[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.]