Spenser wrote a letter to Walter Raleigh (above excerpted) to explain this strange cacophony of FQ, a mixture of ancient mythology, Renaissance Christian morality and enough obscure symbolism for an academic brigade; a tribute to country and queen. Knights from the court of the Faerie Queen conduct a search and destroy mission against evil in the form of a pack of minor villains pecking away at the heroes of the poem, but each one perpetually foiled. Such as Archimago, the witch Hectate, the philanderer Malbecco receive comeuppances in jousts, internecine squabbles or palace tours, with this type of constant action occupying canto after canto that at some point the content aspect becomes a bit wearisome. Amid this "action" are endless lists of virtues allegorized in each book, the reader being skewered to a Platonic ideal especially evident in females with such as the knight Britomart representing strenght and accomplishment in women, Una, the ultimate fantasy chick, and several others with such heights of description one does expect something mind blowing ahead, perhaps at last the perfect woman, to which in FQ Spenser comes close without cigar. The joust with the evil forces of nature seems unique to Spenser, who seizes the reader by the lapels with an in one's face style of optimism such that worst elements suffer defeat by contrast with more worthy opponents. There is little in FQ of the the weird, off the wall bastardizations of human nature being written almost at the same time by the playwright down the road. This world of Spenser's appears mostly black and white, and totally devoid of the perceptual uncertainty or moral relativity of a Lear or Hamlet, though one senses toward the end with introduction of "mutability" a weakening in the poet: "Then since within this wide, great universe nothing does firm and permanent appear." It is faint criticism of genius to call FQ a shade below the top with its questionable, archaic content simply outweighed subsequently, but for the glaring and obvious truth that this is some of the greatest poetry that has been written by one of the best poets. FQ is saved by its lyrical verse, by the brilliance of its expression; by the talent of this tremendous intellect to place into rhyme over hundreds of pages such enormous complexity of expression. To call this accomplishment "a pleasing analysis" though as well said as the rest of this poem, is understatement. Shakespeare tends to stir with eerie omniscient intellect, and Spenser does the same, but in a tone and manner so sharply in contrast. FQ contains cleverness, insight, a piercing intelligence, but all rendered with such brushstrokes of eloquence as is simply unequaled. As happens too often, Spenser died before he finished, and one speculates had he lived what else might have been "thrustest into the midst".