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his picturesque situations, his shady groves and lofty A lovely lady rode him fair beside, trees,
Upon a lowly ass more white than snow; (Not pierceable by power of any star),
Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide
Under a veil that wimpled was full low, his Masque of Cupid, and Bower of Bliss, and all the And over all a black stole she did throw, witcheries of his gardens and wildernesses, without As one that inly mourn's : so was she sad, the slightest ambiguity or indistinctness. There is and heavy sat upon her palfrey slow; no haze over his finest pictures. We seem to walk Seemed in heart some hidden care she had, in the green alleys of his broad forests, to hear the And by her in a line a milk-white lamb she led. stream tinkle and the fountain fall, to enter his caves of Mammon and Despair, to gaze on his So pure and innocent, as that same lamb, knights and ladies, or to join in his fierce combats And by descent from royal lineage came
She was in life and every virtuous lore, and crowded allegorical processions. There is no of ancient kings and queens, that had of yore perplexity, no intercepted lights, in those fine images Their sceptres stretcht from east to western shore, and personifications. They may be sometimes fan- And all the world in their subjection held; tastic, but they are always brilliant and distinct. Till that infernal fiend with foul uproar When Spenser fails to interest, it is when our coarser Forewasted all their land and them expell’d: taste becomes palled with his sweetness, and when we Whom to avenge, she had this knight from far comfeel that his scenes want the support of common pro
pell’d. bability and human passions. We surrender ourselves up for a time to the power of the enchanter, Behind her far away a dwarf did lag, and witness with wonder and delight his marvellous That lazy seem'd in being ever last, achievements; but we wish to return again to the Or wearied with bearing of her bag world, and to mingle with our fellow-mortals in its Of needments at his back. Thus as they past busy and passionate pursuits. It is here that Shaks- The day with clouds was sudden overcast, peare eclipses Spenser; here that he builds upon his And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain beautiful groundwork of fancy—the high and durable Did pour into his leman's lap so fast, structure of conscious dramatic truth and living That every wight to shroud it did constrain, reality. Spenser's mind was as purely poetical, and And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain. embraced a vast range of imaginary creation. The Enforced to seek some covert nigh at hand, interest of real life alone is wanting. Spenser's is an A shady grove not far away they spied, ideal world, remote and abstract, yet affording, in its That promised aid the tempest to withstand ; multiplied scenes, scope for those nobler feelings and whose lofty trees, yclad with summer's pride, heroic virtues which we love to see even in transient Did spread so broad, that heaven's light did hide, connexion with human nature. The romantic cha- Nor pierceable with power of any star : racter of his poetry is its most essential and per- And all within were paths and alleys wide, manent feature. We may tire of his allegory and with footing worn, and leading inward far :
dark conceit,' but the general impression remains; Fair harbour, that them seems ; so in they entered are.
Seem'd in their song to scorn the cruel sky.
The sailing Pine, the Cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop Elm, the Poplar never dry,
The builder Oak, sole king of forests all, A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,
The Aspin good for staves, the Cypress funeral.
The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerors
And poets sage, the Fir that weepeth still,
The Willow, worn of forlorn paramours, Yet arms till that time did he never wield :
The Yew obedient to the bender's will, His angry steed did chide his foaming bit,
The Birch for shafts, the Sallow for the mill, As much disdaining to the curb to yield:
The Myrrh sweet bleeding in the bitter wound, Full jolly knight he seem’d, and fair did sit,
The warlike Beech, the Ash for nothing ill, As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fit.
The fruitful Olive, and the Plantain round, And on his breast a bloody cross he bore,
The carver Holme, the Maple seldom inward sound • The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
When, weening to return, whence they did stray, Upon his shield the like was also scored,
They cannot find that path which first was shown, For sovereign hope, which in his help he had : But wander to and fro in ways unknown, Right faithful true he was in deed and word ; Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween, But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad :
That makes them doubt their wits be not their own : Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad. So many paths, so many turnings seen,
That which of them to take, in divers doubt they been.
[Adventure of Una with the Lion.]
