Edmund Spenser, Amoretti and Epithalamion, 1595.
AMORETTI AND Epithalamion
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This text is based on an electronic edition, a compilation of those that are to be found at various web sites, for example http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks/ . Spelling has been mostly modernised and corrections have been made with reference to modern editions. However some spellings have been left as the original, for example Bellamoures, Cullambynes and Jessemynes in Sonnet 64. It is not possible to 'modernise' entirely a Renaissance edition of a work, since some words are peculiar to the time, or of limited use, or only known to have been used by that one author, or spelt differently in different parts of the text. This is especially true of Spenser, who used many words and spellings which were archaic in his own day. However, to insist that one retains spelling from the original edition, which is often what is done with Spenser, is somewhat unrealistic, for we do not demand the same for other Elizabethan authors. We are happy for the most part to use modern spelling editions of Shakespeare and Marlowe, so why not of Spenser? To those anxious to see how erratic was the spelling of works printed in Shakespeare's time I suggest looking at the edition of Lodge's Sonnets to Phillis, 1593 available on this site, ( Phillis ) or at the Q version of Shakespeare's sonnets, given with the commentary to each individual sonnet. This modern spelling version is offered for those who would like to read Spenser's Epithalamion without having first to overcome the difficulties of idiosyncratic and archaic spellings which are a great hindrance to understanding.
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 joyèd in their praise.
And when ye list your own mishaps to mourn,
Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rase,
Your string could soon to sadder tenor turn,
And teach the woods and waters to lament 10
Your dolefull dreariment.
Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside,
And having all your heads with garlands crowned,
Help me mine own loves praises to resound,
Ne let the fame of any be envied,
So Orpheus did for his own bride,
So I unto my self alone will sing,
The woods shall to me answer and my echo ring. 20
EARLY before the world's light giving lamp,
His golden beam upon the hills doth spread,
Having dispersed the night's uncheerfull damp,
Do ye awake and with fresh lusty head,
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. 30
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.
BRING with you all the Nymphs that you can hear
both of the rivers and the forests green:
And of the sea that neighbours to her near, 40
all with gay garlands goodly well beseen.
And let them also with them bring in hand,
Another gay garland
my fair love of lilies and of roses,
Bound truelove 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, 50
Be strewed with fragrant flowers all along,
And diapered like the discoloured mead.
Which done, do at her chamber door await,
For she will waken straight,
The while do ye this song unto her sing,
The woods shall to you answer and your echo ring.
Ye Nymphs of Mulla which with carefull 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) 60
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 lightfoot maids which keepe the deer,
That on the hoary mountain use to tower,
And the wild wolves which seek them to devour, 70
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 echo ring.
WAKE now my love, awake; for it is time,
The Rosy Morn long since left Tithon's bed,
All ready to her silver couch to climb,
And Phoebus gins to shew his glorious head.
Hark how the cheerfull birds do chant their lays
And carol of love's praise. 80
The merry Lark her matins sings aloft,
The thrush replies, the Mavis descant plays,
The Ouzel shrills, the Ruddock warbles soft,
So goodly all agree with sweet consent,
To this day's merriment.
Ah my dear love why do ye sleep thus long,
When meeter were that ye should now awake,
T'await the coming of your joyous make,
And hearken to the birds' love learnèd song,
The dewy leaves among.
For they of joy and pleasance to you sing.
That all the woods them answer and their echo ring. 90
My love is now awake out of her dreams,
and her fair eyes like stars that dimmèd were
With darksome cloud, now shew their goodly beams
More bright than Hesperus his head doth rear.
Come now ye damsels, daughters of delight,
Help quickly her to dight,
But first come ye fair hours which were begot
In Joves sweet paradise, of Day and Night, 100
Which do the seasons of the year allot,
And all that ever in this world is fair
Do make and still repair.
And ye three handmaids of the Cyprian Queen,
The which do still adorn her beauty's pride,
Help to adorn my beautifullest bride
And as ye her array, still throw between
Some graces to be seen,
And as ye use to Venus, to her sing,
The whiles the woods shall answer and your echo ring. 110
NOW is my love all ready forth to come,
Let all the virgins therefore well await,
And ye fresh boys that tend upon her groom
Prepare your selves; for he is coming straight.
