Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
A Ditty
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 
In Praise of Eliza, Queen of the Shepherds

SEE 1 where she sits upon the grassy green,
        O seemly sight!
Yclad in scarlet, like a maiden Queen,
        And ermines white:
Upon her head a crimson coronet        5
With Damask roses and Daffadillies set:
        Bay leaves between,
        And Primroses green,
Embellish the sweet Violet.
 
Tell me, have ye beheld her angelic face        10
        Like Phœbe fair?
Her heavenly haviour, her princely grace,
        Can ye well compare?
The Red rose medled with the White yfere,
In either cheek depeincten 2 lively cheer:        15
        Her modest eye,
        Her majesty,
Where have you seen the like but there?
 
I saw Calliope speed her to the place
        Where my goddess shines;        20
And after her the other Muses trace
        With their violines.
Bin 3 they not bay-branches which they do bear
All for Eliza in her hand to wear?
        So sweetly they play,        25
        And sing all the way,
That it a heaven is to hear.
 
Lo, how finely the Graces can it foot
        To the instrument:
They dancen deftly, and singen soot        30
        In their merriment.
Wants not a fourth Grace to make the dance even?
Let that room to my Lady be given.
        She shall be a Grace,
        To fill the fourth place,        35
And reign with the rest in heaven.
 
Bring hither the Pink and purple Columbine,
        With Gillyflowers;
Bring Coronations, and Sops-in-wine
        Worn of Paramours:        40
Strow me the ground with Daffadowndillies,
And Cowslips and Kingcups and loved Lilies
        The pretty Paunce
        And the Chevisaunce
Shall match with the fair Flower-delice.        45
 
Note 1. An extract from the Shepherd’s Calendar: April. The same being “purposely intended to the honour and prayse of our most gratious soveraigne, queene Elizabeth … whom abruptly he termeth Eliza.” The original song is of fourteen stanzas. “The opulence of Spenser’s muse will always be the despair of the anthologist, and I commend my extracts to the reader with much diffidence,” writes Mr. Quiller-Couch, in the Golden Pomp; I have followed the reading of his extract to which he has given the qualities of a lyric poem. [back]
Note 2. Depeinten: depicts. [back]
Note 3. Bin: are. [back]
 
 
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