Edmund Spenser wrote Epithalamion for Elizabeth Boyle, his bride to be as wedding gift. It’s an account of their wedding day, from before dawn till late in the night, following the consummation of the marriage.
Consisting of 24 stanzas, corresponding to the 24 hours of Midsummer Day, it also contains 364 lines, matching the days in a year. It follows the cycle of life, from the energy of a young man, through maturity and ending with hopes of the future, which of course ties intimately to the hopeful results of the consummation.
Henry Hallam, writing in the 19th century about the poem says “The English language seems to expand itself with a copiousness unknown before, while he pours forth the varied imagery of this splendid little poem. I do not know any other nuptial song, ancient or modern, of equal beauty. It is an intoxication of ecstasy, ardent, noble, and pure. But it pleased not Heaven that these day-dreams of genius and virtue should be undisturbed”
In this section of the poem, Spencer acknowledges the existence of the supernatural, the sources of fear, and banishes them one by one. A rather hopeful statement which unfortunately didn’t turn out to be true for the poet, who died, according to Ben Johnson, from want of bread.
Sir Edmund Spenser, (1552/1553 – 1599)
Let no lamenting cryes, nor dolefull teares,
Be heard all night within nor yet without:
Ne let false whispers breeding hidden feares,
Breake gentle sleepe with misconceiued dout.
Let no deluding dreames, nor dreadful sights
Make sudden sad affrights;
Ne let housefyres, nor lightnings helpelesse harmes,
Ne led the Ponke, nor other euill sprights,
Ne let mischiuous witches with theyr charmes,
Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sence we see not,
Fray vs with things that be not.
Let not the shriech Oule, nor the Storke be heard:
Nor the night Rauen that still deadly yels,
Nor damned ghosts cald vp with mighty spels,
Nor griefly vultures make vs once affeard:
Ne let th’unpleasant Quyre of Frogs still croking
Make vs to wish theyr choking.
Let none of these theyr drery accents sing;
Ne let the woods them answer, nor theyr eccho ring.