Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Commendatory Verses
 
A VISION UPON THIS CONCEIPT OF THE FAERY QUEENE

ME thought I saw the grave where Laura lay,
Within that temple where the vestall flame
Was wont to burne; and passing by that way,
To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tumbe faire Love, and fairer Vertue kept,        5
All suddeinly I saw the Faery Queene:
At whose approch the soule of Petrarke wept,
And from thenceforth those graces were not seene.
For they this Queene attended; in whose steed
Oblivion laid him downe on Lauras herse:        10
Hereat the hardest stones were seene to bleed,
And grones of buried ghostes the hevens did perse:
  Where Homers spright did tremble all for griefe,
  And curst th’ accesse of that celestiall theife.
 
ANOTHER OF THE SAME

THE PRAYSE of meaner wits this worke like profit brings,
        15
As doth the Cuckoes song delight when Philumena sings.
If thou hast formed right true Vertues face herein,
Vertue her selfe can best discerne, to whom they written bin.
If thou hast Beauty praysd, let her sole lookes divine
Judge if ought therein be amis, and mend it by her eine.        20
If Chastitie want ought, or Temperaunce her dew,
Behold her princely mind aright, and write thy Queene anew.
Meane while she shall perceive, how far her vertues sore
Above the reach of all that live, or such as wrote of yore:
And thereby will excuse and favour thy good will:        25
Whose vertue can not be exprest, but by an angels quill.
Of me no lines are lov’d, nor letters are of price,
Of all which speak our English tongue, but those of thy device.
W. R.    
 
TO THE LEARNED SHEPEHEARD

COLLYN, I see by thy new taken taske,
  Some sacred fury hath enricht thy braynes,        30
That leades thy Muse in haughty verse to maske,
  And loath the layes that longs to lowly swaynes;
That lifts thy notes from shepheardes unto kinges,
So like the lively Larke that mounting singes.
 
Thy lovely Rosolinde seemes now forlorne,        35
  And all thy gentle flockes forgotten quight;
Thy chaunged hart now holdes thy pypes in scorne,
  Those prety pypes that did thy mates delight,
Those trusty mates, that loved thee so well,
Whom thou gav’st mirth, as they gave thee the bell.        40
 
Yet, as thou earst, with thy sweete roundelayes,
  Didst stirre to glee our laddes in homely bowers,
So moughtst thou now in these refyned layes
  Delight the daintie eares of higher powers:
And so mought they, in their deepe skanning skill,        45
Alow and grace our Collyns flowing quyll.
 
And faire befall that Faery Queene of thine,
  In whose faire eyes Love linckt with Vertue sittes:
Enfusing, by those bewties fyers devyne,
  Such high conceites into thy humble wittes,        50
As raised hath poore pastors oaten reede,
From rustick times, to chaunt heroique deedes.
 
So mought thy Redcrosse Knight with happy hand
  Victorious be in that faire Hands right,
Which thou dost vayle in type of Faery Land,        55
  Elizas blessed field, that Albion hight:
That shieldes her friendes, and warres her mightie foes,
Yet still with people, peace, and plentie flowes.
 
But (jolly shepheard) though with pleasing style
  Thou feast the humour of the courtly trayne,        60
Let not conceipt thy setled sence beguile,
  Ne daunted be through envy or disdaine.
Subject thy dome to her empyring spright,
From whence thy Muse, and all the world, takes light.
HOBYNOLL.    
 
FAYRE Thamis streame, that from Ludds stately towne        65
Runst paying tribute to the ocean seas,
Let all thy nymphes and syrens of renowne
Be silent, whyle this Bryttane Orpheus playes:
Nere thy sweet bankes, there lives that sacred Crowne,
Whose hand strowes palme and never-dying bayes:        70
Let all at once, with thy soft murmuring sowne,
Present her with this worthy poets prayes:
For he hath taught hye drifts in shepeherdes weedes,
And deepe conceites now singes in Faeries deedes.
R. S.    
 
GRAVE Muses, march in triumph and with prayses;        75
Our Goddesse here hath given you leave to land,
And biddes this rare dispenser of your graces
Bow downe his brow unto her sacred hand.
Desertes findes dew in that most princely doome,
In whose sweete brest are all the Muses bredde:        80
So did that great Augustus erst in Roome
With leaves of fame adorne his poets hedde.
Faire be the guerdon of your Faery Queene,
Even of the fairest that the world hath seene.
H. B.    
 
WHEN stout Achilles heard of Helens rape        85
And what revenge the states of Greece devisd:
Thinking by sleight the fatall warres to scape,
In womans weedes him selfe he then disguisde:
But this devise Ulysses soone did spy,
And brought him forth, the chaunce of warre to try.        90
 
When Spencer saw the fame was spredd so large,
Through Faery Land, of their renowned Queene,
Loth that his Muse should take so great a charge,
As in such haughty matter to be seene,
To seeme a shepeheard then he made his choice;        95
But Sydney heard him sing, and knew his voice.
 
And as Ulysses brought faire Thetis sonne
From his retyred life to menage armes,
So Spencer was by Sidneys speaches wonne
To blaze her fame, not fearing future harmes:        100
For well he knew, his Muse would soone be tyred
In her high praise, that all the world admired.
 
Yet as Achilles, in those warlike frayes,
Did win the palme from all the Grecian peeres,
So Spencer now, to his immortall prayse,        105
Hath wonne the laurell quite from all his feres.
What though his taske exceed a humaine witt?
He is excus’d, sith Sidney thought it fitt.
W. L.    
 
TO looke upon a worke of rare devise
The which a workman setteth out to view,        110
And not to yield it the deserved prise
That unto such a workmanship is dew,
  Doth either prove the judgement to be naught,
  Or els doth shew a mind with envy fraught.
 
To labour to commend a peece of worke        115
Which no man goes about to discommend,
Would raise a jealous doubt, that there did lurke
Some secret doubt, whereto the prayse did tend:
  For when men know the goodnes of the wyne,
  ’Tis needlesse for the hoast to have a sygne.        120
 
Thus then, to shew my judgement to be such
As can discerne of colours blacke and white,
As alls to free my minde from envies tuch,
That never gives to any man his right,
  I here pronounce this workmanship is such,        125
  As that no pen can set it forth too much.
 
And thus I hang a garland at the dore,
Not for to shew the goodnes of the ware,
But such hath beene the custome heretofore,
And customes very hardly broken are.        130
  And when your tast shall tell you this is trew,
  Then looke you give your hoast his utmost dew.
IGNOTO.    
 
 
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