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PREFACE.

THE

'HE Editor of the following Volume has, in compliance with the

wishes of the Publishers, endeavoured to present her readers with "Gems” selected from all our chief National Poets. In doing this, she has tried to avoid as much as possible, without serious loss, the most hackneyed passages of our elder bards; and has asked and obtained permission from our living poets to add to her “Gems from the Past ” “ Gems from the Present.” Of course there is a difference of value between these jewels of thought. The Koh-i-noor has few, if any, equals; but, though differing in value, the diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire, topaz, or opal are all gems, and are all precious ; and we thankfully accept them as they are presented to us.

To the Poets and Publishers who have given her permission to choose from their “jewels,” the Editor now offers her sincere thanks; and her apologies, if by any possible chance a poem has been taken without permission, or a poet omitted from want of his address.

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GEMS OF NATIONAL POETRY.

PART I.

DESCRIPTIVE AND NARRATIVE POETRY.

A PICTURE OF FAIR WOMEN.

GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

1328—1400. A PICTURE OF A BEAUTIFUL

WOMAN.
From The Knight's Tale."

AND as I sat, the birdis herk'ning thus,
Methought that I heard voicis sodainely,
The most swetist and most delicious
That evir any wight, I trowe trewly,
Heardin in ther life, for the armony
And swete accord was in so gode musike,
That the voicis to angels most were like.

The knights had been long in captivity, when they saw from their tower a beautiful woman doing observance to May Day.

THUS passeth yere by yere, and day by Till it fel ones in a morwe* of May That Emelie, that fairer was to sene Than is the lilie on hire stalkè grene, And fresher than the May with flowres

neweFor with the rose's colour stroft hire hewe: I n'ot || which was the fyner of hem twoEr it was day, as she was wont to do, She was arisen, and al redy digh ; § For May wole have no sloggardieť a night. The sesoun priketh every gentil herte, And maketh him out of his sleep to sterte, And seith, “Arys, and do thin** obser

vance." This maked Emelie hantt remembrance To don honour to May, and for to ryse. Y-clothed was she fresh for to devyse. Hire yelwe here was broided in a tresse Byhynde hire bak, a yerdè long, I gesse. And in the gardyn at the sonne upriste || || She walketh up and doun wher as hire list;

[rede, She gathereth flowres, partye whyte and To make a sotels gerland for hire hede: And as an aungel hevenlich || she song.

At the last, out of a grove evin by,
That was right godely and pleasaunt to

sight,
I se where there came, singing lustily,
A world of ladies ; but, to telle aright
Their beauty grete, it lieth not in my might,
Ne ther array; nevirthelesse I shall
Tell you a part, tho' I speke not of all.
The surcotes white, of velvet wele sittinge,
They werin cladde, and the semis ech one,
As it werin a mannir garnishinge,
Was set with emeraudis, one and one,
By and by; but many a richè stone
Was set on the purfilis, out of doute,
Of collours, sleves, and trainis round

aboute.

As of grete perlis rounde and orient,
And diamondis fine, and rubys redde,
And many othir stone, of which I went
The namis now; and everich on her hede
A rich fret of gold, which, withoutin dread,
Was ful of stately riche stonys set ;
And every lady had a chapelet
On ther hedis of branches freshe and grene
So wele wrought and so marvelously,
That it was a right noble sight to sene;
Some of laurir, and some ful pleasantly
Had chapelets of wodebind, and sadly
Some of agnus castus werin also,
Chaplets freshe; but there were many

of tho

* Morn.

+ Strove, i.e., contended. I Her hue. || I know not.

§ Dressed. Sluggardize. ** Thine.

++ Have. 11 Yellow hair. II || At sunrise. $$ Cunningly arranged. IT Heavenly

crave.

That dauncid and eke songe ful sobirly, And alle they yede* in maner of compace; But one there yede in mid the company, Sole by herself; but alle followed the pace That she kepte, whose hevinly figured face So pleasaunt was, and her wele shape

person, That of beauty she past them everichone.t And more richly beseene, by manyfolde, She was also in every manir thing : Upon her hede, full pleasaunt to beholde, A coron of golde, rich for any king : A braunch of agnus castus eke bering In her hand ; and to my sight trewily She lady was of all the company.

The Floure and the Leafe."

To win him worship, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did
And ever as he rode his heart did yearn
To prove his puissance in battle brave
Upon his foe, and his new force to learn ;
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stern.
A lovely lady rode him fair beside,
Upon a lowly ass more white than snow;
Yet she much whiter ; but the same did

hide
Under a veil, that wimpled was full low;
And over all a black stole she did throw,
As one that inly mourned; so was she sad,
And heavy sate upon her palfrey slow;
Seemèd in heart some hidden care she had;
And by her in a line a milk-white lamb she

lad.

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So pure and innocent, as that same lamb, She was in life and every virtuous lore, And by descent from royal lineage came Of ancient kings and queens, that had of

yore Their sceptre stretched from east to west

ern shore. And all the world in their subjection held ; Till that infernal fiend with foul uproar Forwasted all their land, and them expelled; Whom to avenge, she had this knight from

far compelled. Behind her far away a dwarf did lag, That lazy seemed, in being ever last, Or wearied with bearing of her bag Of needments at his back. Thus as they

past, The day with clouds was sudden overcast, And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain Did pour into his leman's lap so fast, That every wight to shroud it did constrain; And this fair couple eke to shroud them

selves were fain.

And on his breast a bloody cross he bore, The dear remembrance of his dying Lord, For whose sweet sake that glorious badge

he wore, And dead, as living, ever Him adored ; Upon his shield the like was also scored, For sovereign hope, which in His help he had.

[word; Right, faithful, true he was in deed and But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad ; Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was

ydrad. Upon a great adventure he was bound, That greatest Gloriana to him gave, (That greatest glorious Queen of Fairy

land) Went. The line means “danced in a circle."

† Every one.

Enforced to seek some covert nigh at hand, A shady grove not far away they spied, That promised aid the tempest to with

stand; Whose lofty trees, yclad with summer's

pride, Did spread so broad, that heaven's light

did hide, Not pierceable with power of any star ; And all within were paths and alleys wide, With footing worn and leading inward far; Fair harbour that them seems; so in they

entered are.

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