I have made a mistake. I thought I could split my writing-related interest off from our main blog, Elk Jerky for the Soul. But I don’t seem to be able to keep up with both, so I am going back to posting on Elk Jerky exclusively. Please join me there, if you aren’t already subscribed. All posts and page information from here will move over there, and by the first of the year, this blog will close down. Thank you!
My Christmas Gift to You — An Illustated Summary of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene Part 1 — First Installment
Edmund Spenser planned a series of twelve great poetic books. He created a new form of poetic stanza with a complicated rhyme and rhythm scheme, which became known as the Spenserian stanza, just for this work. Each book was dedicated to a different aspect of Christian character or virtue. This is the first, the Faerie Queen, Part One. It was written in the late 1500s and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I. This story is an allegory. Like the parables the Lord Jesus Christ told in His days on earth, it tells of earthly things to make a point about spiritual things. The fairy queen, Glorianna, is a good and pure ruler who represents the glory of God, for whom Queen Elizabeth I is the inspiration. The Red Cross Knight is a young man untried in battle but equipped with wonderful armor and a shield bearing the emblem of the cross. He represents Holiness, or the process by which a young Christian matures in God’s service by “putting on the whole armor of God.” Una is the fair maid who represents Truth. The dragon that holds her parents captive, of course, represents the power of evil. The magic performed in this play is presented as evil. There is violence because we are in a spiritual battle against sin and wickedness. The palace of pride is presented as rich and beautiful on the outside but filthy and falling apart underneath. Wicked people sometimes deceive Christians and believers sometimes fall in with the wrong people. They come to harm themselves, and cause harm to others whom they are supposed to be protecting. Archimago means “great magician.” Duessa, whose name means “two-faced,” pretends to be Fidessa, which means “faithful.” Sans Foy, Sans Loy, and Sans Joy, evil knights who are brothers, have names meaning “Without Faith,” “Without Law” and “Without Joy.” Spencer did not explain how the Red Cross Knight got sent on his quest in the Faerie Queene Book One. It begins In Media Res, in the middle of things, like many great epic works. He intended to explain to background for the quest of the Red Cross Knight in a later book, which he never finished, but he did explain it in a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh.
The court of Glorianna, queen of Faerieland, is the site of an annual feast where anyone may come and beg a favor of the queen. People in trouble could find knights begging for a quest to prove their worthiness, both of them petitioning the queen at this festival of the twelve days. The Red Cross knight received his quest on the first day of the festival.The queen’s palace is radiant in its beauty. The walls are decorated with white and gold hangings and rich ornaments. Tables with long white cloths and platters filled with food are set up in front of Glorianna’s throne in the center, for it is a great feast. Music fills the air. Rich and poor feast together. The queen enters with her ladies in waiting and chief advisors and takes her seat. Glorianna the Faerie Queen welcomes everyone to her annual Feast of Twelve Days. It is her wish that none should be sad or want for anything. During this time the queen can refuse no request. A ragged young man enters the court. He has come from far away and is clumsy and simple but not afraid to approach the queen. Queen Glorianna realizes that he is good and virtuous, and that he shows courage and strength. He asks that if any adventure presents itself during the feast that she would give it to him to perform. Glorianna promises to grant the young man’s favor. She urges him to stay in the meantime and share the feast, to eat, drink and rest himself. The young man replies that he is not worthy to sit in the beauty of the court of the great queen.
Soon a lovely princess slowly enters the court, veiled and weeping, leading a lamb (symbolizing her purity and innocence), accompanied by her dwarf servant (who represents human reason) and a donkey (representing the church) carrying knight’s armor, shield and sword (This is the armor described in Ephesians 6). She is dressed in mourning black over a radiant white gown. Queen Glorianna notices the young woman and calls to her to come near. She explains that this is a time of happiness and joy, and asks why she wears a dress of sorrow. The young woman says her name is Una. She asks for a champion to slay a dragon that has taken over her country and imprisoned her father and mother. She shows the fine armor, shield seasoned in battle, decorated with a blood-red cross, and great sword she has brought for her knight. The young man runs and falls at Una’s feet. He reminds the great queen of her promise and claims the adventure as his own. Una scornfully asks the queen if this is her greatest champion. Queen Glorianna warns the young man that this is no adventure, but a fight to the death. She observes that he is young and has never seen battle. The young man asks if the glorious queen of fairyland will go back on her word. Glorianna admits that she cannot do that. She orders the sweet maiden to accept her champion. Una begs the great queen to give her a real champion. She tells the queen that the journey back to her country is long and hard, filled with dangers and troubles. Glorianna chides her, asking if she should break a promise made during the Feast of Twelve Days. She says that the young man shows modesty, strength and courage and tells her not to judge too quickly. She tells Una to rest, eat and drink. The dwarf and donkey depart with the young man to get him dressed in the armor. “See, now,” says Queen Glorianna when he returns, “how wondrously fair your knight looks, dressed in the splendid armor you brought.” Una looks in amazement and admits that he is a true knight, and that God has sent him in her need. Glorianna commands him to kneel, takes his sword, and names him knight of the Red Cross. She commands him to serve his lady faithfully and perform the task he has promised to do, as God gives him strength. The knight replies to the great queen that he will. He urges Una to go with him at once and not to tarry, since her need is so great.
