In the Epithalamion there is an epithet which has been much admired for its felicitous tenderness:—
I hate the day because it lendeth light
To see all things, but not my love to see.Daphnaida, 407, 408.
Behold, whiles she before the altar stands,But the purely impersonal passion of the artist had already guided him to this lucky phrase. It is addressed by Holiness—a dame surely as far abstracted from the enthusiasms of love as we can readily conceive of—to Una, who, like the visionary Helen of Dr. Faustus, has every charm of womanhood, except that of being alive as Juliet and Beatrice are.
Hearing the holy priest that to her speakes
And blesseth her with his two happy hands.
Can we conceive of Una, the fall of whose foot would be as soft as that of a rose-leaf upon its mates already fallen,—can we conceive of her treading anything so sordid? No; it is only on some unsubstantial floor of dream that she walks securely, herself a dream. And it is only when Spenser has escaped thither, only when this glamour of fancy has rarefied his wife till she is grown almost as purely a creature of the imagination as the other ideal images with which he converses, that his feeling becomes as nearly passionate—as nearly human, I was on the point of saying—as with him is possible
O happy earth,
Whereon thy innocent feet do ever tread!Faery Queen, B. I. c. x. 9.