Treasure Island

Edmund Spenser

(1552 - 13 January 1599 / London / England)

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Poem 1


YE learned sisters which haue oftentimes
beene to me ayding, others to adorne:
Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes,
That euen the greatest did not greatly scorne
To heare theyr names sung in your simply layes,
But ioyed in theyr prayse.
And when ye lift your owne mishaps to mourne,
Which death, or loue, or fortunes wreck did rayse,
Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne,
And teach the woods and waters to lament
Your dolefull dreriment.
Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside,
And hauing all your heads with girland crownd,
Helpe me mine owne loues prayses to resound,
Ne let the same of any be enuide,
So Orpheus did for his owne bride,
So I vnto my selfe alone will sing,
The woods shall to me answer and my Eccho ring.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Comments about this poem (Poem 1 by Edmund Spenser )

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  • Vizard Dhawan (3/1/2014 6:39:00 PM)

    Took my breath away, so to speak.
    I am enamored beyond words, most
    literally,
    as half of what he is dictating is an
    English of a sort
    that I am less than familiar with.
    But the form and structure, flesh and
    bone behind Mr. Spencer's
    episode is one that relieves and
    burdens one with sadness
    and inspiration.
    This poem is one of immaculate
    process,
    and highly respect the author.
    Well played, Master Spencer! (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (3/1/2014 8:31:00 AM)

    He singeth best who loveth best
    The tunes that a heart soulfully bringeth
    For the true poet or for the true singer
    Music and songs inner bliss always do giveth............

    I welcome all ye poets who readeth this to my page too........ (Report) Reply

  • Indira Renganathan (3/1/2010 10:40:00 PM)

    Interestingly a smart language and write...the poet addresses his early nuns cum
    teachers to help him sing alone on his love to the woods that would respond answering him....very poetic (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (3/1/2010 6:43:00 AM)

    Spenser is addressing The Muses, the daughters of Zeus and the goddess Mnemosyne. The poem has not been modernized, but even so, it is interesting how modern Shakespeare seems to Spenser: 'Oh truant muse, what shall be thy amends/For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed./ Both truth and beauty on my love depends, /So dost thou too, and therein dignified.' ('truth in beauty' is the Youth of The Sonnets) . (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (3/1/2010 4:21:00 AM)

    Spenser seems to be expressing throes of love. Chants of women in different aspects. Then renounces the beauty of solitude in the woods. Contemplation of love appears his theme. (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (3/1/2010 2:11:00 AM)

    Edmund Spenser is addressing ‘learned sisters’ who could be melancholy nuns, who even ‘teach the woods and waters to lament’. Several lines including ‘And when ye lift your owne mishaps to mourne’ could support this reading and the sad circumstances, leading to reasons for becoming nuns. But they are definitely traditional poetic muses, granting their gifts to others ‘Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes’. This reading is supported by ‘And hauing all your heads with girland crownd, Helpe me mine owne loues prayses to resound, ’ as Spenser poetically requests their poetic aid. He wants to enchant in song like mythical Orpheus, but sing to himself, not a wife. The poem ends strongly with the conceit, ‘The woods shall to me answer and my Eccho ring.’ Grand exaltations for a poem titled ‘Poem 1’. Spenser claims a lofty status, which he actually achieves in his masterpiece ‘The Faerie Queene’. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (3/1/2010 1:42:00 AM)

    Like Orpheus Spenser seeks the aid of musical muse sisters who command respect from greatest of greats and make wood and water lament by their tune to say his plight that should echo sound for his love! This poem moves the heart by its classical expression smooth indeed! (Report) Reply

  • okeydokey #3 (3/1/2008 2:54:00 AM)

    Took my breath away, so to speak.
    I am enamored beyond words, most literally,
    as half of what he is dictating is an English of a sort
    that I am less than familiar with.
    But the form and structure, flesh and bone behind Mr. Spencer's
    episode is one that relieves and burdens one with sadness
    and inspiration.
    This poem is one of immaculate process,
    and highly respect the author.
    Well played, Master Spencer! (Report) Reply

Read all 11 comments »

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