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: The Bower of Bliss
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
[From Bk. ii.]

  THENCE passing forth, they shortly doe arryve
Whereas the Bowre of Blisse was situate;
A place pickt out by choyce of best alyve,
That natures worke by art can imitate:
In which whatever in this worldly state        5
Is sweete and pleasing unto living sense,
Or that may dayntest fantasy aggrate, 1
Was poured forth with plentifull dispence,
And made there to abound with lavish affluence.
  Goodly it was enclosed rownd about,        10
As well their entred guestes to keep within,
As those unruly beasts to hold without;
Yet was the fence thereof but weake and thin:
Nought feard theyr force that fortilage to win,
But wisedomes powre, and temperaunces might,        15
By which the mightiest things efforced bin:
And eke the gate was wrought of substaunce light,
Rather for pleasure then for battery or fight.
  Yt framed was of precious yvory,
That seemd a worke of admirable witt;        20
And therein all the famous history
Of Jason and Medea was ywritt;
Her mighty charmes, her furious loving fitt;
His goodly conquest of the golden fleece,
His falsed fayth, and love too lightly flitt;        25
The wondred Argo, which in venturous peece
First through the Euxine seas bore all the flowr of Greece.
*        *        *        *        *
  Eftsoones they heard a most melodious sound,
Of all that mote delight a daintie eare,
Such as attonce might not on living ground,        30
Save in this Paradise, be heard elsewhere:
Right hard it was for wight which did it heare,
To read what manner musicke that mote bee;
For all that pleasing is to living eare
Was there consorted in one harmonee;        35
Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all agree:
  The joyous birdes, shrouded in chearefull shade
Their notes unto the voice attempred sweet;
Th’ Angelicall soft trembling voyces made
To th’ instruments divine respondence meet;        40
The silver sounding instruments did meet
With the base murmure of the waters fall;
The waters fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call;
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all.        45
  There, whence that Musick seemed heard to bee,
Was the faire Witch her selfe now solacing
With a new Lover, whom, through sorceree
And witchcraft, she from farre did thither bring:
There she had him now laid aslombering        50
In secret shade after long wanton joyes;
Whilst round about them pleasauntly did sing
Many faire Ladies and lascivious boyes,
That ever mixt their song with light licentious toyes.
*        *        *        *        *
  The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely lay:        55
Ah! see, whoso fayre thing doest faine to see,
In springing flowre the image of thy day.
Ah! see the Virgin Rose, how sweetly shee
Doth first peepe foorth with bashfull modestee,
That fairer seemes the lesse ye see her may.        60
Lo! see soone after how more bold and free
Her bared bosome she doth broad display;
Lo! see soone after how she fades and falls away.
  So passeth, in the passing of a day,
Of mortall life the leafe, the bud, the flowre;        65
Ne more doth florish after first decay,
That earst was sought to deck both bed and bowre
Of many a lady, and many a Paramowre.
Gather therefore the Rose whilest yet is prime,
For soone comes age that will her pride deflowre;        70
Gather the Rose of love whilest yet is time,
Whilest loving thou mayst loved be with equall crime.
  He ceast; and then gan all the quire of birdes
Their diverse notes t’ attune unto his lay,
As in approvaunce of his pleasing wordes.        75
The constant payre heard all that he did say,
Yet swarved not, but kept their forward way
Through many covert groves and thickets close,
In which they creeping did at last display
That wanton Lady with her Lover lose,        80
Whose sleepie head she in her lap did soft dispose.
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