The Complete Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser

By Edmund Spenser | Go to book overview

COMPLAINTS
CONTAINING SUNDRIE SMALL POEMES OF THE WORLDS VANITIE
WHEREOF THE NEXT PAGE MAKETH MENTION
BY ED. SP. LONDON
IMPRINTED FOR WIILIAM PONSONBIE, DWELLING IN PAULES CHURCHYARD
AT THE SIGNE OF THE BISHOPS HEAD
1591
A NOTE OF THE SUNDRIE POEMES CONTAINED IN THIS VOLUME
1. The Ruines of Time.
2. The Teares of the Muses.
3. Virgils Gnat.
4. Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberds Tale.
5. The Ruines of Rome: by Bellay.
6. Muiopotmos, or The Tale of the Butterflie.
7. Visions of the Worlds Vanitie.
8. Bellayes Visions.
9. Petrarches Visions.

THE PRINTER TO THE GENTLE READER

SINCE my late setting foorth of the Faerie Queene, finding that it hath found a favourable passage amongst you, I have sithence endevoured by all good meanes (for the better encrease and accomplishment of your delights,) to get into my handes such smale poemes of the same authors as I heard were disperst abroad in sundrie, hands, and not easie to bee come by, by himselfe; some of them having bene diverslie imbeziled and purloyned from him, since his departure over sea. Of the which I have by good meanes gathered togeather these fewe parcels present, which I have caused to bee imprinted altogeather, for that they al seeme to containe like matter of argument in them, being all complaints and meditations of the worlds vanitie, verie grave and profitable. To which effect I understand that he besides wrote sundrie others, namelie, Ecclesiastes and Canticum Canticorum translated, A Senights Slumber, The Hell of Lovers, his Purgatorie, being all dedicated to ladies, so as it may seeme he ment them all to one volume: besides some other pamphlets looselie scattered abroad: as The Dying Pellican, The Howers of the Lord, The Sacrifice of a Sinner, The Seven Psalmes, &c., which when I can either by himselfe or otherwise attaine too, I meane likewise for your favour sake to set foorth. In the meane time, praying you gentlie to accept of these, and graciouslie to entertaine the 'new poet,' I take leave.

[ Though Complaints was not published till 1591, a year after the first issue of the Faery Queen, the poems of which it is composed are more properly to be classed with the Shepherd's Calendar. Most of them might have been printed, though perhaps not exactly as they now stand, before 1580; the others are best understood in company with these. The Calendar and Complaints, indeed, taken together, are the record of Spenser's growth to maturity.

The circumstances of the publication are very oddly confused. In the opening address the credit for the whole enterprise is assumed by 'the Printer,' Ponsonby, who, we are told, hunted the poems out and made up and issued the volume by his own efforts. This work, we gather, was mainly prosecuted after the poet's 'departure over sea' -- his return, that is, to Ireland early in 1591. And the volume certainly was published after his 'departure.' Yet we know that it had been made ready for printing while he was still in England. It appears on the Stationers' Register for December 29, 1590, as approved by one of the official

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