The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume 5
by Edmund Spenser
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


Nor the swift furie of the flames aspiring, Nor the deep wounds of victours raging blade, Nor ruthlesse spoyle of souldiers blood-desiring, The which so oft thee, Rome, their conquest made, Ne stroke on stroke of fortune variable, Ne rust of age hating continuance, Nor wrath of gods, nor spight of men unstable, Nor thou oppos'd against thine owne puissance, Nor th'horrible uprore of windes high blowing, Nor swelling streames of that god snakie-paced* Which hath so often with his overflowing Thee drenched, have thy pride so much abaced, But that this nothing, which they have thee left, Makes the world wonder what they from thee reft. [* Snakie-paced, winding; or perhaps (like Ovid's anguipes) swift.]


As men in summer fearles passe the foord Which is in winter lord of all the plaine, And with his tumbling streames doth beare aboord* The ploughmans hope and shepheards labour vaine, And as the coward beasts use to despise The noble lion after his lives end, Whetting their teeth, and with vaine foolhardise Daring the foe that cannot him defend, And as at Troy most dastards of the Greekes Did brave about the corpes of Hector colde, So those which whilome wont with pallid cheekes The Romane triumphs glorie to behold, Now on these ashie tombes shew boldnesse vaine, And, conquer'd, dare the conquerour disdaine. [*Aboord, into the current.]


Ye pallid spirits, and ye ashie ghoasts, Which, ioying in the brightnes of your day, Brought foorth those signes of your presumptuous boasts Which now their dusty reliques do bewray, Tell me, ye spirits! (sith the darksome river Of Styx, not passable to soules returning, Enclosing you in thrice three wards for ever, Doo not restraine your images still mourning,) Tell me then, (for perhaps some one of you Yet here above him secretly doth hide,) Doo ye not feele your torments to accrewe, When ye sometimes behold the ruin'd pride Of these old Romane works, built with your hands, To become nought els but heaped sands?


Like as ye see the wrathfull sea from farre In a great mountaine heap't with hideous noyse, Eftsoones of thousand billowes shouldred narre*, Against a rocke to breake with dreadfull poyse; Like as ye see fell Boreas with sharpe blast Tossing huge tempests through the troubled skie, Eftsoones having his wide wings spent in wast, To stop his wearie cariere** suddenly; And as ye see huge flames spred diverslie, Gathered in one up to the heavens to spyre, Eftsoones consum'd to fall downe feebily, So whilom did this monarchie aspyre As waves, as winde, as fire, spred over all, Till it by fatall doome adowne did fall. [* Narre, nearer.] [** Cariere, career.]


So long as Ioves great bird did make his flight, Bearing the fire with which heaven doth us fray, Heaven had not feare of that presumptuous might, With which the giaunts did the gods assay: But all so soone as scortching sunne had brent* His wings which wont the earth to overspredd, The earth out of her massie wombe forth sent That antique horror which made heaven adredd. Then was the Germane raven in disguise That Romane eagle seene to cleave asunder, And towards heaven freshly to arise Out of these mountaines, now consum'd to pouder. In which the foule that serves to beare the lightning Is now no more seen flying nor alighting. [* Brent, burned.]


These heapes of stones, these old wals which ye see, Were first enclosures but of salvage soyle; And these brave pallaces, which maystred bee Of time, were shepheards cottages somewhile. Then tooke the shepheards kingly ornaments And the stout hynde arm'd his right hand with steele: Eftsoones their rule of yearely presidents Grew great, and sixe months greater a great deele; Which, made perpetuall, rose to so great might, That thence th'imperiall eagle rooting tooke, Till th'heaven it selfe, opposing gainst her might, Her power to Peters successor betooke, Who, shepheardlike, (as Fates the same foreseeing,) Doth shew that all things turne to their first being. [XVIII. 8.—Sixe months, &c. The term of the dictatorship at Rome.]


All that is perfect, which th'heaven beautefies; All that's imperfect, borne belowe the moone; All that doth feede our spirits and our eies; And all that doth consume our pleasures soone; All the mishap the which our daies outweares; All the good hap of th'oldest times afore, Rome, in the time of her great ancesters, Like a Pandora, locked long in store. But destinie this huge chaos turmoyling, In which all good and evill was enclosed, Their heavenly vertues from these woes assoyling, Caried to heaven, from sinfull bondage losed: But their great sinnes, the causers of their paine, Under these antique ruines yet remaine.


No otherwise than raynie cloud, first fed With earthly vapours gathered in the ayre, Eftsoones in compas arch't, to steepe his hed, Doth plonge himselfe in Tethys bosome faire, And, mounting up againe from whence he came, With his great bellie spreds the dimmed world, Till at the last, dissolving his moist frame, In raine, or snowe, or haile, he forth is horld, This citie, which was first but shepheards shade, Uprising by degrees, grewe to such height That queene of land and sea her selfe she made. At last, not able to beare so great weight, Her power, disperst, through all the world did vade*; To shew that all in th'end to nought shall fade. [* Vade, vanish.]


The same which Pyrrhus and the puissaunce Of Afrike could not tame, that same brave citie Which, with stout courage arm'd against mischaunce, Sustein'd the shocke of common enmitie, Long as her ship, tost with so manie freakes, Had all the world in armes against her bent, Was never seene that anie fortunes wreakes Could breake her course begun with brave intent. But, when the obiect of her vertue failed, Her power it selfe against it selfe did arme; As he that having long in tempest sailed Faine would arive, but cannot for the storme, If too great winde against the port him drive, Doth in the port it selfe his vessell rive.


When that brave honour of the Latine name, Which mear'd* her rule with Africa and Byze**, With Thames inhabitants of noble fame, And they which see the dawning day arize, Her nourslings did with mutinous uprore Harten against her selfe, her conquer'd spoile, Which she had wonne from all the world afore, Of all the world was spoyl'd within a while: So, when the compast course of the universe In sixe and thirtie thousand yeares is ronne, The bands of th'elements shall backe reverse To their first discord, and be quite undonne; The seedes of which all things at first were bred Shall in great Chaos wombe againe be hid. [* Mear'd, bounded.] [** Byze, Byzantium.]


O warie wisedome of the man* that would That Carthage towres from spoile should be forborne, To th'end that his victorious people should With cancring laisure not be overworne! He well foresaw how that the Romane courage, Impatient of pleasures faint desires, Through idlenes would turne to civill rage, And be her selfe the matter of her fires. For in a people given all to ease, Ambition is engendred easily; As, in a vicious bodie, grose disease Soone growes through humours superfluitie. That came to passe, when, swolne with plenties pride, Nor prince, nor peere, nor kin, they would abide. [* I.e. Scipio Nasica.]


If the blinde Furie which warres breedeth oft Wonts not t'enrage the hearts of equall beasts, Whether they fare on foote, or flie aloft, Or armed be with clawes, or scalie creasts, What fell Erynnis, with hot burning tongs, Did grype your hearts with noysome rage imbew'd, That, each to other working cruell wrongs, Your blades in your owne bowels you embrew'd? Was this, ye Romanes, your hard destinie? Or some old sinne, whose unappeased guilt Powr'd vengeance forth on you eternallie? Or brothers blood, the which at first was spilt Upon your walls, that God might not endure Upon the same to set foundation sure?


O that I had the Thracian poets harpe, For to awake out of th'infernall shade Those antique Caesars, sleeping long in darke, The which this auncient citie whilome made! Or that I had Amphions instrument, To quicken with his vitall notes accord The stonie ioynts of these old walls now rent, By which th'Ausonian light might be restor'd! Or that at least I could with pencill fine Fashion the pourtraicts of these palacis, By paterne of great Virgils spirit divine! I would assay with that which in me is To builde, with levell of my loftie style, That which no hands can evermore compyle.


Who list the Romane greatnes forth to figure, Him needeth not to seeke for usage right Of line, or lead, or rule, or squaire, to measure Her length, her breadth, her deepnes, or her hight; But him behooves to vew in compasse round All that the ocean graspes in his long armes; Be it where the yerely starre doth scortch the ground, Or where colde Boreas blowes his bitter stormes. Rome was th'whole world, and al the world was Rome; And if things nam'd their names doo equalize, When land and sea ye name, then name ye Rome, And, naming Rome, ye land and sea comprize: For th'auncient plot of Rome, displayed plaine, The map of all the wide world doth containe.


Thou that at Rome astonisht dost behold The antique pride which menaced the skie, These haughtie heapes, these palaces of olde, These wals, these arcks, these baths, these temples his, Iudge, by these ample ruines vew, the rest The which iniurious time hath quite outworne, Since, of all workmen helde in reckning best, Yet these olde fragments are for paternes borne: Then also marke how Rome, from day to day, Repayring her decayed fashion, Renewes herselfe with buildings rich and gay; That one would iudge that the Romaine Daemon* Doth yet himselfe with fatall hand enforce Againe on foot to reare her pouldred** corse. [* Romaine Daemon, Genius of Rome.] [** Pouldred, reduced to dust.]


He that hath seene a great oke drie and dead, Yet clad with reliques of some trophees olde, Lifting to heaven her aged hoarie head, Whose foote in ground hath left but feeble holde, But halfe disbowel'd lies above the ground, Shewing her wreathed rootes, and naked armes, And on her trunke all rotten and unsound Onely supports herselfe for meate of wormes, And, though she owe her fall to the first winde, Yet of the devout people is ador'd, And manie yong plants spring out of her rinde; Who such an oke hath seene, let him record That such this cities honour was of yore, And mongst all cities florished much more.