Forsaken, woeful, solitary maid,
Far from all people's prease, as in exile, Upon his foe, and his new force to learn ;
In wilderness and wasteful deserts strayed, Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and sterii.
To seck her knight ; who, subtily betrayed
Through that late vision which th'enchanter wrought, One would have thought (so cunningly the rude
And scorned parts were mingled with the fine)
So striving each th' other to undermine,
Each did the other's work more beautify; From her unhasty beast she did alight;
So differing both in wills, agreed in fine : And on the grass her dainty limbs did lay,
So all agreed through sweet diversity,
This garden to adorn with all variety.
And in the midst of all a fountain stood
Of richest substance that on carth might be, And made a sunshine in the shady place ;
So pure and shiny, that the silver flood Did never mortal eye behold such heavenly grace.
Through every channel running one might see ;
Most goodly it with curious imagery It fortuned, out of the thickest wood
Was overwrought, and shapes of naked boys, A ramping lion rushed suddenly,
Of which some seem'd with lively jollity Hunting full greedy after savage blood :
To fly about, playing their wanton toys, Soon as the royal virgin he did spy,
While others did embaye themselves in liquid joys. With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
And over all, of purest gold, was spread To have at once devour'd her tender corse :
A trail of ivy in his native hue : But to the prey when as he drew more nigh,
For, the rich metal was so coloured, His bloody rage assuaged with remorse,
That wight, who did not well advis'd it view, And with the sight amazed forgat his furious
Would surely deem it to be ivy true: force.
Low his lascivious arms adown did creep, Instead thereof he kiss'd her weary feet,
That themselves dipping in the silver dew And lick'd her lily hands with fawning tongue ;
Their fleecy flowers they fearfully did steep As he her wronged innocence did weet.
Which drops of crystal seem'd for wantonness to weep. O how can beauty master the most strong,
Infinite streams continually did well And simple truth subdue avenging wrong !
Out of this fountain, sweet and fair to see, Whose yielded pride and proud submission,
The which into an ample laver fell, Still dreading death, when she had marked long,
And shortly grew to so great quantity, Her heart gan melt in great compassion,
That like a little lake it seem'd to be; And drizzling tears did shed for pure affection.
Whose depth exceeded not three cubits height, 'The lion, lord of every beast in field,'
That through the waves one might the bottoin see, Quoth she, ‘his princely puissance doth abate,
All pav'd beneath with jasper shining bright, And mighty proud to humble weak does yield,
That seem'd the fountain in that sea did sail upright. Forgetful of the hungry rage, which late
And all the margin round about was set Him prick’d, in pity of my sad estate:
With shady laurel trees, thence to defend But he, my lion, and my noble lord,
The sunny beams, which on the billows beat,
And those which therein bathed might offend.
Of all that might delight a dainty ear,
Right hard it was for wight which did it hear, The kingly beast upon her gazing stood :
To read what manner music that might be : With pity calm’d down fell his angry mood.
For all that pleasing is to living ear, At last, in close heart shutting up her pain,
Was there consorted in one harmony ; Arose the virgin born of heav'nly brood,
Birds, voices, instruments, winds, waters, all agree. And to her snowy palfrey got again, To seek her strayed champion if she might attain.
The joyous birds, shrouded in cheerful shade,
Their notes unto the voice attemper'd sweet ; The lion would not leave her desolate,
Th' angelical soft trembling voices made But with her went along, as a strong guard
To th' instruments divine respondence meet; Of her chaste person, and a faithful mate
The silver sounding instruments did meet Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard :
With the base murinur of the water's fall : Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward ; The water's fall with difference discreet, And when she waked, he waited diligent,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call: With humble service to her will prepared ;
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all. From her fair eyes he took commandément,
The while, some one did chaunt this lovely lay; And ever by her looks conceived her intent.
Ah see, whoso fair thing thou dost fain to see,
In springing flower the image of thy day; [The Bower of Bliss.]
