1595
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

L'Envoy to Narcissus.

Cephalus and Procris. Narcissus.

Thomas Edwards (fl.1595)


Edmund Spenser ("Collyn was a mighty swaine") appears with Sir Philip Sidney in a catalogue of poets.

R. M. Cummings: "Edwards is enthusiastic for Spenser, whose influence is pervasive in his own verse" Critical Heritage (1971) 86.

Trevor Ross: "It seemed less important, in praises lavished on the poet, that Spenser had proven himself a unique poet in The Faerie Queene that that, by producing a national epic, he had led the way towards fostering a thriving literary culture. Spenser's influence was measured by how much his fellow pastoralists or even the state could use his work productively [quotes Edwards]" The English Literary Canon (1998) 99-100.



Scarring beautie all bewitching,
Tell a tale to hurt it selfe,
Tels a tale how men are fleeting,
All of Love and his power,
Tels how womens shewes are pelfe,
And their constancies as flowers.

Aie me pretie wanton boy,
What a sire did hatch thee forth,
To shew thee of the worlds annoy,
Ere thou kenn'st anie pleasure:
Such a favour's nothing worth,
To touch not to taste the treasure.

Poets that divinely dreampt,
Telling wonders visedly,
My slow Muse have quite benempt,
And my rude skonce have aslackt,
So I cannot cunningly,
Make an image to awake.

Ne the frostie lims of age,
Uncouth shape (mickle wonder)
To tread with them in equipage,
As quaint light blearing eies,
Come my pen broken under,
Magick-spels such devize.

Collyn was a mighty swaine,
In his power all do flourish,
We are shepheards but in vaine,
There is but one tooke the charge,
By his toile we do nourish,
And by him are inlarg'd.

He unlockt Albions glorie,
He twas tolde of Sidneys honor,
Onely he of our stories,
Must be sung in greatest pride,
In an Eglogue he hath wonne her,
Fame and honor on his side.

Deale we not with Rosamond,
For the world our sawe will coate,
Amintas and Leander's gone,
Oh deere sonnes of stately kings,
Blessed be your nimble throats,
That so amorously could sing.

Adon deafly masking thro,
Stately troupes rich conceited,
Shew'd he well deserved to,
Loves delight on him to gaze,
And had not love her selfe intreated,
Other nymphs had sent him baies.

Eke in purple roabes distaind,
Amid'st the Center of this clime,
I have heard saie doth remaine,
One whose power floweth far,
That should have bene of our rime,
The onely object and the star.

Well could his bewitching pen,
Done the Muses obiects to us,
Although he differs much from men,
Tilting under Frieries,
Yet his golden art might woo us,
To have honored him with baies.

He that gan up to tilt,
Babels fresh remembrance,
Of the worlds-wracke how twas spilt,
And a world of stories made,
In a catalogues semblance
Hath alike the Muses staide.

What remaines peerelesse men,
That in Albions confines are,
But eterniz'd with the pen,
In sacred Poems and sweet laies,
Should be sent to Nations farre,
The greatnes of faire Albions praise.

Let them be audacious proude,
Whose devises are of currant,
Everie stampe is not allow'd,
Yet the coine may prove as good,
Yourselves know your lines have warrant,
I will talke of Robin Hood.

And when all is done and past,
Narcissus in another sort,
And gaier clothes shall be pla'st,
Eke perhaps in good plight,
In meane while I'le make report,
Of your winnings that do write.

Hence a golden tale might grow,
Of due honor and the praise,
That longs to Poets, but the show
Were not worth the while to spend,
Sufficeth that they merit baies,
Saie what I can it must have end,
Then thus faire Albion flourish so,
As Thames may nourish as did Po.

[Buckley (1882) 61-64]