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131 Works of Edmund Spenser

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Story type: Poetry

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And after him came next the chill December: Yet he, through merry feasting which he made, And great bonfires, did not the cold remember; His Saviour’s birth his mind so much did glad: Upon a shaggy-bearded goat he rode, The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender years, They say, was nourisht by th’ Idaean Mayd; […]

DEDICATED TO THE RIGHT NOBLE AND BEAUTIFULL LADIE, THE LA: MARIE, COUNTESSE OF PEMEBROOKE. Most honourable and bountifull Ladie, there bee long sithens deepe sowed in my brest the seede of most entire love and humble affection unto that most brave knight, your noble brother deceased; which, taking roote, began in his life time somewhat […]

LONDON: IMPRINTED FOR WILLIAM PONSONBIE, DWELLING IN PAULES CHURCHYARD AT THE SIGNE OF THE BISHOPS HEAD. 1591. TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE LADIE STRANGE. Most brave and noble Ladie, the things that make ye so much honored of the world as ye bee are such as (without my simple lines testimonie) are throughlie knowen to […]

CANTO I The Patron of true Holinessefoule Errour doth defeate;Hypocrisie him to entrappedoth to his home entreate. I A GENTLE Knight[*] was pricking on the plaine,Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,The cruel markes of many’a bloudy fielde;Yet armes till that time did he never wield: 5His angry […]


CANTO VI From lawlesse lust by wondrous gracefayre Una is releast:Whom salvage nation does adore,and learnes her wise beheast. I As when a ship, that flyes faire under saile,An hidden rocke escaped hath unwares,That lay in waite her wrack for to bewaile,The Marriner yet halfe amazed staresAt perill past, and yet in doubt ne dares […]

CANTO V The faithfull knight in equall fieldsubdewes his faithlesse foe,Whom false Duessa saves, and forhis cure to hell does goe. I THE noble hart, that harbours vertuous thought,And is with child of glorious great intent,Can never rest, untill it forth have broughtTh’ eternall brood of glorie excellent.Such restlesse passion did all night torment 5The […]

CANTO III Forsaken Truth long seekes her love,and makes the Lyon mylde,Marres blind Devotions mart, and falsin hand of leachour vylde. I Nought is there under heav’ns wide hollownesse,That moves more deare compassion of mind,Then beautie brought t’ unworthy wretchednesseThrough envies snares, or fortunes freakes unkind.I, whether lately through her brightnesse blind, 5Or through alleageance […]

CANTO IV To sinfull house of Pride, Duessaguides the faithfull knight,Where brother’s death to wreak Sansjoydoth chalenge him to fight. I Young knight whatever that dost armes professe,And through long labours huntest after fame,Beware of fraud, beware of ficklenesse,In choice, and change of thy deare loved Dame,Least thou of her beleeve too lightly blame, 5And […]

CANTO II The guilefull great Enchaunter partsthe Redcrosse Knight from truth,Into whose stead faire Falshood steps,and workes him wofull ruth. I By this the Northerne wagoner[*] had setHis sevenfold teme[*] behind the stedfast starre,[*]That was in Ocean waves yet never wet,But firme is fixt, and sendeth light from farreTo all that in the wide deepe […]

CANTO XII Faire Una to the Redcrosse knight,betrouthed is with joy:Though false Duessa it to barreher false sleights doe imploy. I BEHOLD I see the haven nigh at hand,To which I meane my wearie course to bend;Vere the maine shete,[*] and beare up with the land,The which afore is fairely to be kend,And seemeth safe […]

CANTO XI The knight with that old Dragon fightstwo dayes incessantly;The third him overthrowes, and gaynsmost glorious victory. I High time now gan it wex for Una faireTo thinke of those her captive Parents deare,And their forwasted kingdome to repaire:Whereto whenas they now approched neare,With hartie wordes her knight she gan to cheare, 5And in […]

CANTO IX His loves and lignage Arthur tells:the Knights knit friendly hands:Sir Trevisan flies from Despayre,whom Redcrosse Knight withstands. I O goodly golden chaine,[*] wherewith yfereThe vertues linked are in lovely wize:And noble mindes of yore allyed were,In brave poursuit of chevalrous emprize,That none did others safety despize, 5Nor aid envy to him, in need […]

CANTO X Her faithfull knight faire Una bringsto house of Holinesse,Where he is taught repentance, andthe way to heavenly blesse. I What man is he, that boasts of fleshly mightAnd vaine assurance of mortality,Which all so soone as it doth come to fightAgainst spirituall foes, yeelds by and by,Or from the field most cowardly doth […]

CANTO VIII Faire virgin, to redeeme her dearebrings Arthur to the fight:Who slayes that Gyant, woundes the beast,and strips Duessa quight. I Ay me, how many perils doe enfoldThe righteous man, to make him daily fall,Were not that heavenly grace doth him uphold,And stedfast truth acquite him out of all.Her love is firme, her care […]

