Prothalamion by Edmund Spenser English poet

Prothalamion

PROTHALAMION is an interesting old poem. By English Poet Edmund Spenser born around 1552 – died 1599. Published in The Penguin Book of English Verse.


As it is old English, I have left the spellings as they are written. Full ten verses are put down exactly as they are in the book – it is not my typing!!!
Edited by John Hayward
Book Club Associates London 1956 and 1978


Prothalamion
Calme was the day, and through the thrembling ayre,
Sweete breathing Zephyrus did softly play
A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay
Hot Titans beames, which then did glyster fayre:
When I whom sullein care,
Through discontent of my long fuitlesse stay
In Princes Court, and expectation vayne
Of idle hopes, which still doe fly away,
Like empty shaddowes, did afflict my brayne,
Walkt forth to ease my payne
Along the shoare of silver streaming Themmes,
Whose rutty Bancke, the which his River hemmes,
Was paynted all with variable flowers,
And all the meads adornd with daintie gemmes,
Fit to decke maydens bowres,
And crowne their Paramours,
Against the Brydale day, which is not long:
Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.

There, in a Meadow, by the Rivers side,
A Flocke of Nymphes I chaunced to espy,
All lovely Daughters of the Flood thereby,
With goodly greenish locks all loose untyde,
As each had been a Bryde,
And each one had a little wicker basket,
Make of fine twigs entrayled curiously,
In which they gathered flowers to fill their flasket:
And with fine Fingers, cropped full feateously
The tender stalkes on hye.
Of every sort, which in that Meadow grew,
They gathered some; the Violet pallid blew,
The little Dazie, that at evening closes,
The virgin Lillie, and the Prmrose trew,
With store of vermeil Roses,
To decke their Bridegromes posies,
Against the Brydale day, which was no long:
Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.

With that, I saw two Swannes of goodly hewe,
Come softly swimming downe along the Lee;
Two fairer Birds I yet did never see:
The snow which doth the top of Pindus strew,
Did never whiter shew,
Nor Jove himself when he a Swan would be
For love of Leda, whiter did appeare:
Yet Leda was they say as white as he,
Yet not so white as these, nor nothing neare;
So purely white they were,
That even the gentle stream, the which them bare,
Seem’d foule to them, and had his billowes spare
To wet their silken feathers, least they might
Soyle their fayre plumes with water not so fayre,
And marre their beauties bright,
That shone as heaves light,
Against their Brydale day, which was not long:
Sweet Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.

Eftsoones the Nymphes, which now had Flowers their fill,
Ran all in haste, to see that silver brood,
As they came floating on the Christal Flood.
Whom when they sawe, they stood amazed still,
Their wondring eyes to fill,
Them seem’d they never saw a sight so fayre,
Of Fowles so lovely, that they sure did deeme,
Them heavenly borne, or to be that some payre
Which through the Skie draw Venus silver Teeme,
For sure they did not seeme
To be begot of any eathly Seede,
But rather Angels or of Angels breede:
Yet were they bred of Somers-heat they say,
In sweetest Season, when each Flower and weede
The earth did fresh array,
So fresh they seem’d as day,
Even as their Brydale day, which was not long:
Sweete Themmes run softly, till I end my Song.

Then forth they all out of their backets drew,
Great store of Flowres, the honour of the field,
That to the sense did fragrant odours yield,
All which upon those goodly Birds they threw,
And all the Waves did strew,
That like old Peneus Waters they did seeme,
When downe along by pleasnnt Tempes shore
Scatted with Flowres, through Thessaly they streeme,
That they appeare athrough LIllies plenteous store,
Like a Brydes Chamber flore:
Two of those Nymphes meane while, two Garlands bound,
Of freshest Flowres, which in that Mead they found,
The which presenting all in trim Array,
Their snowy Foreheads therewithall they crownd,
Whil’st one did sing this Lay,
Prepar’d against that Day,
Against their Brydale day, which was not long:
Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.

Ye gentle Birdes, the worlds faire ornament,
And heavens glorie, whom this happie hower
Doth leade unto your lovers blissfull bower,
Joy may you have and gentle hearts content
Of your loves couplement:
And let faire Venus, that is Queene of love,
With her heart-quelling Sonne upon you smile,
Whose smile they say, hath virtue to remove
All Loves dislike, and friendships faultie guile
For ever to assoile.
Let endlesse Peace your steadfast hearts accord,
And blessed Plentie wait upon your bord,
And let your bed with pleasures chase abound,
That fruitful issue may to you afford,
Which may our foes confound,
And make your joys redound,
Upon your Brydale day, which is not long:
Sweete Themmes run softlie, till I end my Song.

So ended she, and all the rest around
To her redoubled that her undersong,
Which said, their brydale daye should not be long.
And gentle Eccho from the neighbour ground,
Their accents did resound.
So forth those joyous Birdes did passe along,
Adowne the Lee, that to them murmured low,
As he would speake, but that he lackt a tong
Yet did by signes his glad affection show,
Making his streame run slow.
And all the foule which in his flood did dwell
Gan flock about these twaine, that did excel
The rest, so far, as Cynthis doth shend
The lesser starres. So they enranged well,
Did on those two attend,
And their best service lend,
Against their wedding day, which was not long:
Sweete Themmes run softly, till I end my song.

At length they all to mery London came,
To mery London, my most kindly Nurse,
That to me gave this Lifes first native sourse:
Though from another place I take my name,
An house of auncient fame.
There when they came, whereas those bricky towres,
The which on Themmes broke aged backe doe ryde,
Where now the studious Lawyers have their bowers
There whylone wont the Templer Knights to byde,
Till they decayd through pride:
Next whereunto there stande a stately place,
Where oft I gained giftes and goodly grace
Of that great Lord, which therein wont to dwell,
Whose want too well not feeles my freendles case:
But Ah here fits not well
Olde woes but joys to tell
Against the bridale daye, which is not long:
Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.

Yet therein now doth lodge a noble Peer,
Great Englands glory and the Worlds wide wonder,
Whose dreadfull name, late through all Spaine did thunder,
And Hercules two pillors standing neere,
Did make to quake and feare:
Faire branch of Honor, flower of Chevalrie,
That fillest England with thy triumphs fame,
Joy have thou of thy noble victorie,
And endlesse happinesse of thine owne name
That promiseth the same:
That through thy prowesse and victorious armes,
Thy country may be freed from forraine harmes:
And great Elisaes glorious name may ring
Through al the world, fil’d with thy wide Alarmes,
Which some brave muse may sing,
To ages following,
Upon the Brydale day, which is not long:
Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.

From those high Towers, this noble Lord issuing,
Like Radiant Hesper when his golden hayre
In th’Ocean billowes he hath Bathed fayre,
Descended to the Rivers open vewing,
With a great traine ensuing.
Above the rest were goodly to bee seene
Two gentle Knights of lovely face and feature
Beseeming well the bower of anie Queene,
With gifts of wit and ornaments of nature,
Fit for so goodly stature:
That like the twins of Jove they seem’d in sight,
Which decke the Bauldricke of the Heavens bright.
They two forth pacing to the Rivers side,
Received those two faire Brides, their Loves delight,
Which at th’appointed tyde,
Each one did make his Bryde,
Against their Brydale day, which is not long:
Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.

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