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READINGS IN POETRY.

EDMUND SPENSER, DESCENDED from the ancient and illustrious family of the Spensers, was born in London, about 1553. In 1569 he entered as a sizar at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he graduated as M.A. in 1576. He was for some time patronised by Sir Philip Sidney, to whom he dedicated his Shepherd's Calendar; after which he became secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton, the lord-deputy of Ireland. He obtained from Lord Grey a large grant of forfeited lands in the county of Cork; and at Kilcolman Castle, the greater part of his great work, The Faerie Queene, was composed. Through the kindness of his friend, Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser, during his visit to London, was introduced to Queen Elizabeth, and obtained a small pension. When the second part of The Faerie Queene was nearly completed Tyrone's rebellion broke out, Spenser was forced to fly from Ireland; his castle was burned, and an infant child whom he had left behind perished. To add to his misfortunes, a great portion of his manuscripts were lost; he sank under this complication of calamities, and died 16th January, 1599, of a broken heart.

The great merits of Spenser are his lively fancy, exuberant imagery, noble sentiments, and melodious versification. His defects are strongly marked; his work as a whole wants interest, his allegories are frequently extravagant, and his affectation of archaic and obsolete language renders him frequently obscure. But notwithstanding these blemishes, The Faerie Queene will ever be valuable to the lovers of true poetry, as a rich store-house of poetic inventions and vivid descriptions.

THE SEASONS.
So forth issued the Seasons of the year:
First, lusty Spring, all dight' in leaves of flowers
That freshly budded, and new blooms did bear,
In which a thousand birds had built their bowers,
That sweetly sung to call forth paramours;
And in his hand a javelin he did bear,
And on his head (as fit for warlike stoures)

A gilt engraven morions he did wear;
That as some did him love, so others did him fear.

Then came the jolly Summer, being dight
In a thin silken cassock-coloured green,
That was unlined all, to be more light:
And on his head a garland well beseen*
He wore, from which as he had chauffed 5 been,
The sweat did drop; and in his hand he boxe

A bow and shafts, as he in forest green
dight, bedecked, dressed.

4 well beseen, beautiful to be seen. 2 stoures, assaults, battles.

5 chauffed, heated. 3 morion, ancient military steel-cap.

Had hunted late the libbard or the boar,
And now would bathe his limbs with labour heated sore.

Then came the Autumn, all in yellow clad,
As though he joyed in his plenteous store,
Laden with fruits that made him laugh full glad
That he had banished hunger, which to-fore
Had by the belly oft him pinched sore ;
Upon his head a wreath, that was enrolled 8
With ears of corn of every sort, he bore;

And in his hand a sickle he did hold,
To reap the ripened fruits the which the earth had yold'.

Lastly, came Winter, clothed all in frize,
Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill;
Whilst on his hoary beard his breath did freeze,
And the dull drops, that from his purpled bill
As from a limbeck'o did adown distill:
In his right hand a tipped staff he held,
With which his feeble steps he stayed still ;

For he was faint with cold, and weak with eld";
That scarce his loosed limbs he able was to weld'.

And after these there came the Day and Night,
Riding together both with equal pace;
The one on palfrey black, the other white;
But Night had covered her uncomely face
With a black veil, and held in hand a mace,
On top whereof the moon and stars were pight13,
And Sleep and Darkness round about did trace:
But Day did bear upon his sceptre's height
The goodly Sun encompassed all with beamës bright.

Then came the Hours, fair daughters of high Jove
And timely14 Night; the which were all endued
With wondrous beauty fit to kindle love;
But they were virgins all, and love eschewed"5
That might forslack is the charge to them foreshewed 17
By mighty Jove; who did them porters make
Of heaven's gate (whence all the gods issued)

Which they did daily watch and nightly wake
By even turns, nor ever did their charge forsake.
6 libbard, the leopard.

18 pight, placed, pitched. 7 to fore, before this time.

14 timely, coming in due season. 8 enrolled, rolled in, surrounded by. 15 eschewed, avoided. 9 yold, yielded.

16 forslack cause to be neglected. 10 limbeck, an alembic or still.

17 forshewed, previously shown and il eld, old age.

intrusted. 12 weld, to wield.

And after all came Life; and lastly Death: . .
Death with most grim and grisly visage seen,
Yet is he nought but parting of the breath;
Ne's ought to see, but like a shade to ween',
Unbodiëd, unsouled, unheard, unseen;
But Life was like a fair young lusty boy,
Such as they feign Dan o Cupid to have been,

Full of delightful health and lively joy,
Decked all with flowers and wings of gold fit to employ,

SIR JOHN DAVIES, was born at Chicksgrove, in Wiltshire, A.D. 1570; he was educated as a lawyer, and soon after being called to the bar obtained a seat in the House of Commons. He was sent to Ireland as Solicitor-general by James the First, where he obtained the rank of Attorney-General, and was elected Speaker of the first Irish House of Commons formed by a general representation. He returned to England, and again obtained a seat in the English Parliament. He died December 7, 1626.