CANTO VII The Redcrosse knight is captive madeby Gyaunt proud opprest,Prince Arthur meets with Una great-ly with those newes distrest. I What man so wise, what earthly wit so ware,As to discry the crafty cunning traine,By which deceipt doth maske in visour faire,And cast her colours dyed deepe in graine,To seeme like Truth, whose shape […]

After so long a race as I have runThrough Faery land, which those six books compile,Give leave to rest me being half foredonne,And gather to my selfe new breath awhile.Then, as a steed refreshed after toyle,Out of my prison I will break anew,And stoutly will that second work assoyle*,With strong endevour and attention dew.Till then […]

Ioy of my life! full oft for loving youI blesse my lot, that was so lucky placed:But then the more your owne mishap I rew,That are so much by so meane love embased.For had the equall hevens so much you gracedIn this as in the rest, ye mote invent*Some hevenly wit, whose verse could have […]

Fayre is my Love, when her fayre golden hairesWith the loose wynd ye waving chance to marke;Fayre, when the rose in her red cheekes appeares,Or in her eyes the fyre of love does sparke;Fayre, when her brest, lyke a rich laden barke,With pretious merchandize she forth doth lay;Fayre, when that cloud of pryde, which oft […]

Let not one sparke of filthy lustfull fyreBreake out, that may her sacred peace molest;Ne one light glance of sensuall desyreAttempt to work her gentle mindes unrest:But pure affections bred in spotlesse brest,And modest thoughts breathd from well-tempred spirits,Goe visit her in her chaste bowre of rest,Accompanyde with angelick delightes.There fill your selfe with those […]

Venemous tongue, tipt with vile adders sting,Of that self kynd with which the Furies fell,Their snaky heads doe combe, from which a springOf poysoned words and spightfull speeches well,Let all the plagues and horrid paines of hellUpon thee fall for thine accursed hyre,That with false forged lyes, which thou didst tell.In my true Love did […]

The world, that cannot deeme of worthy things,When I doe praise her, say I doe but flatter:So does the cuckow, when the mavis* sings,Begin his witlesse note apace to clatter.But they, that skill not of so heavenly matter,All that they know not, envy or admyre;Rather then envy, let them wonder at her,But not to deeme […]

Since I have lackt the comfort of that lightThe which was wont to lead my thoughts astray,I wander as in darknesse of the night,Affrayd of every dangers least dismay.Ne ought I see, though in the clearest day,When others gaze upon theyr shadowes vayne,But th’only image of that heavenly rayWhereof some glance doth in mine eie […]

Since I did leave the presence of my Love,Many long weary dayes I have outworne,And many nights, that slowly seemd to moveTheyr sad protract from evening untill morn.For, when as day the heaven doth adorne,I wish that night the noyous day would end:And when as night hath us of light forlorne,I wish that day would […]

Being my self captyved here in care,My hart, (whom none with servile bands can tye,But the fayre tresses of your golden hayre,)Breaking his prison, forth to you doth fly.Like as a byrd, that in ones hand doth spyDesired food, to it doth make his flight,Even so my hart, that wont on your fayre eyeTo feed […]

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,But came the waves and washed it away:Agayne I wrote it with a second hand;But came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.“Vayne man,” sayd she, “that doest in vaine assayA mortall thing so to immortalize;For I my selve shall lyke to this decay,And eke my […]

Most happy letters! fram’d by skilfull trade,With which that happy name was first desyndThe which three times thrise happy hath me made,With guifts of body, fortune, and of mind.The first ray being to me gave by kind,From mothers womb deriv’d by dew descent:The second is my sovereigne Queene most kind,That honour and large richesse to […]

Was it a dreame, or did I see it playne?A goodly table of pure yvory,All spred with juncats fit to entertayneThe greatest prince with pompous roialty:Mongst which, there in a silver dish did lyTwo golden apples of unvalewd* price,Far passing those which Hercules came by,Or those which Atalanta did entice;Exceeding sweet, yet voyd of sinfull […]

Fayre bosome! fraught with vertues richest tresure,The neast of love, the lodging of delight,The bowre of blisse, the paradice of pleasure,The sacred harbour of that hevenly spright,How was I ravisht with your lovely sight,And my frayle thoughts too rashly led astray,Whiles diving deepe through amorous insight,On the sweet spoyle of beautie they did pray,And twixt […]

Men call you fayre, and you doe credit it,For that your selfe ye daily such doe see:But the trew fayre, that is the gentle witAnd vertuous mind, is much more praysd of me.For all the rest, how ever fayre it be,Shall turne to nought and lose that glorious hew;But onely that is permanent, and freeFrom […]

Lackyng my Love, I go from place to place,Lyke a young fawne that late hath lost the hynd,And seeke each where where last I sawe her face,Whose ymage yet I carry fresh in mynd.I seeke the fields with her late footing synd;I seeke her bowre with her late presence deckt;Yet nor in field nor bowre […]

The doubt which ye misdeeme, fayre Love, is vaine,That fondly feare to lose your liberty,When, losing one, two liberties ye gayne,And make him bond that bondage earst did fly.Sweet be the bands the which true love doth tye,Without constraynt or dread of any ill:The gentle birde feeles no captivityWithin her cage, but sings, and feeds […]

