1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled, "To look upon a Work of rare Device."]

The Faerie Queene. Disposed into Twelve Books, fashioning XII. Morall Vertues.

Ignoto


"Ignoto," who remains unidentified, supplies an all-purpose dedication: "And thus I hang a Garland at the Dore, | Not for to shew the goodness of the Ware: | But such hath been the Custom heretofore, | And Customs very hardly broken are." This poem was not reprinted in 1596 Faerie Queene.

John Payne Collier: "Besides Raleigh's admirable sonnet and poor couplets, and Gabriel Harvey's excellent stanzas, there are four other ordinary commendatory poems annexed to the impression of the Faerie Queen, in 1590, subscribed respectively R. S., H. B., W. L., and Ignoto (the last a signature supposed at some other times, but not here, to belong to Raleigh), which we shall not pretend to assign to any owners: such guesses can be of no value" Poetical Works of Spenser (1862; 1875) 1:lxix.



To look upon a Work of rare Device,
The which a Workman setteth out to view,
And not to yield it the deserved Price
That unto such a Workmanship is due,
Doth either prove the Judgment to be naught,
Or else doth shew a Mind with Envy fraught.

To labour to commend a piece of Work,
Which no Man goes about to discommend,
Would raise a jealous Doubt, that there did lurk
Some secret Doubt, whereto the Praise did tend.
For when Men know the Goodness of the Wine,
'Tis needless for the Hoast to have a Sign.

Thus then to shew my Judgment to be such
As can discern, of Colours black and white,
As als to free my Mind from Envies such,
That never gives to any Man his right;
I here pronounce this Workmanship is such,
As that no Pen can set it forth too much.

And thus I hang a Garland at the Dore,
Not for to shew the goodness of the Ware:
But such hath been the Custom heretofore,
And Customs very hardly broken are.
And when your Taste shall tell you this is true,
Then look you give your Host his utmost Due.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 1:11]