The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser

Commendatory Poems

A Vision vpon this conceipt of the Faery Queene.

ME thought I saw the graue where Laura lay

Within that Temple, where the vestall flame

Was wont to burne, and passing by that way,

To see that buried dust of liuing fame,

Whose tombe faire loue, and fairer vertue kept,

All suddenly I saw the Faery Queene:

At whose approch the soule of Petrarke wept,

And from thenceforth those graces were not seene.

For they this Queene attended, in whose steed

Obliuion laid him downe on Lauras herse:

Hereat the hardest stones were seene to bleed,

And grones of buried ghostes the heuens did perse.

Where Homers spright did tremble all for griefe,

And curst th’accesse of that celestiall theife.

Another of the same.

THe prayse of meaner wits this worke like profit brings,

As doth the Cuckoes song delight when Philumena sings.

If thou hast formed right true vertues face herein:

Vertue her selfe can best discerne, to whom they writen bin.

If thou hast beauty praysd, let her sole looks diuine

Iudge if ought therein be amis, and mend it by her meine.

If Chastitie want ought, or Temperaunce her dew,

Behold her Princely mind aright, and write thy Queene anew.

Meane while she shall perceiue, how far her vertues sore

Aboue the reach of all that liue, or such as wrote of yore:

And thereby will excuse and fauour thy good will:

Whose vertue can not be exprest, but by an Angels quill.

Of me no lines are lou’d, nor letters are of price,

Of all which speak our English tongue, but those of thy deuice.

W. R.

To the learned Shepeheard.

COllyn I see by thy new taken taske,

some sacred fury hath enricht thy braynes,

That leades thy muse in hautie verse to maske,

and loath the layes that longs to lowly swaynes.

That lifts thy notes from Shepheardes vnto kinges

So like the liuely Larke that mounting singes.

 Thy louely Rosolinde seemes now forlorne,

and all thy gentle flocks forgotten quight,

Thy chaunged hart now holdes thy pypes in scorne,

those prety pypes that did thy mates delight.

Those trustie mates, that loued thee so well,

VVhom thou gau’st mirth: as they gaue thee the bell.

 Yet as thou earst with thy sweete roundelayes,

didst stirre to glee our laddes in homely bowers:

So moughtst thou now in these refyned layes,

delight the daintie eares of higher powers.

And so mought they in their deepe skanning skill

Alow and grace our Collyns flowing quill.

 And fare befall that Faery Queene of thine,

in whose faire eyes loue linckt with vertue sites:

Enfusing by those bewties fyers deuine,

such high conceites into thy humble wits,

As raised hath poore pastors oaten reede,

From rustick tunes, to chaunt heroique deedes.

 So mought thy Redcrosseknight with happy hand

victorious be in that faire Ilands right:

Which thou dost vaile in Type of Faery land

Elyzaes blessed field, that Albionhight.

That shieldes her friends, and warres her mightie foes,

Yet still with people, peace, and plentie flowes.

 But (iolly Shepheard) though with pleasing style,

thou feast the humour of the Courtly traine:

Let not conceipt thy setled sence beguile,

ne daunted be through enuy or disdaine.

Subiect thy dome to her Empyring spright,

From whence thy Muse, and all the world takes light.


Fayre Thamis streame, that from Ludds stately towne,

Runst paying tribute to the Ocean seas,

Let all thy Nymphes and Syrens of renowne

Be silent, whyle this Bryttane Orpheus playes:

Nere thy sweet bankes, there liues that sacred crowne,

Whose hand strowes Palme and neuer-dying bayes.

Let all at once with thy soft murmuring sowne

Present her with this worthy Poets prayes.

For he hath taught hye drifts in Shepeherdes weedes,

And deepe conceites now singes in Faeries deedes.

R. S.

GRaue Muses march in triumph and with prayses,

Our Goddesse here hath giuen you leaue to land:

And biddes this rare dispenser of your graces

Bow downe his brow vnto her sacred hand.

Desertes findes dew in that most princely doome,

In whose sweete brest are all the Muses bredde:

So did that great Augustus erst in Roome

With leaues of fame adorne his Poets hedde.

Faire be the guerdon of your Faery Queene,

Euen of the fairest that the world hath seene.

H. B.

WHen stout Achilles heard of Helen’s rape

And what reuenge the States of Greece deuisd:

Thinking by sleight the fatall warres to scape,

In womens weedes him selfe he then disguisde.

But this deuise Vlysses soone did spy,

And brought him forth, the chaunce of warre to try.

 When Spencer saw the fame was spredd so large

Through Faery land of their renowned Queene:

Loth that his Muse should take so great a charge,

As in such haughty matter to be seene,

To seeme a Shepeheard then he made his choice,

But Sidney heard him sing, and knew his voice.

 And as Vlysses brought faire Thetis sonne

From his retyred life to menage armes:

So Spencer was by Sidneys speaches wonne,

To blaze her fame not fearing future harmes:

For well he knew, his Muse would soone be tyred

In her high praise, that all the world admired.

 Yet as Achilles in those warlike frayes,

Did win the palme from all the Grecian Peeres:

So Spencer now to his immortall prayse,

Hath wonne the Laurell quite from all his feres.

What though his taske exceed a humaine witt

He is excus’d, sith Sidney thought it fitt.


TO looke vpon a worke of rare deuise

The which a workman setteth out to view,

And not to yield it the deserued prise,

That vnto such a workmanship is dew,

Doth either proue the iudgement to be naught

Or els doth shew a mind with enuy fraught.

 To labour to commend a peece of worke,

Which no man goes about to discommend,

Would raise a iealous doubt that there did lurke

Some secret doubt, whereto the prayse did tend.

For when men know the goodnes of the wyne,

Tis needlesse for the hoast to haue a sygne.

 Thus then to shew my iudgement to be such

As can discern of colours blacke, and white,

As alls to free my minde from enuies tuch,

That neuer giues to any man his right,

I here pronounce this workmanship is such,

As that no pen can set it forth too much.

 And thus I hang a garland at the dore,

Not for to shew the goodnes of the ware:

But such hath beene the custome heretofore,

And customes very hardly broken are.

And when your tast shall tell you this is trew,

Then looke you giue your hoast his vtmost dew.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00