To all those happy blessings which ye haveWith plenteous hand by heaven upon you thrown,This one disparagement they to you gave,That ye your love lent to so meane a one.Ye, whose high worths surpassing paragonCould not on earth have found one fit for mate,Ne but in heaven matchable to none,Why did ye stoup unto so […]

Most glorious Lord of lyfe! that on this dayDidst make thy triumph over death and sin,And, having harrowd* hell, didst bring awayCaptivity thence captive, us to win,This ioyous day, dear Lord, with ioy begin;And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dy,Being with thy deare blood clene washt from sin,May live for ever in felicity;And […]

Lyke as a huntsman, after weary chace,Seeing the game from him escapt away,Sits downe to rest him in some shady place,With panting hounds, beguiled of their pray,So, after long pursuit and vaine assay,When I all weary had the chace forsooke,The gentle deer returnd the selfe-same way,Thinking to quench her thirst at the next brooke.There she, […]

The famous warriors of the anticke worldUs’d trophees to erect in stately wize,In which they would the records have enroldOf theyr great deeds and valorous emprize.What trophee then shall I most fit devize,In which I may record the memoryOf my loves conquest, peerlesse beauties prise,Adorn’d with honour, love, and chastity!Even this verse, vowd to eternity,Shall […]

I ioy to see how, in your drawen work,Your selfe unto the Bee ye doe compare,And me unto the Spyder, that doth lurkeIn close awayt, to catch her unaware.Right so your selfe were caught in cunning snareOf a deare foe, and thralled to his love;In whose streight bands ye now captived areSo firmely, that ye […]

Fresh Spring, the herald of loves mighty king,In whose cote-armour richly are displaydAll sorts of flowres the which on earth do spring,In goodly colours gloriously arrayd,Goe to my Love, where she is carelesse layd,Yet in her winters bowre not well awake:Tell her the ioyous time wil not be staid,Unlesse she doe him by the forelock […]

Oft when my spirit doth spred her bolder winges,In mind to mount up to the purest sky,It down is weighd with thought of earthly things,And clogd with burden of mortality:Where, when that soverayne beauty it doth spy,Resembling heavens glory in her light,Drawn with sweet pleasures bayt it back doth fly,And unto heaven forgets her former […]

By her that is most assured to her selfe. Weake is th’assurance that weake flesh reposethIn her own powre, and scorneth others ayde;That soonest fals, when as she most supposethHer selfe assur’d, and is of nought affrayd,All flesh is frayle, and all her strength unstayd,Like a vaine bubble blowen up with ayre:Devouring tyme and changeful […]

They that in course of heavenly spheares are skildTo every planet point his sundry yeare,In which her circles voyage is fulfild:As Mars in threescore yeares doth run his spheare.So, since the winged god his planet cleareBegan in me to move, one yeare is spent;The which doth longer unto me appeare,Then al those fourty which my […]

Thrise happie she that is so well assuredUnto her selfe, and setled so in hart,That neither will for better be allured,Ne feard with worse to any chaunce to start:But, like a steddy ship, doth strongly partThe raging waves, and kcepes her course aright,Ne ought for tempest doth from it depart,Ne ought for fayrer weathers false […]

The glorious image of the Makers beautie,My soverayne saynt, the idoll of my thought,Dare not henceforth, above the bounds of dewtie,T’accuse of pride, or rashly blame for ought.For being, as she is, divinely wrought,And of the brood of angels heavenly born,And with the crew of blessed saynts upbrought,Each of which did her with theyr guifts […]

After long stormes and tempests sad assay,Which hardly I endured heretofore,In dread of death, and daungerous dismay,With which my silly bark was tossed sore,I doe at length descry the happy shore,In which I hope ere long for to arryve:Fayre soyle it seemes from far, and fraught with storeOf all that deare and daynty is alyve.Most […]

The weary yeare his race now having run,The new begins his compast course anew:With shew of morning mylde he bath begun,Betokening peace and plenty to ensew.So let us, which this chaunge of weather vew,Chaunge eke our mynds, and former lives amend;The old yeares sinnes forepast let us eschew,And fly the faults with which we did […]

Comming to kisse her lyps, (such grace I found,)Me seemd I smelt a gardin of sweet flowres,That dainty odours from them threw around,For damzels fit to decke their lovers bowres.Her lips did smell lyke unto gillyflowers;Her ruddy cheekes lyke unto roses red;Her snowy browes lyke budded bellamoures;Her lovely eyes lyke pincks but newly spred;Her goodly […]

Sweet warriour! when shall I have peace with you?High time it is this warre now ended were,Which I no lenger can endure to sue,Ne your incessant battry more to beare.So weake my powres, so sore my wounds, appear,That wonder is how I should live a iot,Seeing my hart through-launced every whereWith thousand arrowes which your […]

So oft as homeward I from her depart,I go lyke one that, having lost the field,Is prisoner led away with heavy hart,Despoyld of warlike armes and knowen shield.So doe I now my self a prisoner yieldTo sorrow and to solitary paine,From presence of my dearest deare exylde,Long-while alone in languor to remaine.There let no thought […]

