1595
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[The Lay of Clorinda.]

Colin Clouts Come Home Againe. By Ed. Spencer.

Edmund Spenser


Katherine Duncan-Jones: "A 'doleful lay' imagined as sung by 'his sister that Clorinda hight' — that is, Sidney's sister, Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (sigs Gir-G3r). It has often been suggested that this was written by the Countess herself, but stylistic evidence and the close links between the two poems make it virtually certain that Spenser is the author" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 74.

Dennis Kay: "I am persuaded by the arguments that have led Margaret Hannay to include the Lay in her forthcoming edition of the Countess of Pembroke's writings. The parallels with Spenser's other writings cited by the [Spenser] Variorum editors indicate that she was the first of the Spenserian poets" Melodious Tears (1990) 53n.



Ay me, to whom shall I my case complaine,
That may compassion my impatient griefe?
Or where shall I enfold my inward paine,
That my enriven heart may find reliefe?
Shall I unto the heavenly powres it show?
Or unto earthly men that dwell below?

To heavens? ah they alas the authors were,
And workers of my unremedied wo:
For they foresee what to us happens here,
And they foresaw, yet suffred this be so.
From them comes good, from them comes also il,
That which they made, who can them warne to spill.

To men? ah they alas like wretched bee,
And subject to the heavens ordinance:
Bound to abide what ever they decree,
Their best redresse, is their best sufferance.
How then can they, like wretched, comfort mee,
The which no lesse, need comforted to bee?

Then to my selfe will I my sorrow mourne,
Sith none alive like sorrowfull remaines:
And to my selfe my plaints shall back retourne,
To pay their usury with doubled paines.
The woods, the hills, the rivers shall resound
The mournfull accent of my sorrowes ground.

Woods, hills and rivers, now are desolate,
Sith he is gone the which them all did grace:
And all the fields do waile their widow state,
Sith death their fairest flowre did late deface.
The fairest flowre in field that ever grew,
Was Astrophel; that was, we all may rew,

What cruell hand of cursed foe unknowne,
Hath cropt the stalke which bore so faire a flowre?
Untimely cropt, before it well were growne,
And cleane defaced in untimely howre.
Great losse to all that ever him did see,
Great losse to all, but greatest losse to mee.

Breake now your gyrlonds, O ye shepheards lasses,
Sith the faire flowre, which them adornd, is gon:
The flowre, which them adornd, is gone to ashes,
Never againe let lasse put gyrlond on.
In stead of gyrlond, weare sad Cypres nowe,
And bitter Elder, broken from the bowe.

Ne ever sing the love-layes which he made,
Who ever made such layes of love as hee?
Ne ever read the riddles, which he sayd
Unto your selves, to make you mery glee.
Your mery glee is now laid all abed,
Your mery maker now alasse is dead.

Death the devourer of all worlds delight,
Hath robbed you and reft fro me my joy:
Both you and me, and all the world he quight
Hath robd of joyance, and left sad annoy.
Joy of the world, and shepheards pride was hee,
Shepheards hope never like againe to see.

Oh death that hast us of such riches reft,
Tell us at least, what hast thou with it done?
What is become of him whose flowre here left
Is but the shadow of his likenesse gone.
Scarse like the shadow of that which he was,
Nought like, but that he like a shade did pas.

But that immortall spirit, which was deckt
With all the dowries of celestiall grace:
By soveraine choyce from th' hevenly quires select,
And lineally deriv'd from Angels race,
O what is now of it become, aread.
Ay me, can so divine a thing be dead?

Ah no: it is not dead, ne can it die,
But lives for aie, in blisfull Paradise:
Where like a new-borne babe it soft doth lie.
In bed of lillies wrapt in tender wise.
And compast all about with roses sweet,
And daintie violets from head to feet.

There thousand birds all of celestiall brood,
To him do sweetly caroll day and night:
And with straunge notes, of him well understood,
Lull him a sleep in Angelick delight;
Whilest in sweet dreame to him presented bee
Immortall beauties, which no eye may see.

But he them sees and takes exceeding pleasure
Of their divine aspects, appearing plaine,
And kindling love in him above all measure,
Sweet love still joyous, never feeling paine.
For what so goodly forme he there doth see,
He may enjoy from jealous rancor free.

There liveth he in everlasting blis,
Sweet spirit never fearing more to die:
Ne dreading harme from any foes of his,
Ne fearing salvage beasts more crueltie.
Whilest we here wretches waile his private lack,
And with vaine vowes do often call him back.

But live thou there still happie, happie spirit,
And give us leave thee here thus to lament:
Not thee that doest thy heavens joy inherit,
But our owne selves that here in dole are drent.
Thus do we weep and waile, and wear our eies,
Mourning in others, our owne miseries.

Which when she ended had, another swaine
Of gentle wit and daintie sweet device:
Whom Astrophel full deare did entertaine,
Whilest here he liv'd, and held in passing price,
Hight Thestylis, began his mournfull tourne,
And made the Muses in his song to mourne.

And after him full many other moe,
As everie one in order lov'd him best,
Gan dight themselves t' expresse their inward woe,
With dolefull layes unto the time addrest.
The which I here in order will rehearse,
As fittest flowres to deck his mournfull hearse.

[De Selincourt (1910) 344-46]