The Penguin Book of English Verse
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Spanning seven centuries, this ambitious and revelatory collection turns the traditional chronology of anthologies on its head, listing poems according to their first individual appearance in the language rather than by poet.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Glo-worms shine, And face the Moon: Wise Nicodemus saw such light As made him know his God by night. Most blest believer he! Who in that land of darkness and blinde eyes Thy long expected healing wings could see, When thou didst rise, And what can never more be done, Did at mid-night speak with the Sun! O who will tell me, where He found thee at that dead and silent hour! What hallow’d solitary ground did bear So rare a flower, Within whose sacred leafs
foweles maken melodye, 10 That slepen al the nyght with open ye (So priketh hem nature in hir corages), Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; 15 And specially from every shires ende Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. from The General Prologue [The Prioress] Ther was also a Nonne, a
ful of many a goore. Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute, 20 Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute. The tapes of hir white voluper Were of the same suyte of hir coler; Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye. And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye; 25 Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two, And tho were bent and blake as any sloo. She was ful moore blisful on to see Than is the newe pere-jonette tree, And softer
the thee; 24 quhome whom; 25 quhill until; glass i.e. Time’s glass; 27 that will away what wishes to be off; 28 ‘or crave what you cannot keep for any length of time’; 30 journay journey; 32 I the requeir I beg you; 34 compt an account; 36 ‘At which Death casts open his wide gates’; 37 ‘saying “These will stay open for you” ’; 38 stout strong, brave; 39 lowt stoop; 42 kist chest; coup wine-cup; 43 luiffis blys love’s joy; 44 lat prevent; 45 sowp sup; 46 quhone when; 50 disport
ignorance? And rather in the dark to grope our way, Than led by a false guide to erre by day? Who sees these dismal heaps, but would demand What barbarous Invader sackt the land? But when he hears, no Goth, no Turk did bring This desolation, but a Christian King; When nothing, but the Name of Zeal, appears ’Twixt our best actions and the worst of theirs, What does he think our Sacriledge would spare, When such th’effects of our devotions are? Parting from thence