All that which Aegypt whilome did devise, All that which Greece their temples to embrave, After th'Ionicke, Atticke, Doricke guise, Or Corinth skil'd in curious workes to grave, All that Lysippus practike* arte could forme, Apelles wit, or Phidias his skill, Was wont this auncient citie to adorne, And the heaven it selfe with her wide wonders fill. All that which Athens ever brought forth wise, All that which Afrike ever brought forth strange, All that which Asie ever had of prise, Was here to see. O mervelous great change! Rome, living, was the worlds sole ornament; And, dead, is now the worlds sole moniment. [* Practike, cunning.]


Like as the seeded field greene grasse first showes, Then from greene grasse into a stalke doth spring, And from a stalke into an eare forth-growes, Which eare the frutefull graine doth shortly bring, And as in season due the husband* mowes The waving lockes of those faire yeallow heares, Which, bound in sheaves, and layd in comely rowes, Upon the naked fields in stalkes he reares, So grew the Romane empire by degree, Till that barbarian hands it quite did spill, And left of it but these olde markes to see, Of which all passers by doo somewhat pill**, As they which gleane, the reliques use to gather Which th'husbandman behind him chanst to scater. [* Husband, husbandman.] [** Pill, plunder.]


That same is now nought but a champian wide, Where all this worlds pride once was situate. No blame to thee, whosoever dost abide By Nyle, or Gange, or Tygre, or Euphrate; Ne Afrike thereof guiltie is, nor Spaine, Nor the bolde people by the Thamis brincks, Nor the brave warlicke brood of Alemaine, Nor the borne souldier which Rhine running drinks. Thou onely cause, O Civill Furie, art! Which, sowing in th'Aemathian fields thy spight, Didst arme thy hand against thy proper hart; To th'end that when thou wast in greatest hight To greatnes growne, through long prosperitie, Thou then adowne might'st fall more horriblie. [XXXI. 10.—Aemathian fields. Thessalian fields; alluding to the battle fought at Pharsalia, in Thessaly, between Caesar and Pompey. H.]


Hope ye, my Verses, that posteritie Of age ensuing shall you ever read? Hope ye that ever immortalitie So meane harpes worke may chalenge for her meed? If under heaven anie endurance were, These moniments, which not in paper writ, But in porphyre and marble doo appeare, Might well have hop'd to have obtained it. Nath'les, my Lute, whom Phoebus deigned to give, Cease not to sound these olde antiquities: For if that Time doo let thy glorie live, Well maist thou boast, how ever base thou bee, That thou art first which of thy nation song Th'olde honour of the people gowned long.


Bellay, first garland of free poesie That France brought forth, though fruitfull of brave wits, Well worthie thou of immortalitie, That long hast traveld*, by thy learned writs, Olde Rome out of her ashes to revive, And give a second life to dead decayes! Needes must he all eternitie survive, That can to other give eternall dayes. Thy dayes therefore are endles, and thy prayse Excelling all that ever went before: And, after thee, gins Bartas hie to rayse His heavenly Muse, th'Almightie to adore. Live happie spirits, th'honour of your name, And fill the world with never dying fame! [* Traveld, travailed, toiled.]

L'Envoy, 11.—Bartas. Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas, a French poet of the time of Henry IV, of extraordinary popularity in his day. His poem on the Creation is said to have been reprinted more than thirty times in six years, and was translated into several languages; among others, into English by Joshua Sylvester. H.











[* This date seems to be an error for 1591; or, as Mr. Craik suggests, it may have been used designedly with reference to real events, not yet ascertained, which furnished the subject of this very pleasing allegory. The Visions of the Worlds Vanitie, which follow this piece, may be suspected of a similar application. C.]


Most brave and bountifull La: for so excellent favours as I have received at your sweet handes, to offer these fewe leaves as in recompence, should be as to offer flowers to the gods for their divine benefites. Therefore I have determined to give my selfe wholy to you, as quite abandoned from my selfe, and absolutely vowed to your services: which in all right is ever held for full recompence of debt or damage, to have the person yeelded. My person I wot wel how little worth it is. But the faithfull minde and humble zeale which I bear unto your La: may perhaps be more of price, as may please you to account and use the poore service thereof; which taketh glory to advance your excellent partes and noble vertues, and to spend it selfe in honouring you; not so much for your great bounty to my self, which yet may not be unminded; nor for name or kindreds* sake by you vouchsafed, beeing also regardable; as for that honorable name, which yee have by your brave deserts purchast to your self, and spred in the mouths of al men: with which I have also presumed to grace my verses, and, under your name, to commend to the world this smal poeme; the which beseeching your La: to take in worth, and of all things therein according to your wonted graciousnes to make a milde construction, I humbly pray for your happines.

Your La: ever


E. S.

[Footnote: "This lady was Elizabeth, one of the six daughters of Sir John Spencer, of Althorpe, in Northamptonshire, and was married to Sir George Carey, who became Lord Hunsdon on the death of his father, in 1596."—TODD.]




* * * * *

I sing of deadly dolorous debate, Stir'd up through wrathful! Nemesis despight, Betwixt two mightie ones of great estate, Drawne into armes and proofe of mortall fight Through prowd ambition and hart-swelling hate, 5 Whilest neither could the others greater might And sdeignfull scorne endure; that from small iarre Their wraths at length broke into open warre.

The roote whereof and tragicall effect, Vouchsafe, O thou the mournfulst Muse of nyne, 10 That wontst the tragick stage for to direct, In funerall complaints and waylfull tyne* Reveale to me, and all the meanes detect Through which sad Clarion did at last declyne To lowest wretchednes: And is there then 15 Such rancour in the harts of mightie men? [* Tyne, grief.]

Of all the race of silver-winged flies Which doo possesse the empire of the aire, Betwixt the centred earth and azure skies Was none more favourable nor more faire, 20 Whilst heaven did favour his felicities, Then Clarion, the eldest sonne and haire Of Muscaroll, and in his fathers sight Of all alive did seeme the fairest wight.

With fruitfull hope his aged breast he fed 25 Of future good, which his yong toward yeares, Full of brave courage and bold hardyhed Above th'ensample of his equall peares, Did largely promise, and to him fore-red, (Whilst oft his heart did melt in tender teares,) 30 That he in time would sure prove such an one, As should be worthie of his fathers throne.

The fresh yong flie, in whom the kindly fire Of lustfull yongth* began to kindle fast, Did much disdaine to subiect his desire 35 To loathsome sloth, or houres in ease to wast; But ioy'd to range abroad in fresh attire Through the wide compas of the ayrie coast, And with unwearied wings each part t'inquire Of the wide rule of his renownned sire. 40 [* Yongth, youth.]

For he so swift and nimble was of flight, That from this lower tract he dar'd to stie* Up to the clowdes, and thence with pineons light To mount aloft unto the christall skie, To vew the workmanship of heavens hight 45 Whence down descending he along would flie Upon the streaming rivers, sport to finde, And oft would dare to tempt the troublous winde. [* Stie, mount.]

So on a summers day, when season milde With gentle calme the world had quieted, 50 And high in heaven Hyperions fierie childe Ascending did his beames abroad dispred, Whiles all the heavens on lower creatures smilde, Yong Clarion, with vauntfull lustiehead; After his guize did cast abroad to fare, 55 And theretoo gan his furnitures prepare.

His breastplate first, that was of substance pure, Before his noble heart he firmely bound, That mought his life from yron death assure, And ward his gentle corpes from cruell wound: 60 For it by arte was framed to endure The bit* of balefull steele and bitter stownd**, No lesse than that which Vulcane made to sheild Achilles life from fate of Troyan field. [* Bit, bite.] [** Stownd, hour.]

And then about his shoulders broad he threw 65 An hairie hide of some wilde beast, whom hee In salvage forrest by adventure slew, And reft the spoyle his ornament to bee; Which, spredding all his backe with dreadfull vew, Made all that him so horrible did see 70 Thinke him Alcides with the lyons skin, When the Naemean conquest he did win.

Upon his head, his glistering burganet*, The which was wrought by wonderous device And curiously engraven, he did set: 75 The mettall was of rare and passing price; Not Bilbo** steele, nor brasse from Corinth fet, Nor costly oricalche from strange Phoenice; But such as could both Phoebus arrowes ward, And th'hayling darts of heaven beating hard. 80 [* Burganet, helmet.] [** Bilbo, Bilboa.]

Therein two deadly weapons fixt he bore, Strongly outlaunced towards either side, Like two sharpe speares, his enemies to gore: Like as a warlike brigandine, applyde To fight, layes forth her threatfull pikes afore, 85 The engines which in them sad death doo hyde, So did this flie outstretch his fearefull hornes, Yet so as him their terrour more adornes.

Lastly his shinie wings, as silver bright, Painted with thousand colours passing farre 90 All painters skill, he did about him dight: Not halfe so manie sundrie colours arre In Iris bowe; ne heaven doth shine so bright, Distinguished with manie a twinckling starre; Nor Iunoes bird, in her ey-spotted traine, 95 So manie goodly colours doth containe.

