The wals were round about apparelled
With costly clothes of Arras and of Toure,
In which with cunning hand was pourtrahed
The love of Venus and her Paramoure
The faire Adonis, turned to a flower,
A worke of rare device, and wondrous wit
First did it shew the bitter balefull stowre,
Which her assayd with many a fervent fit,
When first her tender hart was with his beautie smit.

Then with what sleights and sweet allurements she.
Entyst the Boy, as well that art she knew,
And wooed him her Paramoure to be;
Now making girlonds of each flowre that grew,
To crowne his golden lockes with honour dew;
Now leading him into a secret shade.
From his Beauperes, and from bright heavens vew,
Where him to sleepe she gently would perswade,
Or bathe him in a fountaine by some covert glade.

Reference: The Faerie Queene, Book III, Canto 1, Stanza 34-35

First, I am not very well-versed in English Poetry let alone this Early Modern English poetry. I am looking for an explanation of these verses in general and in particular:

  • The 8th line of the first stanza, why it's 'her assayd' and not 'she assayd'?
  • And in the 2nd line of the second stanza, the word 'Entyst', is it 'Entice'? I want to know the spelling of the infinitive of this word in Early Modern English.
  • And 3rd line of the second stanza, if I transcribe it as 'and she wooed him to be her lover' will it be correct?
  • And in 5th line of the second stanza, what's the meaning of 'honour dew'?

1 Answer 1


Here are the answers to your questions:

  • In line 7 of the first stanza, the word is stour, and it was this stour that assayd Venus. So her is the right word. What is a stour? The OED defines it as a conflict or struggle (it could be either an armed conflict or be used metaphorically for some kind of non-violent struggle), but then says
    "Used by Spenser and his imitators for: Time of turmoil and stress."
    So a more modern paraphrase might be "First it showed the bitter, harmful period, which caused her much vexation, when she first was smitten with his beauty."

  • In line 2 of the second stanza, the word is "enticed".

  • In line 3 of the second stanza, you are right: "and she wooed him to be her lover" is indeed the correct meaning.

  • In line 5 of the second stanza, the meaning is "honour due"; she is making a flower wreath to crown him so as to honour him.

Finally, a note on Middle English spelling. Early Middle English did not have fixed spellings for words; they were generally spelled the way they were pronounced (which could vary between regions of England). For entice, the OED gives the variants: entyce, entyse, entise, entythe, entize, entice, intisce, intyce, intyse, intise, intice.

  • 3
    The final question re ‘honour dew’, is probably ’honour due’. ie the crown him with the honour that is due to him. I’m not going to post an answer repeating the other points, so if you agree with my take, feel free to include it in your answer.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 13:40
  • 1
    @Peter can you please transcribe the 8th line of the first stanza? I am still unable to make sense of this line.
    – Tayyab
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 16:32
  • 1
    @Tayyab In this older form of English, verbs more often came after their objects: does it make more sense to you if you replace "her assayd" by "assayd her"?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 17:31
  • 2
    @Spagirl: looking through The Fairy Queen, Spencer spells due with both spellings "dew" and "due". So you're clearly correct.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 19:10
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor It's not a case of word order being different in Spenser's time, but rather of anastrophe, a deliberate switching of word order for poetic reasons. Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 11:59

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