Elizabethan English Poetry

Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Qveene

16th century, Elizabethan English. Numerous printed copies.

...so like a wheele around they runne from old to new.

The goddess Venus has fostered a child, Amoretta, and reared her in the garden that she built for her lover Adonis.

There is a walled region that contains everything on the Earth, everything that is born to live and die; and double gates it had, which opened wide, by which both in and out men moten [might] pas; th’one faire and fresh, the other old and dride; old Genius the porter of them was, old Genius, the which a double nature has. He letteth in, he letteth out to wend [to go], all that to come into the world desire; a thousand thousand naked babes attend about him day and night, which do require, that he with fleshly weedes [clothes] would them attire; such as him list [whatever he chooses], such as eternall fate ordained hath, he clothes with sinful mire, and sendeth forth to live in mortall state, till they again returne backe by the hinder gate.

After that they againe returned beene, they in that Garden planted be againe; and grow afresh, as they had never seene, fleshly corruption, nor mortall paine. Some thousand yeares so doen they there remaine; and then of him are clad with other hew, or sent into the chaungefull world againe, till thither they returne, where first they grew: so like a wheele around they runne from old to new.

For form must necessarily change but substance remain the same. Infinite shapes of creatures are bred here, the trees bear both blossom and fruit at the same time and at its centre is a mount upon which stands a shady grove beneath which grows every sort of flower; flowers that were once men. Here the goddess Venus keeps Adonis, whom they say cannot die, although subject to mortality; he is eternal in mutability, and by succession, made perpetual. Transformed often, changed diversely, he is called the father of all forms and gives life to all.

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book III, Canto VI.

See for yourself

Edmund Spenser – Wikipedia

The Faerie Queene – Wikipedia

Venus (Roman mythology) – Wikipedia

Adonis – Wikipedia

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