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LOue, that long since hast to thy mighty powre,
Perforce subdude my poore captiuedcaptived hart,
And raging now therein with restlesse stowre,
Doest tyrannize in euerieeverie weaker part;
Faine would I seeke to ease my bitter smart,
By any seruiceservice I might do to thee,
Or ought that else might to thee pleasing bee.
And now t’asswage the force of this new flame,
And make thee more propitious in my need,
I meane to sing the praises of thy name,
And thy victorious conquests to areed;
By which thou madest many harts to bleed
Of mighty Victors, with wyde wounds embrewed,
And by thy cruell darts to thee subdewed.
Onely I feare my wits enfeebled late,
Through the sharpe sorrowes, which thou hast me bred,
Should faint, and words should faile me, to relate
The wondrous triumphs of thy great godhed.
But if thou woulds vouchsafe to ouerspredoverspred
Me with the shadow of thy gentle wing,
I should enabled be thy actes to sing.
Come then, ô come, thou mightie God of louelove,
Out of thy siluersilver bowres and secret blisse,
Where thou doest sit in Venus lap aboueabove,
Bathing thy wings in her ambrosiall kisse,
That sweeter farre then any Nectar is;
Come softly, and my feeble breast inspire
With gentle furie, kindled of thy fire.
And ye sweet Muses, which hauehave often prouedproved
The piercing points of his auengefullavengefull darts;
And ye faire Nimphs, which oftẽtimesoftentimes hauehave louedloved
The cruell worker of your kindly smarts,
Prepare your seluesselves, and open wide your harts,
For to receiuereceive the triumph of your glorie,
That made you merie oft, when ye were sorie.
And ye faire blossomes of youths wanton breed,
Which in the conquests of your beautie bost,
Wherewith your louerslovers feeble eyes you feed,
But steruesterve their harts, that needeth nourture most,
Prepare your seluesselves, to march amongst his host,
And all the way this sacred hymne do sing,
Made in the honor of your SoueraigneSoveraigne king.
GReat god of might, that reignest in the mynd,
And all the bodie to thy hest doest frame,
Victor of gods, subduer of mankynd,
That doest the Lions and fell Tigers tame,
Making their cruell rage thy scornefull game,
And in their roring taking great delight;
Who can expresse the glorie of thy might?
Or who aliuealive can perfectly declare,
The wondrous cradle of thine infancie?
When thy great mother Venus first thee bare,
Begot of Plentie and of Penurie,
Though elder then thine owne natiuitienativitie;
And yet a chyld, renewing still thy yeares;
And yet the eldest of thy heauenlyheavenly Peares.
For ere this worlds still mouingmoving mightie masse,
Out of great Chaos vglyugly prison crept,
In which his goodly face long hidden was
From heauensheavens view, and in deepe darknesse kept,
LoueLove, that had now long time securely slept
In Venus lap, vnarmedunarmed then and naked,
Gan reare his head, by Clotho being waked.
And taking to him wings of his owne heate,
Kindled at first from heauensheavens life-giuing fyre,
He gan to mouemove out of his idle seate,
VVeaklyWeakly at first, but after with desyre
Lifted aloft, he gan to mount vp hyre,
And like fresh Eagle, make his hardie flight
Through all that great wide wast, yet wãtingwanting light.
Yet wanting light to guide his wandring way,
His owne faire mother, for all creatures sake,
Did lend him light from her owne goodly ray:
Then through the world his way he gan to take,
The world that was not till he did it make;
Whose sundrie parts he frõfrom them seluesselves did seuersever,
The which before had lyen confused euerever.
The earth, the ayre, the water, and the fyre,
Then gan to raunge them seluesselves in huge array,
And with contrary forces to conspyre
Each against other, by all meanes they may,
Threatning their owne confusion and decay:
Ayre hated earth, and water hate fyre,
Till LoueLove relented their rebellious yre.
He then them tooke, and tempering goodly well
Their contrary dislikes with louedloved meanes,
Did place them all in order, and compell
To keepe them seluesselves within their sundrie raines,
Together linkt with Adamantine chaines;
Yet so, as that in eueryevery liuingliving wight
They mixe themseluesthemselves, &and shew their kindly might.
So euerever since they firmely hauehave remained,
And duly well obseruedobserved his beheast;
Through which now all these things that are cõtainedcontained
Within this goodly cope, both most and least
Their being hauehave, and dayly are increast,
Through secret sparks of his infused fyre,
Which in the barraine cold he doth inspyre.
Thereby they all do liuelive, and mouedmoved are
To multiply the likenesse of their kynd,
Whilest they seeke onely, without further care,
To quench the flame, which they in burning fynd:
But man, that breathes a more immortall mynd,
Not for lusts sake, but for eternitie,
Seekes to enlarge his lasting progenie.
