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Perhaps, considering the purpose of this volume, enough has been said of this glorious poem. It will surely be enough if it lead the reader to give to Spenser the reverent study which such a highsouled poet claims; and it may be observed that, while reading his poetry, the student will not only be led to love and honour what is pure and honest and of good report, but will gain also some know

Not perceable with power of any starr ;

And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farr.
Faire harbour that them seems so in they entred ar.

"And foorth they passe with pleasure forward led,
Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony,
Which, therein shrouded from the tempest dred
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky.
Much can they praise the trees so straight and hy,
The sayling Pine; the Cedar proud and tall;
The vine-propp Elme; the Poplar never dry;
The builder Oake, sole king of forrests all;
The Aspine good for staves; the Cypresse funerall;

"The Laurell, meed of mightie Conquerours
And Poets sage; the Firre that weepeth still;
The Willow worne of forlorne Paramours;
The Eugh, obedient to the benders will;
The Birch for shaftes; the Sallow for the mill;
The Mirrhe sweete-bleeding in the bitter wound ;
The Warlike Beech; the Ash for nothing ill;
The fruitfull Olive; and the Platane round;

The carver Holme; the Maple seeldom inward sound.

"Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Untill the blustring storme is overblowne;
When, weening to returne whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path which first was showne,
But wander too and fro in waies unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne:
So many pathes, so many turnings seene,

That which of them to take in diverse doubt they been."


ledge of an age which still dazzles us with its glory. Writing of the "Faerie Queene," Mr. Stopford Brooke observes

"As the nobler Puritanism of the time is found in it, so also are the other influences of the time. . . . It represents the new love of chivalry, the new love of classical learning, the new delight in mystic theories of love and religion. It is full of those allegorical schemes in which doctrines and heresies, virtues and vices, were contrasted and personified. It takes up and uses the popular legends of fairies, dwarfs, and giants, and mingles them with the savages and the wonders of the New World of which the voyagers told in every company. Nearly the whole spirit of the English Renaissance under Elizabeth, except its coarser and baser elements, is in its pages. Of anything impure, or ugly, or violent, there is not a trace." >

I do not know that it is necessary to dwell at any length upon Spenser's minor poems. (A good deal might be said about the "Shepherd's Calendar" (published in 1579), for it is a poem characteristic alike of the period and of the author. The form in which the work is moulded belongs to an age which delighted in the discussion of political and religious themes by poetical shepherds, but the verse itself is such as none but Spenser could have written; and remembering that "the 'Calendar' is not only our first English pastoral, but our earliest poetical work of any description written since the language has been substantially the same that it now is which can be called a classical work," "* it will be seen that it possesses a literary interest

* George L. Craik.

apart from its value as a poem.

Among the

shorter poems of Spenser, his "Muiopotmos," or the "Fate of the Butterfly," should not be overlooked. In Mr. Lowell's judgment the poem is a marvel for delicate conception and treatment, and he adds that "in Clarion, the butterfly, he has symbolized himself. And surely never was the poetic temperament so picturesquely exemplified.` We see 'young Clarion' soaring over the wide country, over rivers and fens, over woods and meadows. But his chief delight is in gardens, and as he flits from bed to bed and from border to border, he pastures on the pleasures of each place."

"And evermore with most variety

And change of sweetness (for all change is sweet)
He casts his glutton sense to satisfy,
Now sucking of the sap of herbs most meet,
Or of the dew which yet on them doth lie,
Now in the same bathing his tender feet;
And then he percheth on some branch thereby
To weather him and his moist wings to dry.

"And then again he turneth to his play,
To spoil the pleasures of that paradise ;
The wholesome sage, the lavender still gray,
Rank-smelling rue and cummin good for eyes,
The roses reigning in the pride of May,
Sharp hyssop good for green wounds' remedies,
Fair marigolds, and bees-alluring thyme,
Sweet marjoram, and daisies decking prime.

"And whatso else of virtue good or ill,

Grew in this garden, fetched from far away,

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Of every one he takes and tastes at will,
And on their pleasures greedily doth prey;
Then, when he hath both played and fed his fill,
In the warm sun he doth himself embay,
And there him rests in riotous suffisance
Of all his gladfulness and kingly joyance.

"What more felicity can fall to creature

Than to enjoy delight with liberty,

And to be lord of all the works of nature?

To reign in the air from earth to highest sky,

To feed on flowers and weeds of glorious feature,
To take whatever thing doth please the eye?
Who rests not pleased with such happiness
Well worthy he to taste of wretchedness."

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"To reign in the air," writes Mr. Lowell, in commenting on these stanzas, was certainly Spenser's function. And yet the commentators, who seem never willing to let their poet be a poet pure and simple-though had he not been so they would have lost their only hold on life-try to make out from his Mother Hubberd's Tale' that he might have been a very sensible matter-of-fact man if he would. For my own part, I am quite willing to confess that I like him none the worse for being unpractical, and that my reading has convinced me that being too poetical is the rarest fault of poets. Practical men are not so scarce, one would think; and I am not sure that the tree was a gainer when the hamadryad flitted and left it nothing but ship-timber. Such men as Spenser are not sent into the world to be part of its motive power. The blind old engine would not know the difference though we get up its steam with ottar of roses, nor make one revolution more to the minute for it. What practical man ever left such an heirloom to his country as the 'Faery Queen'?"

This unworldly and pre-eminently un-American statement will recall to the reader of Carlyle's "Hero-Worship" the question he asks with regard

to Shakespeare and our Indian empire. If we English were compelled to give up India or the poet, which should it be? Despite Mr. Lowell, there can be no question that the greatest poets, unlike many smaller singers, have been men eminent for worldly sagacity and business tact.* Grant that the poetical nature is of rarer value, and therefore more precious than the practical wisdom so needful in this working-day world, the poet is surely better as a poet in proportion to the free play and full development of his nature as a man.

Spenser has one more claim upon our admiration which can never be overlooked. He is a great lyric poet, and the "Epithalamion," or "Wedding Hymn," written on his own marriage, to which I have already alluded, is perhaps the most triumphant love-poem in the language; it is beyond question one of our most splendid lyrics. No extract can convey a notion of its peerless beauty. Enough to say that it is worthy of the purity, the rich fancy, and the mastery of language which distinguish this noble poet, whose place is with Chaucer and Shakespeare, with Milton and with Wordsworth.

It may

[The literature associated with Spenser is extensive. suffice to call the student's attention to the Globe edition of Spenser, edited by Mr. R. Morris, with a memoir by J. W. Hales (Macmillan and Co.); to the finely printed edition, in five vols., brought out about ten years ago by that literary veteran Mr. J. P.

*Chaucer and Shakespeare, for example, were both men of affairs, and Mr. Lowell allows that Dante was supremely practical.

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