Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Dedicatory Sonnets
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR CHRISTOPHER HATTON, LORD HIGH CHAUNCELOR OF ENGLAND, &C.

THOSE prudent heads, that with theire counsels wise
  Whylom the pillours of th’ earth did sustaine,
  And taught ambitious Rome to Tyrannise,
  And in the neck of all the world to rayne,
Oft from those grave affaires were wont abstaine,        5
  With the sweet, Lady Muses for to play:
  So Ennius the elder Africane,
  So Maro oft did Cæsars cares allay.
So you, great Lord, that with your counsell sway
  The burdeine of this kingdom mightily,        10
  With like delightes sometimes may eke delay
  The rugged brow of carefull Policy;
And to these ydle rymes lend litle space,
Which for their titles sake may find more grace.
 
TO THE MOST HONOURABLE AND EXCELLENT LORD THE EARLE OF ESSEX. GREAT MAISTER OF THE HORSE TO HER HIGHNESSE, AND KNIGHT OF THE NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER, &C.

MAGNIFICKE Lord, whose vertues excellent
        15
  Doe merit a most famous poets witt,
  To be thy living praises instrument,
  Yet doe not sdeigne to let thy name be writt
In this base poeme, for thee far unfitt:
  Nought is thy worth disparaged thereby.        20
  But when my Muse, whose fethers, nothing flitt,
Doe yet but flagg, and lowly learne to fly,
With bolder wing shall dare alofte to sty
  To the last praises of this Faery Queene,
  Then shall it make more famous memory        25
  Of thine heroicke parts, such as they beene.
Till then vouchsafe thy noble countenaunce,
To these first labours needed furtheraunce.
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARLE OF OXENFORD, LORD HIGH CHAMBERLAYNE OF ENGLAND, &C.

RECEIVE, most noble Lord, in gentle gree
  The unripe fruit of an unready wit,        30
  Which by thy countenaunce doth crave to bee
  Defended from foule Envies poisnous bit:
Which so to doe may thee right well befit,
  Sith th’ antique glory of thine auncestry
  Under a shady vele is therein writ,        35
  And eke thine owne long living memory,
Succeeding them in true nobility;
  And also for the love which thou doest beare
  To th’ Heliconian ymps, and they to thee,
  They unto thee, and thou to them, most deare.        40
Deare as thou art unto thy selfe, so love
That loves and honours thee, as doth behove.
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARLE OF NORTHUMBERLAND

THE SACRED Muses have made alwaies clame
  To be the nourses of nobility,
  And registres of everlasting fame,        45
  To all that armes professe and chevalry.
Then, by like right, the noble progeny,
  Which them succeed in fame and worth, are tyde
  T’embrace the service of sweete poetry,
  By whose endevours they are glorifide;        50
And eke from all of whom it is envide
  To patronize the authour of their praise,
  Which gives them life, that els would soone have dide,
  And crownes their ashes with immortall baies.
To thee, therefore, right noble Lord, I send        55
This present of my paines, it to defend.
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARLE OF ORMOND AND OSSORY

RECEIVE, most noble Lord, a simple taste
  Of the wilde fruit which salvage soyl hath bred,
  Which, being through long wars left almost waste,
  With brutish barbarisme is overspredd:        60
And in so faire a land as may be redd,
  Not one Parnassus nor one Helicone
  Left for sweete Muses to be harboured,
  But where thy selfe hast thy brave mansione:
There in deede dwel faire Graces many one,        65
  And gentle nymphes, delights of learned wits,
  And in thy person without paragone
  All goodly bountie and true honour sits.
Such, therefore, as that wasted soyl doth yield,
Receive, dear Lord, in worth, the fruit of barren field.        70
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD CH. HOWARD, LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF ENGLAND, KNIGHT OF THE NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER, AND ONE OF HER MAJESTIES PRIVIE COUNSEL, &C.