For hauinghaving yet in his deducted spright,
Some sparks remaining of that heauenlyheavenly fyre,
He is enlumined with that goodly light,
VntoUnto like goodly semblant to aspyre:
Therefore in choice of louelove, he doth desyre
That seemes on earth most heauenlyheavenly, to embrace,
That same is Beautie, borne of heauenlyheavenly race.
For sure of all, that in this mortall frame
Contained is, nought more diuinedivine doth seeme,
Or that resembleth more th’immortall flame
Of heauenlyheavenly light, 116. then: thanthenthan Beauties glorious beame.
What wonder then, if with such rage extreme
Fraile men, whose eyes seek heauenlyheavenly things to see,
At sight thereof so much enrauisht bee?
Which well perceiuingperceiving that imperious boy,
Doth therwith tip his sharp empoisned darts;
Which glancing through the eyes with coũtenãcecountenance coy,
Rest not, till they hauehave pierst the trembling harts,
And kindled flame in all their inner parts,
Which suckes the blood, and drinketh vp the lyfe
Of carefull wretches with consuming griefe.
Thenceforth they playne, &and make ful piteous mone
VntoUnto the author of their balefull bane;
The daies they waste, the nights they grieuegrieve and grone,
Their liues they loath, and heauensheavens light disdaine;
No light but that, whose lampe doth yet remaine
Fresh burning in the image of their eye,
They deigne to see, and seeing it still dye.
The whylst thou tyrant LoueLove doest laugh &and scorne
At their complaints, making their paine thy play;
Whylest they lye languishing like thrals forlorne,
The whyles thou doest triumph in their decay,
And otherwhyles, their dying to delay,
Thou doest emmarble the proud heart of her,
whose louelove before their life they doe prefer.
So hast thou often done (ay me the more)
To me thy vassall, whose yet bleeding hart,
With thousand wounds thou mangled hast so sore
That whole remaines scarce any little part,
Yet to augment the anguish of my smart,
Thou hast enfrosen her disdainefull brest,
That no one drop of pitie there doth rest.
Why then do I this honor vntounto thee,
Thus to ennoble thy victorious name,
Since thou doest shew no fauourfavour vntounto mee,
Ne once mouemove ruth in that rebellious Dame,
Somewhat to slacke the rigour of my flame?
Certes small glory doest thou winne hereby,
To let her liuelive thus free, and me to dy.
But if thou be indeede, as men the call,
The worlds great Parent, the most kind preseruerpreserver
Of liuingliving wights, the souerainesoveraine Lord of all,
How falles it then, that with thy furious feruourfervour,
Thou doest afflict as well the not deseruerdeserver,
As him that doeth thy louelylovely heasts despize,
And on thy subiectssubjects most doest tyrannize?
Yet herein eke thy glory seemeth more,
By so hard handling those which best thee serueserve,
That ere thou doest them vntounto grace restore,
Thou mayest well trie if they will euerever swerueswerve,
And mayest them make it better to deseruedeserve,
And hauinghaving got it, may it more esteeme,
For things hard gotten, men more dearely deeme.
So hard those heauenlyheavenly beauties be ensyred,
As things diuinedivine least passions doe impresse,
The more of stedfast mynds to be admyred,
The more they stayed be on stedfastnesse:
But baseborne mynds such lamps regard the lesse,
Which at first blowing take not hastie fyre,
Such fancies feele no louelove, but loose desyre.
For louelove is Lord of truth and loialtie,
Lifting himselfe out of the lowly dust,
On golden plumes vp to the purest skie,
AboueAbove the reach of loathly sinfull lust,
Whose base affect through cowardly distrust
of his weake wings, dare not to heauenheaven fly,
But like a moldwarpe in the earth doth ly.
His dunghill thoughts, which do themseluesthemselves enure
To dirtie drosse, no higher dare aspyre,
Ne can his feeble earthly eyes endure
The flaming light of that celestiall fyre,
Which kindleth louelove in generous desyre,
And makes him mount aboueabove the natiuenative might
Of heauie earth, vp to the heauensheavens hight.
Such is the powre of that sweet passion,
That it all sordid basenesse doth expell,
And the refyned mynd doth newly fashion
VntoUnto a fairer forme, which now doth dwell
In his high thought, that would it selfe excell;
Which he beholding still with constant sight,
Admires the mirrour of so heauenlyheavenly light.
VVhoseWhose image printing in his deepest wit,
He thereon feeds his hungrie fantasy,
Still full, yet neuernever satisfyde with it,
Like Tantale, that in store doth steruedsterved ly:
So doth he pine in most satiety,
For nought may quench his infinite desyre,
Once kindled through that first conceiuedconceived fyre.
Thereon his mynd affixed wholly is,
Ne thinks on ought, but how it to attaine;
His care, his ioyjoy, his hope is all on this,
That seemes in it all blisses to containe,
In sight whereof, all other blisse seemes vaine.
Thrise happie man, might he the same possesse;
