Monday, September 21, 2015
Pleasure and Pain
Sweet is the Rose, but growes vpon a brere;4 firbloome: flower or fruit of the fir tree? (doesn't seem to be in the Oxford English Dictionary, either as is or s.vv. fir or bloom)
Sweet is the Iunipere, but sharpe his bough;
sweet is the Eglantine, but pricketh nere;
sweet is the firbloome, but his braunches rough.
Sweet is the Cypresse, but his rynd is tough, 5
sweet is the nut, but bitter is his pill;
sweet is the broome-flowre, but yet sowre enough;
and sweet is Moly, but his root is ill.
So euery sweet with soure is tempred still,
that maketh it be coueted the more: 10
for easie things that may be got at will,
most sorts of men doe set but little store.
Why then should I accoumpt of little paine,
that endlesse pleasure shall vnto me gaine.
6 pill: "A covering or outer layer of a fruit or vegetable; a skin, husk, rind, or shell; the bark of a tree, or a layer of bark; spec. (a piece of) the thin rind or peel of a fruit or a tuberous or bulbous root" (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. pill, n.2; cf. peel)
Thanks to Dave Lull for elucidating firbloome. He adduces:
1) Ernest de Sélincourt, ed., Spenser's Minor Poems (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), note on p. 521:
Mr. W.W. Greg makes the interesting suggestion that 'firbloome' is possibly a misprint for 'firsbloom' (i.e. furze bloom).2) G.C. Macaulay, review of 1) in Modern Language Review 7.1 (Jan., 1912) 114-117 (at 117):
Mr Greg's suggestion is right enough as regards the meaning, but there is no misprint: 'firbloome' is quite an admissible form. See N.E.D. under 'fur' and 'furze.'