Ne (may it be withouten perill spoken) The Archer-god, the sonne of Cytheree, That ioyes on wretched lovers to be wroken*, And heaped spoyles of bleeding harts to see, 100 Beares in his wings so manie a changefull token. Ah! my liege Lord, forgive it unto mee, If ought against thine honour I have tolde; Yet sure those wings were fairer manifolde. [* Wroken, avenged.]

Full many a ladie faire, in court full oft 105 Beholding them, him secretly envide, And wisht that two such fannes, so silken soft And golden faire, her Love would her provide; Or that, when them the gorgeous flie had doft, Some one that would with grace be gratifide 110 From him would steale them privily away, And bring to her so precious a pray.

Report is that Dame Venus on a day, In spring when flowres doo clothe the fruitful ground, Walking abroad with all her nymphes to play, 115 Bad her faire damzels flocking her arownd To gather flowres, her forhead to array. Emongst the rest a gentle nymph was found, Hight Astery, excelling all the crewe In curteous usage and unstained hewe. 120

Who, being nimbler ioynted than the rest, And more industrious, gathered more store Of the fields honour than the others best; Which they in secret harts envying sore, Tolde Venus, when her as the worthiest 125 She praisd', that Cupide (as they heard before) Did lend her secret aide in gathering Into her lap the children of the Spring,

Whereof the goddesse gathering iealous feare,— Not yet unmindfull how not long agoe 130 Her sonne to Psyche secrete love did beare, And long it close conceal'd, till mickle woe Thereof arose, and manie a rufull teare,— Reason with sudden rage did overgoe; And, giving hastie credit to th'accuser, 135 Was led away of them that did abuse her.

Eftsoones that damzel by her heavenly might She turn'd into a winged butterflie, In the wide aire to make her wandring flight; And all those flowres, with which so plenteouslie 140 Her lap she filled had, that bred her spight, She placed in her wings, for memorie Of her pretended crime, though crime none were: Since which that flie them in her wings doth beare.

Thus the fresh Clarion, being readie dight, 145 Unto his iourney did himselfe addresse, And with good speed began to take his flight: Over the fields, in his franke* lustinesse; And all the champion** he soared light; And all the countrey wide he did possesse, 150 Feeding upon their pleasures bounteouslie, That none gainsaid, nor none did him envie. [* Franke, free.] [** Champion, champaign.]

The woods, the rivers, and the medowes green. With his aire-cutting wings he measured wide, Ne did he leave the mountaines bare unseene, 155 Nor the ranke grassie fennes delights untride. But none of these, how ever sweete they beene, Mote please his fancie nor him cause t'abide: His choicefull sense with everie change doth flit; No common things may please a wavering wit. 160

To the gay gardins his unstaid desire Him wholly caried, to refresh his sprights: There lavish Nature, in her best attire, Powres forth sweete odors and alluring sights; And Arte, with her contending, doth aspire 165 T'excell the naturall with made delights: And all that faire or pleasant may be found In riotous excesse doth there abound. There he arriving round about doth flie, From bed to bed, from one to other border; 170 And takes survey, with curious busie eye, Of every flowre and herbe there set in order; Now this, now that, he tasteth tenderly, Yet none of them he rudely doth disorder, Ne with his feete their silken leaves deface, 175 But pastures on the pleasures of each place.

And evermore with most varietie, And change of sweetnesse, (for all change is sweete,) He casts his glutton sense to satisfie; Now sucking of the sap of herbe most meete, 180 Or of the deaw which yet on them does lie, Now in the same bathing his tender feete: And then he pearcheth on some braunch thereby, To weather him, and his moyst wings to dry.

And then againe he turneth to his play, 185 To spoyle the pleasures of that paradise; The wholsome saulge*, and lavender still gray, Ranke-smelling rue, and cummin good for eyes, The roses raigning in the pride of May, Sharpe isope, good for greene wounds remedies, 190 Faire marigoldes, and bees-alluring thime, Sweete marioram, and daysies decking prime: [* Saulge, sage.]

Coole violets, and orpine growing still, Embathed balme, and chearfull galingale, Fresh costmarie, and breathfull camomill, 195 Dull poppie, and drink-quickning setuale*, Veyne-healing verven, and hed-purging dill, Sound savorie, and bazil hartie-hale, Fat colworts, and comforting perseline**, Colde lettuce, and refreshing rosmarine. 200 [* Setuale, valerian.] [** Perseline, purslain.]

And whatso else of vertue good or ill Grewe in this gardin, fetcht from farre away, Of everie one he takes and tastes at will, And on their pleasures greedily doth pray. Then when he hath both plaid, and fed his fill, 205 In the warme sunne he doth himselfe embay*, And there him rests in riotous suffisaunce Of all his gladfulnes and kingly ioyaunce. [* Embay, bathe.]

What more felicitie can fall to creature Than to enioy delight with libertie, 210 And to be lord of all the workes of Nature, To raine in th'aire from earth to highest skie, To feed on flowres and weeds of glorious feature, To take whatever thing doth please the eie? Who rests not pleased with such happines, 215 Well worthie he to taste of wretchednes.

But what on earth can long abide in state? Or who can him assure of happie day? Sith morning faire may bring fowle evening late, And least mishap the most blisse alter may! 220 For thousand perills lie in close awaite About us daylie, to worke our decay; That none, except a God, or God him guide, May them avoyde, or remedie provide.

And whatso heavens in their secret doome 225 Ordained have, how can fraile fleshly wight Forecast, but it must needs to issue come? The sea, the aire, the fire, the day, the night, And th'armies of their creatures, all and some*, Do serve to them, and with importune might 230 Warre against us, the vassals of their will. Who then can save what they dispose to spill? [* All and some, one and all.]

Not thou, O Clarion, though fairest thou Of all thy kinde, unhappie happie flie, Whose cruell fate is woven even now 235 Of loves owne hand, to worke thy miserie! Ne may thee helpe the manie hartie vow, Which thy olde sire with sacred pietie Hath powred forth for thee, and th'altars sprent* Nought may thee save from heavens avengement! 240 [* Sprent, sprinkled.]

It fortuned (as heavens had behight*) That in this gardin where yong Clarion Was wont to solace him, a wicked wight, The foe of faire things, th'author of confusion, The shame of Nature, the bondslave of spight, 245 Had lately built his hatefull mansion; And, lurking closely, in awayte now lay, How he might anie in his trap betray. [* Behight, ordained.]

But when he spide the ioyous butterflie In this faire plot dispacing* too and fro, 250 Fearles of foes and hidden ieopardie, Lord! how he gan for to bestirre him tho, And to his wicked worke each part applie! His heart did earne** against his hated foe, And bowels so with rankling poyson swelde, 255 That scarce the skin the strong contagion helde. [* Dispacing, ranging about.] [** Earne, yearn.]

The cause why he this flie so maliced* Was (as in stories it is written found) For that his mother which him bore and bred, The most fine-fingred workwoman on ground, 260 Arachne, by his meanes was vanquished Of Pallas, and in her owne skill confound**, When she with her for excellence contended, That wrought her shame, and sorrow never ended. [* Maliced, bore ill-will to.] [** Confound, confounded.]

For the Tritonian goddesse, having hard 265 Her blazed fame, which all the world had fil'd, Came downe to prove the truth, and due reward For her prais-worthie workmanship to yeild: But the presumptuous damzel rashly dar'd The goddesse selfe to chalenge to the field, 270 And to compare with her in curious skill Of workes with loome, with needle, and with quill.

Minerva did the chalenge not refuse, But deign'd with her the paragon* to make: So to their worke they sit, and each doth chuse 275 What storie she will for her tapet** take. Arachne figur'd how love did abuse Europa like a bull, and on his backe Her through the sea did beare; so lively@ seene, That it true sea and true bull ye would weene. 280 [* Paragon, comparison.] [** Tapet, tapestry.] [@ Lively, life-like.]

Shee seem'd still backe unto the land to looke, And her play-fellowes aide to call, and feare The dashing of the waves, that up she tooke Her daintie feete, and garments gathered neare: But Lord! how she in everie member shooke, 285 When as the land she saw no more appeare, But a wilde wildernes of waters deepe: Then gan she greatly to lament and weepe.

Before the bull she pictur'd winged Love, With his yong brother Sport, light fluttering 290 Upon the waves, as each had been a dove; The one his bowe and shafts, the other spring* A burning teade** about his head did move, As in their syres new love both triumphing; And manie Nymphes about them flocking round, 295 And manie Tritons which their homes did sound. [* Spring, springal, youth.] [** Teade, torch.]

And round about her-worke she did empale* With a faire border wrought of sundrie flowres, Enwoven with an yviewinding trayle: A goodly worke, full fit for kingly bowres, 300 Such as Dame Pallas, such as Envie pale, That al good things with venemous tooth devowres, Could not accuse. Then gan the goddesse bright Her selfe likewise unto her worke to dight. [* Empale, inclose.]

She made the storie of the olde debate 305 Which she with Neptune did for Athens trie: Twelve gods doo sit around in royall state, And love in midst with awfull maiestie, To iudge the strife betweene them stirred late: Each of the gods by his like visnomie* 310 Eathe** to be knowen; but love above them all, By his great lookes and power imperiall. [* Visnomie, countenance.] [** Eathe, easy.]