He faines himselfe, and doth his fortune blesse.
And though he do not win his wish to end,
Yet thus farre happie he him selfe doth weene,
That heauensheavens such happie grace did to him lend,
As thing on Earth so heauenlyheavenly, to haue seene,
His harts enshrined faint, his heauensheavens queene,
Fairer then fairest, in his fayning eye,
Whose sole aspect he counts felicitye.
Then forth he casts in his vnquietunquiet thought,
What he may do, her fauourfavour to obtain;
What brauebrave exploit, what perill hardly wrought,
What puissant conquest, what aduenturons paine,
May please her best, and grace vntounto him gaine:
He dreads no danger, nor misfortune feares,
His faith, his fortune, in his breast he beares.
Thou art his god, thou art his mightie guyde,
Thou being blind, letst him not see his feares,
But cariest him to that which he hath eyde,
Through seas, through flames, through thousand swords and speares:
Ne ought so strong that may his force withstand,
With which thou armest his resistless hand.
Witnesse Leander, in the Euxine waueswaves,
And stout AEneas in the TroianeTrojane fyre,
Achilles preassing through the Phrygian glaiuesglaives,
And Orpheus daring to prouokeprovoke the yre
Of damned fiends, to get his louelove retyre:
For both through heauenheaven &and hell thou makest way,
To win them worship which to thee obay.
And if by all these perils and these paynes,
He may but purchase lyking in her eye,
What heauensheavens of ioyjoy, then to himselfe he faynes,
Eftsoones he wypes quite out of memory,
What euerever ill before he did aby,
Had it bene death, yet would he die againe,
To liuelive thus happie as her grace to gaine.
Yet when he hath found fauourfavour to his will,
He nathemore can so contented rest,
But forceth further on, and striuethstriveth still
T’approch more neare, till in her inmost brest,
He may enbosomd bee, and louedloved best;
And yet not best, but to be lou’dlov’d alone,
For louelove can not endure a Paragone.
The feare whereof, ô how doth it torment
His troubled mynd with more than hellish paine!
And to his fayning fansie represent
Sights neuernever seene, and thousand shadowes vaine,
To breake his sleepe, and waste his ydle braine;
Thou that hast neuernever lou’dlov’d canst not beleeuebeleeve,
Least part of th’euils which poore louerslovers greeuegreeve.
The gnawing enuieenvie, the hart-fretting feare,
The vaine surmizes, the distrustfull showes,
The false reports that flying tales doe beare,
The doubts, the daungers, the delayes, the woes,
The fayned friends, the vnassuredunassured foes,
With thousands more then any tongue can tell,
Doe make a louerslovers life a wretches hell.
Yet is there one more cursed 266. then: thanthenthan they all,
That cancker worme, that monster Gelosie,
Which eates the hart, and feedes vponupon the gall,
Turning all louesloves delight to miserie,
Through feare of loosing his felicitie.
Ah Gods, that euerever ye that monster placed
In gentle louelove, that all his ioyesjoyes defaced.
By these, ô LoueLove, thou doest thy entrance make,
VntoUnto thy heauenheaven, and doest the more endeere,
Thy pleasures vntounto those which them partake,
As after stormes when clouds begin to cleare,
The Sunne more bright &and glorious doth appeare;
So thou thy folke, through paines of Purgatorie,
Dost beare vnto thy blisse, and heauensheavens glorie.
There thou them placest in a Paradize
Of all delight, and ioyousjoyous happie rest,
Where they doe feede on Nectar heauenlyheavenly wize,
With Hercules and Hebe, and the rest
Of Venus dearlings, through her bountie blest,
And lie like Gods in yuorieyvorie beds arayd,
With rose and lillies ouerover them displayd.
There with thy daughter Pleasure they doe play
Their hurtlesse sports, without rebuke or blame,
And in her snowy bosome boldly lay
Their quiet heads, deuoyddevoyd of guilty shame,
After full ioyancejoyance of their gentle game,
Then her they crowne their Goddesse and their Queene,
And decke with floures thy altars well beseene.
Ay me, deare Lord, that euerever I might hope,
For all the paines and woes that I endure,
To come at length vntounto the wished scope
Of my desire, or might my selfe assure,
That happie port for euerever to recure.
Then would I thinke these paines no paines at all,
And all my woes to be but penance small.
Then would I sing of thine immortall praise
An heauenlyheavenly Hymne, such as the Angels sing,
And thy triumphant name then would I raise
BoueBove all the gods, thee onely honoring,
My guide, my God, my victor, and my king;
Till then, dread Lord, vouchsafe to take of me
This simple song, thus fram’d in praise of thee.
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The toggles above every page allow you to determine both the degree and the kind of editorial intervention present in the text as you read it. They control, as well, the display of secondary materials—collational notes, glosses, and links to commentary.