Doe I not see that fayrest ymagesOf hardest marble are of purpose made,For that they should endure through many ages,Ne let theyr famous moniments to fade?Why then doe I, untrainde in lovers trade,Her hardnes blame, which I should more commend?Sith never ought was excellent assaydeWhich was not hard t’atchive and bring to end;Ne ought so […]

The panther, knowing that his spotted hydeDoth please all beasts, but that his looks them fray*,Within a bush his dreadful head doth hide,To let them gaze, whylst he on them may pray.Right so my cruell fayre with me doth play;For with the goodly semblance of her hewShe doth allure me to mine owne decay,And then […]

So oft as I her beauty doe behold,And therewith doe her cruelty compare,I marvaile of what substance was the mouldThe which her made attonce so cruell faire.Not earth; for her high thoughts more heavenly are:Not water; for her love doth burne like fyre:Not ayre; for she is not so light or rare;Not fyre; for she […]

Of this worlds theatre in which we stay,My Love, like the spectator, ydly sits,Beholding me, that all the pageants play,Disguysing diversly my troubled wits.Sometimes I ioy when glad occasion fits,And mask in myrth lyke to a comedy:Soone after, when my ioy to sorrow flits,I waile, and make my woes a tragedy.Yet she, beholding me with […]

Fayre ye be sure, but cruell and unkind,As is a tygre, that with greedinesseHunts after bloud; when he by chance doth findA feeble beast, doth felly him oppresse.Fayre be ye sure, but proud and pitilesse,As is a storme, that all things doth prostrate;Finding a tree alone all comfortlesse,Beats on it strongly, it to ruinate.Fayre be […]

Shall I then silent be, or shall I speake?And if I speake, her wrath renew I shall;And if I silent be, my hart will breake,Or choked be with overflowing gall.What tyranny is this, both my hart to thrall,And eke my toung with proud restraint to tie,That neither I may speake nor thinke at all,But like […]

Leave, Lady! in your glasse of cristall cleneYour goodly selfe for evermore to vew,And in my selfe, (my inward selfe I meane,)Most lively lyke behold your semblant trew.Within my hart, though hardly it can shewThing so divine to vew of earthly eye,The fayre idea of your celestiall hewAnd every part remaines immortally:And were it not […]

When those renoumed noble peres of GreeceThrough stubborn pride among themselves did iar,Forgetfull of the famous golden fleece,Then Orpheus with his harp theyr strife did bar.But this continuall, cruell, civill warreThe which my selfe against my selfe doe make,Whilest my weak powres of passions warreid arre,No skill can stint, nor reason can aslake.But when in […]

When my abodes prefixed time is spent,My cruell fayre streight bids me wend my way:But then from heaven most hideous stormes are sent,As willing me against her will to stay.Whom then shall I–or heaven, or her–obay?The heavens know best what is the best for me:But as she will, whose will my life doth sway,My lower […]

Innocent paper! whom too cruell handDid make the matter to avenge her yre,And ere she could thy cause well understand,Did sacrifize unto the greedy fyre,Well worthy thou to have found better hyreThen so bad end, for hereticks ordayned;Yet heresy nor treason didst conspire,But plead thy maisters cause, unjustly payned:Whom she, all carelesse of his grief, […]

Trust not the treason of those smyling lookes,Untill ye have their guylefull traynes well tryde;For they are lyke but unto golden hookes,That from the foolish fish theyr bayts do hyde:So she with flattring smyles weake harts doth guydeUnto her love, and tempte to theyr decay;Whome, being caught, she kills with cruell pryde,And feeds at pleasure […]

Long languishing in double maladyOf my harts wound and of my bodies griefe,There came to me a leach, that would applyFit medcines for my bodies best reliefe.Vayne man, quoth I, that hast but little priefe*In deep discovery of the mynds disease;Is not the hart of all the body chiefe,And rules the members as it selfe […]

Fayre Cruell! why are ye so fierce and cruell?Is it because your eyes have powre to kill?Then know that mercy is the Mighties iewell,And greater glory think to save then spill.But if it be your pleasure and proud willTo shew the powre of your imperious eyes,Then not on him that never thought you ill,But bend […]

Tell me, when shall these wearie woes have end;Or shall their ruthlesse torment never cease,But al my days in pining languor spend,Without hope of asswagement or release?Is there no meanes for me to purchace peace,Or make agreement with her thrilling eyes;But that their cruelty doth still increace,And dayly more augment my miseryes?But when ye have […]

Arion, when, through tempests cruel wracke,He forth was thrown into the greedy seas,Through the sweet musick which his harp did makeAllur’d a dolphin him from death to ease.But my rude musick, which was wont to pleaseSome dainty eares, cannot, with any skill,The dreadfull tempest of her wrath appease,Nor move the dolphin from her stubborn will.But […]

