Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
An Elegie, or Friends Passion, for His Astrophill

[By Matthew Roydon.]

AS then, no winde at all there blew,
No swelling cloude accloid the aire;
The skie, like glasse of watchet hew,
Reflected Phœbus golden haire;
  The garnisht tree no pendant stird,        5
  No voice was heard of anie bird.
There might you see the burly beare,
The lion king, the elephant;
The maiden unicorne was there,
So was Acteons horned plant,        10
  And what of wilde or tame are found
  Were coucht in order on the ground.
Alcides speckled poplar tree,
The palme that monarchs do obtaine,
With love juice staind, the mulberie,        15
The fruit that dewes the poets braine,
  And Phillis philbert there away,
  Comparde with mirtle and the bay,
The tree that coffins doth adorne,
With stately height threatning the skie,        20
And for the bed of love forlorne,
The blacke and dolefull ebonie,
  All in a circle compast were,
  Like to an amphitheater.
Upon the branches of those trees        25
The airie winged people sat,
Distinguished in od degrees,
One sort is this, another that.
  Here Philomell, that knowes full well
  What force and wit in love doth dwell.        30
The skiebred egle, roiall bird,
Percht there upon an oke above;
The turtle by him never stird,
Example of immortall love;
The swan that sings about to dy,        35
Leaving Meander, stood thereby.
And that which was of woonder most,
The phœnix left sweet Arabie,
And on a cædar in this coast
Built up her tombe of spicerie,        40
  As I conjecture by the same,
  Preparde to take her dying flame.
In midst and center of this plot,
I saw one groveling on the grasse:
A man or stone, I knew not that:        45
No stone; of man the figure was,
  And yet I could not count him one,
  More than the image made of stone.
At length I might perceive him reare
His bodie on his elbow end:        50
Earthly and pale with gastly cheare,
Upon his knees he upward tend,
  Seeming like one in uncouth stound,
  To be ascending out the ground.
A grievous sigh forthwith he throwes,        55
As might have torne the vitall strings;
Then down his cheeks the teares so flows,
As doth the streame of many springs.
  So thunder rends the cloud in twaine,
  And makes a passage for the raine.        60
Incontinent, with trembling sound
He wofully gan to complaine;
Such were the accents as might wound,
And teare a diamond rocke in twaine:
  After his throbs did somewhat stay,        65
  Thus heavily he gan to say.
‘O sunne,’ said he, seeing the sunne,
‘On wretched me why dost thou shine?
My star is falne, my comfort done,
Out is the apple of my eine:        70
  Shine upon those possesse delight,
  And let me live in endlesse night.
‘O griefe that liest upon my soule,
As heavie as a mount of lead,
The remnant of my life controll,        75
Consort me quickly with the dead;
  Halfe of this hart, this sprite, and will,
  Di’de in the brest of Astrophill.
‘And you, compassionate of my wo,
Gentle birds, beasts, and shadie trees,        80
I am assurde ye long to kno
What be the sorrowes me agreev’s;
  Listen ye then to that insu’th,
  And heare a tale of teares and ruthe.
‘You knew—who knew not?—Astrophill:        85
(That I should live to say I knew,
And have not in possession still!)
Things knowne permit me to renew;
  Of him you know his merit such,
  I cannot say, you heare, too much.        90
‘Within these woods of Arcadie
He chiefe delight and pleasure tooke,
And on the mountaine Parthenie,
Upon the chrystall liquid brooke,
  The Muses met him ev’ry day,        95
  That taught him sing, to write, and say.
‘When he descended downe the mount,
His personage seemed most divine,
A thousand graces one might count
Upon his lovely cheerfull eine,        100
  To heare him speake and sweetly smile,
  You were in Paradise the while.
‘A sweet attractive kinde of grace,
A full assurance given by lookes,
Continuall comfort in a face,        105
The lineaments of Gospell bookes;
  I trowe that countenance cannot lie,
  Whose thoughts are legible in the eie.
‘Was never eie, did see that face,
Was never eare, did heare that tong,        110
Was never minde, did minde his grace,
That ever thought the travell long,
  But eies, and eares, and ev’ry thought,
  Were with his sweete perfections caught.
‘O God, that such a worthy man,        115
In whom so rare desarts did raigne,
Desired thus, must leave us than,
