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EDMUND SPENSER, born in London in the year 1553,

was educated at Cambridge, where, in 1576, he took his degree as Master of Arts. While at the university, he became an intimate friend of Gabriel Harvey, through whom he was introduced to Sir Philip Sidney and the Earl of Leicester, who bestowed upon him their patronage. The Sidney family procured him the post of Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth: he then became a courtier, and shone in this character; but his life was a succession of mortifications and disappointments. In 1580 he was appointed Secretary to Lord Gray de Wilton in Ireland; and he filled this office during two years with honour and profit. At the end of this time he received a grant of fand in the south of Ireland from the Queen, but upon In this the condition that he should reside there. place he was visited by Raleigh, who became one of his most intimate friends, making up for the loss occasioned by the death of Sir Philip Sidney. In 1590 Spenser the first part of his masterpiece, "The published Fairy Queen', and in 1596 a continuation of the same.

In 1597 his castle in Ireland was burned down in Tyrone's Rebellion, and in it perished his infant child, after which mournful event he returned broken-hearted to England, where he died on the 16th January, 1599. He was buried, at his own request, near Chancer in Westminster-Abbey. The most important of Spenser's poems is, without doubt, his 'Fairy Queen', an allegory in 12 books, of which however only 6 are extant. The argument is as follows: Prince Arthur sees in a vision the queen of the fairies: he becomes violently enamoured of her, and determines to seek his love in the dominions of Fairyland. He arrives, the Queen makes her appearance, and holds a feast which lasts twelve days, upon each of which a knight, representing a moral virtue, encounters perilous adventures. All these are described by the poet. with frequent allusions to Queen Elizabeth and the persons of her court. "The Shepherd's Calendar' is his earliest production: we may also mention his 'Mother Hubbard's Tale', 'Daphnaida', and the 'Epithalamion', a most exquisite hymeneal song.

THE LEGEND OF THE Knight of | Upon his shield the like was also scor'd, (1) For soveraine hope, which in his helpe he


A gentle knight was pricking on the plaine, Yeladd (1) in mightie armes and silver shielde,

Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did


The cruel markes of many a bloody fielde; Yet armes till that time did he never wield; 5 His angry steede did chide his foaming bitt, As much disdayning to the curbe to yield: Full jolly knight he seem'd, and faire did sitt,

As one for knightly giusts (2) and fierce encounters fitt.

And on his brest a bloodie crosse he bore, 10
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge

he wore,

And dead, as living, ever him ador'd:
(1) Clad. (2) Jousts.
Herrig, British Auth,

Right, faithfull, true

But of his cheere (2)
Yet nothing did he



he was in deed and


sad: dread, but ever was ydrad. (3)

did seeme too solemne


Upon a great adventure he was bond,
That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
Lond) (4)
(That greatest glorious Queene of Faery
worshippe, and her grace to

To winne him
Which of all earthly thinges he most did


And ever, as he rode, his heart did earne
To prove his puissance in batell brave 25
Upon his foe, and his new force to learne
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stearne.

(1) Drawn, painted. (2) Face. (3) Dreaded. (4) Land.


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So pure and innocent, as that same lambe, She was in life and every vertuous lore, And by descent from royall lynage came Of ancient kinges and queenes, that had of yore 40

Their scepters stretcht from east to westernshore,

And all the world in their subjection held, Till that infernal feend with foule uprore Forwasted (4) all their land, and them expeld;

Whom to avenge, she had this knight from far compeld. 45

Behind her farre away a dwarfe did lag,
That lasie seemd, in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag
Of needments at his backe. Thus they

The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast,


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The laurell, meed of mightie conquerours And poets sage, the firre that weepeth still, The willow, worne of forlorne paramours, 75 The eugh (3) obedient to the bender's 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, 80 The carver holme, the maple, seldom inward sound.

Led with delight they thus beguile the way, Untill the blustring storme is overblowne; When weening (4) to returne, whence they did stray,


They cannot finde that path, which first
was showne,
But wander to and fro in waies unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they nerest

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Eftsoones (6) dismounted from his courser brave,

And to the dwarfe a while his needless spere (7) he gave.

(1) High. (2) Ship-building. (3) Yew. (4) Thinking. (5) Are. (6) Forthwith. (7) Spear.