What guyle is this, that those her golden tressesShe doth attyre under a net of gold,And with sly skill so cunningly them dresses,That which is gold or haire may scarse be told?Is it that mens frayle eyes, which gaze too bold,She may entangle in that golden snare;And, being caught, may craftily enfoldTheir weaker harts, which […]

XL. Mark when she smiles with amiable cheare,And tell me whereto can ye lyken it;When on each eyelid sweetly doe appeareAn hundred Graces as in shade to sit.Lykest it seemeth, in my simple wit,Unto the fayre sunshine in somers day,That, when a dreadfull storme away is flit,Thrugh the broad world doth spred his goodly rayAt […]

Sweet smile! the daughter of the Queene of Love,Expressing all thy mothers powrefull art,With which she wonts to temper angry Iove,When all the gods he threats with thundring dart,Sweet is thy vertue, as thy selfe sweet art.For when on me thou shinedst late in sadnesse,A melting pleasance ran through every part,And me revived with hart-robbing […]

Is it her nature, or is it her will,To be so cruell to an humbled foe?If nature, then she may it mend with skill;If will, then she at will may will forgoe.But if her nature and her will be so,That she will plague the man that loves her most,And take delight t’encrease a wretches woe,Then […]

The love which me so cruelly tormentethSo pleasing is in my extreamest paine,That, all the more my sorrow it augmenteth,The more I love and doe embrace my bane.Ne do I wish (for wishing were but vaine)To be acquit fro my continual smart,But ioy her thrall for ever to remayne,And yield for pledge my poor and […]

The laurel-leafe which you this day doe weareGives me great hope of your relenting mynd:For since it is the badge which I doe beare*,Ye, bearing it, doe seeme to me inclind.The powre thereof, which ofte in me I find,Let it likewise your gentle brest inspireWith sweet infusion, and put you in mindOf that proud mayd […]

My Love is lyke to yse, and I to fyre:How comes it then that this her cold so greatIs not dissolv’d through my so hot desyre,But harder growes the more I her intreat?Or how comes it that my exceeding heatIs not delayd* by her hart-frosen cold,But that I burne much more in boyling sweat,And feele […]

See! how the stubborne damzell doth depraveMy simple meaning with disdaynfull scorne,And by the bay which I unto her gaveAccoumpts my self her captive quite forlorne.The bay, quoth she, is of the victours born,Yielded them by the vanquisht as theyr meeds,And they therewith doe poetes heads adorne,To sing the glory of their famous deeds.But sith […]

The paynefull smith with force of fervent heatThe hardest yron soone doth mollify,That with his heavy sledge he can it beat,And fashion to what he it list apply.Yet cannot all these flames in which I fryHer hart, more hard then yron, soft a whit,Ne all the playnts and prayers with which IDoe beat on th’andvile […]

Ah! why hath Nature to so hard a hartGiven so goodly giftes of beauties grace,Whose pryde depraves each other better part,And all those pretious ornaments deface?Sith to all other beastes of bloody raceA dreadfull countenance she given hath,That with theyr terrour all the rest may chace,And warne to shun the daunger of theyr wrath.But my […]

Great wrong I doe, I can it not deny,To that most sacred empresse, my dear dred,Not finishing her Queene of Faery,That mote enlarge her living prayses, dead.But Lodwick*, this of grace to me aread:Do ye not thinck th’accomplishment of itSufficient worke for one mans simple head,All were it, as the rest, but rudely writ?How then […]

My hungry eyes, through greedy covetizeStill to behold the obiect of their paine,With no contentment can themselves suffize;But having, pine, and having not, complaine.For lacking it, they cannot lyfe sustayne;And having it, they gaze on it the more,In their amazement lyke Narcissus vaine,Whose eyes him starv’d: so plenty makes me poore.Yet are mine eyes so […]

Lyke as a ship, that through the ocean wydeBy conduct of some star doth make her way,Whenas a storm hath dimd her trusty guyde,Out of her course doth wander far astray,So I, whose star, that wont with her bright rayMe to direct, with cloudes is over-cast,Doe wander now in darknesse and dismay,Through hidden perils round […]

This holy season*, fit to fast and pray,Men to devotion ought to be inclynd:Therefore, I lykewise, on so holy day,For my sweet saynt some service fit will find.Her temple fayre is built within my mind,In which her glorious ymage placed is;On which my thoughts doo day and night attend,Lyke sacred priests that never thinke amisse.There […]

Was it the worke of Nature or of Art,Which tempred so the feature of her face,That pride and meeknesse, mist by equall part,Doe both appeare t’adorne her beauties grace?For with mild pleasance, which doth pride displace,She to her love doth lookers eyes allure;And with stern countenance back again doth chaceTheir looser lookes that stir up […]

Penelope, for her Ulisses sake,Deviz’d a web her wooers to deceave;In which the worke that she all day did make,The same at night she did againe unreave.Such subtile craft my damzell doth conceave,Th’importune suit of my desire to shonne:For all that I in many dayes do weave,In one short houre I find by her undonne.So […]

