Edmund Spenser – “The Faerie Queene” (ctd.)

The wounded dragon manages to raise a bit in the air and clutches with his talons Redcrosse’s shield. The knight tries to snatch it back, but the dragon is too strong, so he goes at him with his sword. He manages to make the dragon let go of one paw, so that he can defend himself, and then strikes at the other paw, still on the shield. He luckily hits the joint and chops it off. The cut-off talons still grip the shield even after that. The enraged dragon roars very loud and produces as much smoke and sulphur as Mount Etna. The knight has to step back and in doing so slips on the ground. Fortunately it was not just ordinary mud he slipped in, as he is near the two miraculous trees – the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. From under the roots of the first one flows a sweet stream with restorative properties, like the Well of Life, and it’s in this stream that St George fell. Spenser makes one puzzling remark – he calls the Tree of Life “the crime of our first fathers fall”. It’s not true as Adam and Eve transgressed by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. They were in fact free to eat from the other one, and had they not been banished from Eden, they would have stayed forever young. Could it be that Spenser, a good Protestant, didn’t read his Bible carefully? Or is it some kind of odd theological puzzle I don’t get?

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