Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
VIII. Wedded Love
The Wedding-Day
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 
From “Epithalamion
*        *        *        *        *
NOW is my love all ready forth to come:
Let all the virgins therefore well awayt:
And ye fresh boyes, that tend upon her groome,
Prepare yourselves; for he is coming strayt.
Set all your things in seemely good array,        5
Fit for so joyfull day:
The joyfulst day that ever sunne did see,
Faire Sun! shew forth thy favourable ray,
And let thy lifull heat not fervent be,
For feare of burning her sunshyny face,        10
Her beauty to disgrace.
O fayrest Phœbus! father of the Muse!
If ever I did honour thee aright,
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight,
Doe not thy servant’s simple boone refuse;        15
But let this day, let this one day, be myne;
Let all the rest be thine.
Then I thy soverayne prayses loud will sing,
That all the woods shal answer, and theyr eccho ring.
*        *        *        *        *
Loe! where she comes along with portly pace,        20
Lyke Phœbe, from her chamber of the East.
Arysing forth to run her mighty race,
Clad all in white, that seemes a virgin best.
So well it her beseemes that ye would weene
Some angell she had beene.        25
Her long, loose, yellow locks lyke golden wyre,
Sprinckled with perle, and perling flowres atweene,
Doe like a golden mantle her attyre;
And, being crownèd with a garland greene,
Seeme lyke some mayden Queene.        30
Her modest eyes abashèd to behold
So many gazers as on her do stare,
Upon the lowly ground affixèd are;
Ne dare lift up her countenance too bold,
But blush to heare her prayses sung so loud,        35
So farre from being proud.
Nathlesse doe ye still loud her prayses sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.
 
Tell me, ye merchants’ daughters, did ye see
So fayre a creature in your towne before?        40
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she,
Adorned with beauty’s grace and vertue’s store?
Her goodly eyes lyke saphyres shining bright;
Her forehead ivory white;
Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded;        45
Her lips lyke cherries charming men to byte;
Her brest lyke to a bowl of cream uncrudded;
Her paps lyke lyllies budded;
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre;
And all her body like a pallace fayre,        50
Ascending up with many a stately stayre,
To honour’s seat and chastity’s sweet bowre.
Why stand ye still, ye virgins, in amaze
Upon her so to gaze,
Whiles ye forget your former lay to sing,        55
To which the woods did answer, and your echo ring?
 
But if ye saw that which no eyes can see,
The inward beauty of her lively spright,
Garnisht with heavenly gifts of high degree,
Much more then would ye wonder at that sight,        60
And stand astonisht, lyke to those which red
Meduses mazeful hed.
There dwels sweet love, and constant chastity,
Unspotted fayth, and comely womanhood,
Regard of honour, and mild modesty;        65
There vertue raynes as Queene in royal throne,
And giveth lawes alone,
The which the base affections doe obay,
And yeeld theyr services unto her will;
Ne thought of thing uncomely ever may        70
Thereto approch to tempt her mind to ill.
Had ye once seene these her celestial threasures,
And unrevealèd pleasures,
Then would ye wonder, and her prayses sing,
That al the woods should answer, and your eccho ring.
*        *        *        *        *
        75
Behold, whiles she before the altar stands,
Hearing the holy priest that to her speakes,
And blesseth her with his two happy hands,
How the red roses flush up in her cheekes,
And the pure snow, with goodly vermill stayne,        80
Like crimson dyde in grayne:
That even the Angels, which continually
About the sacred Altare do remaine,
Forget their service and about her fly,
Ofte peeping in her face, that seemes more fayre        85
The more they on it stare.
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground,
Are governèd with goodly modesty,
That suffers not one looke to glaunce awry
Which may let in a little thought unsownd,        90
Why blush ye, love, to give to me your hand.
The pledge of all our band!
Sing, ye sweet Angels, Alleluya sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.
 
Now al is done: bring home the bride againe—        95
Bring home the triumph of our victory;
Bring home with you the glory of her gaine—
With joyance bring her and with jollity.
Never had man more joyful day than this,
Whom heaven would heape with blis,        100
Make feast therefore now all this live-long day;
This day for ever to me holy is.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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