Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Introductory to Belgium


By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)

AMONGST the rest, which in that space befell,

There came two Springals of full tender yeares,

Farre thence from forrein land where they did dwell,

To seeke for succour of her and her Peares,

With humble prayers and intreatfull teares;

Sent by their Mother who, a Widow, was

Wrapt in great dolours and in deadly feares

By a strong Tyrant, who invaded has

Her land, and slaine her children ruefully, alas!

Her name was Belgè; who in former age

A Lady of great worth and wealth had beene,

And Mother of a frutefull heritage,

Even seventeene goodly Sonnes; which who had seene

In their first flowre, before this fatall teene

Them overtooke and their faire blossomes blasted,

More happie Mother would her surely weene

Then famous Niobe, before she tasted

Latonaes childrens wrath that all her issue wasted.

But this fell Tyrant, through his tortious powre,

Had left her now but five of all that brood:

For twelve of them he did by times devoure,

And to his Idols sacrifice their blood,

Whilest he of none was stopped nor withstood:

For soothly he was one of matchlesse might,

Of horrible aspéct and dreadfull mood,

And had three bodies in one wast empight,

And th’ armes and legs of three to succour him in fight.