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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

From ‘Daphnaïda’

Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)

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An Elegy

SHE fell away in her first ages spring,

Whil’st yet her leaf was green, and fresh her rinde,

And whil’st her branch fair blossoms forth did bring,

She fell away against all course of kind.

For age to die is right, but youth is wrong;

She fell away like fruit blown down with wind.

Weep, Shepherd! weep, to make my undersong.

Yet fell she not as one enforc’d to die,

Ne died with dread and grudging discontent,

But as one toil’d with travail down doth lie,

So lay she down, as if to sleep she went,

And closed her eyes with careless quietness;

The whiles soft death away her spirit sent,

And soul assoyld from sinful fleshliness.

How happy was I when I saw her lead

The Shepherd’s daughters dancing in a round!

How trimly would she trace and softly tread

The tender grass, with rosy garland crown’d!

And when she list advance her heavenly voice,

Both Nymphs and Muses nigh she made astown’d

And flocks and shepherds causèd to rejoice.

But now, ye Shepherd lasses! who shall lead

Your wandering troops, or sing your virelays?

Or who shall dight your bow’rs, sith she is dead

That was the Lady of your holy days?

Let now your bliss be turnèd into bale,

And into plaints convert your joyous plays,

And with the same fill every hill and dale.

But I will walk this wandering pilgrimage

Throughout the world from one to other end,

And in affliction waste my better age:

My bread shall be the anguish of my mind,

My drink the tears which fro’ mine eyes do rain

My bed the ground that hardest I may find;

So will I wilfully increase my pain.

Ne sleep (the harbinger of weary wights)

Shall ever lodge upon mine eye-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

With Philomene, my fortune to deplore;

With Philomene, the partner of my plight.

And ever as I see the stars to fall,

And underground to go to give them light

Which dwell in darkness, I to mind will call

How my fair Star, (that shined on me so bright,)

Fell suddenly and faded underground;

Since whose departure day is turn’d to night,

And night without a Venus star is found.

And she,—my Love that was, my Saint that is,—

When she beholds from her celestial throne,

(In which she joyeth in eternal bliss)

My bitter penance, will my case bemoan,

And pity me that living thus do die;

For heavenly spirits have compassion

On mortal men, and rue their misery.

So when I have with sorrow satisfied

Th’ importune Fates, which vengeance on me seek,

And th’ heavens with long languor pacified,

She, for pure pity of my sufferance meek,

Will send for me: for which I daily long:

And will till then my painful penance eeke.

Weep, Shepherd! weep, to make my undersong!