Before them stands the god of seas in place, Clayming that sea-coast citie as his right, And strikes the rockes with his three-forked mace; Whenceforth issues a warlike steed in sight, 316 The signe by which he chalengeth the place; That all the gods which saw his wondrous might Did surely deeme the victorie his due: But seldom seene, foreiudgement proveth true. 320

Then to herselfe she gives her Aegide shield, And steel-hed speare, and morion * on her hedd, Such as she oft is seene in warlicke field: Then sets she forth, how with her weapon dredd She smote the ground, the which streight foorth did yield 325 A fruitfull olyve tree, with berries spredd, That all the gods admir'd; then all the storie She compast with a wreathe of olyves hoarie. [* Morion, steel cap.]

Emongst those leaves she made a butterflie, With excellent device and wondrous slight, 330 Fluttring among the olives wantonly, That seem'd to live, so like it was in sight: The velvet nap which on his wings doth lie, The silken downe with which his backe is dight, His broad outstretched homes, his hayrie thies, 335 His glorious colours, and his glistering eies.

Which when Arachne saw, as overlaid * And mastered with workmanship so rare, She stood astonied long, ne ought gainesaid; And with fast fixed eyes on her did stare, 340 And by her silence, signe of one dismaid, The victorie did yeeld her as her share; Yet did she inly fret and felly burne, And all her blood to poysonous rancor turne: [* Overlaid, overcome.]

That shortly from the shape of womanhed, 345 Such as she was when Pallas she attempted, She grew to hideous shape of dryrihed*, Pined with griefe of follie late repented: Eftsoones her white streight legs were altered To crooked crawling shankes, of marrowe empted, 350 And her faire face to foule and loathsome hewe, And her fine corpes to a bag of venim grewe. [* Dryrihed, sadness, unsightliness.]

This cursed creature, mindfull of that olde Enfestred grudge the which his mother felt, So soone as Clarion he did beholde, 355 His heart with vengefull malice inly swelt; And weaving straight a net with mame a folde About the cave in which he lurking dwelt, With fine small cords about it stretched wide, So finely sponne that scarce they could be spide, 360

Not anie damzell which her vaunteth most In skilfull knitting of soft silken twyne, Nor anie weaver, which his worke doth boast In dieper, in damaske, or in lyne*, Nor anie skil'd in workmanship embost, 365 Nor anie skil'd in loupes of fingring fine, Might in their divers cunning ever dare With this so curious networks to compare. [* Lyne, linen.]

Ne doo I thinke that that same subtil gin The which the Lemnian god framde craftilie, 370 Mars sleeping with his wife to compasse in, That all the gods with common mockerie Might laugh at them, and scorne their shamefull sin, Was like to this. This same he did applie For to entrap the careles Clarion, 375 That rang'd each where without suspition.

Suspition of friend, nor feare of foe, That hazarded his health, had he at all, But walkt at will, and wandred too and fro, In the pride of his freedome principall*: 380 Litle wist he his fatall future woe, But was secure; the liker he to fall. He likest is to fall into mischaunce, That is regardles of his governaunce. [* Principall, princely.]

Yet still Aragnoll (so his foe was hight) 385 Lay lurking covertly him to surprise; And all his gins, that him entangle might, Drest in good order as he could devise. At length the foolish flie, without foresight, As he that did all daunger quite despise, 390 Toward those parts came flying careleslie, Where hidden was his hatefull enemie.

Who, seeing him, with secret ioy therefore Did tickle inwardly in everie vaine; And his false hart, fraught with all treasons store, 395 Was fil'd with hope his purpose to obtaine: Himselfe he close upgathered more and more Into his den, that his deceiptfull traine By his there being might not be bewraid, Ne anie noyse, ne anie motion made. 400

Like as a wily foxe, that, having spide Where on a sunnie banke the lambes doo play, Full closely creeping by the hinder side, Lyes in ambushment of his hoped pray, Ne stirreth limbe, till, seeing readie tide*, 405 He rusheth forth, and snatcheth quite away One of the litle yonglings unawares; So to his worke Aragnoll him prepares. [* Tide, time.]

Who now shall give unto my heavie eyes A well of teares, that all may overflow? 410 Or where shall I finde lamentable cryes, And mournfull tunes enough my griefe to show? Helpe, O thou Tragick Muse, me to devise Notes sad enough, t'expresse this bitter throw: For loe, the drerie stownd* is now arrived, 415 That of all happines hath us deprived. [* Stownd, hour.]

The luckles Clarion, whether cruell Fate Or wicked Fortune faultles him misled, Or some ungracious blast out of the gate Of Aeoles raine* perforce him drove on hed**, 420 Was (O sad hap and howre unfortunate!) With violent swift flight forth caried Into the cursed cobweb, which his foe Had framed for his finall overthroe. [* Raine, kingdom.] [** On hed, head-foremost.]

There the fond flie, entangled, strugled long, 425 Himselfe to free thereout; but all in vaine. For, striving more, the more in laces strong Himselfe he tide, and wrapt his winges twaine In lymie snares the subtill loupes among; That in the ende he breathelesse did remaine, 430 And, all his yongthly* forces idly spent, Him to the mercie of th'avenger lent. [* Yongthly, youthful.]

Which when the greisly tyrant did espie, Like a grimme lyon rushing with fierce might Out of his den, he seized greedelie 435 On the resistles pray, and, with fell spight, Under the left wing stroke his weapon slie Into his heart, that his deepe-groning spright In bloodie streames foorth fled into the aire, His bodie left the spectacle of care. 440

* * * * *


Ver. 365.—And Arte, with her contendlng. Compare the description of Aerasia's garden, Faerie Queene, II. xii. 59; and also v. 29. TODD.

Ver. 273.—Minerva did, &c. Much of what follows is taken from the fable of Arachne in Ovid. JORTIN.

* * * * *





One day, whiles that my daylie cares did sleepe, My spirit, shaking off her earthly prison, Began to enter into meditation deepe Of things exceeding reach of common reason; Such as this age, in which all good is geason*, And all that humble is and meane** debaced, Hath brought forth in her last declining season, Griefe of good mindes, to see goodnesse disgraced! On which when as my thought was throghly@ placed, Unto my eyes strange showes presented were, Picturing that which I in minde embraced, That yet those sights empassion$ me full nere. Such as they were, faire Ladie%, take in worth, That when time serves may bring things better forth.

[* Geason, rare.] [** Meane, lowly.] [@ Throghly, thoroughly.] [$ Empassion, move.] [% Faire Ladie. The names of the ladies to whom these Visions and those of Petrarch (see p. 210, VII. 9) were inscribed have not been preserved. C.]


In summers day, when Phoebus fairly shone, I saw a Bull as white as driven snowe, With gilden homes embowed like the moone, In a fresh flowring meadow lying lowe: Up to his eares the verdant grasse did growe, And the gay floures did offer to be eaten; But he with fatnes so did overflows, That he all wallowed in the weedes downe beaten, Ne car'd with them his daintie lips to sweeten: Till that a Brize*, a scorned little creature, Through his faire hide his angrie sting did threaten, And vext so sore, that all his goodly feature And all his plenteous pasture nought him pleased: So by the small the great is oft diseased**.


Beside the fruitfull shore of muddie Nile, Upon a sunnie banke outstretched lay, In monstrous length, a mightie Crocodile, That, cram'd with guiltles blood and greedie pray Of wretched people travailing that way, Thought all things lesse than his disdainfull pride. I saw a little Bird, cal'd Tedula, The least of thousands which on earth abide, That forst this hideous beast to open wide The greisly gates of his devouring hell, And let him feede, as Nature doth provide, Upon his iawes, that with blacke venime swell. Why then should greatest things the least disdaine, Sith that so small so mightie can constraine?

[* Brize, a gadfly.] [** Diseased, deprived of ease.]

III. 7.—Tedula. Spenser appears to mean the bird Trochilos, which, according to Aristotle, enters the mouth of the crocodile, and picks her meat out of the monster's teeth. C.


The kingly bird that beares Ioves thunder-clap One day did scorne the simple Scarabee*, Proud of his highest service and good hap, That made all other foules his thralls to bee. The silly flie, that no redresse did see, Spide where the Eagle built his towring nest, And, kindling fire within the hollow tree, Burnt up his yong ones, and himselfe distrest; Ne suffred him in anie place to rest, But drove in Ioves owne lap his egs to lay; Where gathering also filth him to infest, Forst with the filth his egs to fling away: For which, when as the foule was wroth, said Iove, "Lo! how the least the greatest may reprove."


Toward the sea turning my troubled eye, I saw the fish (if fish I may it cleepe**) That makes the sea before his face to flye, And with his flaggie finnes doth seeme to sweepe The fomie waves out of the dreadfull deep; The huge Leviathan, dame Natures wonder, Making his sport, that manie makes to weep. A Sword-fish small him from the rest did sunder That, in his throat him pricking softly under, His wide abysse him forced forth to spewe, That all the sea did roare like heavens thunder, And all the waves were stain'd with filthie hewe. Hereby I learned have not to despise Whatever thing seemes small in common eyes.

[* Scarabee, beetle.] [** Cleepe, call.]


