Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
Astrophel
The Mourning Muse of Thestylis
 
[By Lodowick Bryskett.]

COME forth, ye Nymphes, come forth, forsake your watry bowres,
Forsake your mossy caves, and help me to lament:
Help me to tune my dolefull notes to gurgling sound
Of Liffies tumbling streames: come, let salt teares of ours
Mix with his waters fresh. O come, let one consent        5
Joyne us to mourne with wailfull plaints the deadly wound
Which fatall clap hath made; decreed by higher powres;
The dreery day in which they have from us yrent
The noblest plant that might from East to West be found.
Mourne, mourn great Philips fall, mourn we his wofull end,        10
Whom spitefull Death hath pluct untimely from the tree,
Whiles yet his yeares in flowre did promise worthie frute.
  Ah! dreadful Mars, why didst thou not thy knight defend?
What wrathfull mood, what fault of ours hath moved thee
Of such a shining light to leave us destitute?        15
Thou with benigne aspect sometime didst us behold,
Thou hast in Britons valour tane delight of old,
And with thy presence oft vouchsaft to attribute
Fame and renowme to us for glorious martiall deeds.
But now thy ireful bemes have chill’d our harts with cold;        20
Thou hast estrang’d thy self, and deignest not our land:
Farre off to others now thy favour honour breeds,
And high disdaine doth cause thee shun our clime (I feare.)
For hadst thou not bene wroth, or that time neare at hand,
Thou wouldst have heard the cry that woful England made;        25
Eke Zelands piteous plaints and Hollands toren heare
Would haply have appeas’d thy divine angry mynd.
Thou shouldst have seen the trees refuse to yeeld their shade,
And wailing to let fall the honor of their head,
And birds in mournfull tunes lamenting in their kinde.        30
Up from his tombe the mightie Corineus rose,
Who cursing oft the Fates that this mishap had bred,
His hoary locks he tare, calling the heavens unkinde.
The Thames was heard to roare, the Reyne and eke the Mose,
The Schald, the Danow selfe this great mischance did rue,        35
With torment and with grief; their fountains pure and cleere
Were troubled, and with swelling flouds declar’d their woes.
The Muses comfortles, the Nymphs with paled hue,
The silvan gods likewise came running farre and neere,
And all with teares bedeawd, and eyes cast up on hie,        40
‘O help, O help, ye gods!’ they ghastly gan to crie.
‘O chaunge the cruell fate of this so rare a wight,
And graunt that natures course may measure out his age!’
The beasts their foode forsooke, and trembling fearfully,
Each sought his cave or den, this cry did them so fright.        45
Out from amid the waves, by storme then stirr’d to rage,
This crie did cause to rise th’ old father Ocean hoare,
Who, grave with eld, and full of majestie in sight,
Spake in this wise: ‘Refrain,’ quoth he, ‘your teares and plaints,
Cease these your idle words, make vaine requests no more.        50
No humble speech nor mone may move the fixed stint
Of destinie or death: such is his will that paints
The earth with colours fresh, the darkest skies with store
Of starry lights: and though your teares a hart of flint
Might tender make, yet nought herein they will prevaile.’        55
  Whiles thus he said, the noble knight, who gan to feele
His vitall force to faint, and Death with cruell dint
Of direfull dart his mortall bodie to assaile,
With eyes lift up to heav’n, and courage franke as steele,
With cheerfull face, where valour lively was exprest,        60
But humble mynd, he said: ‘O Lord, if ought this fraile
And earthly carcasse have thy service sought t’ advaunce;
If my desire have bene still to relieve th’ opprest:
If, justice to maintaine, that valour I have spent
Which thou me gav’st; or if henceforth I might advaunce        65
Thy name, thy truth, then spare me (Lord) if thou think best;
Forbeare these unripe yeares. But if thy will be bent,
If that prefixed time be come which thou hast set,
Through pure and fervent faith, I hope now to be plast
In th’ everlasting blis which with thy precious blood        70
Thou purchase didst for us.’ With that a sigh he fet,
And straight a cloudie mist his sences overcast,
His lips waxt pale and wan, like damaske roses bud
Cast from the stalke, or like in field to purple flowre,
Which languisheth being shred by culter as it past.        75
A trembling chilly cold ran throgh their veines, which were
With eies brimfull of teares to see his fatall howre;
Whose blustring sighes at first their sorrow did declare;
Next, murmuring ensude; at last they not forbeare
Plaine outcries, all against the heav’ns that enviously        80
Depriv’d us of a spright so perfect and so rare.
The sun his lightsom beames did shrowd, and hide his face
For griefe, whereby the earth feard night eternally:
The mountaines eachwhere shooke, the rivers turn’d their streames,
And th’ aire gan winterlike to rage and fret apace:        85
And grisly ghosts by night were seene, and fierie gleames
Amid the clouds, with claps of thunder, that did seeme
To rent the skies, and made both man and beast afeard.
The birds of ill presage this lucklesse chance foretold,
By dernfull noise, and dogs with howling made man deeme        90
Some mischief was at hand: for such they do esteeme
As tokens of mishap, and so have done of old.
  Ah! that thou hadst but heard his lovely Stella plaine
Her greevous losse, or seene her heavie mourning cheere,
While she, with woe opprest, her sorrowes did unfold.        95
Her haire hung lose neglect, about her shoulders twaine,