Set all your things in seemly good array
Fit for so joyfull day,
The joyfull'st day that ever sun did see.
Fair Sun, shew forth thy favourable ray,
let thy lifeful heat not fervent be
For fear of burning her sunshiny face, 120
Her beauty to disgrace.
O fairest Phoebus, father of the Muse,
If ever I did honour thee aright,
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight,
Do not thy servant's simple boon refuse,
But let this day, let this one day be mine,
Let all the rest be thine.
Then I thy sovereign praises loud will sing,
That all the woods shall answer and their echo ring.
HARK how the Minstrels gin to shrill aloud, 130
Their merry Music that resounds from far,
The pipe, the tabor, and the trembling Crowd,
That well agree withouten breach or jar.
But most of all the damsels do delight,
When they their tymbrels smite,
And thereunto do dance and carol sweet,
That all the senses they do ravish quite,
The whiles the boys run up and down the street,
Crying aloud with strong confusèd noise,
As if it were one voice. 140
Hymen, Io Hymen, Hymen they do shout,
That even to the heavens their shouting shrill
Doth reach, and all the firmament doth fill,
To which the people standing all about,
As in approvance do thereto applaud
And loud advance her laud,
And evermore they Hymen, Hymen sing,
that all the woods them answer and their echo ring.
LO where she comes along with portly pace,
like Phoebe from her chamber of the East, 150
Arising forth to run her mighty race,
Clad all in white, that seems a virgin best.
So well it her beseems that ye would ween
Some angell she had been.
Her long loose yellow locks like golden wire,
Sprinkled with pearl, and pearling flowers a tween,
Do like a golden mantle her attire,
And being crowned with a garland green,
flowers like some maiden Queen,
Her modest eyes abashed to behold 160
So many gazers, as on her do stare,
upon the lowly ground affixed are.
Ne dare lift up her countenance too bold,
But blush to hear her praises sung so loud,
So far from being proud.
Nathless do ye still loud her praises sing,
That all the woods may answer and your echo ring.
TELL me ye merchants' daughters did ye see
So fair a creature in your town before,
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she, 170
Adorned with beauty's grace and virtue's store,
Her goodly eyes like Saphires shining bright,
Her forehead ivory white,
Her cheeks like apples which the sun hath rudded,
Her lips like cherries charming men to bite,
Her breast like to a bowl of cream uncrudded,
Her paps like lilies budded,
Her snowy neck like to a marble tower,
And all her body like a palace fair,
Ascending up with many a stately stair, 180
To honour's seat and chastity's sweet bower.
Why stand ye still ye virgins in amaze,
upon her so to gaze,
Whiles ye forget your former lay to sing,
To which the woods did answer and your echo ring?
BUT if ye saw that which no eyes can see,
The inward beauty of her lively spright,
Garnish'd with heavenly gifts of high degree,
Much more then would ye wonder at that sight,
And stand astonisht like to those which read 190
Medusa's mazeful head.
There dwells sweet love and constant chastity,
unspotted faith and comely womanhood,
Regard of honour and mild modesty,
There virtue reigns as Queen in royal throne,
And giveth laws alone.
The which the base affections do obey,
And yield their services unto her will
Ne thought of thing uncomely ever may
Thereto approach to tempt her mind to ill. 200
Had ye once seen these her celestial treasures,
And unrevealèd pleasures,
Then would ye wonder and her praises sing,
That all the woods should answer and your echo ring.
OPEN the temple gates unto my love,
Open them wide that she may enter in,
And all the posts adorn as doth behove,
And all the pillars deck with garlands trim,
For to receive this Saint with honour due,
That cometh in to you. 210
With trembling steps and humble reverence,
She cometh in, before th' almighty's view,
Of her ye virgins learn obedience,
When so ye come into those holy places,
To humble your proud faces,
Bring her up to th' high altar that she may,
The sacred ceremonies there partake,
The which do endless matrimony make,
And let the roaring Organs loudly play
The praises of the Lord in lively notes, 220
The whiles with hollow throats,
The Choristers the joyous Anthem sing,
That all the woods may answer, and their echo ring.
