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My rimes I know unsavory and sowre,
To tast the streames that, like a golden showre,
Flow from thy fruitfull head of thy Love's praise;
Fitter perhaps to thonder martiall stowre,
Whenso thee list thy lofty Muse to raise:
Yet, till that Thou thy Poeme wilt make knowne,
Let thy faire Cinthias praises be thus rudely showne.
To the Right Honourable and most vertuous Lady, the Countesse of Pembroke.
REMEMBRAUNCE of that most heroicke Spirit,*
The Hevens pride, the glory of our daies,
Which now triumpheth (through immortall merit
Of his brave vertues) crown'd with lasting baies,
Of hevenlie blis and everlasting praies;
Who first my Muse did lift out of the flore,
To sing his sweet delights in lowlie laies;
Bids me, most Noble Lady, to adore
His goodly image living evermore
In the divine resemblaunce of your face;
Which with your vertues ye embellish more,
And native beauty deck with heavenly grace:
For His, and for your owne especial sake,
Vouchsafe from him this token in good worth to take.
* Sir Philip Sidney, her brother.
To the most vertuous and beautifull Lady, the Lady
NE may I, without blot of endless blame,
You, fairest Lady, leave out of this place;
But, with remembraunce of your gracious Name,
(Wherewith that courtly garlond most ye grace
And deck the world,) adorne these verses base:
Not that these few lines can in them comprise
Those glorious ornaments of hevenly grace,
Wherewith ye triumph over feeble eyes
And in subdued harts do tyranyse;
(For thereunto doth need a golden quill
And silver leaves, them rightly to devise ;)
But to make humble present of good will:
Which, whenas timely meanes it purchase may,
In ampler wise itselfe will forth display.
To all the gratious and beautifull Ladies in the Court.
THE Chian Peincter, when he was requir'd
To pourtraict Venus in her perfect hew;
To make his worke more absolute, desir'd
Of all the fairest Maides to have the vew.
Much more me needs, (to draw the semblant trew,
Of Beauties Queene, the worlds sole wonderment,)
To sharpe my sence with sundry Beauties vew,
And steale from each some part of ornament.
If all the world to seeke I overwent,
A fairer crew yet no where could I see
Then that brave Court doth to mine eie present; That the world's pride seemes gathered there to bee. Of each a part I stole by cunning thefte: Forgive it me, faire Dames, sith1 lesse ye have not lefte.
THE LEGEND OF THE KNIGHT OF THE RED CROSSE,
LO! I, the man whose Muse whylome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly shepheards weeds,1
Am now enforst, a farre unfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine oaten reeds,
And sing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds;
Whose praises having slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broade emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithful loves shall moralize my song.
Help then, O holy virgin, chiefe of nyne,
Thy weaker novice to perform thy will;
Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne 3
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still,
Of Faerie Knights, and fayrest Tanaquill *
1 Weeds, clothes.
2 Areeds, teaches.
Scryne, (scrinium, Lat.,) a cabinet in which papers were kept. * Tanaquill is another name for Gloriana, the Faerie Queene
Whom that most noble Briton Prince so long
Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill,
That I must rue his undeserved wrong:
O, helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong!
And thou, most dreaded impe1 of highest love,
Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart
At that good Knight so cunningly didst rove,2
That glorious fire it kindled in his hart;
Lay now thy deadly heben 3 bowe apart,
And, with thy mother mylde, come to mine ayde;
Come, both; and with you bring triumphant Mart,
In loves and gentle iollities arraid,
After his murdrous spoyles and bloudie rage allayd.
And with them eke, O Goddesse heavenly bright,
Mirrour of grace and majestie divine,
Great Ladie of the greatest isle, whose light
Like Phoebus lampe throughout the world doth shine,
Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne,
And raise my thoughtes, too humble and too vile,
To thinke of that true glorious type of thine,
The Argument of mine afflicted stile:
The which to heare vouchsafe, O dearest Dread,5 a while.
5 Dread, object of reverence.