An hideous Dragon, dreadfull to behold, Whose backe was arm'd against the dint of speare With shields of brasse that shone like burnisht golde, And forkhed sting that death in it did beare, Strove with a Spider, his unequall peare, And bad defiance to his enemie. The subtill vermin, creeping closely* neare, Did in his drinke shed poyson privilie; Which, through his entrailes spredding diversly, Made him to swell, that nigh his bowells brust, And him enforst to yeeld the victorie, That did so much in his owne greatnesse trust. O, how great vainnesse is it then to scorne The weake, that hath the strong so oft forlorne!**

[* Closely, secretly.] [** Forlorne, ruined.]


High on a hill a goodly Cedar grewe, Of wondrous length and straight proportion, That farre abroad her daintie odours threwe; Mongst all the daughters of proud Libanon, Her match in beautie was not anie one. Shortly within her inmost pith there bred A litle wicked worme, perceiv'd of none, That on her sap and vitall moysture fed: Thenceforth her garland so much honoured Began to die, O great ruth* for the same! And her faire lockes fell from her loftie head, That shortly balde and bared she became. I, which this sight beheld, was much dismayed, To see so goodly thing so soone decayed.

[* Ruth, pity.]


Soone after this I saw an Elephant, Adorn'd with bells and bosses gorgeouslie, That on his backe did beare, as batteilant*, A gilden towre, which shone exceedinglie; That he himselfe through foolish vanitie, Both for his rich attire and goodly forme, Was puffed up with passing surquedrie**, And shortly gan all other beasts to scorne, Till that a little Ant, a silly worme, Into his nosthrils creeping, so him pained, That, casting downe his towres, he did deforme Both borrowed pride, and native beautie stained. Let therefore nought that great is therein glorie, Sith so small thing his happines may varie.

[* As batteilant, as if equipped for battle.] [** Surquedrie, presumption.]


Looking far foorth into the ocean wide, A goodly Ship with banners bravely dight, And flag in her top-gallant, I espide Through the maine sea making her merry flight. Faire blewe the wind into her bosome right, And th'heavens looked lovely all the while, That she did seeme to daunce, as in delight, And at her owne felicitie did smile. All sodainely there clove unto her keele A little fish that men call Remora, Which stopt her course, and held her by the heele, That winde nor tide could move her thence away. Straunge thing me seemeth, that so small a thing Should able be so great an one to wring.


A mighty Lyon, lord of all the wood, Having his hunger throughly satisfide With pray of beasts and spoyle of living blood, Safe in his dreadles den him thought to hide: His sternesse was his prayse, his strength his pride, And all his glory in his cruell clawes. I saw a Wasp, that fiercely him defide, And bad him battaile even to his iawes; Sore he him stong, that it the blood forth drawes, And his proude heart is fild with fretting ire: In vaine he threats his teeth, his tayle, his pawes, And from his bloodie eyes doth sparkle fire; That dead himselfe he wisheth for despight. So weakest may anoy the most of might!


What time the Romaine Empire bore the raine Of all the world, and florisht most in might, The nations gan their soveraigntie disdaine, And cast to quitt them from their bondage quight. So, when all shrouded were in silent night, The Galles were, by corrupting of a mayde, Possest nigh of the Capitol through slight, Had not a Goose the treachery bewrayde. If then a goose great Rome from ruine stayde, And Iove himselfe, the patron of the place, Preservd from being to his foes betrayde, Why do vaine men mean things so much deface*, And in their might repose their most assurance, Sith nought on earth can chalenge long endurance?

[* Deface, disparage, despise.]


When these sad sights were overpast and gone, My spright was greatly moved in her rest, With inward ruth and deare affection, To see so great things by so small distrest. Thenceforth I gan in my engrieved brest To scorne all difference of great and small, Sith that the greatest often are opprest, And unawares doe into daunger fall. And ye, that read these ruines tragicall, Learne, by their losse, to love the low degree; And if that Fortune chaunce you up to call To honours seat, forget not what you be: For he that of himselfe is most secure Shall finde his state most fickle and unsure.

* * * * *



[* Eleven of these Visions of Bellay (all except the 6th, 8th, 13th, and 14th) differ only by a few changes necessary for rhyme from blank-verse translations found in Van der Noodt's Theatre of Worldlings, printed in 1569; and the six first of the Visions of Petrarch (here said to have been "formerly translated") occur almost word for word in the same publication, where the authorship appears to be claimed by one Theodore Roest. The Complaints were collected, not by Spenser, but by Ponsonby, his bookseller, and he may have erred in ascribing these Visions to our poet. C.]


It was the time when rest, soft sliding downe From heavens hight into mens heavy eyes, In the forgetfulnes of sleepe doth drowne The carefull thoughts of mortall miseries. Then did a ghost before mine eyes appeare, On that great rivers banck that runnes by Rome; Which, calling me by name, bad me to reare My lookes to heaven whence all good gifts do come, And crying lowd, "Loe! now beholde," quoth hee, "What under this great temple placed is: Lo, all is nought but flying vanitee!" So I, that know this worlds inconstancies, Sith onely God surmounts all times decay, In God alone my confidence do stay.


On high hills top I saw a stately frame, An hundred cubits high by iust assize*, With hundreth pillours fronting faire the same, All wrought with diamond after Dorick wize. Nor brick nor marble was the wall in view, But shining christall, which from top to base Out of her womb a thousand rayons** threw On hundred steps of Afrike golds enchase.@ Golde was the parget,$ and the seeling bright Did shine all scaly with great plates of golde; The floore of iasp and emeraude was dight.% O worlds vainesse! Whiles thus I did behold, An earthquake shooke the hill from lowest seat, And overthrew this frame with ruine great.

[* Assize, measure.] [** Rayons, beams, rays.] [@ I.e. enchased with gold.] [$ Parget, varnish, plaster.] [% Dight, composed.]


Then did a sharped spyre of diamond bright, Ten feete each way in square, appeare to mee, Iustly proportion'd up unto his hight, So far as archer might his level see. The top thereof a pot did seeme to beare, Made of the mettall which we most do honour; And in this golden vessel couched weare The ashes of a mightie emperour: Upon foure corners of the base were pight*, To beare the frame, foure great lyons of gold; A worthy tombe for such a worthy wight. Alas! this world doth nought but grievance hold: I saw a tempest from the heaven descend, Which this brave monument with flash did rend. [* Pight, placed.]


I saw raysde up on yvorie pillowes tall, Whose bases were of richest mettalls warke, The chapters* alablaster, the fryses christall, The double front of a triumphall arke. On each side purtraid was a Victorie, Clad like a nimph, that wings of silver weares, And in triumphant chayre was set on hie, The auncient glory of the Romaine peares. No worke it seem'd of earthly craftsmans wit, But rather wrought by his owne industry That thunder-dartes for Iove his syre doth fit. Let me no more see faire thing under sky, Sith that mine eyes have seene so faire a sight With sodain fall to dust consumed quight. [* Chapters, capitals.]


Then was the faire Dodonian tree far seene Upon seaven hills to spread his gladsome gleame, And conquerours bedecked with his greene, Along the bancks of the Ausonian streame. There many an auncient trophee was addrest*, And many a spoyle, and many a goodly show, Which that brave races greatnes did attest, That whilome from the Troyan blood did flow. Ravisht I was so rare a thing to vew; When lo! a barbarous troupe of clownish fone** The honour of these noble boughs down threw: Under the wedge I heard the tronck to grone; And since, I saw the roote in great disdaine A twinne of forked trees send forth againe.

[* Addrest, hung on, arranged.] [** Fone, foes.]


I saw a wolfe under a rockie cave Noursing two whelpes; I saw her litle ones In wanton dalliance the teate to crave, While she her neck wreath'd from them for the nones*. I saw her raunge abroad to seeke her food, And roming through the field with greedie rage T'embrew her teeth and clawes with lukewarm blood Of the small heards, her thirst for to asswage. I saw a thousand huntsmen, which descended Downe from the mountaines bordring Lombardie, That with an hundred speares her flank wide rened: I saw her on the plaine outstretched lie, Throwing out thousand throbs in her owne soyle**: Soone on a tree uphang'd I saw her spoyle.

[* Nones, nonce.] [** I.e. the mire made by her blood.]


I saw the bird that can the sun endure With feeble wings assay to mount on hight; By more and more she gan her wings t'assure, Following th'ensample of her mothers sight. I saw her rise, and with a larger flight To pierce the cloudes, and with wide pinneons To measure the most haughtie* mountaines hight, Untill she raught** the gods owne mansions. There was she lost; when suddaine I behelde, Where, tumbling through the ayre in firie fold, All flaming downe she on the plaine was felde, And soone her bodie turn'd to ashes colde. I saw the foule that doth the light dispise Out of her dust like to a worme arise. [* Haughtie, lofty.] [** Raught, reached.] [VII. 1-14.— "A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place, Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd." C.]


I saw a river swift, whose fomy billowes Did wash the ground-work of an old great wall; I saw it cover'd all with griesly shadowes, That with black horror did the ayre appall: Thereout a strange beast with seven heads arose, That townes and castles under her brest did coure*, And seem'd both milder beasts and fiercer foes Alike with equall ravine to devoure. Much was I mazde to see this monsters kinde In hundred formes to change his fearefull hew; When as at length I saw the wrathfull winde, Which blows cold storms, burst out of Scithian mew, That sperst these cloudes; and, in so short as thought, This dreadfull shape was vanished to nought. [* Coure, cover.]


