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[163] realism,1—he whose verses generally remind us of the dancing Hours of Guido, where we catch but a glimpse of the real earth and that far away beneath. But his habitual style is that of gracious loftiness and refined luxury.

He first shows his mature hand in the ‘Muiopotmos,’ the most airily fanciful of his poems, a marvel for delicate conception and treatment, whose breezy verse seems to float between a blue sky and golden earth in imperishable sunshine. No other English poet has found the variety and compass which enlivened the octave stanza under his sensitive touch. It can hardly be doubted that in Clarion the butterfly he has symbolized himself, and surely never was the poetic temperament so picturesquely exemplified:—

Over the fields, in his frank lustiness,
And all the champain o'er, he soared light,
And all the country wide he did possess,
Feeding upon their pleasures bounteously,
That none gainsaid and none did him envy.

The woods, the rivers, and the meadows green,
With his air-cutting wings he measured wide,


Like as a wayward child, whose sounder sleep
Is broken with some fearful dream's affright,
With froward will doth set himself to weep
Ne can be stilled for all his nurse's might,
But kicks and squalls and shrieks for fell despight,
Now scratching her and her loose locks misusing,
Now seeking darkness and now seeking light,
Then craving suck, and then the suck refusing.

He would doubtless have justified himself by the familiar example of Homer's comparing Ajax to a donkey in the eleventh book of the Iliad. So also in the ‘Epithalamion’ it grates our nerves to hear,

Pour not by cups, but by the bellyful,
Pour out to all that wull.

Such examples serve to show how strong a dose of Spenser's aurum potabile the language needed.

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Edmund Spenser (1)
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