Astrophel - Poem by Edmund Spenser
A Pastorall Elegie vpon the death of the most Noble and valorous Knight, Sir Philip Sidney.
Dedicated To the most beautifull and vertuous Ladie, the Countesse of Essex.
Shepheards that wont on pipes of oaten reed,
Oft times to plaint your loues concealed smart:
And with your piteous layes haue learnd 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 mournfulst verse that euer man heard tell:
To you whose softened hearts it may empierse,
VVith dolours dart for death of Astrophel.
To you I sing and to none other wight,
For well I wot my rymes bene rudely dight.
Yet as they been, if any nycer wit
Shall hap to heare, or couet them to read:
Thinke he, that such are for such ones most fit,
Made not to please the liuing but the dead.
And if in him found pity euer place,
Let him be moou'd to pity such a case.
A Gentle Shepheard borne in Arcady,
Of gentlest race that euer shepheard bore:
About the grassie bancks of Hæmony,
Did keepe his sheep, his litle 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 loue:
Far passing all the pastors of his daies,
In all that seemly shepheard might behoue.
In one thing onely fayling of the best,
That he was not so happie as the rest.
For from the time that first the Nymph his mother
Him forth did bring, and taught her lambs to feed:
A sclender swaine excelling far each other,
In comely shape, like her that did him breed.
He grew vp fast in goodnesse and in grace,
And doubly faire wox both in mynd and face.
Which daily more and more he did augment,
With gentle vsage and demeanure myld:
That all mens hearts with secret rauishment
He stole away, and weetingly beguyld.
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 sowre, and honny without gall:
And he himselfe seemd made for meriment,
Merily masking both in bowre and hall.
There was no pleasure nor delightfull play,
When Astrophel so euer was away.
For he could pipe and daunce, and caroll sweet,
Emongst the shepheards in their shearing feast:
As Somers larke that with her song doth greet,
The dawning day forth comming from the East.
And layes of loue he also could compose,
Thrise happie she, whom he to praise did chose.
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,
For her that did his heart with loue inflame.
For which they promised to dight for him,
Gay chapelets of flowers and gyrlonds trim.
And many a Nymph both of the wood and brooke,
Soone as his oaten pipe began to shrill:
Both christall wells and shadie groues forsooke,
To heare the charmes of his enchanting skill.
And brought him presents, flowers if it were prime,
Or mellow fruit if it were haruest time.
But he for none of them did care a whit,
Yet wood Gods for them oft[en] sighed sore:
Ne for their gifts vnworthie of his wit,
Yet not vnworthie of the countries store.
For one alone he cared, for one he sight,
His lifes desire, and his deare loues delight.
Stella the faire, the fairest star in skie,
As faire as Venus or the fairest faire:
A fairer star saw neuer liuing eie,
[S]hot her sharp pointed beames through purest aire.
Her he did loue, her he alone did honor,
His thoughts, his rimes, his songs were all vpõ her.
To her he vowd the seruice of his daies,
On her he spent the riches of his wit:
For her he made hymnes of immortall praise,
Of onely her he sung, he thought, he writ.
Her, and but her of loue he deemed,
For all the rest but little he esteemed.
Ne her with ydle words alone he wowed,
And verses vaine (yet verses are not vaine)
But with braue deeds to her sole seruice vowed,
And bold achieuements her did entertaine.
For both in deeds and words he nourtred was,
Both wise and 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 euery one he vanquisht euery one,
He vanquist all, and vanquisht was of none.
Besides, in hunting such felicitie,
Or rather infelicitie he found:
That euery field and forest far away,
He sought, where saluage beasts do most abound.
No beast so saluage 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 foorth with proud desire of praise:
To seek abroad, of daunger nought y'drad,
His mistresse name, and his owne fame to raise.
What need[eth] perill to be sought abroad,
Since round about vs, it doth make aboad?
It fortuned as he, that perlous game
In forreine soyle pursued far away:
Into a forest wide, and waste he came
Where store he heard to be of saluage pray.
So wide a forest and so waste as this,
Nor famous Ardeyn, nor fowle Arlo is.
There his welwouen toyles and subtil traines,
He laid the 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.
Eftsoones all heedlesse of his dearest hale,
Full greedily into the heard he thrust:
To slaughter them, and work their finall bale,
Least that his tolye should of their troups be brust.
