The body is a Castle

— Spenser, Edmund (1552-1599)

Work Title
The body is a Castle
Metaphor in Context
First she them led up to the Castle wall,
That was so high, as foe might not it clime,
And all so faire, and fensible withall,
Not built of bricke, ne yet of stone and lime,
But of thing like to that Aegyptian slime,
Whereof king Nine whilome built Babell towre;
But O great pitty, that no lenger time
So goodly workemanship should not endure:
Soone it must turne to earth; no earthly thing is sure.

The frame thereof seemed partly circulare,
And part triangulare, O worke divine;
Those two the first and last proportions are,
The one imperfect, mortall, feminine;
Th'other immortall, perfect, masculine,
And twixt them both a quadrate was the base,
Proportioned equally by seven and nine;
Nine was the circle set in heavens place,
All which compacted made a goodly diapase.

Therein two gates were placed seemly well:
The one before, by which all in did pas,
Did th'other far in workmanship excell;
For not of wood, nor of enduring bras,
But of more worthy substance framd it was;
Doubly disparted, it did locke and close,
Still open to their friends, and closéd to their foes.

Of hewen stone the porch was fairely wrought,
Stone more of valew, and more smooth and fine,
Then Jet or Marble far from Ireland brought;
Over the which was cast a wandring vine,
Enchacéd with a wanton yvie twine.
And over it a faire Portcullis hong,
Which to the gate directly did incline,
With comely compasse, and compacture strong,
Neither unseemely short, nor yet exceeding long.

Within the Barbican a Porter sate,
Day and night duely keeping watch and ward,
Nor wight, nor word mote passe out of the gate,
But in good order, and with dew regard;
Utterers of secrets he from thence debard,
Bablers of folly, and blazers of crime.
His larumbell might lowd and wide be hard,
When cause requird, but never out of time;
Early and late it rong, at evening and at prime.

And round about the porch on every side
Twise sixteen warders sat, all arméd bright
In glistring steele, and strongly fortifide:
Tall yeomen seeméd they, and of great might,
And were enraungéd ready, still for fight.
By them as Alma passéd with her guestes,
They did obeysaunce, as beseeméd right,
And then againe returnéd to their restes:
The Porter eke to her did lout with humble gestes.

Thence she them brought into a stately Hall,
Wherein were many tables faire dispred,
And ready dight with drapets festivall,
Against the viaundes should be ministred.
At th'upper end there sate, yclad in red
Downe to the ground, a comely personage,
That in his hand a white rod menagéd,
He Steward was hight Diet; rype of age,
And in demeanure sober, and in counsell sage.

Reading MacDonald's History of the Concept of Mind
Spenser, Edmund. Edmund Spenser's Poetry. A Norton Critical Edition. Third Edition. Ed. Hugh Maclean and Anne Lake Prescott. New York and London: W. W. Norton and Co., 1993.
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.