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'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.
GEMS OF NATIONAL POETRY.
DESCRIPTIVE AND NARRATIVE POETRY.
A PICTURE OF FAIR WOMEN.
1328—1400. A PICTURE OF A BEAUTIFUL
AND as I sat, the birdis herk'ning thus,
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,
As of grete perlis rounde and orient,
+ Strove, i.e., contended. I Her hue. || I know not.
§ Dressed. Sluggardize. ** Thine.
++ Have. 11 Yellow hair. II || At sunrise. $$ Cunningly arranged. IT Heavenly
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,
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