Ah see the virgin rose, how sweetly she
Doth first peep forth with bashful modesty, There the most dainty paradise on ground
That fairer seems, the less ye see her may ; Itself doth offer to his sober eye,
Lo, see soon after, how more bold and free In which all pleasures plenteously abound,
Her bared bosom she doth broad display ; And none does others happiness envy;
Lo, see soon after, how she fades and falls away ! The painted flowers, the trees upshooting high, So passeth, in the passing of a day, The dales for shade, the hills for breathing space, Of mortal life, the leaf, the bud, the flower, The trembling groves, the crystal running by ; Nor more doth flourish after first decay, And that which all fair works doth most augrace, That erst was sought to deck both bed and bower The art, which all that wrought, appeared in no place.
Of inauy a lady, and many a paramour :
Gather therefore the rose, while yet is prime,
But, when as long he looked had in vain,
His weary eye return'd to him again,
That both his jewel he had lost so light,
And eke his dear companion of his care. [The Squire and the Dove.]
But that sweet bird departing, flew forth right
Through the wide region of the wasteful air,
Until she came where wonned his Belphoebe fair.
There found she her (as then it did betide)
Sitting in covert shade of arbors sweet,
After late weary toil, which she had tried
In savage chace, to rest as seem'd her meet.
There she alighting, fell before her feet,
And gan to her, her mournful plaint to make,
The great tormenting grief, that for her sake
Her gentle squire through her displeasure did partake
She, her beholding with attentive eye,
At length did mark about her purple breast
That precious jewel, which she formerly
Had known right well, with colour'd ribbon drest;
With ready hand it to have reft away.
But swerv'd aside, and there again did stay;
She follow'd her, and thought again it to assay.
Would flit a little forward, and then stay
Till she drew near, and then again remove;
And still from her escaping soft away:
Till that at length, into that forest wide
She drew her far, and led with slow delay.
Whereas that woful man in languor did abide.
He her beholding, at her feet down fell,
And kiss'd the ground on which her sole did tread,
And wash'd the same with water, which did well
As messengers of his true meaning and intent.
Yet nathemore his meaning she ared,
But wondered much at his so uncouth case;
And by his person's secret seemlihed
Well ween'd, that he had been some man of place,
That being woved with ruth she thus bespake.
Or wrath of cruel wight on thee ywrake,
If heaven, then none may it redress or blame,
Since to his power we all are subject born :
If wrathful wight, then foul rebuke and shame
Be theirs, that have so cruel thee forlorn;
Of life it be, then better do avise.
For, he whose days in wilful woe are worn,
When so he heard her say, eftsoons he brake
His sudden silence, which he long had pent,
And sighing inly deep, her thus bespake;
Then have they all themselves against me bent:
For heaven (first author of my languishment)
Did closely with a cruel one consent,
Nor any but yourself, O dearest dread,
And after him the famous rivers came Hath done this wrong; to wreak on worthless wight Which do the earth enrich and beautify; Your high displeasure, through misdeeming bred : The fertile Nile, which creatures now doth frame; That when your pleasure is to deem aright,
Long Rhodanus, whose course springs from the sky; Ye may redress, and me restore to light.
Fair Ister, flowing from the mountains high; Which sorry words, her mighty heart did mate Divine Scamander, purpled yet with blood With mild regard, to see his rueful plight,
Of Greeks and Trojans, which therein did die; That her in-burning wrath she gan abate,
Pactolus, glistering with his golden flood, And him received again to former favour's state. And Tigris fierce, whose streams of none may be with
Great Ganges, and immortal Euphrates ; [Wedding of the Medway and the Thames.] Deep Indus, and Meander intricate ;
Slow Peneus, and tempestuous Phasides ; [This piece is a remarkable specimen of the allegorical man- Swift Rhine and Alpheus still immaculate ; ner of the poet. Natural objects are here personified in an abun: Ooraxes, feared for great Cyrus' fate; dance, and with a facility which almost bewilders the reader.] Tybris, renowned for the Roman's fame ; It fortun'd then a solemn feast was there,
Rich Oranochy, though but knowen late; To all the sea-gods and their fruitful seed,
And that huge river which doth bear his name In honour of the spousals which then were
Of warlike Amazons, which do possess the same. Betwixt the Medway and the Thames agreed. Then was there heard a most celestial sound Long had the Thames (as we in records read) Of dainty music, which did next ensue Before that day her wooed to his bed,
Before the spouse, that was Arion crown'd, But the proud nymph would for no wordly meed, Who playing on his harp, unto him drew Nor no entreaty, to his love be led,
The ears and hearts of all that godly crew : Till now at last relenting, she to him was wed. That even yet the dolphin which him bore
Through the Egean seas from pirate's view, So both agreed that this, their bridal feast,
Stood still by him, astonish'd at his lore,
And all the raging seas for joy forgot to roar.
