Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Extracts from The Faerie Queene: Una’s Marriage
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
[From Bk. i.]

  THEN forth he called that his daughter fayre,
The fairest Un’, his onely daughter deare,
His onely daughter and his only hayre;
Who forth proceeding with sad sober cheare,
As bright as doth the morning starre appeare        5
Out of the East, with flaming lockes bedight,
To tell that dawning day is drawing neare,
And to the world does bring long-wished light:
So faire and fresh that Lady shewd herselfe in sight.
  So faire and fresh, as freshest flowre in May;        10
For she had layd her mournefull stole aside,
And widow-like sad wimple throwne away,
Wherewith her heavenly beautie she did hide,
Whiles on her wearie journey she did ride;
And on her now a garment she did weare        15
All lilly white, withoutten spot or pride,
That seemd like silke and silver woven neare;
But neither silke nor silver therein did appeare.
  The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame,
And glorious light of her sunshyny face,        20
To tell were as to strive against the streame:
My ragged rimes are all too rude and bace
Her heavenly lineaments for to enchace.
Ne wonder; for her own deare loved knight,
All were she daily with himselfe in place,        25
Did wonder much at her celestial sight:
Oft had he seene her faire, but never so faire dight.
*        *        *        *        *
  His owne two hands the holy knotts did knitt,
That none but death for ever can divide;
His owne two hands, for such a turne most fitt,        30
The housling 1 fire did kindle and provide,
And holy water thereon sprinckled wide;
At which the bushy Teade 2 a groome did light,
And sacred lamp in secret chamber hide,
Where it should not be quenched day nor night,        35
For feare of evil fates, but burnen ever bright.
  Then gan they sprinckle all the posts with wine,
And made great feast to solemnize that day:
They all perfumde with frankincense divine,
And precious odours fetcht from far away,        40
That all the house did sweat with great aray:
And all the while sweete Musicke did apply
Her curious skill the warbling notes to play,
To drive away the dull Melancholy;
The whiles one sung a song of love and jollity.        45
  During the which there was an heavenly noise
Heard sownd through all the Pallace pleasantly,
Like as it had bene many an Angels voice
Singing before th’ eternall majesty,
In their trinall triplicities on hye:        50
Yett wist no creature whence that hevenly sweet
Proceeded, yet each one felt secretly
Himselfe thereby refte of his sences meet,
And ravished with rare impression in his sprite.
  Great joy was made that day of young and old,        55
And solemne feast proclaymd throughout the land,
That their exceeding merth may not be told:
Suffice it heare by signes to understand
The usuall joyes at knitting of loves band.
Thrise happy man the knight himselfe did hold,        60
Possessed of his Ladies hart and hand;
And ever, when his eie did her behold,
His heart did seeme to melt in pleasures manifold.
  Her joyous presence, and sweet company,
In full content he there did long enjoy;        65
Ne wicked envy, ne vile gealosy,
His deare delights were hable to annoy;
Yet, swimming in that sea of blisfull joy,
He nought forgott how he whilome had sworne,
In case he could that monstrous beast destroy,        70
Unto his Faery Queene backe to retourne;
The which he shortly did, and Una left to mourne.
  Now, strike your sailes, yee jolly Mariners,
For we be come unto a quiet rode,
Where we must land some of our passengers,        75
And light this weary vessell of her lode:
Here she a while may make her safe abode,
Till she repaired have her tackles spent,
And wants supplide; And then againe abroad
On the long voiage whereto she is bent:        80
Well may she speede, and fairely finish her intent!
Note 1. sacramental. [back]
Note 2. torch. [back]

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