Then all astonied with this mighty ghoast, An hideous bodie, big and strong, I sawe, With side* long beard, and locks down hanging loast**, Sterne face, and front full of Saturnlike awe; Who, leaning on the belly of a pot, Pourd foorth a water, whose out gushing flood Ran bathing all the creakie@ shore aflot, Whereon the Troyan prince spilt Turnus blood; And at his feete a bitch wolfe suck did yeeld To two young babes: his left the palme tree stout, His right hand did the peacefull olive wield. And head with lawrell garnisht was about. Sudden both palme and olive fell away, And faire green lawrell branch did quite decay. [* Side, long, trailing.] [** Loast, loosed.] [@ Creakie, indented with creeks.]


Hard by a rivers side a virgin faire, Folding her armes to heaven with thousand throbs, And outraging her cheekes and golden haire, To falling rivers sound thus tun'd her sobs. "Where is," quoth she, "this whilom honoured face? Where the great glorie and the auncient praise, In which all worlds felicitie had place, When gods and men my honour up did raise? Suffisd' it not that civill warres me made The whole worlds spoile, but that this Hydra new, Of hundred Hercules to be assaide, With seven heads, budding monstrous crimes anew, So many Neroes and Caligulaes Out of these crooked shores must dayly rayse?"


Upon an hill a bright flame I did see, Waving aloft with triple point to skie, Which, like incense of precious cedar tree, With balmie odours fil'd th'ayre farre and nie. A bird all white, well feathered on each wing, Hereout up to the throne of gods did flie, And all the way most pleasant notes did sing, Whilst in the smoake she unto heaven did stie*. Of this faire fire the scattered rayes forth threw On everie side a thousand shining beames: When sudden dropping of a silver dew (O grievous chance!) gan quench those precious flames; That it, which earst** so pleasant sent did yeld, Of nothing now but noyous sulphure smeld. [* Stie, mount.] [** Earst, at first.]


I saw a spring out of a rocke forth rayle*, As cleare as christall gainst the sunnie beames; The bottome yeallow, like the golden grayle* That bright Pactolus washeth with his streames. It seem'd that Art and Nature had assembled All pleasure there for which mans hart could long; And there a noyse alluring sleepe soft trembled, Of manie accords, more sweete than mermaids song, The seates and benches shone as yvorie, And hundred nymphes sate side by side about; When from nigh hills, with hideous outcrie, A troupe of satyres in the place did rout,@ Which with their villeine feete the streame did ray,$ Threw down the seats, and drove the nymphs away. [* Rayle, flow.] [** Grayle, gravel.] [@ Rout, burst.] [$ Ray, defile.]


Much richer then that vessell seem'd to bee Which did to that sad Florentine appeare, Casting mine eyes farre off, I chaunst to see Upon the Latine coast herselfe to reare. But suddenly arose a tempest great, Bearing close envie to these riches rare, Which gan assaile this ship with dreadfull threat, This ship, to which none other might compare: And finally the storme impetuous Sunke up these riches, second unto none, Within the gulfe of greedie Nereus. I saw both ship and mariners each one, And all that treasure, drowned in the maine: But I the ship saw after raisd' againe. [XIII. 1.—That vessell. See the second canto of the Purgatorio. C.]


Long having deeply gron'd these visions sad, I saw a citie like unto that same Which saw the messenger of tidings glad, But that on sand was built the goodly frame: It seem'd her top the firmament did rayse, And, no lesse rich than faire, right worthie sure (If ought here worthie) of immortall dayes, Or if ought under heaven might firme endure. Much wondred I to see so faire a wall: When from the Northerns coast a storme arose, Which, breathing furie from his inward gall On all which did against his course oppose, Into a clowde of dust sperst in the aire The weake foundations of this citie faire.


At length, even at the time when Morpheus Most trulie doth unto our eyes appeare, Wearie to see the heavens still wavering thus, I saw Typhaeus sister* comming neare; Whose head, full bravely with a morion** hidd, Did seeme to match the gods in maiestie. She, by a rivers bancke that swift downe slidd, Over all the world did raise a trophee hie; An hundred vanquisht kings under her lay, With armes bound at their backs in shamefull wize. Whilst I thus mazed was with great affray, I saw the heavens in warre against her rize: Then downe she stricken fell with clap of thonder, That with great noyse I wakte in sudden wonder. [* I.e. (apparently) Change or Mutability. See the two cantos of the Seventh Book of the Faerie Queene.] [** Morion, steel cap.]

* * * * *


FORMERLY TRANSLATED. [Footnote: The first six of these sonnets are translated (not directly, but through the French of Clement Marot) from Petrarch's third Canzone in Morte di Laura. The seventh is by the translator. The circumstance that the version is made from Marot renders it probable that these sonnets are really by Spenser. C.]


Being one day at my window all alone, So manie strange things happened me to see, As much it grieveth me to thinke thereon. At my right hand a hynde appear'd to mee. So faire as mote the greatest god delite; Two eager dogs did her pursue in chace, Of which the one was blacke, the other white. With deadly force so in their cruell race They pincht the haunches of that gentle beast, That at the last, and in short time, I spide, Under a rocke, where she, alas! opprest, Fell to the ground, and there untimely dide. Cruell death vanquishing so noble beautie, Oft makes me wayle so hard a destenie.


After, at sea a tall ship did appeare, Made all of heben* and white yvorie; The sailes of golde, of silke the tackle were. Milde was the winde, calme seem'd the sea to bee, The skie eachwhere did show full bright and faire: With rich treasures this gay ship fraighted was: But sudden storme did so turmoyle the aire, And tumbled up the sea, that she, alas! Strake on a rock, that under water lay, And perished past all recoverie. O! how great ruth, and sorrow-full assay**, Doth vex my spirite with perplexitie, Thus in a moment to see lost and drown'd So great riches as like cannot be found. [* Heben, ebony.] [** Assay, trial.]


The heavenly branches did I see arise Out of the fresh and lustie lawrell tree, Amidst the yong greene wood: of Paradise Some noble plant I thought my selfe to see. Such store of birds therein yshrowded were, Chaunting in shade their sundrie melodie, That with their sweetnes I was ravish't nere. While on this lawrell fixed was mine eie, The skie gan everie where to overcast, And darkned was the welkin all about, When sudden flash of heavens fire out brast*, And rent this royall tree quite by the roote; Which makes me much and ever to complaine, For no such shadow shalbe had againe. [* Brast, burst.]


Within this wood, out of a rocke did rise A spring of water, mildly rumbling downe, Whereto approched not in anie wise The homely shepheard, nor the ruder clowne; But manie Muses, and the Nymphes withall, That sweetly in accord did tune their voyce To the soft sounding of the waters fall; That my glad hart thereat did much reioyce. But, while herein I tooke my chiefe delight, I saw, alas! the gaping earth devoure The spring, the place, and all cleane out of sight; Which yet aggreeves my hart even to this houre, And wounds my soule with rufull memorie, To see such pleasures gon so suddenly.


I saw a Phoenix in the wood alone, With purple wings and crest of golden hewe; Strange bird he was, whereby I thought anone That of some heavenly wight I had the vewe; Untill he came unto the broken tree, And to the spring that late devoured was. What say I more? Each thing at last we see Doth passe away: the Phoenix there, alas! Spying the tree destroid, the water dride, Himselfe smote with his beake, as in disdaine, And so foorthwith in great despight he dide; That yet my heart burnes in exceeding paine For ruth and pitie of so haples plight. O, let mine eyes no more see such a sight!


At last, so faire a ladie did I spie, That thinking yet on her I burne and quake: On hearbs and flowres she walked pensively; Milde, but yet love she proudly did forsake: White seem'd her robes, yet woven so they were As snow and golde together had been wrought: Above the wast a darke clowde shrouded her. A stinging serpent by the heele her caught; Wherewith she languisht as the gathered floure, And, well assur'd, she mounted up to ioy. Alas! on earth so nothing doth endure, But bitter griefe and sorrowfull annoy: Which make this life wretched and miserable. Tossed with stormes of fortune variable.


When I behold this tickle* trustles state Of vaine worlds glorie, flitting too and fro, And mortall men tossed by troublous fate In restles seas of wretchednes and woe, I wish I might this wearie life forgoe, And shortly turne unto my happie rest, Where my free spirite might not anie moe Be vest with sights that doo her peace molest. And ye, faire Ladie, in whose bounteous brest All heavenly grace and vertue shrined is, When ye these rythmes doo read, and vew the rest, Loath this base world, and thinke of heavens blis: And though ye be the fairest of Gods creatures, Yet thinke that death shall spoyle your goodly features. [* Tickle, uncertain.]

* * * * *














I have the rather presumed humbly to offer unto your Honour the dedication of this little poeme, for that the noble and vertuous gentlewoman of whom it is written was by match neere alied, and in affection greatly devoted, unto your Ladiship. The occasion why I wrote the same was as well the great good fame which I heard of her deceassed, as the particular goodwill which I bear unto her husband, Master Arthur Gorges, a lover of learning and vertue, whose house, as your Ladiship by marriage hath honoured, so doe I find the name of them, by many notable records, to be of great antiquitie in this realme, and such as have ever borne themselves with honourable reputation to the world, and unspotted loyaltie to their prince and countrey: besides, so lineally are they descended from the Howards, as that the Lady Anne Howard; eldest daughter to John Duke of Norfolke, was wife to Sir Edmund, mother to Sir Edward, and grandmother to Sir William and Sir Thomas Gorges, Knightes: and therefore I doe assure my selfe that no due honour done to the White Lyon, but will be most gratefull to your Ladiship, whose husband and children do so neerely participate with the bloud of that noble family. So in all dutie I recommend this pamphlet, and the good acceptance thereof, to your honourable favour and protection. London, this first of Ianuarie, 1591. Your Honours humbly ever.