So went he playing on the watery plain ;
Soon after whom the lovely bridegroom came, All which not if an hundred tongues to tell,
The noble Thames, with all his goodly train ; And hundred mouths, and voice of brass, I had.
But him before there went, as best became, And endless memory, that mote excell,
His ancient parents, namely th' ancient Thame ; In order as they came could I recount them well. But much more aged was his wife than he,
The Ouse, whom men do Isis rightly name; Help, therefore, O thou sacred imp of Jove !
Full weak, and crooked creature seemed she, The nursling of dame memory, his dear,
And almost blind through eld, that scarce her way To whom those rolls, laid up in heaven above,
could see. And records of antiquity appear, To which no wit of man may comen near ;
Therefore on either side she was sustain'd Help me to tell the names of all those floods,
Of two small grooms, which by their names were hight And all those nymphs, which then assembled were
The Churn and Charwell, two small streams which
Themselves her footing to direct aright, To that great banquet of the watery gods,
[pain'd And all their sundry kinds, and all their hid Which failed oft through faint and feeble plight; abodes.
But Thame was stronger, and of better stay,
Yet seem'd full aged by his outward sight, First came great Neptune, with his threeforkt mace, With head all hoary and his beard all gray, That rules the seas, and makes them rise or fall; Dewed with silver drops that trickled down alway: His dewy locks did drop with brine apace Under his diadem imperial ;
And eke somewhat seemed to stoop afore And by his side his queen with coronal,
With bowed back, by reason of the load Fair Amphitrite, most divinely fair,
And ancient heavy burden which he bore Whose ivory shoulders weren cover'd all,
Of that fair city, wherein make abode As with a robe, with her own silver hair,
So many learned imps, that shoot abroad, And deck'd with pearls which the Indian seas for her And with their branches spread all Britany,
No less than do her elder sister's brood : prepare.
Joy to you both, ye double nursery These marched far afore the other crew,
Of arts, but Oxford ! thine doth Thame most glorify And all the way before them, as they went,
But he their son full fresh and jolly was, Triton his trumpet shrill before them blew,
All decked in a robe of watchet hue, For goodly triumph and great jollyment,
On which the waves, glittering like crystal glass, That made the rocks to roar as they were rent ;
So cunningly inwoven were, that few And after them the royal issue came,
Could weenen whether they were false or true ; Which of them sprung by lineal descent;
And on his head like to a coronet First the sea-gods, which to themselves do claim
He wore, that seemed strange to common view, The power to rule the billows, and the waves to In which were many towers and castles set, tame.
That it encompass'd round as with a golden fret. Next came the aged ocean and his dame,
Like as the mother of the gods they say, Old Tethys, th' oldest two of all the rest,
In her great iron chariot wonts to ride, For all the rest of those two parents came,
When to love's palace she doth take her way, Which afterward both sea and land possest.
Old Cybele, array'd with pompous pride,
Wearing a diadem embattled wide
With such an one was Thamis beautified,
And round about him many a pretty page
In the above extracts from the Faery Queen, we Attended duly, ready to obey ;
have, for the sake of perspicuity, modernised the All little rivers which owe vassalage
spelling, without changing a word of the original. To him, as to their lord, and tribute pay ;
The following two highly poetical descriptions are The chalky Kennet, and the Thetis gray ;
given in the poet's own orthography :-
[The House of Sleep.]
