Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Faerie Queene (Selection)
  • Author: Edmund Spenser
  • Editor: Michael Best

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Faerie Queene (Selection)

    5Who now shall give unto me words and sound
    Equal unto this haughty enterprise?
    Or who shall lend me wings, with which from ground
    Lowly verse may loftily arise
    And lift itself unto the highest skies?
    10More ample spirit than hitherto was wont
    Here needs me, whiles the famous ancestries
    Of my most dreaded Sovereign I recount,
    By which all earthly princes she doth far surmount.
    Ne under sun, that shines so wide and fair,
    15Whence all that lives does borrow life and light,
    Lives aught that to her lineage may compare,
    Which though from earth it be derivèd right,
    Yet doth itself stretch forth to heavens height,
    And all the world with wonder overspread;
    20A labor huge, exceeding far my might.
    How shall frail pen, with fear disparagèd,
    Conceive such sovereign glory and great bountihood?
    Argument worthy of Mœonian quill,
    Or rather worthy of great Phoebus' rote,
    25Whereon the ruins of great Ossa hill,
    And triumphs of Phlegræan Jove he wrote,
    That all the Gods admired his lofty note.
    But if some relish of that heavenly lay
    His learnèd daughters would to me report,
    30To deck my song withal I would assay,
    Thy name, ô sovereign Queen, to blazon far away.
    Thy name, ô sovereign Queen, thy realm and race,
    From this renownèd prince derivèd are,
    Who mightily upheld that royal mace
    35Which now thou bear'st, to thee descended far
    From mighty kings and conquerors in war;
    Thy fathers and great-grandfathers of old,
    Whose noble deeds above the northern star
    Immortal fame forever hath enrolled,
    40As in that old man's book they were in order told.
    The land, which warlike Britons now possess
    And therein have their mighty empire raised,
    In antique times was savage wilderness,
    Unpeopled, unmanured, unproved, unpraised,
    45Ne was it island then, ne was it paysed
    Amid the ocean waves, ne was it sought
    Of merchants far for profits therein 'praised,
    But was all desolate, and of some thought
    By sea to have been from the Celtic mainland brought.