Wide wounds emongst them many a one he made,
Now with his sharp borespeare, now with his blade.
His care was all how he them all might kill,
That none might scape (so partiall vnto none)
Ill mynd so much to mynd anothers ill,
As to become vnmyndfull of his owne.
But pardon that vnto the cruell skies,
That from himselfe to them withdrew his eies.
So as he rag'd emongst that beastly rout,
A cruell beast of most accursed brood:
Vpon him turnd (despeyre makes cowards stout)
And with fell tooth accustomed to blood,
Launched his thigh with so mischieuous might,
That it both bone and muscles ryued quight.
So deadly was the dint and deep the wound,
And so huge streames of blood thereout did flow:
That he endured not the direfull stound,
But on the cold deare earth himselfe did throw.
The whiles the captiue heard his nets did rend,
And hauing none to let, to wood did wend.
Ah where were ye this while his shepheard peares,
To whom aliue was nought so deare as hee:
And ye faire Mayds the matches of his yeares,
Which in his grace did boast you most to bee?
Ah where were ye, when he of you had need,
To stop his wound that wondrously did bleed?
Ah wretched boy the shape of dreryhead,
And sad ensample of mans suddein end:
Full litle faileth but thou shalt be dead,
Vnpitied, vnplaynd, of foe or frend.
Whilest none is nigh, thine eylids vp to close,
And kisse thy lips like faded leaues of rose.
A sort of shepheards sewing of the chace,
As they the forest raunged on a day:
By fate or fortune came vnto the place,
Where as the lucklesse boy yet bleeding lay.
Yet bleeding lay, and yet would still haue bled,
Had not good hap those shepheards thether led.
They stopt his wound (too late to stop it was)
And in their armes they softly did him reare:
Tho (as he wild) vnto his loued lasse,
His dearest loue him dolefully did beare.
The dolefulst beare that euer man did see,
Was Astrophel, but dearest vnto mee.
She when she saw her loue in such a plight,
With crudled blood and filthie gore deformed:
That wont to be with flowers and gyrlonds dight,
And her deare fauours dearly well adorned
Her face, the fairest face that eye mote see,
She likewise did deforme like him to bee.
Her yellow locks that shone so bright and long,
As Sunny beames in fairest somers day:
She fiersly tore, and with outragious wrong
From her red cheeks the roses rent away.
And her faire brest the threasury of ioy,
She spoyld therof, and filled with annoy.
His palled face impictured with death,
She bathed oft with teares and dried oft:
And with sweet kisses suckt the wasting breath,
Out of his lips like lillies pale and soft.
And oft she cald to him, who answerd nought,
But onely by his lookes did tell his thought.
The rest of her impatient regret,
And piteous mone the which she for him made:
No toong can tell, nor any forth can set,
But he whose heart like sorrow did inuade.
At last when paine his vitall powres had spent,
His wasted life her weary lodge forwent.
Which when she saw, she staied not a whit,
But after him did make vntimely haste:
Forth with her ghost out of her corpse did flit,
And followed her make like Turtle chaste.
To proue that death their hearts cannot diuide,
Which liuing were in loue so firmly tide.
The Gods which all things see, this same beheld,
And pittying this paire of louers trew:
Transformed them there lying on the field,
Into one flowre that is both red and blew.
It first growes red, and then to blew doth fade,
Like Astrophel, which thereinto was made.
And in the midst thereof a star appeares,
As fairly formd as any star in skyes:
Resembling Stella in her freshest yeares,
Forth darting beames of beautie from her eyes,
And all the day it standeth full of deow,
Which is the teares, that from her eyes did flow.
That hearbe of some, Starlight is cald by name,
Of others Penthia, though not so well:
But thou where euer thou dost finde the same,
From this day forth do call it Astrophel.
And when so euer thou it vp doest take,
Do pluck it softly for that shepheards sake.
Hereof when tydings far abroad did passe,
The shepheards all which loued him full deare:
And sure full deare of all he loued was,
Did thether flock to see what they did heare.
And when that pitteous spectacle they vewed,
The same with bitter teares they all bedewed.
And euery one did make exceeding mone,
With inward anguish and great griefe opprest:
And euery one did weep and waile and mone,
And meanes deuiz'd to shew his sorrow best.
That from that houre since first on grassie greene,
Shepheards kept sheep, was not like mourning seen..
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