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Envie could touch for vertuous life and skill
Behold the sacred 63 Pales, where with haire
And with shrill cries, beating their whitest brests,
Phillisides is dead! O dolefull ryme!
Why should by toong expresse thee? Who is left
To give the fatall stroke. The starres they blame
Where is become thy wonted happie state,
Thou with him yodest; and with him didst scale
100 The sea-gods all are set; from their moist caves
Of the dead corps passing through his kingdome. And all the heads, with 69 cypres gyrlonds crown'd With wofull shrikes salute him great and small, Eke wailfull Echo, forgetting her deare 110 Narcissus, their last accents doth resownd.
Colin sings again.
Phillisides is dead! O lucklesse age;
O widow world; 70 O brookes and fountains cleere;
O hills, O dales, O woods, that oft have rong
With his sweet caroling, which could asswage
Lycon sings again.
Phillisides is dead! O happie sprite,
That now in heav'n with blessed soules doest bide:
That thy departure to us both hath bred;
And withred grasse with cypres boughes he spred; Behold these 75 floures which on thy grave we strew; 150 Which, faded, shew the givers faded state,
(Though eke they shew their fervent zeale and pure,)
Colin. 76 The sun (lo!) hastned hath his face to steep 160 In western waves; and th' aire with stormy showres Warnes us to drive homewards our silly sheep: Lycon, lett's rise, and take of them good keep. Virtute summa; cætera fortuna.
I. Edmund Spenser was born in London about the year 1552. In 1569 he entered Pembroke College, Cambridge, where in due course of time he received the degree of M.A. It was probably at college that he became acquainted with Sir Philip Sidney, by whom he was afterwards introduced to the queen's favorite, the Earl of Leicester. In 1579 he published his Shepheards Calender, which placed him at once in the front rank of English poets. In 1580, as secretary to Lord Grey de Wilton, he went to Ireland where, with the exception of two visits to England, he
remained during the rest of his life. The first three books of the Faerie Queene were published in 1590, and the second three in 1596. In 1598 an insurrection occurred in Ireland, and Kilcolman Castle, Spenser's residence, was burned by the rebels, he himself with his family escaping with great difficulty. Early in the following year, broken-hearted and in great distress, he died in King Street, Westminster.
"Spenser was not only a great poet himself, but in a singular degree was the cause that is, the immediate cause of poetry in others.".
"Of all poets, Spenser is the most poetical." - Hazlitt.
II. Ludovick Brysket, the author of the Pastorall Aeglogue, was Spenser's predecessor in the service of the Council of Munster, Ireland, and an intimate friend not only of the poet, but doubtless of Sir Philip Sidney also. It is from a pamphlet written by him, entitled A Discourse of Civil Life and published in 1606, that we have the first trustworthy account of the composition of the Faerie Queene. Of his poetical works we have only the two pieces included in the tribute to Sidney mentioned below.
For the Introduction I am indebted largely to Piλopiλws, the biographer of Sir Philip Sidney, whose quaint sketch of the life of his friend forms the preface to the latter's Arcadia in the edition of 1674.
The elegy entitled Astrophel is Spenser's contribution to a collection of memorial poems on the death of Sir Philip Sidney, written probably in 1587, but not published until 1595. It is made to serve, in fact, as an introduction to a poetical "handfull of flowers that decked the mournfull herse of Sidney"; for, after Spenser,
'full many other moe,
As everie one in order loved him best,
Gan dight themselves t'expresse their inward woe,
This collection included The Dolefull Lay of Clorinda, probably by Sidney's sister Mary, the Countess of Pembroke; The Mourning Muse of Thestylis, and A Pastorall Aeglogue, by Ludovick Brysket, “a swaine of gentle wit and daintie sweet device, whom Astrophel full deare did entertaine"; An Elegie, or Friends Passion for his Astrophel, by Matthew