, that his eyes could see Fairyland more clearly than the eyes of other men ever could. There are many, many stories in ‘The Faerie Queen,’ and out of them all I have told you only eight. Some day you will read the others for yourself.
From its opening scenes--in which the hero refrains from fighting a duel, then discovers that his horse has been stolen—Book Two of The Faerie Queene redefines the nature of heroism and of chivalry. Its hero is Sir Guyon, the knight of Temperance, whose challenges frequently take the form of temptations. Accompanied by a holy Palmer in place of a squire, Guyon struggles to subdue himself as well as his enemies. His adventures lead up to a climactic encounter with the arch-temptress Acrasia in her Bower of Bliss, which provides the occasion for some of Spenser's most sensuous verse. With its mixture of chivalric romance, history, and moral allegory, Book Two succeeds in presenting an exuberant exploration of the virtue of self-restraint.
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