And from those two bright starres, to him sometime so deere,
Her heart sent drops of pearle, which fell in foyson downe
Twixt lilly and the rose. She wroong her hands with paine,
And piteously gan say: ‘My true and faithfull pheere,        100
Alas, and woe is me! why should my fortune frowne
On me thus frowardly, to rob me of my joy?
What cruell envious hand hath taken thee away,
And with thee my content, my comfort, and my stay?
Thou onelie wast the ease of trouble and annoy,        105
When they did me assaile, in thee my hopes did rest.
Alas! what now is left but grief, that night and day
Afflicts this wofull life, and with continuall rage
Torments ten thousand waies my miserable brest?
O greedie envious heav’n, what needed thee to have        110
Enricht with such a jewell this unhappie age,
To take it back againe so soone? Alas! when shall
Mine eies see ought that may content them, since thy grave
My onely treasure hides, the joyes of my poore hart?
As here with thee on earth I liv’d, even so equall        115
Methinkes it were with thee in heav’n I did abide:
And as our troubles all we here on earth did part,
So reason would that there of thy most happie state
I had my share. Alas! if thou my trustie guide
Were wont to be, how canst thou leave me thus alone        120
In darknesse and astray, weake, wearie, desolate,
Plung’d in a world of woe, refusing for to take
Me with thee to the place of rest where thou art gone?’
This said, she held her peace, for sorrow tide her toong;
And insteed of more words, seemd that her eies a lake        125
Of teares had bene, they flow’d so plenteously therefro:
And with her sobs and sighs th’ aire round about her roong.
  If Venus, when she waild her deare Adonis slaine,
Ought moov’d in thy fiers hart compassion of her woe,
His noble sisters plaints, her sighes and teares emong,        130
Would sure have made thee milde, and inly rue her paine.
Aurora halfe so faire her selfe did never show,
When from old Tithons bed shee weeping did arise.
The blinded archer-boy, like larke in showre of raine,
Sat bathing of his wings, and glad the time did spend        135
Under those cristall drops which fell from her faire eies,
And at their brightest beames him proynd in lovely wise.
Yet sorie for her grief, which he could not amend,
The gentle boy gan wipe her eies, and clear those lights,
Those lights through which his glory and his conquests shine.        140
The Graces tuckt her hair, which hung like threds of gold,
Along her yvorie brest, the treasure of delights.
All things with her to weep, it seemed, did encline,
The trees, the hills, the dales, the caves, the stones so cold.
The aire did help them mourne, with dark clouds, raine, and mist,        145
Forbearing many a day to cleare it selfe againe;
Which made them eftsoones feare the daies of Pirrha shold
Of creatures spoile the earth, their fatall threds untwist.
For Phœbus gladsome raies were wished for in vaine,
And with her quivering light Latonas daughter faire,        150
And Charles-waine eke refus’d to be the shipmans guide.
On Neptune warre was made by Aeolus and his traine,
Who, letting loose the winds, tost and tormented th’ aire,
So that on ev’ry coast men shipwrack did abide,
Or else were swallowed up in open sea with waves,        155
And such as came to shoare were beaten with despaire.
The Medwaies silver streames, that wont so still to slide,
Were troubled now and wrothe: whose hidden hollow caves
Along his banks, with fog then shrowded from mans eye,
Ay ‘Phillip!’ did resownd, aie ‘Phillip!’ they did crie.        160
His nimphs were seen no more (thogh custom stil it craves)
With haire spred to the wynd themselves to bath or sport,
Or with the hooke or net, barefooted wantonly,
The pleasant daintie fish to entangle or deceive.
The shepheards left their wonted places of resort;        165
Their bagpipes now were still; their loving mery layes
Were quite forgot; and now their flocks men might perceive
To wander and to straie, all carelesly neglect:
And in the stead of mirth and pleasure, nights and dayes
Nought els was to be heard, but woes, complaints, and mone.        170
  But thou (O blessed soule) doest haply not respect
These teares we shead, though full of loving pure affect,
Having affixt thine eyes on that most glorious throne,
Where full of majestie the High Creator reignes:
In whose bright shining face thy joyes are all complete;        175
Whose love kindles thy spright; where, happie alwaies one,
Thou liv’st in blis that earthly passion never staines;
Where from the purest spring the sacred nectar sweete
Is thy continuall drinke; where thou doest gather now
Of well emploied life th’ inestimable gaines.        180
There Venus on thee smiles, Apollo gives thee place,
And Mars in reverent wise doth to thy vertue bow,
And decks his fiery sphere, to do thee honour most.
In highest part whereof, thy valour for to grace,
A chaire of gold he setts to thee, and there doth tell        185
Thy noble acts arew, whereby even they that boast
Themselves of auncient fame, as Pirrhus, Hanniball,
Scipio, and Cæsar, with the rest that did excell
In martiall prowesse, high thy glorie do admire.
  All haile, therefore, O worthie Phillip immortall,        190
The flowre of Sydneyes race, the honour of thy name!
Whose worthie praise to sing my Muses not aspire,
But sorrowfull and sad these teares to thee let fall,
Yet wish their verses might so farre and wide thy fame
Extend, that envies rage, nor time, might end the same.        195
 
 
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