LONG SINCE DEDICATED
TO THE MOST NOBLE AND EXCELLENT LORD,
THE EARLE OF LEICESTER,
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 complaine
Unto your selfe, that onely privie are.
But if that any Oedipus unware
Shall chaunce, through power of some divining spright,
To reade the secrete of this riddle rare,
And know the purporte of my evill plight,
Let him rest pleased with his owne insight,
Ne further seeke to glose upon the text:
For griefe enough it is to grieved wight
To feele his fault, and not be further vext.
But what so by my selfe may not be showen,
May by this Gnatts complaint be easily knowen*.
[* This riddle has never been guessed. Upton conjectures that Leicester’s displeasure was incurred for “some kind of officious sedulity in Spenser, who much desired to see his patron married to the Queen.” C.]
We now have playde, Augustus, wantonly,
Tuning our song unto a tender Muse,
And, like a cobweb weaving slenderly,
Have onely playde: let thus much then excuse
This Gnats small poeme, that th’whole history
Is but a iest; though envie it abuse:
But who such sports and sweet delights doth blame,
Shall lighter seeme than this Gnats idle name.
Hereafter, when as season more secure
Shall bring forth fruit, this Muse shall speak to thee
In bigger notes, that may thy sense allure,
And for thy worth frame some fit poesie:
The golden ofspring of Latona pure,
And ornament of great Ioves progenie,
Phoebus, shall be the author of my song,
Playing on yvorie harp with silver strong*.
[* Strong, strung.]
He shall inspire my verse with gentle mood,
Of poets prince, whether he woon* beside
Faire Xanthus sprincled with Chimaeras blood,
Or in the woods of Astery abide,
Or whereas Mount Parnasse, the Muses brood,
Doth his broad forhead like two hornes divide,
And the sweete waves of sounding Castaly
With liquid foote doth slide downe easily.
[* Woon, dwell.]
Wherefore ye Sisters, which the glorie bee
Of the Pierian streames, fayre Naiades,
Go too, and dauncing all in companie,
Adorne that god: and thou holie Pales,
To whome the honest care of husbandrie
Returneth by continuall successe,
Have care for to pursue his footing light
Throgh the wide woods and groves with green leaves dight.
Professing thee I lifted am aloft
Betwixt the forrest wide and starrie sky:
And thou, most dread Octavius, which oft
To learned wits givest courage worthily,
O come, thou sacred childe, come sliding soft,
And favour my beginnings graciously:
For not these leaves do sing that dreadfull stound*,
When giants bloud did staine Phlegraean ground;
[* Stound, time.]
Nor how th’halfe-horsy people, Centaures hight,
Fought with the bloudie Lapithaes at bord;
Nor how the East with tyranous despight
Burnt th’Attick towres, and people slew with sword;
Nor how Mount Athos through exceeding might
Was digged downe; nor yron bands abord
The Pontick sea by their huge navy cast,
My volume shall renowne, so long since past.
Nor Hellespont trampled with horses feete,
When flocking Persians did the Greeks affray:
But my soft Muse, as for her power more meete,
Delights (with Phoebus friendly leave) to play
An easie running verse with tender feete.
And thou, dread sacred child, to thee alway
Let everlasting lightsome glory strive,
Through the worlds endles ages to survive.
And let an happie roome remaine for thee
Mongst heavenly ranks, where blessed soules do rest;
And let long lasting life with ioyous glee,
As thy due meede that thou deservest best,
Hereafter many yeares remembred be
Amongst good men, of whom thou oft are blest.
Live thou for ever in all happinesse!
But let us turne to our first businesse.