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ladie | Soone as that uncouth light upon



were gone,
pro- Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all

'Be well aware,' quoth then that
'Lest suddaine mischiefe ye too rash
'The danger hid, the place unknowne and
'Breedes dreadfull doubts, oft fire is without
'And perill without show: Therefore your
'Sir Knight, with-hold, till further tryall
'Ah, Ladie,' sayd he, 'shame were to re-
The forward footing for an hidden shade:
'Vertue gives herself light through dark-
nesse for to wade.'
Yea but,' quoth she, 'the peril of this place
I better wot then you, though nowe too



To wish you backe retourne with foule

'Yet wisedom warnes, whilest foot is in the
gate, (1)

To stay the steppe, (2) ere forced to re-
trate. (3)
This is the Wandring Wood, this Errour's

'A monster vile, whom God and man does

"Therefore I read (4) The fearfull dwarfe,


beware.' 'Fly, fly,'
quoth then
'this is no place for
living men.'

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Their dam upstart out of her den affraide,
And rushed forth, hurling her hideous taile
About her cursed head, whose folds dis-

Were stretcht now forth at lengcht without
entraile. (1)
She lookt about, and seeing one in mayle, 140
Armed to point, sought backe to turne

For light she hated as the deadly bale,
Ay wont in desert darkness to remaine,
Where plain none might her see, nor she
see any plaine,


Which when the valiant Elf perceiv'd he
As lyon fierce upon the flying prey,
And with his trenchant blade her boldly

From turning backe, and forced her to stay:
Therewith enrag'd she loudly gan to bray,
And turning fierce, her speckled taile ad-
vaunst, (2)


Threatning her angrie sting him to dis


Who nought aghast his mightie hand
enhaunst; (3)
The stroke down from her head unto her
shoulder glaunst. (4)

Much daunted with that dint her sense was
dazd, (5)
Yet kindling rage, herselfe she gathered


And all at once her beastly bodie raizd
With doubled forces high above the ground:
Tho (6) wrapping up her wrethed sterne (7)

Lept fierce upon his shield, and her huge
All suddenly about his body wound,
That hand or foot to stirr he strove in


God helpe the man so wrapt in Errour's endlesse traine.

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That when he heard, in great perplexitie, His gall did grate for griefe and high disdaine,

And knitting all his force, got one hand free, Wherewith he grypt her gorge with so

great paine,


A cloud of cumbrous gnattes doe him molest, All striving to infixe their feeble stinges, That from their noyance (1) he no where can rest,

But with his downish hands their tender wings 205

That soone to loose her wicked bands did He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their her constraine.

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Her vomit full of bookes and papers was, With loathly frogs and toades, which eyes did lacke,


Thus ill bestedd, (2) and fearefull more of shame


Then of the certeine perill he stood in,
Halfe furious unto his foe he came,
(Resolv'd in minde all suddenly to win,
Or soone to lose, before he once would
lin) (3)
And stroke at her with more then manly

That from her body, full of filthie sin,
He raft her hatefull heade without re-



And creeping sought way in the weedy gras: Her filthie parbreake (8) all the place de- A streame of cole-black blood forth gushed filed has. from her corse.


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An aged sire, in long blacke weedes yclad, His feete all bare, his beard all hoarie gray, 255 And by his belt his booke he banging had; Sober he seemde and very sagely sad, And to the ground his eyes were lowly bent,

Simple in shew and voide of malice bad; And all the way he prayed as he went, 260 And often knockt his breast, as one that did repent.

He faire the knight saluted, louting (3) low, Who faire him quited, (4) as that courteous

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A little lowly hermitage it was,
Downe in a dale, hard by a forest's side,
Far from resort of people that did pas 300
In traveil to and froe: a little wyde
There was an holy chapell edifyde, (4)
Wherein the hermite dewly (5) wont to say
His holy things each morne and eventyde;
Thereby a christall streame did gently play,
Which from a sacred fountaine welled (6)
forth alway.

Arrived there, the little house they fill,
Ne looke for entertainement where none was;
Rest is their feast, and all thinges at their

The noblest mind the best contentment has.


(1) Know. (2) Been. (3) Inn. (4) Built. (5) Duly. (6) Flowed.

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