AND ye, brave Lord, whose goodly person age
  And noble deeds, each other garnishing,
  Make you ensample to the present age
  Of th’ old heroes, whose famous ofspring
The antique poets wont so much to sing,        75
  In this same pageaunt have a worthy place,
  Sith those huge castles of Castilian king,
  That vainly threatned kingdomes to displace,
Like flying doves ye did before you chace,
  And that proud people, woxen insolent        80
  Through many victories, didst first deface:
  Thy praises everlasting monument
Is in this verse engraven semblably,
That it may live to all posterity.
 
TO THE MOST RENOWMED AND VALIANT LORD, THE LORD GREY OF WILTON, KNIGHT OF THE NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER, &C.

MOST noble Lord, the pillor of my life,
        85
  And patrone of my Muses pupillage,
  Through whose large bountie, poured on me rife,
  In the first season of my feeble age,
I now doe live, bound yours by vassalage:
  Sith nothing ever may redeeme, nor reave        90
  Out of your endlesse debt so sure a gage,
  Vouchsafe in worth this small guift to receave,
Which in your noble hands for pledge I leave
  Of all the rest that I am tyde t’ account:
  Rude rymes, the which a rustick Muse did weave        95
  In savadge soyle, far from Parnassomount,
And roughly wrought in an unlearned loome:
The which vouchsafe, dear Lord, your favorable doome.
 
TO THE RIGHT NOBLE AND VALOROUS KNIGHT, SIR WALTER RALEIGH, LORD WARDEIN OF THE STANNERYES, AND LIEFTENAUNT OF CORNEWAILE

TO thee that art the sommers Nightingale,
  Thy soveraine Goddesses most deare delight,        100
  Why doe I send this rusticke madrigale,
  That may thy tunefull eare unseason quite?
Thou onely fit this argument to write,
  In whose high thoughts Pleasure hath built her bowre,
  And dainty Love learnd sweetly to endite.        105
  My rimes I know unsavory and sowre,
To tast the streames, that like a golden showre
  Flow from thy fruitfull head, of thy loves praise;
  Fitter perhaps to thonder martiall stowre,
  When so thee list thy lofty Muse to raise:        110
Yet till that thou thy poeme wilt make knowne,
Let thy faire Cinthias praises bee thus rudely showne.
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD BURLEIGH, LORD HIGH THREASURER OF ENGLAND

TO you, right noble Lord, whose carefull brest
  To menage of most grave affaires is bent,
  And on whose mightie shoulders most doth rest        115
  The burdein of this kingdomes governement,
As the wide compasse of the firmament
  On Atlas mighty shoulders is upstayd,
  Unfitly I these ydle rimes present,
  The labor of lost time, and wit unstayd:        120
Yet if their deeper sence be inly wayd,
  And the dim vele, with which from comune vew
  Their fairer parts are hid, aside be layd,
  Perhaps not vaine they may appeare to you.
Such as they be, vouchsafe them to receave,        125
And wipe their faults out of your censure grave.
E. S.    
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARLE OF CUMBERLAND

REDOUBTED Lord, in whose corageous mind
  The flowre of chevalry, now bloosming faire,
  Doth promise fruite worthy the noble kind
  Which of their praises have left you the haire;        130
To you this humble present I prepare,
  For love of vertue and of martiall praise;
  To which though nobly ye inclined are,
  As goodlie well ye shew’d in late assaies,
Yet brave ensample of long passed daies,        135
  In which trew honor yee may fashioned see,
  To like desire of honor may ye raise,
  And fill your mind with magnanimitee.
Receive it, Lord, therefore, as it was ment,
For honor of your name and high descent.
E. S.    
        140
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD OF HUNSDON, HIGH CHAMBERLAINE TO HER MAJESTY