[* This lady, when widow of William Parr, the only person who was ever Marquis of Northampton, had married Sir Thomas Gorges, uncle of Lady Douglas Howard, the subject of this elegy. Mr. (afterwards Sir) Arthur Gorges was himself a poet, and the author of the English translation of Bacon's tract De Sapientia Veterum, published in 1619. See Craik's Spenser and his Poetry, Vol. III. p. 187. C.]

* * * * *


Whatever man he be whose heavie mynd, With griefe of mournefull great mishap opprest, Fit matter for his cares increase would fynd, Let reade the rufull plaint herein exprest, Of one, I weene, the wofulst man alive, Even sad Alcyon*, whose empierced brest Sharpe sorrowe did in thousand peeces rive. [* I.e. Sir Arthur Gorges.]

But whoso else in pleasure findeth sense, Or in this wretched life doeth take delight, Let him he banisht farre away from hence; 10 Ne let the Sacred Sisters here be hight*, Though they of sorrowe heavilie can sing, For even their heavie song would breede delight; But here no tunes save sobs and grones shall ring. [* Hight, summoned.]

In stead of them and their sweet harmonie, 15 Let those three Fatall Sisters, whose sad hands Doe weave the direfull threeds of destinie, And in their wrath break off the vitall bands, Approach hereto; and let the dreadfull Queene Of Darknes deepe come from the Stygian strands, 20 And grisly ghosts, to heare this dolefull teene*, [* Teene, sorrow]

In gloomy evening, when the wearie sun After his dayes long labour drew to rest, And sweatie steedes, now having overrun The compast skie, gan water in the west, 25 I walkt abroad to breath the freshing ayre In open fields, whose flowring pride, opprest With early frosts, had lost their beautie faire.

There came unto my mind a troublous thought, Which dayly doth my weaker wit possesse, 30 Ne lets it rest untill it forth have brought Her long borne infant, fruit of heavinesse, Which she conceived hath through meditation Of this worlds vainnesse and life's wretchednesse, That yet my soule it deepely doth empassion*. 35 [* Empassion, move]

So as I muzed on the miserie In which men live, and I of many most, Most miserable man, I did espie Where towards me a sory wight did cost*, Clad all in black, that mourning did bewray, 40 And Iacob staffe ** in hand devoutly crost, Like to some pilgrim come from farre away. [* Cost, approach] [** Iacob staffe, a pilgrim's staff, in the form of a cross]

His carelesse locks, uncombed and unshorne, Hong long adowne, and bearde all overgrowne, That well he seemd to be some wight forlorne: 45 Downe to the earth his heavie eyes were throwne, As loathing light, and ever as he went He sighed soft, and inly deepe did grone, As if his heart in peeces would have rent.

Approaching nigh his face I vewed nere, 50 And by the semblant of his countenaunce Me seemd I had his person seene elsewhere, Most like Alcyon seeming at a glaunce; Alcyon he, the iollie shepheard swaine, That wont full merrilie to pipe and daunce, 55 And fill with pleasance every wood and plaine.

Yet halfe in doubt, because of his disguize, I softlie sayd, Alcyon! There-withall He lookt aside as in disdainefull wise, Yet stayed not, till I againe did call: 60 Then, turning back, he saide, with hollow sound, "Who is it that dooth name me, wofull thrall, The wretchedst man that treads this day on ground?"

"One whom like wofulnesse, impressed deepe, Hath made fit mate thy wretched case to heare, 65 And given like cause with thee to waile and wepe; Griefe finds some ease by him that like does beare. Then stay, Alcyon, gentle shepheard! stay," Quoth I, "till thou have to my trustie eare Committed what thee dooth so ill apay*." 70 [* Ill apay , discontent, distress.]

"Cease, foolish man!" saide he halfe wrothfully, "To seeke to heare that which cannot be told; For the huge anguish, which doeth multiply My dying paines, no tongue can well unfold; Ne doo I care that any should bemone 75 My hard mishap, or any weepe that would, But seeke alone to weepe, and dye alone."

"Then be it so," quoth I, "that thou are bent To die alone, unpitied, unplained; Yet, ere thou die, it were convenient 80 To tell the cause which thee thereto constrained, Least that the world thee dead accuse of guilt, And say, when thou of none shall be maintained, That thou for secret crime thy blood hast spilt."

"Who life does loath, and longs to be unbound 85 From the strong shackles of fraile flesh," quoth he, "Nought cares at all what they that live on ground Deem the occasion of his death to bee; Rather desires to be forgotten quight, Than question made of his calamitie; 90 For harts deep sorrow hates both life and light.

"Yet since so much thou seemst to rue my griefe, And car'st for one that for himselfe cares nought, (Sign of thy love, though nought for my reliefe, For my reliefe exceedeth living thought,) 95 I will to thee this heavie case relate: Then harken well till it to end be brought, For never didst thou heare more haplesse fate.

"Whilome I usde (as thou right well doest know) My little flocke on westerns downes to keep, 100 Not far from whence Sabrinaes streame doth flow, And flowrie bancks with silver liquor steepe; Nought carde I then for worldly change or chaunce, For all my ioy was on my gentle sheepe, And to my pype to caroll and to daunce. 105

"It there befell, as I the fields did range Fearlesse and free, a faire young Lionesse, White as the native rose before the chaunge Which Venus blood did in her leaves impresse, I spied playing on the grassie plaine 110 Her youthfull sports and kindlie wantonnesse, That did all other beasts in beawtie staine. [Ver. 107.—A fair young Lionesse, So called from the white lion in the arms of the Duke of Norfolk, the head of the family to which Lady Douglas Howard belonged. H.]

"Much was I moved at so goodly sight, Whose like before mine eye had seldome seene, And gan to cast how I her compasse might, 115 And bring to hand that yet had never beene: So well I wrought with mildnes and with paine, That I her caught disporting on the greene, And brought away fast bound with silver chaine.

"And afterwardes I handled her so fayre, 120 That though by kind shee stout and salvage were, For being borne an auncient lions hayre, And of the race that all wild beastes do feare, Yet I her fram'd, and wan so to my bent, That shee became so meeke and milde of cheare 125 As the least lamb in all my flock that went.

"For shee in field, where-ever I did wend, Would wend with me, and waite by me all day; And all the night that I in watch did spend, If cause requir'd, or els in sleepe, if nay, 130 Shee would all night by me or watch or sleepe; And evermore when I did sleepe or play, She of my flock would take full warie keepe*. [* Keepe, care.]

"Safe then, and safest, were my sillie sheepe, Ne fear'd the wolfe, ne fear'd the wildest beast, 135 All* were I drown'd in carelesse quiet deepe: My lovely Lionesse without beheast So careful was for them and for my good, That when I waked, neither most nor least I found miscarried, or in plaine or wood. 140 [* All, although.]

"Oft did the shepheards which my hap did heare, And oft their lasses, which my luck envyde, Daylie resort to me from farre and neare, To see my Lyonesse, whose praises wyde Were spred abroad; and when her worthinesse 145 Much greater than the rude report they tryde*, They her did praise, and my good fortune blesse. [* Tryde, proved, found.]

"Long thus I ioyed in my happinesse, And well did hope my ioy would have no end; But oh! fond man! that in worlds ficklenesse 150 Reposedst hope, or weenedst Her thy frend That glories most in mortall miseries, And daylie doth her changefull counsels bend To make new matter fit for tragedies.

"For whilest I was thus without dread or dout, 155 A cruel Satyre with his murdrous dart, Greedie of mischiefe, ranging all about, Gave her the fatall wound of deadly smart, And reft from me my sweete companion, And reft from me my love, my life, my hart: 160 My Lyonesse, ah woe is me! is gon!

"Out of the world thus was she reft away, Out of the world, unworthy such a spoyle, And borne to heaven, for heaven a fitter pray; Much fitter then the lyon which with toyle 165 Alcides slew, and fixt in firmament; Her now I seeke throughout this earthly soyle, And seeking misse, and missing doe lament."

Therewith he gan afresh to waile and weepe, That I for pittie of his heavie plight 170 Could not abstain mine eyes with teares to steepe; But when I saw the anguish of his spright Some deale alaid, I him bespake againe: "Certes, Alcyon, painfull is thy plight, That it in me breeds almost equall paine, 175

"Yet doth not my dull wit well understand The riddle of thy loved Lionesse; For rare it seemes in reason to be skand, That man, who doth the whole worlds rule possesse, Should to a beast his noble hart embase, 180 And be the vassall of his vassalesse; Therefore more plain areade* this doubtfull case." [* Areade, explain.]

Then sighing sore, "Daphne thou knew'st," quoth he; "She now is dead": no more endur'd to say, But fell to ground for great extremitie; 185 That I, beholding it, with deepe dismay Was much apald, and, lightly him uprearing, Revoked life, that would have fled away, All were my selfe through grief in deadly drearing*. [* Drearing, sorrowing.]

