Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
Poems of Fancy: III. Mythical: Mystical: Legendary
The Bower of Bliss
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
From “The Faërie Queene,” Book II. Canto XII.

  THERE the most daintie paradise on ground
  Itselfe doth offer to his sober eye,
  In which all pleasures plenteously abownd,
  And none does others happinesse envye;
  The painted flowres; the trees upshooting hye;        5
  The dales for shade; the hilles for breathing space;
  The trembling groves; the christall running by;
  And, that which all faire workes doth most aggrace,
The art, which all that wrought, appearèd in no place.
  One would have thought (so cunningly the rude        10
  And scornèd partes were mingled with the fine)
  That Nature had for wantonesse ensude 1
  Art, and that Art at Nature did repine;
  So striving each th’ other to undermine,
  Each did the others worke more beautify;        15
  So diff’ring both in willes agreed in fine:
  So all agreed, through sweete diversity,
This gardin to adorne with all variety.
  And in the midst of all a fountaine stood,
  Of richest substance that on earth might bee,        20
  So pure and shiny that the silver flood
  Through every channell running one might see;
  Most goodly it with curious ymageree
  Was over wrought, and shapes of naked boyes,
  Of which some seemed with lively iollitee        25
  To fly about, playing their wanton toyes,
Whylest others did themselves embay in liquid ioyes.
  And over all, of purest gold, was spred
  A trayle of yvie in his native hew;
  For the rich metall was so colourèd,        30
  That wight, who did not well avised 2 it vew,
  Would surely deeme it to bee yvie trew:
  Low his lascivious armes adown did creepe,
  That, themselves dipping in the silver dew,
  Their fleecy flowres they fearefully did steepe,        35
Which drops of christall seemed for wantones to weep.
  Infinit streames continually did well
  Out of this fountaine, sweet and faire to see,
  The which into an ample laver fell,
  And shortly grew to so great quantitie,        40
  That like a little lake it seemed to bee;
  Whose depth exceeded not three cubits hight,
  That through the waves one might the bottom see,
  All paved beneath with iaspar shining bright,
That seemd the fountaine in that sea did sayle upright.
*        *        *        *        *
  Eftsoons they heard a most melodious sound,
  Of all that mote delight a daintie eare,
  Such as attonce might not on living ground,
  Save in this paradise, be heard elsewhere.
  Right hard it was for wight which did it heare,        50
  To read what manner musicke that mote bee;
  For all that pleasing is to living eare
  Was there consorted in one harmonee;
Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all agree:
  The ioyous birdes, shrouded in cheerfull shade,        55
  Their notes unto the voice attempred sweet;
  Th’ angelicall soft trembling voyces made
  To th’ instruments divine respondence meet;
  The silver-sounding instruments did meet
  With the base murmure of the waters fall;        60
  The waters fall, with difference discreet,
  Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call;
The gentle warbling wind low answerèd to all.
Note 1. followed, imitated. [back]
Note 2. with attention. [back]

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