How long shall this lyke-dying lyfe endure,And know no end of her owne mysery,But wast and weare away in termes unsure,‘Twixt feare and hope depending doubtfully!Yet better were attonce to let me die,And shew the last ensample of your pride,Then to torment me thus with cruelty,To prove your powre, which I too wel have tride.But […]

When I behold that beauties wonderment,And rare perfection of each goodly part,Of Natures skill the onely complement,I honor and admire the Makers art.But when I feele the bitter balefull smartWhich her fayre eyes unwares doe worke in mee,That death out of theyr shiny beames doe dart,I thinke that I a new Pandora see,Whom all the […]

Sweet is the rose, but growes upon a brere;Sweet is the iunipeer; but sharpe his bough;Sweet is the eglantine, but pricketh nere;Sweet is the firbloome, but his braunches rough*;Sweet is the cypresse, but his rynd is rough;Sweet is the nut, but bitter is his pill**;Sweet is the broome-flowre, but yet sowre enough;And sweet is moly, […]

Faire Proud! now tell me, why should faire be proud,Sith all worlds glorie is but drosse uncleane,And in the shade of death it selfe shall shroud,However now thereof ye little weene!That goodly idoll, now so gay beseene*,Shall doffe her fleshes borrowd fayre attyre,And be forgot as it had never beene,That many now much worship and […]

Retourne agayne, my forces late dismayd,Unto the siege by you abandon’d quite.Great shame it is to leave, like one afrayd,So fayre a peece* for one repulse so light.‘Gaynst such strong castles needeth greater mightThen those small forts which ye were wont belay**:Such haughty mynds, enur’d to hardy fight,Disdayne to yield unto the first assay.Bring therefore […]

In that proud port which her so goodly graceth,Whiles her faire face she reares up to the skie,And to the ground her eie-lids low embaseth,Most goodly temperature ye may descry;Myld humblesse mixt with awful! maiestie.For, looking on the earth whence she was borne,Her minde remembreth her mortalitie,Whatso is fayrest shall to earth returne.But that same […]

One day as I unwarily did gazeOn those fayre eyes, my loves immortall light,The whiles my stonisht hart stood in amaze,Through sweet illusion of her lookes delight,I mote perceive how, in her glauncing sight,Legions of Loves with little wings did fly,Darting their deadly arrows, fyry bright,At every rash beholder passing by.One of those archers closely […]

Ye tradefull Merchants, that, with weary toyle,Do seeke most pretious things to make your gain,And both the Indias of their treasure spoile,What needeth you to seeke so farre in vaine?For loe, my Love doth in her selfe containeAll this worlds riches that may farre be found:If saphyres, loe, her eies be saphyres plaine;If rubies, loe, […]

The glorious pourtraict of that angels face,Made to amaze weake mens confused skil,And this worlds worthlesse glory to embase,What pen, what pencil!, can expresse her fill?For though he colours could devize at will,And eke his learned hand at pleasure guide,Least, trembling, it his workmanship should spill*,Yet many wondrous things there are beside:The sweet eye-glaunces, that […]

The merry cuckow, messenger of Spring,His trompet shrill hath thrise already sounded.That warnes al lovers wayte upon their king,Who now is coming forth with girland crouned.With noyse whereof the quyre of byrds resoundedTheir anthemes sweet, devized of loves prayse,That all the woods theyr ecchoes back rebounded,As if they knew the meaning of their layes.But mongst […]

The rolling wheele that runneth often round,The hardest steele, in tract of time doth teare:And drizling drops, that often doe redound*,The firmest flint doth in continuance weare:Yet cannot I, with many a drooping teareAnd long intreaty, soften her hard hart,That she will once vouchsafe my plaint to heare,Or looke with pitty on my payneful smart.But […]

In vaine I seeke and sew to her for grace,And doe myne humbled hart before her poure,The whiles her foot she in my necke doth place,And tread my life downe in the lowly floure*.And yet the lyon, that is lord of power,And reigneth over every beast in field,In his most pride disdeigneth to devoureThe silly […]

Rudely thou wrongest my deare harts desire,In finding fault with her too portly pride:The thing which I doo most in her admire,Is of the world unworthy most envide.For in those lofty lookes is close implideScorn of base things, and sdeigne of foul dishonor;Thretning rash eies which gaze on her so wide,That loosely they ne dare […]

Be nought dismayd that her unmoved mindDoth still persist in her rebellious pride:Such love, not lyke to lusts of baser kynd,The harder wonne, the firmer will abide.The durefull oake whose sap is not yet drideIs long ere it conceive the kindling fyre;But when it once doth burne, it doth divideGreat heat, and makes his flames […]

More then most faire, full of the living fireKindled above unto the Maker nere,No eies, but ioyes, in which al powers conspire,That to the world naught else be counted deare!Thrugh your bright beams doth not the blinded guestShoot out his darts to base affections wound;But angels come, to lead fraile mindes to restIn chast desires, […]

Fayre eyes! the myrrour of my mazed hart,What wondrous vertue is contayn’d in you,The which both lyfe and death forth from you dartInto the obiect of your mighty view?For when ye mildly looke with lovely hew,Then is my soule with life and love inspired:But when ye lowre, or looke on me askew,Then do I die, […]

