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or men than beasts : But oh, th' exceeding grace
Oh, why should heavenly God to men have such regard !
A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,
And on his breast a bloody cross he bore,
Here is a personification of truth:
One day, high weary of the irksome way,
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
ornaments." He calls her “the third Elizabeth," the first being bis mother, and the second his queen. This passion had given birth to eighty-eight Amoretti, or love-son. nets, which are among the sweetest ever written. In one of these he says of her name :
Most happy letters ! fram'd by skillful trade,
Ye three Elizabeths! for ever live,
One day I wrote her name upon the strand;
Where', when as death shall all the world subdue,
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 Fuerie Querno. I have preferred to give this Epithalamium.
Spenser was married in 1594. Iu 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, hon. ored 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 fligbt, 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 montbs 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 poets 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, “Ilere lyes (expecting the second comminge of our Saviour Jesus) the body of Edmond Spenser, the Prince of Poets in his tyre, 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 becaine 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 loft.y, 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 be 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.
Consult Hillard's edition of Spenser's Poems; Taine's English Literature; Hart's Essay on Spenser and the Faerie Queene; Warion ou Spenser; Allibone's Dicionary of Authors; Campbell's Specimens of British Poets; Hallam's Literature of Europe ; D'Israeli'e Amenities of Literature, 2d vol.; the works on English Literature of Craik, Collier, Angls, Chambers. Cleve. land, Shaw, Arnold, Spalding, Day, Giman, and Hart. See aleo Encyclopedia Britannica, Nero 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.
EPITI AL A MIUM.*
Been to me aiding, others to adorn
* Epithalamium (Gr. éri, upon; Oddauos, bridal chamber, marriage), marriage hymn. The bride's name was Elizabeth. --Sisters. These were the pine Muses, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpoměne, Polymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania, daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne (memory). They were supposed to make Mount II icon their home. They are "personifications of the inventive powers of the mind as displayed in the several arts." As deities they were believed to inspire poeta. llence the invocations with which Homer, Virgil, and others begin their poems. See the four fianzas, prefixed to the first book of the Faerie Queene : also, the beginning ofthe Paradise Lost.-Which have, who have. Which was formerly used of persons. It is A, S, huylic, fr. hwa, who, and lic, 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: hi or h, as who, why, hove; kovos, 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,
The woods shall to me answer, and my echo ring.
His golden beam upon the hills doth spread,
3. Bring with you all the nymphs that you can hear,
Both of the rivers and the forests green,
All with gay garlands goodly well beseen. * Tenor, purport. (Lat. tenor, a holding on in a continued worse; fr. tenere, to hold.)Dreariment, heaviness, sorrow, dreariness. A. S. drcoriy, bloody, sorrowful; Ger. traurig, Naid. Note the alliteration in these lines and throughout the poem.---Girlands (It. ghirlanda, 11. root meaning to twist; 0. Ger, wieren, to twist; Fr. girani girundole; Gr. yupos, circle; Lit. gyrare, to turn round in a circle), garlands, wreaths. -Orpheus, a mythical Greek hero, noted for his miraculous -kill in playing upon the lyre. IIe was the husband of Eurydice, who, hinten by a ferpent, passed down to Hudes. To recover her, Orpheus Tollowed, 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 lly, strong; head, hood, state. See womanhead, Index), luštiness, rigor. See lusty, Index. - Hymen (Gr. 'Yunu, god of marriage ; Lat. Hymen), a supposed deity, -aid by some to have been the offspring of the heavenly Diuse Uranía; by others, the son of Bacchus and Venus. Ho presided over marriages. The Latin poets picture him in a yellow robe, bis temples wreathed with marjoram, bis locks dropping with perfume, a nuptial torch in his hand. --Tead (Lat. faeria, torch : Gr. Eais, 8as), a torch. Bachelor. See Iniex.-Dight, array, adorn. See Index.-Usury, a large premium, abundant interest.-Nymphs (Gr. vunen, a veiled one, a bride), nymphs, goddesses of mountains, woods, meadows, or waters (called, respectively, orešdes, dryvilex, limoninios, natūdes). The word is akin to Lai, nubo, nubere, to wear the bridal veil, to be a bride. -Neighbors (A. S. neah, nigh; gebúr, a dweller, hoor; boor meaning originally a rustic), dwells near, is a neighbor.-Beseen, adapted, adjusted. See byreye, p. 50.
And let them also with them bring in hand
4. Ye nymphs of Mulla, which with careful heed
The silver scaly trouts do tend full well,
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 em. blem of intertwined affections.-Blue silk. Why blue? See azure, Index,-Posies (Gr. oinois, a making, composing; fr. proliv, to make; Lat. poexis, composition, poesy; whence posy, a verse made up for the occasion, a molto sent with flowers, or engraved on a ring), noreguys accompanied with mottoes, bouquets. Whereas, where.- Diapered (Lat. Ja-pis, a grein-colored precious stone; Gr. iaomis; Fr. diupré, marbled, variegated), diversified with colors. --Straight (A. S. streht, past part. of A. S streccan, to stretch, extend), directly, straightuur: -Mulla, it 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 souhof Kilcolman (asile, Spenser's reaidence, and about two miles from Doneraile. -Scattered light, scattered lightly, or loosely floating.--Come whereas, come where.-Use (Lat. ufi. to use; usus. use), are wont.Tower (A. S torr; Lat. turris; Gr. Túpous; Fr. tour; Ger. thurm; a tower), soar, tower, climb high.-Wolves (Moso-Goth. wulf:; A. S. wulf; D. wolf; Ger. wolf'; Dan, ulv; Sw, ulf; Ice. ulfr; Lat. vulpes. The la-t word fignities for). Is the change of p to f, in Lat. vulpes and Eng, wolf, in accordance with Grimm's Law ?- Wake now. Solomon's Song ii. 10, etc.