Edmund Spencer’s epic poem The Faerie Queene is a classic work of medieval English literature. At over 36,000 lines long its six books contain one of the longest poems in the English language, each telling the story of a knight’s quest to prove their particular virtue.
As a whole it is believed to be an allegory of the life and achievements of Queen Elizabeth I, but it is in Book One where we meet the heroic figure of Una.
Una is a beautiful princess on a quest to save her mother and father from a cruel dragon who has imprisoned them in a tower. She is accompanied by the Redcrosse Knight, whose destiny is to become St. George, the patron saint of England.
While on her journey Una enters a dark wood where she encounters a fierce lion. However the lion’s rage soon gives way to wonder, his anger subdued as he is captivated by Una’s beauty and innocence. Instead of attacking her, he kisses her weary feet and licks her hands, becoming her faithful companion; forever by her side and protecting her from harm.