Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599)


Edmund Spenser by Benjamin Wilson (detail)
(Pembroke College, Cambridge)

From Amoretti

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See the complete Amoretti (1595) and Sonnets by Spenser from Various Sources at the University of Oregon's helpful Edmund Spenser Home Page.

Visit Anniina Jokinen's Edmund Spenser page.

"Happy ye leaves! whenas those lily hands"

Happy ye leaves! whenas those lily hands,
Which hold my life in their dead doing might,
Shall handle you, and hold in love's soft bands,
Like captives trembling at the victor's sight.
And happy lines! on which, with starry light,
Those lamping eyes will deign sometimes to look,
And read the sorrows of my dying sprite,
Written with tears in heart's close bleeding book.
And happy rhymes! bathed in the sacred brook
Of Helicon, whence she derived is,
When ye behold that angel's blessed look,
My soul's long lacked food, my heaven's bliss.
Leaves, lines, and rhymes seek her to please alone,
Whom if ye please, I care for other none.

"Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day"

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin,
And having harrowed hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean washed from sin,
May live forever in felicity:
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again;
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
May love with one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

"One day I wrote her name upon the strand"

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize!
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name;
Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.

"Fair is my love, when her fair golden hairs"

Fair is my love, when her fair golden hairs
With the loose wind ye waving chance to mark:
Fair, when the rose in her red cheeks appears,
Or in her eyes the fire of love does spark:
Fair, when her breast, like a rich laden bark
With precious merchandise she forth doth lay:
Fair, when that cloud of pride, which oft doth dark
Her goodly light, with smiles she drives away
But fairest she, when so she doth display
The gate with pearls and rubies richly dight,
Through which her words so wise do make their way,
To bear the message of her gentle sprite.
The rest be works of nature's wonderment,
But this the work of heart's astonishment.