Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XXX. Sweet Sorrow
The Doleful Lay of Clorinda
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 
From ‘Astrophel

WOODS, hills and riuers, now are desolate,
Sith he is gone the which them all did grace:
And all the fields do waile their widow state,
Sith death their fairest flowre did late deface.
    The fairest flowre in field that euer grew,        5
    Was Astrophel; that was, we all may rew.
 
What cruell hand of cursed foe vnknowne,
Hath cropt the stalke which bore so faire a flowre?
Vntimely cropt, before it well were growne,
And cleane defaced in vntimely howre.        10
    Great losse to all that euer him did see,
    Great losse to all, but greatest losse to mee.
 
Breake now your gyrlonds, O ye shepheards lasses,
Sith the faire flowre, which them adornd, is gon:
The flowre, which them adornd, is gone to ashes,        15
Neuer againe let lasse put gyrlond on.
    In stead of gyrlond, weare sad Cypres nowe,
    And bitter Elder, broken from the bowe.
 
Ne euer sing the loue-layes which he made,
Who euer made such layes of loue as hee?        20
Ne euer read the riddles, which he sayd
Vnto your selues, to make you mery glee.
    Your mery glee is now laid all abed,
    Your mery maker now alasse is dead.
 
Death the deuourer of all worlds delight,        25
Hath robbed you and reft fro me my ioy:
Both you and me, and all the world he quight
Hath robd of ioyance, and left sad annoy.
    Ioy of the world, and shepheards pride was hee,
    Shepheards hope neuer like againe to see.        30
 
Oh death that hast vs of such riches reft,
Tell vs at least, what hast thou with it done?
What is become of him whose flowre here left
Is but the shadow of his likenesse gone.
    Scarse like the shadow of that which he was,        35
    Nought like, but that he like a shade did pas.
 
But that immortall spirit, which was deckt
With all the dowries of celestiall grace:
By soueraine choyce from th’ heuenly quires select,
And lineally deriv’d from Angels race,        40
    O what is now of it become, aread.
    Ay me, can so diuine a thing be dead?
 
Ah no: it is not dead, ne can it die,
But liues for aie, in blisfull Paradise:
Where like a new-borne babe it soft doth lie.        45
In bed of lillies wrapt in tender wise.
    And compast all about with roses sweet,
    And daintie violets from head to feet….
 
But liue thou there still happie, happie spirit,
And giue vs leaue thee here thus to lament:        50
Not thee that doest thy heauens ioy inherit,
But our owne selues that here in dole are drent.
    Thus do we weep and waile, and wear our eies,
    Mourning in others, our owne miseries.
 
 
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