RENOWMED Lord, that for your worthinesse
  And noble deeds, have your deserved place
  High in the favour of that Emperesse,
  The worlds sole glory and her sexes grace;
Here eke of right have you a worthie place,        145
  Both for your nearnes to that Faerie Queene,
  And for your owne high merit in like cace,
  Of which apparaunt proofe was to be seene,
When that tumultuous rage and fearfull deene
  Of Northerne rebels ye did pacify,        150
  And their disloiall powre defaced clene,
  The record of enduring memory.
Live, Lord, for ever in this lasting verse,
That all posteritie thy honor may reherse.
E. S.    
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD OF BUCKHURST, ONE OF HER MAJESTIES PRIVIE COUNSELL

IN vain I thinke, right honourable Lord,
        155
  By this rude rime to memorize thy name,
  Whose learned Muse hath writ her owne record
  In golden verse, worthy immortal fame:
Thou much more fit (were leasure to the same)
  Thy gracious Soverains praises to compile,        160
  And her imperiall majestie to frame
  In loftie numbers and heroicke stile.
But sith thou maist not so, give leave a while
  To baser wit his power therein to spend,
  Whose grosse defaults thy daintie pen may file,        165
  And unadvised oversights amend.
But evermore vouchsafe it to maintaine
Against vile Zoilus backbitings vaine.
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR FR. WALSINGHAM, KNIGHT, PRINCIPALL SECRETARY TO HER MAJESTY AND OF HER HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNSELL

THAT Mantuane poetes incompared spirit,
  Whose girland now is set in highest place,        170
  Had not Mecænas, for his worthy merit,
  It first advaunst to great Augustus grace,
Might long, perhaps, have lien in silence bace,
  Ne bene so much admir’d of later age.
  This lowly Muse, that learns like steps to trace,        175
  Flies for like aide unto your patronage;
That are the great Mecenas of this age,
  As wel to al that civil artes professe,
  As those that are inspir’d with martial rage,
  And craves protection of her feeblenesse:        180
Which if ye yield, perhaps ye may her rayse
In bigger tunes to sound your living prayse.
E. S.    
 
TO THE RIGHT NOBLE LORD AND MOST VALIAUNT CAPTAINE, SIR JOHN NORRIS, KNIGHT, LORD PRESIDENT OF MOUNSTER

WHO ever gave more honourable prize
  To the sweet Muse then did the martiall crew,
  That their brave deeds she might immortalize        185
  In her shril tromp, and sound their praises dew?
Who then ought more to favour her then you,
  Moste noble Lord, the honor of this age,
  And precedent of all that armes ensue?
  Whose warlike prowesse and manly courage,        190
Tempred with reason and advizement sage,
  Hath fild sad Belgicke with victorious spoile,
  In Fraunce and Ireland left a famous gage,
  And lately shakt the Lusitanian soile.
Sith, then, each where thou hast dispredd thy fame,        195
Love him that hath eternized your name.
E. S.    
 
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE AND MOST VERTUOUS LADY, THE COUNTESSE OF PENBROKE

REMEMBRAUNCE of that most heroicke spirit,
  The hevens pride, the glory of our daies,
  Which now triumpheth through immortall merit
  Of his brave vertues, crownd with lasting baies        200
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        205
  In the divine resemblaunce of your face;
  Which with your vertues ye embellish more,
  And native beauty deck with hevenlie grace:
For his, and for your owne especial sake,
Vouchsafe from him this token in good worth to take.
E. S.    
        210
 
TO THE MOST VERTUOUS AND BEAUTIFULL LADY, THE LADY CAREW

NE may I, without blot of endlesse 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.        215
  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        220
  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 it selfe will forth display.
E. S.    
 
TO ALL THE GRATIOUS AND BEAUTIFULL LADIES IN THE COURT

THE CHIAN peincter, when he was requirde
        225
  To pourtraict Venus in her perfect hew,
  To make his worke more absolute, desird
  Of all the fairest maides to have the vew.
Much more me needs, to draw the semblant trew
  Of Beauties Queene, the worlds sole wenderment,        230
  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,        235
  That the worlds pride seemes gathered there to bee.
Of each a part I stole by cunning thefte:
Forgive it me, faire Dames, sith lesse ye have not lefte.
E. S.    
 
 
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