Bloody Tears of Agony

by Calvin Patimeteeporn


Professor Hall:

Imagine you are playing the game Tetris. You’re playing along but you slowly begin to realize that the game is only giving you the awkward (and devastating) “Z” shaped blocks and you can never make a line. No matter how hard you try, the blocks fall down in unwanted patterns, creating tiny spaces that prevent you from your goal. Even though these “Z” blocks have the same number of blocks (4) as the other pieces you need, you are not able to win.

Now retain with this image but add bleeding tears of agony.

This, Professor Hall, is what reading Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser is like:


If you think this is bad, you should see me when I read Twilight.

Continuing with my Tetris metaphor, while the number of “blocks” of the “Z” shaped blocks are the same as the others, its the arrangement that throws you completely off. Spenser wrote this epic (epic in its actual definition, rather than the modern slang) in a time where spelling was just as set in stone and mature as Stephanie Meyers’s writing ability. Thus, words he used were spelled completely differently than that of today, resulting in eye-bleeding-worthy confusion. Misspellings and archaic diction both contribute to the verbal pandemonium that ensues when encountered with non-literature savvy people. Much like the scenario in the game above and with Spenser’s work, you can’t win.


As well as confusing words, the structure of Spenser’s writing brings grief and frustration as well. Last week in biology, I learned that only 3% of the billions of base pairs in our genome actually code for proteins. This is much like Faerie Queene where basically most of the words used are, for the lack of a better term, junk. There is a small percentage however that actually contribute to story. In Book III Cantos iii, Glauce, the nurse to warrior maiden Britomart, takes said maiden to Merlin to seek help, as Britomart has been struck and sickened by love. Merlin explains to her that she is falling for her destined husband, Arthegall. He could have done so in maybe a few stanzas. However, Spenser decides to switch the characteristics of the wizard Merlin out with that of the Twilight saga, boring and far too long.

Faerie Queene is filled with enough odd spellings to make anyone think they are as illiterate as R. Kelly, and enough unwanted material that Matthew McConnaughey would think he has competition for the next  new romantic comedy movie. So here I warn you Professor Hall, approach Faerie Queene with the caution you would use with a rabid bear. Now if you will excuse me, I feel like this eye bleeding problem has gone out of control.

A Letter to the Professor:

November 5, 2009

Dearest Professor Hall,

I am writing you with deep regret to inform you that my experience of reading Renaissance poetry has been horrific beyond belief. The word on the street is that this Edmund Spencer guy is a genius and writes better than Shakespeare, but boy did I think I was a bad speller; this guy is terrible. That Cambridge degree must not have been worth much back then. I feel like I am reading one of my litter sisters’ 1st grade papers except this one rhymes better.

I do not understand why he has to write like that anyhow. Why cant poetry people just straight up say what they mean? He makes everything so much more confusing and difficult by trying to make everything rhyme, and like every three words is an allusion to this, or an analogy about that. No one actually enjoys reading stuff like that except for maybe super English nerds like Professor Clayton. But what average 18 or 19 year-old would enjoy being confused for two hours trying to decipher the English version of Morse code?

Sure Professor Hall, I know you are a smart guy and all, but just like we [the entire student body] feel, I’m sure you could think of far better things to do with your life than attempt to read the worlds hardest poetry. And another thing, why is the book so freaking long? I mean I know we are not reading the whole thing in class but I could kill people with this book it is so huge. Where someone can find the motivation to write poetry for 10 years straight is quit impressive though.

I have to admit, the idea as a whole of each book being about a certain virtue. That is pretty cool. It kind of reminds me of the horror movie called SE7EN where a serial killer is out to get characters that represent each of the seven deadly sins. Including the horror part that is how I imagined reading this Renaissance poetry would be!

But you know what Professor Hall? Thank goodness for IT people like you because even though I might want to throw my computer across the room sometimes, without technology I would not have been able to use the amazing GOOGLE search engine or SparkNote this crazy piece of work as soon as I become totally lost. So thanks for all your hard work and I hope that since you’re a tech person you never have to go through this misery like we do.

All the best,