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[181] last of the poets, who went (without affectation) by the great clock of the firmament. Dante, the miser of words, who goes by the same timepiece, is full of these roundabout ways of telling us the hour. It had nothing to do with Spenser's stanza, and I for one should be sorry to lose these stately revolutions of the superne ruote. Time itself becomes more noble when so measured; we never knew before of how precious a commodity we had the wasting. Who would prefer the plain time of day to this?

Now when Aldebaran was mounted high
Above the starry Cassiopeia's chair;

or this?

By this the northern wagoner had set
     His seven-fold team behind the steadfast star
That was in ocean's waves yet never wet,
     But firm is fixt and sendeth light from far
To all that in the wide deep wandering are;

or this?

At last the golden oriental gate
     Of greatest heaven gan to open fair,
And Phoebus, fresh as bridegroom to his mate,
     Came dancing forth, shaking his dewy hair
And hurls his glistening beams through dewy air.

The generous indefiniteness, which treats an hour more or less as of no account, is in keeping with that sense of endless leisures which it is one chief merit of the poem to suggest. But Spenser's dilatation extends to thoughts as well as to phrases and images. He does not love the concise. Yet his dilatation is not mere distension, but the expansion of natural growth in the rich soil of his own mind, wherein the merest stick of a verse puts forth leaves and blossoms. Here is one of his, suggested by Homer:1

1 Iliad, XVII. 55 seqq. Referred to in Upton's note on Faery Queen, B. I. c. VII. 32. Into what a breezy couplet trailing off with an alexandrine has Homer's πνοιαὶ παντοίων ἀνέμων expanded! Chapman unfortunately has slurred this passage in his version, and Pope tittivated it more than usual in his. I have no other translation at hand. Marlowe was so taken by this passage in Spenser that he put it bodily into his Tamburlaine.

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Edmund Spenser (3)
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