And we to wish for him in vaine!
  O could the stars that bred that wit
  In force no longer fixed sit?        120
‘Then being fild with learned dew,
The Muses willed him to love;
That instrument can aptly shew
How finely our conceits will move:
  As Bacchus opes dissembled harts,        125
  So Love sets out our better parts.
‘Stella, a nymph within this wood,
Most rare and rich of heavenly blis,
The highest in his fancie stood,
And she could well demerite this:        130
  Tis likely they acquainted soone;
  He was a sun, and she a moone.
‘Our Astrophill did Stella love;
O Stella, vaunt of Astrophill,
Albeit thy graces gods may move,        135
Where wilt thou finde an Astrophill?
  The rose and lillie have their prime,
  And so hath beautie but a time.
‘Although thy beautie do exceed,
In common sight of ev’ry eie,        140
Yet in his poesies when we reede,
It is apparant more thereby:
  He that hath love and judgement too
  Sees more than any other doo.
‘Then Astrophill hath honord thee;        145
For when thy bodie is extinct,
Thy graces shall eternall be,
And live by vertue of his inke;
  For by his verses he doth give
  To short livde beautie aye to live.        150
‘Above all others this is hee,
Which erst approoved in his song
That love and honor might agree,
And that pure love will do no wrong.
  Sweet saints! it is no sinne nor blame,        155
  To love a man of vertuous name.
‘Did never love so sweetly breath
In any mortall brest before;
Did never Muse inspire beneath
A poets braine with finer store:        160
  He wrote of love with high conceit,
  And beautie reard above her height.
‘Then Pallas afterward attyrde
Our Astrophill with her device,
Whom in his armor heaven admyrde,        165
As of the nation of the skies;
  He sparkled in his armes afarrs,
  As he were dight with fierie starrs.
‘The blaze whereof when Mars beheld,
(An envious eie doth see afar)        170
“Such majestie,” quoth he, “is seeld,
Such majestie my mart may mar;
  Perhaps this may a suter be,
  To set Mars by his deitie.”
‘In this surmize he made with speede        175
An iron cane, wherein he put
The thunder that in cloudes do breede;
The flame and bolt togither shut
  With privie force burst out againe,
  And so our Astrophill was slaine.’        180
His word, ‘was slaine,’ straightway did move,
And Natures inward life strings twitch:
The skie immediately above
Was dimd with hideous clouds of pitch,
  The wrastling winds from out the ground        185
  Fild all the aire with ratling sound.
The bending trees exprest a grone,
And sigh’d the sorrow of his fall,
The forrest beasts made ruthfull mone,
The birds did tune their mourning call,        190
  And Philomell for Astrophill
  Unto her notes annext a phill.
The turtle dove with tunes of ruthe
Shewd feeling passion of his death;
Me thought she said, ‘I tell thee truthe,        195
Was never he that drew in breath
  Unto his love more trustie found,
  Than he for whom our griefs abound.’
The swan, that was in presence heere,
Began his funerall dirge to sing:        200
‘Good things,’ quoth he, ‘may scarce appeere,
But passe away with speedie wing:
  This mortall life as death is tride,
  And death gives life,’—and so he di’de.
The generall sorrow that was made        205
Among the creatures of Kinde
Fired the phœnix where she laide,
Her ashes flying with the winde,
  So as I might with reason see,
  That such a phœnix nere should bee.        210
Haply the cinders, driven about,
May breede an offspring neere that kinde,
But hardly a peere to that, I doubt;
It cannot sinke into my minde,
  That under branches ere can bee        215
  Of worth and value as the tree.
The egle markt with pearcing sight
The mournfull habite of the place,
And parted thence with mounting flight,
To signifie to Jove the case,        220
  What sorrow Nature doth sustaine
  For Astrophill by envie slaine.
And while I followed with mine eie
The flight the egle upward tooke,
All things did vanish by and by,        225
And disappeared from my looke;
  The trees, beasts, birds, and grove was gone,
  So was the friend that made this mone.
This spectacle had firmly wrought
A deepe compassion in my spright;        230
My molting hart issude, me thought,
In streames forth at mine eies aright:
  And here my pen is forst to shrinke,
  My teares discollors so mine inke.

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