BEHOLD whiles she before the altar stands
Hearing the holy priest that to her speaks
And blesseth her with his two happy hands,
How the red roses flush up in her cheeks,
And the pure snow with goodly vermeil stain,
Like crimson dyed in grey,
That even th' Angels which continually, 230
About the sacred Altar do remain,
Forget their service and about her fly,
Oft peeping in her face that seems more fair,
The more they on it stare.
But her sad eyes still fastened on the ground,
Are governèd with goodly modesty,
That suffers not one look to glance awry,
Which may let in a little thought unsound,
Why blush ye love to give to me your hand,
The pledge of all our band? 240
Sing ye, sweet Angels, Alleluya sing,
That all the woods may answer and your echo ring.
Now all is done; bring home the bride again,
bring home the triumph of our victory,
Bring home with you the glory of her gain,
With joyance bring her and with jollity.
Never had man more joyfull day then this,
Whom heaven would heap with bliss.
Make feast therefore now all this live long day,
This day for ever to me holy is,
Pour out the wine without restraint or stay,
Pour not by cups, but by the belly full,
Pour out to all that wull,
And sprinkle all the posts and walls with wine,
That they may sweat, and drunken be withall.
Crown ye God Bacchus with a coronal,
And Hymen also crown with wreaths of vine,
And let the Graces dance unto the rest;
For they can do it best:
The whiles the maidens do their carrol sing, 260
To which the woods shall answer and their echo ring.
RING ye the bells, ye young men of the town,
And leave your wonted labours for this day:
This day is holy; Do ye write it down,
that ye for ever it remember may.
This day the sun is in his chiefest height,
With Barnaby the bright,
From whence declining daily by degrees,
He somewhat loseth of his heat and light,
When once the Crab behind his back he sees. 270
But for this time it ill ordainèd was,
To chose the longest day in all the year,
And shortest night, when longest fitter were:
Yet never day so long, but late would pass.
Ring ye the bells, to make it wear away,
And bonfires make all day,
And dance about them, and about them sing:
that all the woods may answer, and your echo ring.
AH when will this long weary day have end,
and lend me leave to come unto my love? 280
How slowly do the hours their numbers spend?
How slowly does sad Time his feathers move?
Haste thee O fairest Planet to thy home
Within the Western foam:
Thy tired steeds long since have need of rest.
Long though it be, at last I see it gloom,
And the bright evening star with golden crest
Appear out of the East.
fair child of beauty, glorious lamp of love
That all the host of heaven in ranks dost lead, 290
And guidest lovers through the night's dread,
How cheerfully thou lookest from aboue,
And seemst to laugh atween thy twinkling light
As joying in the sight
Of these glad many which for joy do sing,
That all the woods them answer and their echo ring.
NOW cease ye damsels your delights forepast;
Enough is it, that all the day was yours:
Now day is done, and night is nighing fast:
Now bring the Bride into the bridal bowers. 300
Now night is come, now soon her disarray,
And in her bed her lay;
Lay her in lillies and in violets,
And silken curtains over her display,
The odoured sheets, and Arras coverlets,
Behold how goodly my Fair love does lie
In proud humility;
Like unto Maia, when as Jove her took,
In Tempe, lying on the flowery grass,
Twixt sleep and wake, after she weary was, 310
With bathing in the Acidalian brook.
Now it is night, ye damsels may be gone,
And leave my love alone,
And leave likewise your former lay to sing:
The woods no more shall answer, nor your echo ring.
NOW welcome night, thou night so long expected,
that long day's labour dost at last defray,
And all my cares, which cruel love collected,
Hast summed in one, and cancellèd for aye:
Spread thy broad wing over my love and me, 320
that no man may us see,
And in thy sable mantle us enwrap,
From fear of peril and foul horror free.
Let no false treason seek us to entrap,
Nor any dread disquiet once annoy
the safety of our joy:
But let the night be calm and quietsome,
Without tempestuous storms or sad affray:
like as when Jove with fair Alcmena lay,
When he begot the great Tirynthian groom: 330
Or like as when he with thy self did lie,
And begot Majesty.
