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For, with a veile that wimpled every where,
Her head and face was hid that mote to none appeare.
That, some doe say, was so by skill devized,
To hide the terror of her uncouth hew
From mortall eyes that should be sore agrized ? ;
For that her face did like a lion shew,
That eye of wight could not indure to view :
But others tell that it so beautious was,
And round about such beames of splendor threw,
That it the sunne a thousand times did pass,
Ne could be seene but like an image in a glass.
That well may seemen true; for well I weene
That this same day, when she on Arlo sat,
Her garment was so bright and wondrous sheene,
fraile wit cannot devize to what
It to compare, nor finde like stuffe to that:
As those three sacred saints, though else most wise,
Yet on Mount Thabor quite their wits forgat,
When they their glorious Lord in strange disguise Transfigur'd sawe; his garments so did daze 4 their eyes.
In a fayre plaine upon an equall hill
She placed was in a pavilion ;
Not such as craftesmen by their idle skill
Are wont for princes states to fashion ;
But th’ Earth herself, of her owne motion,
Out of her fruitfull bosome made to growe
Most dainty trees, that, shooting up anon,
Did seeme to bow their bloosming heads full lowe
For homage unto her, and like a throne did shew.
So hard it is for any living wight
All her array and vestiments to tell,
That old Dan Geffrey (in whose gentle spright,
The pure well-head of poesie did dwell)
In his Foules parley durst not with it mell,
But it transferd to Alane, who he thought
Had in his Plaint of kindes describ’d it well:
Which who will read set forth so as it ought,
Go seek he out that Alane where he may be sought.
And all the earth far underneath her feete
Was dight? with flowers, that voluntary grew
Out of the ground, and sent forth odours sweet;
Tenne thousand mores 3 of sundry sent and hew,
That might delight the smell, or please the view,
The which the nymphes from all the brooks thereby
Had gathered, they at her foot-stoole threw;
· Mell, meddle.
? Dight, adorned.
3 Mores, roots, plants.
4 Sent, scent.
IX. 3. — Dan Geffrey.] Chaucer, who, in his “ Assembly of Fowles," has a description of Nature, to which Spenser has been under obligations in the present passage. IX. 6. — To Alane.] The lines in Chaucer are,
“ And right as Alaine, in the Plaint of Kinde,
Deviseth Nature of soch araie and face,
In soche aray, men might her there find.” Alanus, or Alain, was a poet and divine of the twelfth century, who wrote a work called “ De Planctu Naturæ,” which Chaucer translates the “ Plaint of Kinde."
That richer seem’d then any tapestry,
That princes bowres adorne with painted imagery.
And Mole himselfe, to honour her the more,
Did deck bimself in freshest faire attire ;
And his high head, that seemeth alwaies hore
With hardned frosts of former winters ire,
He with an oaken girlond now did tire,
As if the love of some new nymph late seene
Had in him kindled youthfull fresh desire,
And made him change bis gray attire to greene:
Ah! gentle Mole, such ioyance hath thee well beseene.
Was never so great ioyance since the day
That all the gods whylome 3 assembled were
On Hæmus bill in their divine array,
To celebrate the solemne bridall cheare
Twixt Peleus and Dame Thetis pointed there;
Where Phæbus self, that god of poets hight,
They say, did sing the spousall hymne full cleere,
That all the gods were ravisht with delight
Of his celestiall song and musicks wondrous might.
This great Grandmother of all creatures bred,
Great Nature, ever young, yet full of eld 6 ;
Still mooving, yet unmoved from her sted?;
1 Then, than.
? Tire, adorn.
3 Whylome, formerly.
* Pointed, appointed.
6 Eld, old age.
7 Sted, place.
XII. 3. – On Hamus hill.] The nuptials of Peleus and Thetis were celebrated on Mount Pelion. VOL. IV.
Unseene of any, yet of all beheld;
Thus sitting in her throne, as I have teld,
Before her came Dame Mutabilitie;
And, being lowe before her presence feld 1
With meek obaysance and humilitie,
Thus gan her plaintif plea with words to amplifie:
“To thee, O greatest Goddesse, onely great,
An humble suppliant loe! I lowely fly,
Seeking for right, which I of thee entreat;
Who right to all dost deale indifferently, 2
Damning all wrong and tortious 4 iniurie,
Which any of thy creatures doe to other,
Oppressing them with power unequally,
Sith 5 of them all thou art the equall mother,
And knittest each to each, as brother unto brother:
XV. “ To thee therefore of this same love I plaine, And of his fellow gods that faine ? to be, That challenge to themselves the whole worlds raign, Of which the greatest part is due to me, And heaven itselfe by heritage in fee 9 : For heaven and earth I both alike do deeme, Sith 5 heaven and earth are both alike to thee;
And gods no more then 10 men thou doest esteeme: For even the gods to thee, as men to gods, do seeme.
XVI. “ Then weigh, O soveraigne Goddesse, by what right
These gods do claime the worlds whole soverainty ;
And that is onely dew unto my might
Arrogate to themselves ambitiously :
As for the gods owne principality,
Which love usurpes uniustly, that to be
My heritage, love's selfe cannot deny,
From my great grandsire Titan unto mee
Deriv'd by dew descent; as is well known to thee.
“Yet mauger love, and all his gods beside,
I doe possesse the worlds most regiment ? ;
As if ye please it into parts divide,
And every parts inholders 3 to convent 4
Shall to your eyes appeare incontinent.5
And first, the Earth (great mother of us all)
That only seems unmov’d and permanent,
And unto Mutability not thrall,
Yet is she chang’d in part, and eeke in generall:
“For all that from her springs, and is ybredde,
However fayre it flourish for a time,
Yet see we soone decay; and, being dead,
To turne again unto their earthly slime 6 :
Yet, out of their decay and mortall crime,
We daily see new creatures to arize,
And of their Winter spring another Prime,
· Mauger, in spite of.
. Most regiment, chief regiment.
3 Inholders, inhabitants.
4 Content, summon.
• Incontinent, immediately.
6 Slime, clay.
7 Prime, spring.
XVIII. 5. - Mortall crime.] Mortality.