Textual Changes

The vagaries of early modern printing often required that lines or words be broken. Toggling Modern Lineation on will reunite divided words and set errant words in their lines.

Off: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, (blest. And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely (FQ I.ii.18.8-9) On: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely blest.

Toggling Expansions on will undo certain early modern abbreviations.

Off: Sweet slõbring deaw, the which to sleep them biddes: (FQ I.i.36.4)

Toggling Modern Characters on will convert u, v, i, y, and vv to v, u, j, i, and w. (N.B. the editors have silently replaced ſ with s, expanded most ligatures, and adjusted spacing according contemporary norms.)

Off: And all the world in their subiection held, Till that infernall feend with foule vprore (FQ I.i.5.6-7) On: And all the world in their subjection held, Till that infernall feend with foule uprore

Toggling Lexical Modernizations on will conform certain words to contemporary orthographic standards.

Off: But wander too and fro in waies vnknowne (FQ I.i.10.5) On: But wander to and fro in waies vnknowne.

Toggling Emendations on will correct obvious errors in the edition on which we base our text and modernize its most unfamiliar features.

Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine (FQ I.i.14.9) 14.9. Most lothsom] this edn.; Mostlothsom 1590

(The text of 1590 reads Mostlothsom, while the editors’ emendation reads Most lothsom.)


Toggling Collation Notes on will highlight words that differ among printings.

And shall thee well rewarde to shew the place, (FQ I.i.31.5) 5. thee] 1590; you 15961609

(The text of 1590 reads thee, while the texts of 1596 and 1609 read you.)

Toggling Commentary Links on will show links to the editors’ commentary.

Toggling Line Numbers on will show the number of the line within each stanza.

Toggling Stanza Numbers on will show the number of the stanza within each canto.

Toggling Glosses on will show the definitions of unfamiliar words or phrases.

To my long approoved and singular good frende, Master G.H. (Letters I.1) 1. long aprooved: tried and true, found trustworthy over a long period