And let the maids and young men cease to sing:
Ne let the woods them answer, nor their echo ring.
LET no lamenting cries, nor dolefull tears,
Be heard all night within nor yet without:
Ne let false whispers breeding hidden fears,
Break gentle sleep with misconceivèd doubt.
Let no deluding dreams, nor dreadful sights,
Make sudden sad affrights; 340
Ne let housefires, nor lightning's helpless harms,
Ne let the Puck, nor other evil sprights,
Ne let mischievous witches with their charms,
Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sense we see not,
Fray us with things that be not.
Let not the screech Owl, nor the Stork be heard:
Nor the night Raven that still deadly yells,
Nor damnèd ghosts called up with mighty spells,
Nor griefly vultures make us once affeard:
Ne let th' unpleasant Quire of Frogs still croaking 350
Make us to wish their choking.
Let none of these their dreary accents sing;
Ne let the woods them answer, nor their echo ring.
BUT let still Silence true night watches keepe,
That sacred peace may in assurance reign,
And timely sleep, when it is time to sleep,
May Pour his limbs forth on your pleasant plain,
The whiles an hundred little wingèd loves,
Like divers fethered doves,
Shall fly and flutter round about your bed, 360
And in the secret dark, that none reproves
Their pretty stealths shall work, and snares shall spread
To filch away sweet snatches of delight,
Concealed through covert night.
Ye sons of Venus, play your sports at will,
For greedy pleasure, careless of your toys,
Thinks more upon her paradise of joys,
Than what ye do, albeit good or ill.
All night therefore attend your merry play,
For it will soon be day: 370
Now none doth hinder you, that say or sing,
Ne will the woods now answer, nor your echo ring.
WHO is the same, which at my window peeps?
Or whose is that Fair face, that shines so bright,
Is it not Cinthia, she that never sleeps,
But walks about high heaven all the night?
O fairest goddesse, do thou not envy
My love with me to spy:
For thou likewise didst love, though now unthought,
And for a fleece of wool, which privily, 380
The Latmian shepherd once unto thee brought,
His pleasures with thee wrought,
Therefore to us be favourable now;
And sith of women's labours thou hast charge,
And generation goodly dost enlarge,
Encline they will t'effect our wishfull vow,
And the chaste wombe informe with timely seed,
That may our comfort breed:
Till which we cease our hopefull hap to sing,
Ne let the woods us answer, nor our echo ring. 390
AND thou great Juno, which with awful might
the laws of wedlock still dost patronize,
And the religion of the faith first plight
With sacred rites hast taught to solemnize:
And eke for comfort often called art
Of women in their smart,
Eternally bind thou this lovely band,
And all thy blessings unto us impart.
Thou glad Genius, in whose gentle hand,
The bridal bower and genial bed remain, 400
Without blemish or stain,
And the sweet pleasures of their loves delight
With secret aid dost succour and supply,
Till they bring forth the fruitfull progeny,
Send us the timely fruit of this same night.
And thou fair Hebe, and thou Hymen free,
Grant that it may so be.
Till which we cease your further praise to sing,
Ne any woods shall answer, nor your echo ring.
And ye high heavens, the temple of the gods, 410
In which a thousand torches flaming bright
Do burn, that to us wretched earthly clods:
In dreadful darkness lend desirèd light;
And all ye powers which in the same remain,
More then we men can fain,
Pour out your blessing on us plenteously,
And happy influence upon us rain,
That we may raise a large posterity,
Which from the earth, which they may long possess
With lasting happiness, 420
up to your haughty palaces may mount,
And for the guerdon of their glorious merit
May heavenly tabernacles there inherit,
Of blessed Saints for to increase the count.
So let us rest, sweet love, in hope of this,
And cease till then our timely joys to sing,
The woods no more us answer, nor our echo ring.
SONG made in lieu of many ornaments,
With which my love should duly have been decked,
Which cutting off through hasty accidents, 430
Ye would not stay your due time to expect,
But promist both to recompense,
Be unto her a goodly ornament,
And for short time an endless monument.
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