And through the world of waters wide and deepe, And water all the English soil throughout;
Amid the bowels of the earth full steepe, They all on him this day attended well,
And low, where dawning day doth never peepe, And with meet service waited him about,
His dwelling is, there Tethys his wet bed Ne none disdained low to him to lout;
Doth ever wash, and Cynthia still doth steepe, No, not the stately Severn grudg'd at all,
In silver deaw, his ever drouping hed, Ne storming Humber, though he looked stout,
Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black dotb But both him honor'd as their principal,
spred. And let their swelling waters low before him fall.
Whose double gates he findeth locked fast, There was the speedy Tamar, which divides
The one fayre fram'd of burnisht yvory, The Cornish and the Devonish confines,
The other all with silver overcast;
And wakeful dogges before them farre doe lye,
Watching to banish Care their enimy,
Who oft is wont to trouble gentle sleepe. But Avon marched in more stately path,
By them the sprite doth passe in quietly, Proud of his adamants with which he shines
And unto Morpheus comes, whom drowned deepe
And more to lulle him in his slumber soft,
A trickling streaine from high rock tumbling downe, Which mote the feebled Britons strongly flank
And ever-drizling raine upon the loft,
Mixt with a murmuring winde, much like the sowne Against the Picts, that swarmed over all,
Of swarming bees, did cast him in a swowne. Which yet thereof Gualsever they do call ;
No other noyse, nor peoples troublous cryes, And Tweed, the liinit betwixt Logris' land
As still are wont t'annoy the walled towne, And Albany ; and Eden, though but small,
Might there be heard ; but careless Quiet lyeg
Wrapt in eternal silence farre from enimyes.
[Description of Bulphabe.] That to old Loncaster his name doth lend,
In her faire eyes two living lamps did flame, And following Dce, which Britons long ygone, Kindled above at th' heavenly Maker's light, Did call divine, that doth by Chester tend;
And darted fyrie beames out of the same, And Conway, which out of his stream doth send
So passing persant, and so wondrous bright, Plenty of pearls to deck his dames withal;
That quite bereav'd the rash beholders sight: And Lindus, that his pikes doth most commend,
In them the blinded god his lustfull fyre Of which the ancient Lincoln men do call :
To kindle oft assayd, but had no might; All these together marched toward Proteus' hall.
For, with dredd majestie and awfull yre, Then came the bride, the lovely Medua came,
She broke his wanton darts, and quenched base desyre. Clad in a vesture of unknowen gear, And uncouth fashion, yet her well became,
Her yvorie forhead, full of bountie brave,
Like a broad table did itselfe dispred, That seein'd like silver sprinkled here and there,
For Love his loftie triumphes to engrave,
And write the battailes of his great godhed :
All good and honour might therein be red;
For there their dwelling was. And, when she spake, It was no mortal work, that seem'd and yet was not.
Sweete wordes, like dropping honey, she did shed ;
And 'twixt the perles and rubins softly brake Her goodly locks adown her back did flow
A silver sound, that heavenly musicke seemd to make. Unto her waist, with flowers bescattered, The which ambrosial odours forth did throw
Upon her eyelids many Graces sate, To all about, and all her shoulders spread,
Under the shadow of her even browes, As a new spring; and likewise on her head
Working belgardes and amorous retrate ;
And everie one her with a grace endowes,
And everie one with meekenesse to her bowes :
So glorious mirrhour of celestiall grace, Congealed little drops, which do the morn adore. And soveraine moniment of mortall vowes,
How shall frayle pen descrive her heavenly face, On her two pretty handmaids did attend,
For feare, through want of skill, her beauty to disgrace ! One call'd the Theise, the other call’d the Crane, Which on her waited, things amiss to mend,
So faire, and thousand thousand times more faire, And both behind upheld her spreading train,
She seemd, when she presented was to sight; Under the which her feet appeared plain,
And was yclad, for heat of scorching aire, Her silver feet, fair wash'd against this day :
All in a silken Camus lily white, And her before there paced pages twain,
Purfled upon with many a folded plight, Both clad in colours like, and like array
Which all above besprinckled was throughout The Doun and eke the Frith, both which prepared her With golden aygulets. way.