The Lady Una, her knight, and her faithful dwarf cross a meadow beside a dark forest. They see a storm coming. The knight urges his lady to make haste and take shelter in the wood. Una suggests that they wait there until the storm passes. The knight is impatient to go on and argues that no one knows how long it will last. He points out a path into the woods that seems to go just the way they were heading. After a time they notice that the path twists and turns more than they had thought. Una thinks that they are lost. Then the knight sees that the path grows wider, and that many feet have come that way. (Matthew 7:13,14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”Una cries out that she knows where they are now. It is the wood of Error. It is true that many people have gone down that path, but in a cave nearby lives a terrible monster who devours men. She says they mus flee. Error appears at the entrance of the cave, snarling and hissing, a hideous half-woman, half serpent with a scorpion tail. The knight exclaims that he is not afraid of Error. He vows to destroy her. In the battle with Error she casts her nets about him (symbolizing the power of what we see and read to drag us away from godly thoughts and actions) and seems likely to defeat him.Narrator: The knight fought bravely, but Error seemed likely to defeat him. Una cried out to him to have courage, and to let the Lord give him strength!
My latest Twittersperiment has several sub-experiments running, but I’ll share what’s going on right now.
1. Permalinks. I was introduced to this method of retweeting recently. Retweets are supposed to be better than tweets for sharing other people’s information. Not sure why, but I know I get a lot more retweets since I started participating in this method. Here’s how it’s done, from the files of one of the retweet groups I belong to.
Step 1: Go to your Twitter profile and post a tweet as you normally would. (Make sure it is in 3rd person. No “Hey, check out my book” tweets please)
Step 2: Once your tweet is posted, click on “Expand,” then click on “Details.” Once you’ve clicked on “details,” your tweet should now be zoomed on your screen. You now have a perma-link at the top of your computer screen that you can copy. Copy that link.
Step 3: Paste that perma-link into the daily thread in the share group you belong to.
Step 4: Follow the links that the rest of the participants have pasted into the daily threads and retweet the tweet that the link takes you to. You must be logged into Twitter for this to work.
When all we do is copy and paste tweets, our Twitter profiles get clogged with a whole bunch of tweets that all look like they are from us originally. If you manually retweet for others, you look more professional and less like you’re only promoting your own books. Also, when tweets get retweeted a lot of times, they get seen by more people.
Another way to create a permalink is to post a tweet and then click on the time in the right-hand corner. It will say now if you just posted it, but you can do this with any tweet in your feed. The permalink screen comes up, and you copy and paste the URL.
2. I have kinda stopped following people. This may seem weird, but I am zeroing in on retweeters, not followers.
3. I subscribe to Social Oomph, a service that, among other things, sends you a list of people who retweeted your tweets. I try to go down that list, click my way to each tweeter’s feed, and retweet something he/she posted. I sometimes find I have a long list of retweeters, many of whom I don’t know and don’t follow. But I still retweet something from them. And they keep retweeting me back. I also get notice of mentions and retweets from Twitter. I jump in and retweet those folks, too. Their tweets, not just their retweet of my tweet.
4. I note with concern that many people are using auto-retweet services. I don’t know if that means that all these tweets and retweets are fakeys going to fakeys. But if I go to a feed that has nothing from the person/profile but “Blah blah uses autoretweet”, I still go to the link in the profile and tweet whatever page that goes to.
5. The Hootlet app. I love this. I installed it on my browser, and I can tweet any page I go to, in fact, I can share it over up to five social networks at once. You sign up for a Hootsuite account but then just get the app and do your sharing and retweeting without ever going to Hootsuite. It works within Twitter to share across all the media you choose, too.
6. Tweet from Facebook. This sets up to automatically tweet your fb posts. Since you naturally talk about everyday, personal, and/or non-promotional things on facebook, it automatically makes your twitter feed look less full of promo stuff.
Please let me know what sharing and promotional tricks you use, and thanks for reading!
If you love fantasy RPG games you will love this book. There aren’t so many characters that you get lost, but there is a rich diversity along with familiar types. Rogues and clerics, mages, and paladins dot the landscape, as well as cooks and bards and bad guys. Johnson has done some fine world-building. I appreciated the overall high moral tone along with the realistic enjoyment of a good drink and appreciation for a pretty girl (even if she does have black fur) by ordinary men with extraordinary determination and courage. If you expect a resolution, you apparently had better have book 2 on hand, because it’s still to come at the end of this piece. It does include a satisfactory step toward victory. My one warning is that Christian readers will need to extend a certain degree of grace to accept the presence of God and angels in a new world where the curse is not a factor, but this is a minor issue.
As we finished our lunch, instead of Rose, the thin, sallow girl I had learned was called Dulcinea, the Campbells’ adopted daughter, entered, bearing a cunningly carved elephant cup of fragrant wood brimming with frothy milk.
“Thank you, Dulcy,” Kera said warmly. I started, noticing that the child’s left hand was only a withered claw. She did not speak, either, just bobbed and awkward curtsy to both of us and left.
“Rose told me Doctor Mac rescued Dulcy from a hospital after her indigent mother died,” Kera sighed. “And Rose adopted her before they were married. Dulcy was the beginning of Rose’s ministry to orphans. She is so blessed to have those two as parents. All of these children are so blessed, to be covered in prayers and taught to praise.”
She looked wistfully out the window as Rose darted by, having apparently challenged Oliver to a race. The two had comets’ trails of children screaming and running joyfully after them.
“Doctor Twist spent his childhood starving, cleaning hemp and making coffin-linings. He told me the coffin-maker made him march in the funeral processions because he had such a sweet face and looked so like a mourning angel, wearing a black top-hat and bearing ostrich plumes. He said the man thought to have him made into a mute — that it would make him more valuable as a mourner and people would pay more for funerals. I thought my upbringing was a horror story.”
She fell silent and I saw that she was nodding off over the last of her milk. “Are you strong enough to get yourself off to bed?” I asked.
“I can manage.” Kera rose slowly and approached my bed. “Now I can kiss you and you need not fear me.” She bent down and placed her lips on my forehead. “Rest well, my father in Christ.”
Free sampler of the first book
Book One, Narrated by Florizel of Bohemia Book Two, with Oliver Twist as Narrator