Long-while I sought to what I might compareThose powrefull eies which lighten my dark spright;Yet find I nought on earth, to which I dareResemble th’ymage of their goodly light.Not to the sun, for they doo shine by night;Nor to the moone, for they are changed never;Nor to the starres, for they have purer sight;Nor to […]

Dayly when I do seeke and sew for peace,And hostages doe offer for ray truth,She, cruell warriour, doth her selfe addresseTo battell, and the weary war renew’th;Ne wilbe moov’d, with reason or with rewth*,To graunt small respit to my restlesse toile;But greedily her fell intent poursewth,Of my poore life to make unpittied spoile.Yet my poore […]

X. Unrighteous Lord of love, what law is this,That me thou makest thus tormented be,The whiles she lordeth in licentious blisseOf her freewill, scorning both thee and me?See! how the Tyrannesse doth ioy to seeThe hugh massacres which her eyes do make,And humbled harts brings captive unto thee,That thou of them mayst mightie vengeance take.But […]

One day I sought with her hart-thrilling eiesTo make a truce, and termes to entertaine;All fearlesse then of so false enimies,Which sought me to entrap in treasons traine.So, as I then disarmed did remaine,A wicked ambush, which lay hidden longIn the close covert of her guilful eyen,Thence breaking forth, did thick about me throng.Too feeble […]

II* Whoso wil seeke, by right deserts, t’attaineUnto the type of true nobility,And not by painted shewes, and titles vaine,Derived farre from famous auncestrie,Behold them both in their right visnomy**Here truly pourtray’d as they ought to be,And striving both for termes of dignitie,To be advanced highest in degree.And when thou doost with equall insight seeThe […]

III* Upon the Historie of George Castriot, alias Scanderbeg, King of the Epirots, translated into English. Wherefore doth vaine Antiquitie so vauntHer ancient monuments of mightie peeres,And old heroees, which their world did dauntWith their great deedes and fild their childrens eares?Who, rapt with wonder of their famous praise,Admire their statues, their colossoes great,Their rich […]

Happy, ye leaves! when as those lilly handsWhich hold my life in their dead-doing mightShall handle you, and hold in loves soft bands,Lyke captives trembling at the victors sight.And happy lines! on which, with starry light.Those lamping eyes will deigne sometimes to look,And reade the sorrowes of my dying spright,And happy rymes! bath’d in the […]

IV* The antique Babel, empresse of the East,Upreard her buildinges to the threatned skie:And second Babell, tyrant of the West,Her ayry towers upraised much more high.But with the weight of their own surquedry**They both are fallen, that all the earth did feare,And buried now in their own ashes ly,Yet shewing, by their heapes, how great […]

Unquiet thought! whom at the first I bredOf th’inward bale of my love-pined hart,And sithens have with sighes and sorrowes fed,Till greater then my wombe thou woxen art,Breake forth at length out of the inner part,In which thou lurkest lyke to vipers brood,And seeke some succour both to ease my smart,And also to sustayne thy […]

New yeare, forth looking out of Ianus gate,Doth seeme to promise hope of new delight,And, bidding th’old adieu, his passed dateBids all old thoughts to die in dumpish* spright;And calling forth out of sad Winters nightFresh Love, that long hath slept in cheerlesse bower,Wils him awake, and soone about him dightHis wanton wings and darts […]

The soverayne beauty which I doo admyre,Witnesse the world how worthy to be prayzed!The light wherof hath kindled heavenly fyreIn my fraile spirit, by her from basenesse raysed;That being now with her huge brightnesse dazed,Base thing I can no more endure to view:But, looking still on her, I stand amazedAt wondrous sight of so celestiall […]

To whom his mother, closely* smiling, sayd,‘Twixt earnest and ‘twixt game:“See! thou thy selfe likewise art lyttle made,If thou regard the same.And yet thou suffrest neyther gods in sky,Nor men in earth, to rest:But when thou art disposed cruelly,Theyr sleepe thou doost molest.Then eyther change thy cruelty,Or give lyke leave unto the fly.” [* Closely, […]

Nathelesse, the cruell boy, not so content,Would needs the fly pursue,And in his hand, with heedlesse hardiment,Him caught for to subdue.But when on it he hasty hand did lay,The Bee him stung therefore.“Now out, alas,” he cryde, “and welaway!I wounded am full sore.The fly, that I so much did scorne,Hath hurt me with his little […]

Upon a day, as Love lay sweetly slumbringAll in his mothers lap,A gentle Bee, with his loud trumpet murm’ring,About him flew by hap.Whereof when he was wakened with the noyse,And saw the beast so small,“Whats this,” quoth he, “that gives so great a voyce,That wakens men withall?”In angry wize he flies about,And threatens all with […]

As Diane hunted on a day,She chaunst to come where Cupid lay,His quiver by his head:One of his shafts she stole away,And one of hers did close convay,Into the others stead:With that Love wounded my Loves hart,But Diane, beasts with Cupids dart.

