Edmund Spenser




Prothalamion

In Honor of the Double Mariage of the Two Honourable
and Vertuous ladies, the Ladie Elizabeth and the Ladie
Katherine Somerset, Daughters to the Right Honourable
The Earle of Worcester, and  Espoused to the Two
Worthie Gentlemen M. Henry Guilford, and M. William
Peter, Esquyers.

Calme was the day, and through the trembling ayre
Sweete-breathing Zephyrus did softly play
A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay
Hot Titan's beames, which then did glyster faire;
When I (whom sullein care,
Through discontent of my long fruitlesse stay
In Princes court, and expectation vayne
Of idle hopes, which still doe fly away,
Like empty shadowes, did afflict my brayne,)
Walkt forth to ease my payne
Along the shoare of silver streaming Themmes;
Whose rutty Banck, the which his River hemmes
Was paynted all with variable flowers,
And all the meades adornd with daintie gemmes
Fit to decke maydens' bowres,
And crowne their Paramours
Against the Brydal day, which is not long:
      Sweet 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 bene a Bryde;
And each one had a little wicker basket,
Made of fine twigs, entrayléd curiously,
In which they gathered flowers to fill their flasket,
And with fine Fingers cropt full featously*           *well-formed, handsome, aesthetically pleasing - obsolete
The tender stalkes on hye.
Of every sort, which in that Meadow grew,
They gathered some; the Violet, pallid blew*,         *blue
The little Dazy, that at evening closes,
The virgin Lillie, and the Primrose trew,*         *true
With store of vermeil Roses,
To decke their Bridegromes posies
Against the Brydale day, which was not long:
      Sweet 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 himselfe, 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 streame, the which them bare,
Seemed foule to them, and bade his billowes spare
To wet their silken feathers, lest they might
Soyle their fayre plumes with water not so fayre,
And marre their beauties bright,
That shone as heaven's 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, *soon after - or once again; anew. - archaic
Ran all in haste, to see that silver brood.
As they came floating on the Cryital Flood;
Whom when they sawe, they stood amazéd still,
Their wondering 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 same payre
Which through the Skie draw Venus' silver Teeme;
For sure they did not seeme
To be begot of any earthly 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 aray;
So fresh they seem’d as day,
Even as their Brydale day, which was not long:
      Sweete Themmes! runne softly, till I end my Song.

Then forth they all out of their baskets drew
Great store of Flowers, the honour of the field,
That to the sense did fragrant odours yeild,
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 pleasant Tempes shore,
Scattred with Flowres, through Thessaly they streeme,
That they appeare, through 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 snowie Foreheads therewithal they crownd,
Whil’st one did sing this Lay,
Prepar’d against that Day,
Against their Brydale day, which was not long:
      Sweet Themmes! runne softlie, till I end my Song.

'Ye gentle Birdes! the worlds faire ornament,
And heaven's glorie, whom this happie hower
Doth leade unto your lovers blisful bower,
Joy may you have, and gentle heart's 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 vertue to remove
All Loves dislike, and friendship's faultie guile
For ever to assoile.
Let endlesse Peace your steadfast hearts accord,
And blesséd Plentie wait upon your bord;
And let your bed with pleasures chast abound,
That fruitfull issue may to you afford,
Which may your foes confound,
And make your joyes redound
Upon your Brydale Day, which is not long:
      Sweet Themmes! runne 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 murmurde low,
As he would speake, but that he lacks a tong,
Yet did by signes his glad affection show,
Making his stream run slow.
And all the foule which in his flood did dwell
Gan flock about these twaine, that did excell
The rest, so far as Cynthia doth shend
The lesser starres. So they, enrangéd well,
Did on those two attend,
And their best service lend
Against their wedding day, which was not long:
      Sweet Themmes! run softly, till I end my Song.

At length they all to mery London came,
To mery London, my most kyndly 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 brode agéd backe doe ryde,
Where now the studious Lawyers have their bowers,
There whylome* wont the Templar Knights to byde,         *formerly
Till they decayd through pride:
Next Thereunto there standes a stately place,
Where oft I gayned gifts and goodly grace
Of that great Lord, which therein wont to dwell,
Whose want too well now feeles my freendles case;
But ah, here fits not well
Olde woes, but joyes, to tell
Against the brydale day, which is not long:
      Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my Song.

Yet therein now doth lodge a noble Peer,
Great England's glory, and the Worlds wide wonder,
Whose dreadfull name late through all Spaine did thunder,
And Hercules two pillars standing neere
Did make to quake and feare:
Faire branch of Honor, flower of Chivalrie!
That fillest England with thy triumphes 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 Elizaes glorious name may ring
Through all 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:
      Sweet Themmes! runne softlie, 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 bathÄ“d 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 Baldricke of the Heavens bright:
They two, forth pacing to the Rivers side,
Received those two faire Brydes, 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.


spoken = Julian Lopez-Morillas