Then gan I him to comfort all my best, 190 And with milde counsaile strove to mitigate The stormie passion of his troubled brest; But he thereby was more empassionate, As stubborne steed that is with curb restrained Becomes more fierce and fervent in his gate, 195 And, breaking foorth at last, thus dearnely* plained: [* Dearnely, sadly.]


"What man henceforth that breatheth vitall aire Will honour Heaven, or heavenly powers adore, Which so uniustly doth their iudgements share Mongst earthly wights, as to afflict so sore 200 The innocent as those which do transgresse, And doe not spare the best or fairest more Than worst or foulest, but doe both oppresse?

"If this be right, why did they then create The world so faire, sith fairenesse is neglected? 205 Or why be they themselves immaculate, If purest things be not by them respected? She faire, she pure, most faire, most pure she was, Yet was by them as thing impure reiected; Yet she in purenesse heaven it self did pas. 210

"In purenesse, and in all celestiall grace That men admire in goodly womankind, She did excell, and seem'd of angels race, Living on earth like angell new divinde*, Adorn'd with wisedome and with chastitie, 215 And all the dowries of a noble mind, Which did her beautie much more beautifie. [* Divinde, deified.]

"No age hath bred (since faire Astraea left The sinfull world) more vertue in a wight; And, when she parted hence, with her she reft 220 Great hope, and robd her race of bounty* quight. Well may the shepheard lasses now lament; For doubble losse by her hath on them light, To loose both her and bounties ornament. [* Bounty, goodness.]

"Ne let Elisa, royall shepheardesse, 225 The praises of my parted* love envy, For she hath praises in all plenteousnesse Powr'd upon her, like showers of Castaly, By her owne shepheard, Colin, her own shepheard, That her with heavenly hymnes doth deifie, 230 Of rusticke Muse full hardly to be betterd. [* Parted, departed.]

"She is the rose, the glory of the day, And mine the primrose in the lowly shade: Mine? ah, not mine! amisse I mine did say: Not mine, but His which mine awhile her made; 235 Mine to be-his, with him to live for ay. O that so faire a flowre so soon should fade, And through untimely tempest fall away!

"She fell away in her first ages spring, Whilst yet her leafe was greene, and fresh her rinde; And whilst her braunch faire blossomes foorth did bring, 241 She fell away against all course of kinde*. For age to dye is right, but youth is wrong; She fell away like fruit blowne down with winde. Weepe, Shepheard! weepe, to make my undersong**. [* Kinde, nature.] [** Undersong, accompaniment.]


"What hart so stonie hard but that would weepe. And poure forth fountaines of incessant teares? What Timon but would let compassion creepe Into his breast, and pierce his frosen eares? In stead of teares, whose brackish bitter well 250 I wasted have, my heart bloud dropping weares, To think to ground how that faire blossome fell.

"Yet fell she not as one enforst to dye, Ne dyde with dread and grudging discontent, But as one toyld with travell downe doth lye, 255 So lay she downe, as if to sleepe she went, And closde her eyes with carelesse quietriesse; The whiles soft death away her spirit hent*, And soule assoyld** from sinfull fleshlinesse. [* Hent, took] [** Assoyld, absolved.]

"Yet ere that life her lodging did forsake, 260 She, all resolv'd, and readie to remove, Calling to me (ay me!) this wise bespake; 'Alcyon! ah, my first and latest love! Ah! why does my Alcyon weepe and mourne, And grieve my ghost, that ill mote him behove, 265 As if to me had chaunst some evill tourne!

"'I, since the messenger is come for mee That summons soules unto the bridale feast Of his great Lord, must needs depart from thee, And straight obay his soveraine beheast; 270 Why should Alcyon then so sore lament That I from miserie shall be releast, And freed from wretched long imprisonment!

"'Our daies are full of dolour and disease. Our life afflicted with incessant paine, 275 That nought on earth may lessen or appease; Why then should I desire here to remaine! Or why should he that loves me sorrie bee For my deliverance, or at all complaine My good to heare, and toward* ioyes to see! 280 [* Toward, preparing, near at hand.]

"'I goe, and long desired have to goe; I goe with gladnesse to my wished rest, Whereas* no worlds sad care nor wasting woe May come, their happie quiet to molest; But saints and angels in celestiall thrones 285 Eternally Him praise that hath them blest; There shall I be amongst those blessed ones. [* Whereas, where.]

"'Yet, ere I goe, a pledge I leave with thee Of the late love the which betwixt us past; My young Ambrosia; in lieu of mee, 290 Love her; so shall our love for ever last. Thus, deare! adieu, whom I expect ere long.'— So having said, away she softly past; Weepe, Shepheard! weepe, to make mine undersong.


"So oft as I record those piercing words, 295 Which yet are deepe engraven in my brest, And those last deadly accents, which like swords Did wound my heart and rend my bleeding chest, With those sweet sugred speeches doe compare The which my soul first conquerd and possest, 300 The first beginners of my endlesse care,

"And when those pallid cheekes and ashe hew, In which sad Death his pourtraiture had writ, And when those hollow eyes and deadly view, On which the cloud of ghastly night did sit, 305 I match, with that sweete smile and chearful brow, Which all the world subdued unto it, How happie was I then, and wretched now!

"How happie was I when I saw her leade The shepheards daughters dauncing in a rownd! 310 How trimly would she trace* and softly tread The tender grasse, with rosye garland crownd! And when she list advaunce her heavenly voyce, Both Nymphes and Muses nigh she made astownd, And flocks and shepheards caused to reioyce. 315 [* Trace, step]

"But now, ye shepheard lasses! who shall lead Your wandring troupes, or sing your virelayes*? Or who shall dight** your bowres, sith she is dead That was the lady of your holy-dayes? Let now your blisse be turned into bale, 320 And into plaints convert your ioyous playes, And with the same fill every hill and dale. [* Virelayes, roundelays.] [** Dight, deck.]

"Let bagpipe never more be heard to shrill, That may allure the senses to delight, Ne ever shepheard sound his oaten quill 325 Unto the many*, that provoke them might To idle pleasance; but let ghastlinesse And drearie horror dim the chearfull light, To make the image of true heavinesse. [* Many, company.]

"Let birds be silent on the naked spray, 330 And shady woods resound with dreadfull yells; Let streaming floods their hastie courses stay, And parching drouth drie up the cristall wells; Let th'earth be barren, and bring foorth no flowres, And th'ayre be fild with noyse of dolefull knells, 335 And wandring spirits walke untimely howres.

"And Nature, nurse of every living thing, Let rest her selfe from her long wearinesse, And cease henceforth things kindly forth to bring, But hideous monsters full of uglinesse; 340 For she it is that hath me done this wrong; No nurse, but stepdame cruell, mercilesse. Weepe, Shepheard! weepe, to make my undersong.


"My little flock, whom earst I lov'd so well, And wont to feed with finest grasse that grew, 345 Feede ye hencefoorth on bitter astrofell*, And stinking smallage, and unsaverie rew; And when your mawes are with those weeds corrupted, Be ye the pray of wolves; ne will I rew That with your carkasses wild beasts be glutted. 350 [* Astrofell, (probably) starwort. See Astrophel, v. 184-196.]

"Ne worse to you, my sillie sheepe, I pray, Ne sorer vengeance wish on you to fall Than to my selfe, for whose confusde decay** To carelesse heavens I doo daylie call; But heavens refuse to heare a wretches cry; 355 And cruell Death doth scorn to come at call, Or graunt his boone that most desires to dye. [* Decay, destruction.]

"The good and righteous he away doth take, To plague th'unrighteous which alive remaine; But the ungodly ones he doth forsake, 360 By living long to multiplie their paine; Else surely death should be no punishment, As the Great Iudge at first did it ordaine, But rather riddance from long languishment.

"Therefore, my Daphne they have tane away; 365 For worthie of a better place was she: But me unworthie willed here to stay, That with her lacke I might tormented be. Sith then they so have ordred, I will pay Penance to her, according* their decree, 370 And to her ghost doe service day by day. [* According, according to.]

"For I will walke this wandring pilgrimage, Throughout the world from one to other end, And in affliction waste my better age: My bread shall be the anguish of my mynd, 375 My drink the teares which fro mine eyes do raine, My bed the ground that hardest I may fynd; So will I wilfully increase my paine.

"And she, my love that was, my saint that is, When she beholds from her celestiall throne 380 (In which shee ioyeth in eternall blis) My bitter penance, will my case bemone, And pittie me that living thus doo die; For heavenly spirits have compassion On mortall men, and rue their miserie. 385

"So when I have with sorrow satisfyde Th'importune Fates which vengeance on me seeks, And th'heavens with long languor pacifyde, She, for pure pitie of my sufferance meeke, Will send for me; for which I daily long, 390 And will till then my painfull penance eeke, Weepe, Shepheard! weepe, to make my undersong.


"Hencefoorth I hate whatever Nature made, And in her workmanship no pleasure finde, For they be all but vaine, and quickly fade 395 So soone as on them blowes the northern winde; They tarrie not, but flit and fall away, Leaving behind them nought but griefe of minde, And mocking such as thinke they long will stay.

"I hate the heaven, because it doth withhould 400 Me from my love, and eke my love from me; I hate the earth, because it is the mould Of fleshly slime and fraile mortalitie; I hate the fire, because to nought it flyes; I hate the ayre, because sighes of it be; 405 I hate the sea, because it teares supplyes.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse