in the ‘Shepherd
's Calendar’ as well as in the ‘Faery Queen
We have seen that Spenser
, under the misleading influence of Sidney1
, tried his hand at English hexameters.
But his great glory is that he taught his own language to sing and move to measures harmonious and noble.
had done much to vocalize it, as I have tried to show elsewhere,2
was to prove
That no tongue hath the muse's utterance heired
For verse, and that sweet music to the ear
Struck out of rhyme, so naturally as this.
's Calendar’ contains perhaps the most picturesquely imaginative verse which Spenser
It is in the eclogue for February, where he tells us of the
Whose body is sere, whose branches broke,
Whose naked arms stretch unto the fire.
It is one of those verses that Joseph Warton
would have liked in secret, that Dr. Johnson
would have proved to be untranslatable into reasonable prose, and which the imagination welcomes at once without caring whether it be exactly conformable to barbara
. Another pretty verse in the same eclogue,
But gently took that ungently came,
so greatly that he thought it was his own. But in general it is not so much the sentiments and images that are new as the modulation of the verses in which they float.
The cold obstruction of two centuries thaws, and the stream of speech, once more let loose, seeks out its old windings, or overflows musically in unpractised