Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Belphœbe the Huntress
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
From the ‘Faery Queene

  EFTSOONES there steppèd forth
    A goodly lady clad in hunters weed,
  That seem’d to be a woman of great worth,
And by her stately portance born of heavenly birth.
  Her face so fair, as flesh it seemèd not,        5
    But heavenly portrait of bright angels hue,
  Clear as the sky, withouten blame or blot,
    Through goodly mixture of complexions due;
    And in her cheeks the vermeil red did shew
  Like roses in a bed of lilies shed,        10
    The which ambrosial odours from them threw,
  And gazers’ sense with double pleasure fed,
Able to heal the sick and to revive the dead.
  In her fair eyes two living lamps did flame,
    Kindled above at th’ heavenly Makers light,        15
  And darted fiery beams out of the same,
    So passing persaunt and so wondrous bright,
    That quite bereaved the rash beholder’s sight:
  In them the blinded god his lustful fire
    To kindle oft essay’d, but had no might;        20
  For, with dread majesty and awful ire,
She broke his wanton darts, and quenchèd base desire.
  Her ivory forehead full of bounty brave,
    Like a broad table did itself dispread,
  For Love his lofty triumphs to engrave,        25
    And write the battles of his great godhead:
    All good and honour might therein be read;
  For there their dwelling was. And when she spake,
    Sweet words like dropping honey she did shed;
  And twixt the pearls and rubies softly brake        30
A silver sound, that heavenly music seem’d to make.
  Upon her eyelids many graces sate,
    Under the shadow of her even brows,
  Working belgrades and amorous retrate;
    And every one her with a grace endows,        35
    And every one with meekness to her bows:
  So glorious mirror of celestial grace,
    And sovereign moniment of mortal vows,
  How shall frail pen describe her heavenly face,
For fear, through want of skill, her beauty to disgrace?        40
  So fair, and thousand thousand times more fair,
    She seem’d, when she presented was to sight:
  And was yclad for heat of scorching air,
    All in a silken Camus, lily white,
    Purfled upon with many a folded plight,        45
  Which all above besprinkled was throughout
    With golden aygulets that glist’red bright,
  Like twinkling stars; and all the skirt about
Was hemm’d with golden fringe….
  Her yellow locks, crispèd like golden wire,        50
    About her shoulders weren loosely shed,
  And when the wind amongst them did inspire.
    They wavèd like a pennon wide dispread,
    And low behind her back were scatterèd;
  And whether art it were or heedless hap,        55
    As through the flow’ring forest rash she fled,
  In her rude hairs sweet flow’rs themselves did lap,
And flourishing fresh leaves and blossoms did enwrap.
  Such as Diana by the sandy shore
    Of swift Eurotas, or on Cynthus green,        60
  Where all the nymphs have her unwares forlore,
    Wand’reth alone with bow and arrows keen,
    To seek her game; or as that famous queen
  Of Amazons, whom Pyrrhus did destroy
    The day that first of Priam she was seen,        65
  Did show herself in great triumphant joy,
To succour the weak state of sad afflicted Troy.

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