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The stanza in which the Faerie Queene is written, was invented by Spenser, and is known as the Spenserian. It consists of eight lines of ten syllables each, and one of twelve. The latter line is called an Alexandrine, from a poem written in French on the life of Alexander and entitled the Alexandriad.

Despairing of doing anything like justice to Spenser by extracts from his Faerie Queene, I pass to some of his minor poems. Of these, one of the best is the Epithalamium or Marriage Hymn. It celebrates his nuptials with an Irish maiden, with whom he fell in love at the solid age of forty-one. He presents it to her "in lieu of many

* Dreaded.

ornaments." He calls her "the third Elizabeth," the first being his mother, and the second his queen. This passion had given birth to eighty-eight Amoretti, or love-sonnets, which are among the sweetest ever written. In one of these he says of her name:

Most happy letters! fram'd by skillful trade,
With which that happy name was first designed,
The which three times thrice happy hath me made,
With gifts of body, fortune, and of mind.
The first my being to me gave by kind,

From mother's womb deriv'd by due descent;
The second is my sovereign queen most kind,
That honour and large richesse to me lent;
The third, my love, my life's last ornament,
By whom my spirit out of dust was raised,
To speak her praise and glory excellent,
Of all alive most worthy to be praised.

Ye three Elizabeths! for ever live,
That three such graces did unto me give.

One day I wrote her name upon the strand;
But came the waves, and washed it away:
Again, I wrote it with a second hand;

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize;

For I myself shall, like to this decay,

And eke my name be wiped out likewise!
Not so, quoth I; let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your virtnes rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens write your glorious name;

Where, when as death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.

The marriage hymn is conceded to be a masterpiece, the best of the kind in our language. The cool and judicious Hallam pronounces it "an intoxication of ecstasy, ardent, pure, and noble." Instead of a fragment from The Faerie Queene I have preferred to give this Epithalamium.

Spenser was married in 1594. In 1596, he published, besides the fourth, fifth, and sixth books of The Faerie Queene, four noble hymns in honor of love and beauty. In 1597, he was appointed sheriff of Cork. We are not accustomed to think of the mild bard as an officer of justice, having to deal with stiff-necked and irascible "Corkonians"; but there is reason to believe he was faithful and efficient. We know from his prose work that he was in favor of "thorough measures.


A happy future now seemed to stretch out before him. In the prime of life, honored by men like Raleigh, favored by the queen, happy in his marriage, blest with beautiful children, dwelling in a romantic and charming country, receiving a sufficient income, confessedly the first of living poets,-well might he thank God and take courage. But

"Let no man be called happy till his death!"

In October, 1598, the insurgent Irish gained the victory of Blackwater. By-and-by they pushed on to expel all Englishmen. They fell on the poet-sheriff like lightning. In a moment Kilcolman was shattered and desolate. In the terror and haste of flight, Spenser's infant child was left behind, and perished in the blazing pile. The exquisite sensibilities of the father were lacerated beyond endurance. In three months he died of a broken heart.

His last hours were embittered by poverty; but when it was known that the great

poet was dead, a large concourse of the learned and noble gathered to honor his remains. A splendid funeral was arranged at the expense of the Earl of Essex. Brother pocts bore his pall, each casting into the grave mourning verses and the pen that wrote them. In Westminster Abbey, near the spot where the body of Chaucer had been laid two hundred years before, the form of Spenser mouldered to dust. On his monument we read, "Here lyes (expecting the second comminge of our Saviour Jesus) the body of Edmond Spenser, the Prince of Poets in his tyme, whose divine spirit needs noe othir witnesse then the works which he left behinde him. He was borne in London, in the yeare 1553, and died in the yeare 1598."

"In person, Spenser was small and delicate, and in his dress precise, as became a man of taste. His face, well known from several portraits, has all the sweetness and delicacy that we require as accordant with the tone of his poetry. The mild, almondshaped eye, brow slightly elevated, the mouth compressed just enough to suggest the idea that there was felt some need of patience, give an impression of dreamy repose not without pensiveness. The forehead is lofty, but less expanded than that of Shakespeare or Milton; and the whole countenance indicative more of an exalted tone than of great force of character."

