Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Sonnets
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 
[1595]

LYKE as a ship, that through the Ocean wyde,
By conduct of some star, doth make her way;
Whenas a storme hath dimd her trusty guyde,
Out of her course doth wander far astray!
So I, whose star, that wont with her bright ray        5
Me to direct, with cloudes is over-cast,
Doe wander now, in darknesse and dismay,
Through hidden perils round about me plast;
Yet hope I well that, when this storme is past,
My Helice, the lodestar of my lyfe,        10
Will shine again, and looke on me at last,
With lovely light to cleare my cloudy grief,
  Till then I wander carefull, comfortlesse,
  In secret sorow, and sad pensivenesse.
 
What guyle is this, that those her golden tresses        15
She doth attyre under a net of gold;
And with sly skill so cunningly them dresses,
That which is gold, or heare, may scarse be told?
Is it that mens frayle eyes, which gaze too bold,
She may entangle in that golden snare;        20
And, being caught, may craftily enfold
Theyr weaker harts, which are not wel aware?
Take heed, therefore, myne eyes, how ye doe stare
Henceforth too rashly on that guilefull net,
In which, if ever ye entrapped are,        25
Out of her bands ye by no meanes shall get.
  Fondnesse it were for any, being free,
  To covet fetters, though they golden bee!
 
Sweet Smile! the daughter of the Queene of Love,
Expressing all thy mothers powrefull art,        30
With which she wants to temper angry Jove,
When all the gods he threats with thundring dart:
Sweet is thy vertue, as thy selfe sweet art.
For, when on me thou shinedst late in sadnesse,
A melting pleasance ran through every part,        35
And me revived with hart-robbing gladnesse.
Whylest rapt with joy resembling heavenly madnes,
My soule was ravisht quite as in a traunce;
And feeling thence, no more her sorowes sadnesse,
Fed on the fulnesse of that chearefull glaunce,        40
  More sweet than Nectar, or Ambrosiall meat,
  Seemd every bit which thenceforth I did eat.
 
Joy of my life! full oft for loving you
I blesse my lot, that was so lucky placed:
But then the more your owne mishap I rew,        45
That are so much by so meane love embased.
For, had the equall hevens so much you graced
In this as in the rest, ye mote invent
Som hevenly wit, whose verse could have enchased
Your glorious name in golden moniment.        50
But since ye deignd so goodly to relent
To me your thrall, in whom is little worth;
That little, that I am, shall all be spent
In setting your immortall prayses forth:
  Whose lofty argument, uplifting me,        55
  Shall lift you up unto an high degree.
 
 
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