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COLOUR AND IMAGERY IN SPENSER I. Light Ad Colour: Simile And Stanza. II. Value Of The Simile: Images From The Sea, Animals, Flowers, Humanity. BEFORE Blake and Keats, a sense for the stranger modulations of colour is uncommon in the English poets. Through their paly flames Each battle sees the other's umber'd face. That night-watch in Shakespeare, which carries us at once to Rembrandt's vast picture, is an exception, like the ' dusk faces with white silken turbants wreathed ' which floated before the inner eye of Milton. Spenser, like both his great successors and all good poets, cared more for sound, the medium of poetry, than for colour, which poetry can only mention. His hues are often bright and violent, and are often drawn from luxury or the crafts; he likes gold and ermine (F. Q. iii. i. 59), silver and satin and purple (iv. n. n ; v. 5. 2). He pays honour to the standard face of rose and lily, like the neo-Latin and Italian poets; and once he uses and betters an old likeness when he compares the blood rising in the cheeks to fair vermilion overlaying ivory (ii. 9. 41). But Spenser is eminently sensitive to varied and mysterious degrees of light and darkness. Void blackness he does not know, yet he ranges from all butunaltered night ' a little glooming light, much like a shade' (i. i. 14) through the twilight of morning and evening, or starlight mirrored in water, or sunlight glancing off it, up to daybreak or fullest noon. Most of these indications are embodied in his formal similes and come in the Faerie Queene. In clear and full light, though he often describes it vaguely, he is not at home, as Dante is throughout the Paradiso. The sun he uses for ceremonialcommonplace, comparing to its blaze the aspect of Artegall, Lord Grey, unhelrning. Britomart in th...