Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  83. From ‘Daphnaïda’ An Elegy

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Edmund Spenser. 1552–1599

83. From ‘Daphnaïda’ An Elegy

SHE fell away in her first ages spring, 
Whil’st yet her leafe was greene, and fresh her rinde, 
And whil’st her braunch faire blossomes foorth did bring, 
She fell away against all course of kinde. 
For age to dye is right, but youth is wrong;         5
She fel away like fruit blowne downe with winde. 
Weepe, Shepheard! weepe, to make my undersong. 
Yet fell she not as one enforst to dye, 
Ne dyde with dread and grudging discontent, 
But as one toyld with travaile downe doth lye,  10
So lay she downe, as if to sleepe she went, 
And closde her eyes with carelesse quietnesse; 
The whiles soft death away her spirit hent, 
And soule assoyld from sinfull fleshlinesse. 
How happie was I when I saw her leade  15
The Shepheards daughters dauncing in a rownd! 
How trimly would she trace and softly tread 
The tender grasse, with rosie garland crownd! 
And when she list advance her heavenly voyce, 
Both Nymphes and Muses nigh she made astownd,  20
And flocks and shepheards causèd to rejoyce. 
But now, ye Shepheard lasses! who shall lead 
Your wandring troupes, or sing your virelayes? 
Or who shall dight your bowres, sith she is dead 
That was the Lady of your holy-dayes?  25
Let now your blisse be turnèd into bale, 
And into plaints convert your joyous playes, 
And with the same fill every hill and dale. 
For I will walke this wandring pilgrimage, 
Throughout the world from one to other end,  30
And in affliction wast my better age: 
My bread shall be the anguish of my mind, 
My drink the teares which fro mine eyed do raine, 
My bed the ground that hardest I may finde; 
So will I wilfully increase my paine.  35
Ne sleepe (the harbenger of wearie wights) 
Shall ever lodge upon mine ey-lids more; 
Ne shall with rest refresh my fainting sprights, 
Nor failing force to former strength restore: 
But I will wake and sorrow all the night  40
With Philumene, my fortune to deplore; 
With Philumene, the partner of my plight. 
And ever as I see the starres to fall, 
And under ground to goe to give them light 
Which dwell in darknes, I to minde will call  45
How my fair Starre (that shinde on me so bright) 
Fell sodainly and faded under ground; 
Since whose departure, day is turnd to night, 
And night without a Venus starre is found. 
And she, my love that was, my Saint that is,  50
When she beholds from her celestiall throne 
(In which shee joyeth in eternall blis) 
My bitter penance, will my case bemone, 
And pitie me that living thus doo die; 
For heavenly spirits have compassion  55
On mortall men, and rue their miserie. 
So when I have with sorowe satisfide 
Th’ importune fates, which vengeance on me seeke, 
And th’ heavens with long languor pacifide, 
She, for pure pitie of my sufferance meeke,  60
Will send for me; for which I daylie long: 
And will till then my painful penance eeke. 
Weep, Shepheard! weep, to make my undersong!