About her head wove I a flowry crowne
Of daffodil and rose and of lilie,
And in her hand scepter of cypress tree.
My simple pastor field served as her throwne.
The grass made itself soft as feather-downe
While she reclined to judge upon the skie
And its starry mirrors of her bright eye,
The heavens too her grace hoped to be showne.
Then knighted she the loyal turtledove,
And granted earldom to the river-side.
To all she gave the half heart of her love,
While promised me received the other side.
Eternal youth we had, while dallied thus,
And returned thence with every simple buss.
Sonnets IX-XII were composed with Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender in mind (even with a IX-Spring, X-Summer, XI-Autumn, XII-Winter theme), specifically Hobbinoll’s song from “Aprill,” in which he describes "Elisa, Queene of shepheardes all," who is undoubtedly Elizabeth. Hobbinoll goes to great length to make a number of pastoral and classical descriptions of Elisa’s beauty, and it was that pastoral aspect I especially wanted to imitate here.
3. cypress tree: The cypress is traditionally associated with Venus.
9. turtledove: The turtledove is also associated with Venus was believed to be the most faithful lover of any creature in the medieval bestiaries.
11. “To all she gave … the other side.” The initial dilemma in Shakespeare’s King Lear begins (more or less) when Lear’s daughter Cordelia tells him she will love him with half her heart (rather than all of it) because she wants to give the other half to her future husband.
14. buss: kiss.