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Astrophel.

A Pastorall Elegie upon the Death of the Most Noble and Most Valorous Knight, SIR Philip Sidney. Dedicated to the Most Beautifull and Vertuous Ladie, the Countess of Essex.

By EDMUND SPENSER.

1

Shepheards, that wont, on pipes of oaten reed,

Oft times to 2 plaine your loves concealed smart;
And with your piteous layes have learned to breed

Compassion in a countrey lasses hart;
Hearken, ye gentle shepheards, to my song,
And place my dolefull plaint your plaints emong

To you alone I sing this mournfull verse,

The mournfullst verse that ever man heard tell:
To you whose softened hearts it may empierse

With dolours dart for death of Astrophel.
To you I sing and to none other 3 wight,
For well I 4 wot my rymes bene rudely dight.

Yet as they been, if any 5 nycer wit

Shall hap to heare, or covet them to read :
Thinke he, that such are for such ones most fit,

Made not to please the living but the dead.
And if in him found 6 pity ever place,
Let him be moov'd to pity such a case.

A gentle Shepheard borne in ? Arcady,

Of gentlest race that ever shepheard bore,
About the grassie bancks of 8 Hæmony,

Did keepe his sheep, his litle 9 stock and store.
Full carefully he kept them day and night,
In fairest fields; and Astrophel he hight.

Young Astrophel, the pride of shepheards praise,

Young Astrophel, the rusticke lasses love:
Far 10 passing all the pastors of his daies,

In all that seemly shepheard might behove.
In one thing onely fayling of the best,
That he was not so happie as the rest.

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For from the time that first 11 the Nymph, his mother,

Him forth did bring, and taught her lambs to feed; A sclender swaine, excelling far 12 each other,

In comely shape, like her that did him breed, He grew up fast in goodnesse and in grace, And doubly faire woxe both in mynd and face.

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Which daily more and more he did augment,

With gentle usage and demeanure myld: That all mens hearts with secret ravishment

He stole away, and 13 weetingly beguyld. 14 Ne Spight it selfe, that all good things doth spill, Found ought in him, that she could say was ill.

His sports were faire, his ioyance innocent,

Sweet without soure, and 15 honny without gall: And he himselfe seemd made for meriment,

Merily masking both in bowre and hall. There was no pleasure nor delightfull play, 30 When Astrophel so ever was away. For 16 he could pipe, and daunce, and caroll sweet, Emongst the shepheards in their shearing feast;

somers larke that with her song doth greet The dawning day forth comming from the East. And layes of love he also could compose : Thrise happie she, whom he to praise did chose.

As 17

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Full many Maydens often did him woo,

Them to vouchsafe emongst his rimes to name,
Or make for them as he was wont to doo

18 For her that did his heart with love inflame.
For which they promised to dight for him
Gay chapelets of flowers and gyrlonds trim.
And 19 many a Nymph both of the wood and brooke,

Soone as his oaten pipe began to shrill,
Both christall wells and shadie groves forsooke

To heare the charmes of his enchanting skill;
And brought him presents, flowers if it were 20 prime,
Or mellow fruit if it were harvest time.

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But he for none of them did care a whit,

Yet 21 Woodgods for them often sighéd sore; Ne for their gifts unworthie of his wit,

Yet not unworthie of the countries store. For one alone he cared, for one he sight His lifes desire, and his deare loves delight.

Stella the faire, the fairest star in skie,

As faire as Venus or the 22 fairest faire, (A fairer star saw never living eie,)

Shot her sharp pointed beames through purest aire.
Her he did love, her he alone did honor,
His thoughts, his rimes, his songs were all upon her.

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To her he vowd the service of his daies,

On her he spent the riches of his wit;
For her he made 23 hymnes of immortall praise,

For onely her he sung, he thought, he writ.
Her, and but her, of love he worthie deemed ;
For all the rest but litle he esteemed.

Ne her with ydle words alone he wowed,

And verses vaine, (yet verses are not vaine,) But with brave deeds to her sole service vowed, 70 And bold atchievements her did entertaine.

For both in deeds and words he nourtred was,
Both wise and 24 hardie, (too hardie alas !)

In wrestling nimble, and in renning swift,

In shooting steddie, and in swimming strong;
Well made to strike, to throw, to leape, to lift,

And all the sports that shepheards are emong.
In every one he vanquisht every one,
He vanquisht all, and vanquisht was of none.

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Besides, in hunting such felicitie

Or rather infelicitie he found, That every field and forest far away

He sought where 25 salvage beasts do most abound. No beast so salvage but he could it kill, No chace so hard, but he therein had skill.

Such skill, matcht with such courage as he had,

Did prick him forth with proud desire of praise To seek abroad, of daunger nought 26 y' drad,

His mistresse name, and his own fame, to raise. What needeth perill to be sought abroad, 90 Since round about us it 27 doth make aboad?

It fortuned, as he that perilous game

In 28 forreine soyle pursued far away,
Into a forest wide and waste he came,

Where store he heard to be of salvage pray.
So wide a forest and so waste as this,
Nor famous 29 Ardeyn, nor fowle Arlo, is.

There his welwoven toyles, and subtil traines,

He laid the 30 brutish nation to enwrap;
So well he wrought with practise and with paines,

That he of them great troups did soone entrap.
Full happie man (misweening much) was hee,
So rich a spoile within his power to see.

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Eftsoones, all heedlesse of his dearest 31 hale,

Full greedily into the 32 heard he thrust,
To slaughter them, and worke their finall 33 bale,

Least that his 34 toyle should of their troups be brust.
Wide wounds emongst them many one he made,
Now with his sharp borespear, now with his blade.

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His care was all how he them all might kill,

That none might scape, (so partiall unto none :)
35 Ill mynd so much to mynd anothers ill,

As to become unmyndfull of his owne.
But pardon that unto the cruell skies,
That from himselfe to them withdrew his eies.

So as he rag'd emongst the beastly rout,

A cruell beast of most accursed brood
Upon him turnd, (despeyre makes cowards stout,)

And, with fell tooth accustomed to blood,
36 Launched his thigh with so mischievous might,
That it both bone and muscles 37 ryved quight.

I 20

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So deadly was the dint and deep the wound,

And so huge streames of blood thereout did flow,
That he endured not the direfull 38 stound,

But on the cold deare earth himselfe did throw;
And 39 whiles the captive heard his nets did rend,
And, having none 40 to let, to wood did wend.

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