Beauty, rather than sublimity, characterizes his writings. A mellow light plays over his pages, gilding or coloring all; but it never becomes lightning. The dreamy music, the sensuous sweetness that cloys, are indeed sometimes succeeded by stirring tones; but it is ever a flute and not a trumpet that is blown. The stream of his poetry goes on forever, but it is the Mulla, and not Niagara. Yet he will always be read, for his transparent style; the inexhaustible fertility of his fancy; the wondrous stores of learning transmuted into unbroken melody; and the purity, gentleness, and piety stamped upon every page.

t's Essay

Consult Hillard's edition of Spenser's Poems; Taine's English Literature; on Spenser and the Faerie Queene; Warton on Spenser; Allibone's Dictionary of Authors Campbell's Specimens of British Poets; Hallam's Literature of Europe; D'Israeli's Amenities of Literature, 2d vol.; the works on English Literature of Craik, Collier, Angus, Chambers. Cleveland, Shaw, Arnold, Spalding, Day, Giman, and Hart. See also Encyclopedia Britannica, New American Cyclopedia, and Motley's Rise of the Dutch Republic. Collect other facts in regard to Spenser. See, especially, Professor Child's Biography of Spenser.


1. Ye learned sisters, which have oftentimes

Been to me aiding, others to adorn

Whom ye thought worthy of your graceful rhymes,

That even the greatest did not greatly scorn

To hear their names sung in your simple lays,

But joyed in their praise;

And when ye list your own mishaps to mourn

Which death, or love, or fortune's wreck did raise,


* Epithalamium (Gr. èní, upon; láλapos, bridal chamber, marriage), marriage hymn. The bride's name was Elizabeth.--Sisters. These were the nine Muses, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urama, daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne (memory). They were supposed to make Mount Helicon their home. They are "personifications of the inventive powers of the mind as displayed in the several arts. deities they were ved to inspire poets. Hence the invocation with which Homer, Virgil, and others begin their poems. See the four stanzas prefixed to the first book of the Faerie Queene; also, the beginning of the Paradise Lost.-Which have, who have. Which was formerly used of persons. It is A. S. hwylic, fr. hwa, who, and lie, like. Note that "throughout the Indo-European languages, the interrogative or relative idea is expressed by k, or a modification of k." E. g., qu, in Lat. qui, who; quot, how many; hu or h, as who, why, how; koσos, how much, etc. See p. 43.-That even, so that even. What kind of feet in these lines?

Your string could soon to sadder tenor* turn,
And teach the woods and waters to lament

Your doleful dreariment,

Now lay those sorrowful complaints aside,

And, having all your heads with girlands crowned,

Help me mine own love's praises to resound;

Ne let the same of any be envied.

So Orpheus, for his bride;

So I, unto myself alone, will sing;

The woods shall to me answer, and my echo ring.

2. Early, before the world's light-giving lamp

His golden beam upon the hills doth spread,
Having dispersed the night's uncheerful damp,
Do ye awake; and, with fresh lustyhead,
Go to the bower of my beloved love,

My truest turtle dove;

Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake,

And long since ready forth his mask to move

With his bright tead that flames with many a flake,

And many a bachelor to wait on him

In their fresh garments trim.

Bid her awake, therefore, and soon her dight;

For, lo! the wished day is come at last,

That shall, for all the pains and sorrows past,

Pay to her usury of long delight:

And whilst she doth her dight,

Do ye to her of joy and solace sing,

That all the woods may answer, and your echo ring.

3. Bring with you all the nymphs that you can hear,
Both of the rivers and the forests green,

And of the sea that neighbors to her near;

All with gay garlands goodly well beseen.