I saw, in secret to my dameHow little Cupid humbly came,And said to her, “All hayle, my mother!”But when he saw me laugh, for shameHis face with bashfull blood did flame,Not knowing Venus from the other.“Then, never blush, Cupid,” quoth I,“For many have err’d in this beauty.”

In youth, before I waxed old,The blynd boy, Venus baby,For want of cunning, made me boldIn bitter hyve to grope for honny:But when he saw me stung and cry,He tooke his wings and away did fly.

I*. To the right worshipfull, my singular good frend,M. Gabriell Harvey, Doctor of the Lawes. Harvey, the happy above happiest menI read**; that, sitting like a looker-onOf this worldes stage, doest note with critique penThe sharpe dislikes of each condition:And, as one carelesse of suspition,Ne fawnest for the favour of the great,Ne fearest foolish reprehensionOf […]

The wanton boy was shortly wel recuredOf that his malady;But he soone after fresh again enured*His former cruelty.And since that time he wounded hath my selfeWith his sharpe dart of love,And now forgets the cruell carelesse elfeHis mothers heast** to prove.So now I languish, till he pleaseMy pining anguish to appease.[* Enured, practised.][** Heast, command.]

Ah! whither, Love! wilt thou now carry mee?What wontlesse fury dost thou now inspireInto my feeble breast, too full of thee?Whylest seeking to aslake thy raging fyre,Thou in me kindlest much more great desyre,And up aloft above my strength doth rayseThe wondrous matter of my fire to praise. That as I earst in praise of […]

Love, that long since hast to thy mighty powrePerforce subdude my poor captived hart,And raging now therein with restlesse stowre*,Doest tyrannize in everie weaker part,Faine would I seeke to ease my bitter smart 5By any service I might do to thee,Or ought that else might to thee pleasing bee.[* Stowre, commotion.] And now t’asswage the […]

Rapt with the rage of mine own ravisht thought,Through contemplation of those goodly sightsAnd glorious images in heaven wrought,Whose wondrous beauty, breathing sweet delights,Do kindle love in high conceipted sprights,I faine* to tell the things that I behold,But feele my wits to faile and tongue to fold.[* Faine, long.] Vouchsafe then, O Thou most Almightie […]

An Hymne Of Heavenly Love* [* See the sixth canto of the third book of the Faerie Queene, especially the second and the thirty-second stanzas; which, with his Hymnes of Heavenly Love and Heavenly Beauty, are evident proofs of Spenser’s attachment to the Platonic school. WARTON.] Love, lift me up upon thy golden wingsFrom this […]

She tooke him streight full pitiously lamenting,She wrapt him softly, all the while repentingThat he the fly did mock.She drest his wound, and it embaulmed wellWith salve of soveraigne might;And then she bath’d him in a dainty well,The well of deare delight.Who would not oft be stung as this,To be so bath’d in Venus blis?

Unto his mother straight he weeping came,And of his griefe complayned;Who could not chuse but laugh at his fond game,Though sad to see him pained.“Think now,” quoth she, “my son, how great the smartOf those whom thou dost wound:Full many thou hast pricked to the hart,That pitty never found.Therefore, henceforth some pitty take,When thou doest […]


[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.] I. Being one […]

Lyke as the culver* on the bared boughSits mourning for the absence of her mate,And in her songs sends many a wishful vowFor his returns, that seemes to linger late,So I alone, how left disconsolate,Mourne to my selfe the absence of my Love;And wandring here and there all desolate,Seek with my playnts to match that […]



Story type: Poetry

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Ye learned Sisters, which have oftentimesBeene to me ayding, others to adorneWhom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes,That even the greatest did not greatly scorneTo heare theyr names sung in your simple layes, 5But ioyed in theyr praise,And when ye list your own mishaps to mourne,Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse,Your […]

Virgils Gnat

Story type: Poetry

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LONG SINCE DEDICATED TO THE MOST NOBLE AND EXCELLENT LORD, THE EARLE OF LEICESTER, LATE DECEASED. Wrong’d, yet not daring to expresse my paine,To you, great Lord, the causer of my care,In clowdie teares my case I thus complaineUnto your selfe, that onely privie are.But if that any Oedipus unwareShall chaunce, through power of some […]


Ruines of Rome: By Bellay* [* Joachim du Bellay, a French poet of considerable reputation in his day, died in 1560. These sonnets are translated from Le Premier Livre des Antiquez de Rome. Further on we have the Visions of Bellay, translated from the Songes of the same author. The best that can be said […]

I. One day, whiles that my daylie cares did sleepe,My spirit, shaking off her earthly prison,Began to enter into meditation deepeOf 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 […]

DEDICATED TO THE MOST FAIRE AND VERTUOUS LADIE, THE LADIE CAREY. LONDON: IMPRINTED FOR WILLIAM PONSONBIE, DWELLING IN PAULES CHURCHYARD AT THE SIGNE OF THE BISHOPS HEAD. 1590* [* 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 […]

The Visions Of Bellay* [* 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 […]