With that, I saw two swans of goodly hue Come softly swimming down along the Lee; Two fairer birds I yet did never see. The snow which doth the top of Pindus strew, Did never whiter shew, Nor Jove himself, when he a swan would be For love of Leda, whiter did appear: Yet Leda was they say as white as he, Yet not so white as these, nor nothing near. Eftsoons the nymphs, which now had flowers their fill, Ran all in haste, to see that silver brood, As they came floating on the crystal flood. Whom when they saw, they stood amazed still, Their wondering eyes to fill. Two of those nymphs meanwhile, two garlands bound, Of freshest flowers which in that mead they found, The which presenting all in trim array, Their snowy foreheads therewithal they crowned, Whilst one did sing this lay, Prepared against that day, Against their bridal day, which was not long: Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

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Life[ edit ] Edmund Spenser was born in East Smithfield, London, around the year , though there is still some ambiguity as to the exact date of his birth. His parenthood is obscure, but he was probably the son of John Spenser, a journeyman clothmaker.

In , he became for a short time secretary to John Young , Bishop of Rochester. Raleigh acquired other nearby Munster estates confiscated in the Second Desmond Rebellion. Some time between and , Spenser acquired his main estate at Kilcolman, near Doneraile in North Cork.

Its ruins are still visible today. Local legend has it that he penned some of The Faerie Queene under this tree. He addressed to her the sonnet sequence Amoretti. The marriage itself was celebrated in Epithalamion.

This piece, in the form of a dialogue, circulated in manuscript, remaining unpublished until the mid-seventeenth century. The pamphlet argued that Ireland would never be totally "pacified" by the English until its indigenous language and customs had been destroyed, if necessary by violence.

His castle at Kilcolman was burned, and Ben Jonson , who may have had private information, asserted that one of his infant children died in the blaze. His second wife survived him and remarried twice. His sister Sarah, who had accompanied him to Ireland, married into the Travers family, and her descendants were prominent landowners in Cork for centuries.

Rhyme and reason[ edit ] Thomas Fuller , in Worthies of England, included a story where the Queen told her treasurer, William Cecil, to pay Spenser one hundred pounds for his poetry. The treasurer, however, objected that the sum was too much.

She said, "Then give him what is reason". This story seems to have attached itself to Spenser from Thomas Churchyard , who apparently had difficulty in getting payment of his pension, the only other pension Elizabeth awarded to a poet.

Spenser seems to have had no difficulty in receiving payment when it was due as the pension was being collected for him by his publisher, Ponsonby. Although all the months together form an entire year, each month stands alone as a separate poem. The first three books of The Faerie Queene were published in , and a second set of three books were published in Spenser originally indicated that he intended the poem to consist of twelve books, so the version of the poem we have today is incomplete.

Despite this, it remains one of the longest poems in the English language. In a completely allegorical context, the poem follows several knights in an examination of several virtues. In , he published Complaints , a collection of poems that express complaints in mournful or mocking tones. Four years later, in , Spenser published Amoretti and Epithalamion.

This volume contains eighty-nine sonnets commemorating his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. In Amoretti , Spenser uses subtle humour and parody while praising his beloved, reworking Petrarchism in his treatment of longing for a woman.

Epithalamion , similar to Amoretti, deals in part with the unease in the development of a romantic and sexual relationship. It was written for his wedding to his young bride, Elizabeth Boyle. In the following year Spenser released Prothalamion , a wedding song written for the daughters of a duke, allegedly in hopes to gain favour in the court.

In a Spenserian sonnet, the last line of every quatrain is linked with the first line of the next one, yielding the rhyme scheme ababbcbccdcdee. This individuality may have resulted, to some extent, from a lack of comprehension of the classics. Spenser strove to emulate such ancient Roman poets as Virgil and Ovid , whom he studied during his schooling, but many of his best-known works are notably divergent from those of his predecessors.

An Anglican [25] and a devotee of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth, Spenser was particularly offended by the anti-Elizabethan propaganda that some Catholics circulated. Like most Protestants near the time of the Reformation, Spenser saw a Catholic church full of corruption, and he determined that it was not only the wrong religion but the anti-religion.

This sentiment is an important backdrop for the battles of The Faerie Queene. John Milton in his Areopagitica mentions "our sage and serious poet Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas ". The goal of this piece was to show that Ireland was in great need of reform. Spenser believed that "Ireland is a diseased portion of the State, it must first be cured and reformed, before it could be in a position to appreciate the good sound laws and blessings of the nation".

These three elements work together in creating the disruptive and degraded people. One example given in the work is the native law system called " Brehon law " which trumps the established law given by the English monarchy.

This system has its own court and way of dealing with infractions. It has been passed down through the generations and Spenser views this system as a native backward custom which must be destroyed. Spenser wished devoutly that the Irish language should be eradicated, writing that if children learn Irish before English, "Soe that the speach being Irish, the hart must needes be Irishe; for out of the aboundance of the hart, the tonge speaketh".



Ye learned sisters which have oftentimes Beene to me ayding, others to adorne: Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes, That even the greatest did not greatly scorne To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes, But joyed in theyr prayse. And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne, Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse, Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne, And teach the woods and waters to lament Your dolefull dreriment. Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside, And having all your heads with girland crownd, Helpe me mine owne loves prayses to resound, Ne let the same of any be envide: So Orpheus did for his owne bride, So I unto my selfe alone will sing, The woods shall to me answer and my Eccho ring. Early before the worlds light giving lampe, His golden beame upon the hils doth spred, Having disperst the nights unchearefull dampe, Doe ye awake, and with fresh lusty hed, Go to the bowre of my beloved love, My truest turtle dove, Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake, And long since ready forth his maske to move, With his bright Tead that flames with many a flake, And many a bachelor to waite on him, In theyr fresh garments trim. Bid her awake therefore and soone her dight, For lo the wished day is come at last, That shall for al the paynes and sorrowes past, Pay to her usury of long delight: And whylest she doth her dight, Doe ye to her of joy and solace sing, That all the woods may answer and your eccho ring. Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can heare Both of the rivers and the forrests greene: And of the sea that neighbours to her neare, Al with gay girlands goodly wel beseene.



Published in [1] , it is a nuptial song that he composed that year on the occasion of the twin marriage of the daughters of the Earl of Worcester , Elizabeth Somerset and Katherine Somerset, to Henry Guildford and William Petre, 2nd Baron Petre respectively. Prothalamion is written in the conventional form of a marriage song. The poem begins with a description of the River Thames where Spenser finds two beautiful maidens. The poet proceeds to praise them and wishing them all the blessings for their marriages. The poem begins with a fine description of the day when on which he is writing the poem: Calm was the day and through the trembling air The sweet breathing Zephyrus did softly play. The poet is standing near the Thames River and finds a group of nymphs with baskets collecting flowers for the new brides.

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