Upon the motley cloth of autumn earth
Spread I a banquet for my lovely queen,
Whose beauty matchèd there hath never been,
But of her virtue and visage a dearth.
Withdrawing the fowls now forth to the firth
Leaves nature’s loveliness from being seen,
Save in her form, full glorious and keen.
Of each hair’s curl the spheres have no such worth!
But even now the cold west wind doth rise
And hazard our leisurely am’rous tryst,
While darken Zeus above the storm-filled skies.
All universe my Euredissa list!
Let us shelter for winter to retire,
And hope Olympan covetness expire.
4. dearth: lack, shortage.
5. “fowls … firth.” This line mimics two 16 th century poets. The first is Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, whose poem “The soote season” references a number of Middle English lyrics (and the beginning of The Canterbury Tales) that Surrey uses to turn the medieval meaning into a more melancholy Renaissance resolution of the poem. The second nod is to Spenser, who utilizes a number of repetitive ‘f’ sounds in The Faerie Queene to note the approaching danger or evil of something that has not quite yet presented itself in the poem. “Fowles in the frith” is a 13 th century lyric about the plight of man, given his current status in the world. I also hoped “forth to the firth” would be a decent pun on the Scottish Firth of Forth.
8. spheres: The Ptolemaic concept of the universe held that a number of concentric spheres, to which various heavenly bodies are attached, rotate about the earth.
11. “darken Zeus … skies.” Zeus transformed himself into a dark cloud to seduce the nymph Io. The narrator may be assuming that the same will happen to Eurydice if they stay out in the wilderness. However, at the very beginning of The Faerie Queene, the Redcross Knight and Una mistake Zeus’ coupling with his mistress Earth (via rain) as his ire at them, and so wander from peace into danger.