This study offers a new paradigm for reading Edmund Spenser's unusual elegy Daphnaïda, a poem often considered aesthetically displeasing in its unsympathetic characterization, deferred consolation, and highly rhetorical style. This essay describes Daphnaïda's eccentricities as a product of a neoteric aesthetic unique to Spenser's late pastorals and inspired by the poetic experiments of the Latin poet Gaius Valerius Catullus. The plaintive mode, a key element of Spenser's neoteric method, acts as a disruptive, revisionary mechanism that prefigures formal revision, highlighting the poet's role as master craftsman and the artistry of poetry itself. In Daphnaïda, plaintive dissonance demonstrates how the poetic expression of loss is reflexive and self-negating, engendering a silence that mimics the absence of the beloved. The force of Spenser's psychological depiction of grief as dissonant effectively externalize Alcyon's internal state. The poem's lack of resolution, then, is not a failure of representation but an apt portrayal of the destructive nature of grief.


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pp. 668-695
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