* Tenor, purport. (Lat. tenor, a holding on in a continued coarse; fr tenere, to hold.)Dreariment, heaviness, sorrow, dreariness. A. S. dreorig, bloody, sorrowful; Ger. traurig, sad. Note the alliteration in these lines and throughout the poem.-Girlands (It. ghirlanda, fr. root meaning to twist; O. Ger, wieren, to twist; Fr. girande, girandole; Gr. yupos, circle: Lat. gyrare, to turn round in a circle), garlands, wreaths.-Orpheus, a mythical Greek hero, noted for his miraculous skill in playing upon the lyre. He was the husband of Eurydice, who, bitten by a serpent, passed down to Hades. To recover her, Orpheus followed, and by his wonderful music entranced the inhabitants of that shadowy realm, and gained permission from Pluto to bring her back. See Class. Dictionary.-Lustyhead lusty, strong; head, hood, state. See womanhead, Index), lustiness, vigor. Sec lusty, Index. -Hymen (Gr. 'Yuny, god of marriage Lat. Hymen), a supposed deity, said by some to have been the offspring of the heavenly muse Urania; by others, the son of Bacchus and Venus. He presided over marriages. The Latin poets picture him in a yellow robe, his temples wreathed with marjoram, his locks dropping with perfume, a nuptial torch in his hand.-Tead (Lat. taeda, torch ; Gr. daïs, das), a torch.Bachelor. See Index.-Dight, array, adorn. See Index.-Usury, a large premium, abundant interest.-Nymphs (Gr. vun, a veiled one, a bride), nymphs, goddesses of mountains, woods, meadows, or waters (called, respectively, oreades, dryades, limoniades, naiddes). The word is akin to Lat, nubo, nubere, to wear the bridal veil, to be a bride.-Neighbors (A. S. neah, nigh; gebûr, a dweller, boor; boor meaning originally a rustic), dwells near, is a neighbor.-Beseen, adapted, adjusted. Sec byseye, p. 50.

And let them also with them bring in hand

Another gay garland

For my fair love, of lilies and of roses,

Bound true-love-wise,* with a blue silk riband;
And let them make great store of bridal posies,
And let them eke bring store of other flowers
To deck the bridal bowers;

And let the ground whereas her foot shall tread,
For fear the stones her tender foot should wrong,
Be strewed with fragrant flowers all along,
And diapered like the discolored mead.
Which done, do at her chamber door await,
For she will waken straight.

The whiles do ye this song unto her sing,

The woods shall to you answer, and your echo ring.

4. Ye nymphs of Mulla, which with careful heed

The silver scaly trouts do tend full well,

And greedy pikes which use therein to feed -
Those trouts and pikes all others do excel --
And ye likewise which keep the rushy lake
Where none do fishes take;

Bind up the locks, the which hang scattered light,

And in his waters, which your mirror make,

Behold your faces as the crystal bright;

That, when you come whereas my love doth lie,
No blemish she may spy.

And eke, ye light-foot maids, which keep the deer
That on the hoary mountains use to tower;

And the wild wolves, which seek them to devour,
With your steel darts do chase from coming near;

Be also present here,

To help to deck her, and to help to sing,

That all the woods may answer, and your ccho ring.

5. Wake now, my love, awake! for it is time.

* True-love-wise, in the fashion of a true-love knot; i. e., with many Involutions, the emblem of intertwined affections. Blue silk. Why blue? See azure, Index.-Posies (Gr. oinois, a making, composing; fr. #oliv, to make; Lat, poesis, composition, poesy; whence posy, a verse made up for the occasion, a molto sent with flowers, or engraved on a ring), nosegays accompanied with mottoes, bouquets.-Whereas, where.-Diapered (Lat. Jaspis, a green-colored precious stone; Gr. iaomis; Fr. diapré, marbled, variegated), diversified with colors.-Straight (A. S. streht, past part. of A. S streccan, to stretch, extend), directly, straightway.-Mulla, a river running through the estate that Queen Elizabeth granted to Spenser, situated in the county of Cork, Ireland. The lake, mentioned five lines later, lay just south of Kilcolman Castle, Spenser's residence, and about two miles from Doneraile.-Scattered light, scattered lightly, or loosely floating.-Come whereas, come where.-Use (Lat. uri. to use; usus, use), are wont.--Tower (A. S torr: Lat. turris; Gr. Túpois; Fr. tour; Ger. thurm; a tower), soar, tower, climb high.-Wolves (Meso-Goth. wulfs; A. S. wulf; D. wolf; Ger. wolf; Dan. ulv; Sw. ulf; Ice. ulf; Lat. vulpes. The last word signifies for). Is the change of p tof, in Lat. vulpes and Eng, wolf, in accordance with Grimm's Law?-Wake now. Solomon's Song ii. 10, etc.

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