Spenser's masterpiece, is among the most influential poems in the English language. It was the first epic in English and established the possibilities of heroic poetry in the English tradition. Milton called Spenser a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas, and the rhythmical music and rhetorical control of The Faerie Queene, no less than its learning, have delighted poets for four centuries. Eighteenth-century poets imitated Spenser with abandon and Wordsworth, Keats and Tennyson were deeply influenced by the sensuousness of the work.
Spenser's intention was to rival, or surpass, the epic romances of the Italian poets Ariosto and Tasso through the "darke conceit" of his poem, which brilliantly unites the medieval romance and renaissance epic. Spenser is the culmination of an ancient tradition begun by Virgil, yet the tone and atmosphere of The Faerie Queene are distinctively his own.