Though Davies was more eminent as a lawyer than a poet, his merits in the latter capacity are of a very high order. There is a manly earnestness and strong moral feeling in his verses, his style is easy and flowing, his language at once natural and polished.

THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
O IGNORANT poor man! what dost thou bear

Locked up within the casket of thy breast?
What jewels, and what riches hast thou there?

What heavenly treasure in so weak a chest ?
Look in thy soul, and thou shalt beauties find,

Like those which drowned Narcissus' in the flood :
Honour and pleasure both are in thy mind,

And all that in the world is counted good.
Think of her worth, and think that God did mean,

This worthy mind should worthy things embrace :
Blot not her beauties with thy thoughts unclean,

Nor her dishonour with thy passion base,
Kill not her quickening? power with surfeitings :

Mar not her sense with sensuality:
Cast not away her wit on idle things :

Make not her free-will slave to vanity.

18 ne, nor.

| to have died from love of his own image 19 to ween, to think of.

| which he accidentally saw reflected in 20 Dan, Master, Sir, like the Spanish | a stream, and to have been changed Don.

into the flower that bears his name. Narcissus, a beautiful youth, fabled ? quickening, life-giving.

And when thou thinkst of her eternity,

Think not that death against her nature is ; Think it a birth : and when thou goest to die,

Sing like a swan', as if thou wentst to bliss. And if thou, like a child, didst fear before,

Being in the dark, where thou didst nothing see; Now I have brought thee torch-light, fear no more;

Now when thou diest, thou canst not hoodwinked be. And thou, my soul, which turnst with curious eye

To view the beams of thine own form divine, Know, that thou canst know nothing perfectly,

While thou art clouded with this flesh of mine. Take heed of overweenings, and compare

Thy peacock's feet with thy gay peacock's train : Study the best and highest things that are,

But of thyself an humble thought retain.
Cast down thyself, and only strive to raise

The glory of thy Maker's sacred name :
Use all thy powers, that blessed Power to praise,

Which gives thee power to be, and use the same.

PHINEAS FLETCHER. of this poet's personal history almost nothing is known; he held the living of Helgay, in Norfolk, where he died about A.D. 1650. The Purple Island is an allegorical poem in the style of Spencer ; but Fletcher does not possess the rich imagery and melodious versification of his master. It is, however, a poem that contains many passages which, both for diction and sentiment, can scarcely be excelled in our language.

INTELLECT, THE PRINCE, OF THE PURPLE ISLAND'.

The island's prince, of frame more than celestial, Is rightly called the all-seeing Intellect :

All glorious bright, such nothing is terrestrial; Whose sun-like face, and most divine aspect,

No human sight may ever hope decry;

For when himself on's self reflects his eye, :: Dull and amazed he stands at so bright majesty.

Look at the sun, whose ray and searching light, Here, there, and everywhere itself displays,

No nook or corner flies his piercing sight; Yet on himself when he reflects his rays, 3 suan, the swan is fabled to utter | The Purple Island; the island is an some melodious notes immediately be- allegorical representation of man, and fcre its death.

Intellect is naturally described as its * overweening, self-importance. sovereign.

Soon back he flings the too bold venturing gleam,

Down to the earth the flames all broken streain; Such is this famous Prince, such his unpierced beam.

Though travelling all places, changing none; Bid him soar up to heaven, and thence down throwing,

The centre search, and Dis* dark realm ; he's gone, Returns, arrives, before thou sawst him going;

And while his weary kingdom safely sleeps,

All restless night he watch and warding keeps; Never his careful head on resting pillow steeps.

He knows nor death, nor years, nor feeble age, But as his time, his strength and vigour grows :

And when his kingdom, by intestine rage, Lies broke and wasted, open to his foes ;

And battered sconce now flat and even lies ;

Sooner than thought to that great Judge he flies, Who weighs him just reward of good, or injuries.

For he the Judge's viceroy here is placed, Where, if he live, as knowing he may die,

He never dies, but with fresh pleasures graced, Bathes his crowned head in soft eternity;

Where thousand joys and pleasures ever new,

And blessings thicker than the morning dew, With endless sweets rain down on that immortal crew.

There golden stars set in the crystal snow; There dainty joys laugh at white-headed caring;

There day no night, delight no end shall know; Sweets without surfeit, fulness without sparing;

And by its spending, growing happiness ;

There God himself in glory's lavishness,
Diffused in all, to all, is all full blessedness.

But if he here neglect his Master's law,
And with those traitors 'gainst his Lord rebels,

Down to the deeps ten thousand fiends him draw; Deeps where night, death, despair, and horror dwells.

And in worst ills, still worse expecting, fears;

Where fell despite for spite his bowels tears ; And still increasing grief and torment ever wears.

Prayers there are idle, death is wooed in vain ; In midst of death poor wretches long to die :

Night without day, or rest, still doubling pain; Woes spending still, yet still their end less nigh;

2 Dis, Pluto, the pagan god of the supposed to reside after death. infernal regions, where the souls were 3 sconce, a fortification, a redoubt.

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