Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Extracts from The Faerie Queene: The House of Pride
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 
[From Bk. i.]

  HIGH above all a cloth of State was spred,
And a rich throne, as bright as sunny day;
On which there sate, most brave embellished
With royall robes and gorgeous array,
A mayden Queene that shone as Titans ray,        5
In glistring gold and perelesse pretious stone;
Yet her bright blazing, beautie did assay
To dim the brightnesse of her glorious throne,
As envying her selfe, that too exceeding shone:
 
  Exceeding shone, like Phœbus fayrest childe,        10
That did presume his fathers fyrie wayne,
And flaming mouthes of steedes, unwonted wilde,
Through highest heaven with weaker hand to rayne:
Proud of such glory and advancement vayne,
While flashing beames do daze his feeble eyen,        15
He leaves the welkin way most beaten playne,
And, rapt with whirling wheeles, inflames the skyen
With fire not made to burne, but fayrely for to shyne.
 
  So proud she shyned in her princely state,
Looking to heaven, for earth she did disdayne,        20
And sitting high, for lowly she did hate:
Lo! underneath her scornefull feete was layne
A dreadfull Dragon with an hideous trayne;
And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,
Wherein her face she often vewed fayne,        25
And in her selfe-lov’d semblance took delight;
For she was wondrous faire, as any living wight.
 
  Of griesly Pluto she the daughter was,
And sad Proserpina, the Queene of hell;
Yet did she thinke her pearelesse worth to pas        30
That parentage, with pride so did she swell;
And thundring Jove, that high in heaven doth dwell
And wield the world, she claymed for her syre,
Or if that any else did Jove excell;
For to the highest she did still aspyre,        35
Or, if ought higher were than that, did it desyre.
 
  And proud Lucifera men did her call,
That made her selfe a Queene, and crownd to be;
Yet rightfull kingdome she had none at all,
Ne heritage of native soveraintie;        40
But did usurpe with wrong and tyrannie
Upon the scepter which she now did hold:
Ne ruld her Realme with lawes, but pollicie,
And strong advizement of six wisards old,
That, with their counsels bad, her kingdome did uphold.        45
 
  Soone as the Elfin knight in presence came,
And false Duessa, seeming Lady fayre,
A gentle Husher, Vanitie by name,
Made rowme, and passage for them did prepaire:
So goodly brought them to the lowest stayre        50
Of her high throne; where they, on humble knee
Making obeysaunce, did the cause declare,
Why they were come her roiall state to see,
To prove the wide report of her great Majestee.
 
  With loftie eyes, halfe loth to looke so lowe,        55
She thancked them in her disdainefull wise;
Ne other grace vouchsafed them to showe
Of Princesse worthy; scarse them bad arise.
Her Lordes and Ladies all this while devise
Themselves to setten forth to straungers sight:        60
Some frounce their curled heare in courtly guise;
Some prancke their ruffes; and others trimly dight
Their gay attyre; each others greater pride does spight.
*        *        *        *        *
  Suddein upriseth from her stately place
The roiall Dame, and for her coche doth call:        65
All hurtlen forth; and she, with princely pace,
As faire Aurora in her purple pall
Out of the East the dawning day doth call.
So forth she comes; her brightnes brode doth blaze.
The heapes of people, thronging in the hall,        70
Doe ride each other upon her to gaze:
Her glorious glitterand light doth all mens eies amaze.
 
  So forth she comes, and to her coche does clyme,
Adorned all with gold and girlonds gay,
That seemd as fresh as Flora in her prime;        75
And strove to match, in roiall rich array,
Great Junoes golden chayre; the which, they say,
The gods stand gazing on, when she does ride
To Joves high hous through heavens bras-paved way,
Drawne of fayre Pecocks, that excell in pride,        80
And full of Argus eyes their tayles dispredden wide.
 
 
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