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[The first of these commendatory poems is by Sir Walter Raleigh, and is in a fine strain of exaggerated compliment. The second is by the same author, and is a specimen of the adulation addressed to Queen Elizabeth by her courtiers. The third is by Spenser's friend, Gabriel Harvey. The names of the authors of the remaining four have baffled the researches of modern commentators.]
A Vision upon this Conceipt of the Faery Queene
Me thought I saw the grave where Laura lay,*
Within that Temple where the vestall flame
Was wont to burne; and passing by that way
To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb faire Love, and fairer Virtue kept;
All suddeinly I saw the Faery Queene:
At whose approch the soule of Petrarke wept,
And from thenceforth those Graces were not seene;
(For they this Queene attended ;) in whose steed
Oblivion laid him down on Lauras herse:
Hereat the hardest stones were seene to bleed,
And grones of buried ghostes the hevens did perse:
Where Homers spright did tremble all for griefe,
And curst th' accesse of that celestiall Theife.
* "Methought I saw my late espoused saint."
Another of the same.
THE prayse of meaner wits this Worke like profit brings,
As doth the Cuckoes song delight when Philumena sings.
If thou hast formed right true Vertues face herein,
Vertue herselfe can best discerne to whom they written bin.
If thou hast Beauty praysd, let Her sole lookes divine
Judge if ought therein be amis, and mend it by Her eine.
If Chastitie want ought, or Temperaunce her dew,
Behold Her Princely mind aright, and write thy Queene anew.
Meane while She shall perceive, how far Her vertues sore
Above the reach of all that live, or such as wrote of yore:
And thereby will excuse and favour thy good will;
Whose vertue can not be exprest but by an Angels quill.
Of me no lines are lov'd, nor letters are of price,
(Of all which speak our English tongue,) but those of thy
To the learned Shepheard.
*COLLYN, I see, by thy new taken taske,
Some sacred fury hath enricht thy braynes, That leades thy Muse in haughty verse to maske,
And loath the layes that longs to lowly swaynes; That liftes thy notes from Shepheardes unto Kinges: So like the lively Larke that mounting singes.
Thy lovely Rosalinde seemes now forlorne;
And all thy gentle flockes forgotten quight:
Thy chaunged hart now holdes thy pypes in scorne,
Those prety pypes that did thy mates delight;
* In these verses allusion is made to "The Shepheards Calender " -Spenser's first published work, in which he speaks of himself as Colin Clout.
Those trusty mates, that loved thee so well;
Whom thou gav'st mirth, as they gave thee the bell.1
Yet, as thou earst with thy sweete roundelayes
Didst stirre to glee our laddes in homely bowers;
So moughtst thou now in these refyned layes
Delight the daintie eares of higher powers.
And so mought they, in their deepe skanning skill,
Allow and grace our Collyns flowing quill.
And faire befall that Faery Queene of thine!
In whose faire eyes Love linct with Vertue sittes;
Enfusing, by those bewties fyers divine,
Such high conceites into thy humble wittes,
As raised hath poore Pastors oaten reedes
From rusticke tunes, to chaunt heroique deedes.
So mought thy Redcrosse Knight with happy hand
Victorius be in that faire Ilands right,
(Which thou dost vayle in type of Faery land,)
Elizas blessed field, that Albion hight:
That shieldes her friendes, and warres her mightie foes, Yet still with people, peace, and plentie, flowes.
But, iolly shepheard, though with pleasing stile
Thou feast the humour of the courtly trayne; Let not conceipt thy settled sence beguile,
Ne daunted be through envy or disdaine. Subiect thy doome to her empyring spright, From whence thy Muse, and all the world, takes light.
1 Gave thee the bell, gave you the first rank.
FAYRE Thamis streame, that from Ludds stately towne
Runst paying tribute to the ocean seas,
Let all thy Nymphes and Syrens of renowne
Be silent, whyle this Bryttane Orpheus playes:
Nere thy sweet banks there lives that sacred Crowne,
Whose hand strowes palme and never-dying bayes.
Let all at once, with thy soft murmuring sowne,
Present her with this worthy Poets prayes:
For he hath taught hye drifts in Shepherdes weedes,
And deepe conceites now singes in Faeries deedes.
GRAVE Muses, march in triumph and with prayses;
Our Goddesse here hath given you leave to land;
And biddes this rare dispenser of your graces
Bow downe his brow unto her sacred hand.
Deserte findes dew in that most princely doome,
In whose sweete brest are all the Muses bredde:
So did that great Augustus erst in Roome
With leaves of fame adorn his Poets hedde.
Faire be the guerdon of your Faery Queene,
Even of the fairest that the world hath seene!
WHEN Stout Achilles heard of Helens rape,
And what revenge the States of Greece devis'd;
Thinking by sleight the fatall warres to scape,
In womans weedes himselfe he then disguis'd:
But this devise Ulysses soone did spy,
And brought him forth, the chaunce of warre to try.
When Spenser saw the fame was spredd so large,
Through Faery land, of their renowned Queene;
Loth that his Muse should take so great a charge,
As in such haughty matter to be seene;
To seeme a Shepheard, then he made his choice;
But Sidney heard him sing, and knew his voice.
And as Ulysses brought faire Thetis sonne
From his retyred life to menage armes :
So Spenser was, by Sidney's speaches, wonne
To blaze Her fame, not fearing future harmes:
For well he knew, his Muse would soone be tyred
In her high praise, that all the world admired.
Yet as Achilles, in those warlike frayes,
Did win the palme from all the Grecian Peeres:
So Spenser now, to his immortal prayse,
Hath wonne the laurell quite from all his feeres.1
What though his taske exceed a humaine witt;
He is excus'd, sith Sidney thought it fitt.
To looke upon a worke of rare devise
The which a workman setteth out to view,
And not to yield it the deserved prise
That unto such a workmanship is dew,
Doth either prove the iudgement to be naught,
Or els doth shew a mind with envy fraught.
To labour to commend a peece of worke,
Which no man goes about to discommend,