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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.|   |
Edmund Spenser. 1552–1599|
81. Prothalamion|

CALME was the day, and through the trembling ayre|  |
Sweete-breathing Zephyrus did softly play|  |
A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay|  |
Hot Titans beames, which then did glyster fayre;|  |
When I, (whom sullein care,|          5|
Through discontent of my long fruitlesse stay|  |
In Princes Court, and expectation vayne|  |
Of idle hopes, which still doe fly away,|  |
Like empty shaddowes, did afflict my brayne,)|  |
Walkt forth to ease my payne|   10|
Along the shoare of silver streaming Themmes;|  |
Whose rutty Bancke, the which his River hemmes,|  |
Was paynted all with variable flowers,|  |
And all the meades adornd with daintie gemmes|  |
Fit to decke maydens bowres,|   15|
And crowne their Paramours|  |
Against the Brydale day, which is not long:|  |
  Sweete Themmes! runne softly, till I end my Song.|  |  | |
There, in a Meadow, by the Rivers side,|  |
A Flocke of Nymphes I chauncèd to espy,|   20|
All lovely Daughters of the Flood thereby,|  |
With goodly greenish locks, all loose untyde,|  |
As each had bene a Bryde;|  |
And each one had a little wicker basket,|  |
Made of fine twigs, entrayl`d curiously,|   25| In which they gathered flowers to fill their flasket,|  | And with fine Fingers cropt full feateously|  |
The tender stalkes on hye.|  |
Of every sort, which in that Meadow grew,|  |
They gathered some; the Violet, pallid blew,|   30|
The little Dazie, that at evening closes,|  |
The virgin Lillie, and the Primrose trew,|  |
With store of vermeil Roses,|  |
To decke their Bridegromes posies|  |
Against the Brydale day, which was not long:|   35|
  Sweete Themmes! runne softly, till I end my Song.|  |  | |
With that I saw two Swannes of goodly hewe|  |
Come softly swimming downe along the Lee;|  |
Two fairer Birds I yet did never see;|  |
The snow, which doth the top of Pindus strew,|   40|
Did never whiter shew;|  |
Nor Jove himselfe, when he a Swan would be,|  |
For love of Leda, whiter did appeare;|  |
Yet Leda was (they say) as white as he,|  |
Yet not so white as these, nor nothing neare;|   45|
So purely white they were,|  |
That even the gentle streame, the which them bare,|  |
Seem'd foule to them, and bad his billowes spare|  |
To wet their silken feathers, least they might|  |
Soyle their fayre plumes with water not so fayre,|   50| And marre their beauties bright,|  |
That shone as heavens light,|  |
Against their Brydale day, which was not long:|  |
  Sweete Themmes! runne softly, till I end my Song.|  |  | |
Eftsoones the Nymphes, which now had Flowers their fill,|   55| Ran all in haste to see that silver brood,|  |
As they came floating on the Christal Flood;|  |
Whom when they sawe, they stood amazèd still,|  |
Their wondring eyes to fill;|  |
Them seem'd they never saw a sight so fayre,|   60|
Of Fowles, so lovely, that they sure did deeme|  |
Them heavenly borne, or to be that same payre|  |
Which through the Skie draw Venus silver Teeme;|  |
For sure they did not seeme|  |
To be begot of any earthly Seede,|   65|
But rather Angels, or of Angels breede;|  |
Yet were they bred of Somers-heat, they say,|  |
In sweetest Season, when each Flower and weede|  |
The earth did fresh aray;|  |
So fresh they seem'd as day,|   70|
Even as their Brydale day, which was not long:|  |
  Sweete Themmes! runne softly, till I end my Song.|  |  | |
Then forth they all out of their baskets drew|  |
Great store of Flowers, the honour of the field,|  |
That to the sense did fragrant odours yield,|   75|
All which upon those goodly Birds they...
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