Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 1, CANTOS 10-12, by EDMUND SPENSER



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 1, CANTOS 10-12, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Her faithfull knight faire una brings
Last Line: Well may she speede, and fairely finish her intent.
Alternate Author Name(s): Clout, Colin


CANTO X

Her faithfull knight faire Una brings
To House of Holinesse,
Where he is taught repentaunce, and
The way to hevenly blesse.

I

WHAT man is he, that boasts of fleshly might,
And vaine assuraunce of mortality,
Which, all so soone as it doth come to fight
Against spirituall foes, yields by and by,
Or from the fielde most cowardly doth fly?
Ne let the man ascribe it to his skill,
That thorough grace hath gained victory.
If any strength we have, it is to ill,
But all the good is Gods, both power and eke will.

II

By that which lately hapned, Una saw
That this her knight was feeble, and too faint;
And all his sinewes woxen weake and raw,
Through long enprisonment, and hard constraint,
Which he endured in his late restraint,
That yet he was unfitt for bloody fight:
Therefore to cherish him with diets daint,
She cast to bring him, where he chearen might,
Till he recovered had his late decayed plight.

III

There was an auncient house not far away,
Renowmd throughout the world for sacred lore
And pure unspotted life: so well, they say,
It governd was, and guided evermore,
Through wisedome of a matrone grave and hore;
Whose onely joy was to relieve the needes
Of wretched soules, and helpe the helpelesse pore:
All night she spent in bidding of her bedes,
And all the day in doing good and godly deedes.

IV

Dame Caelia men did her call, as thought
From heaven to come, or thether to arise;
The mother of three daughters, well upbrought
In goodly thewes, and godly exercise:
The eldest two, most sober, chast, and wise,
Fidelia and Speranza, virgins were,
Though spousd, yet wanting wedlocks solemnize;
But faire Charissa to a lovely fere
Was lincked, and by him had many pledges dere.

V

Arrived there, the dore they find fast lockt;
For it was warely watched night and day,
For feare of many foes: but when they knockt,
The porter opened unto them streight way.
He was an aged syre, all hory gray,
With lookes full lowly cast, and gate full slow,
Wont on a staffe his feeble steps to stay,
Hight Humilta. They passe in, stouping low;
For streight and narrow was the way which he did shew.

VI

Each goodly thing is hardest to begin;
But entred in, a spatious court they see,
Both plaine and pleasaunt to be walked in,
Where them does meete a francklin faire and free,
And entertaines with comely courteous glee:
His name was Zele, that him right well became;
For in his speaches and behaveour hee
Did labour lively to expresse the same,
And gladly did them guide, till to the hall they came.

VII

There fayrely them receives a gentle squyre,
Of myld demeanure and rare courtesee,
Right cleanly clad in comely sad attyre;
In word and deede that shewd great modestee,
And knew his good to all of each degree;
Hight Reverence. He them with speaches meet
Does faire entreat; no courting nicetee,
But simple trew, and eke unfained sweet,
As might become a squyre so great persons to greet.

VIII

And afterwardes them to his dame he leades,
That aged dame, the lady of the place:
Who all this while was busy at her beades:
Which doen, she up arose with seemely grace,
And toward them full matronely did pace.
Where when that fairest Una she beheld,
Whom well she knew to spring from hevenly race,
Her heart with joy unwonted inly sweld,
As feeling wondrous comfort in her weaker eld:

IX

And her embracing, said: 'O happy earth,
Whereon thy innocent feet doe ever tread,
Most vertuous virgin, borne of hevenly berth,
That to redeeme thy woefull parents head
From tyrans rage, and ever-dying dread,
Hast wandred through the world now long a day,
Yett ceassest not thy weary soles to lead!
What grace hath thee now hether brought this way?
Or doen thy feeble feet unweeting hether stray?

X

'Straunge thing it is an errant knight to see
Here in this place, or any other wight,
That hether turnes his steps: so few there bee,
That chose the narrow path, or seeke the right:
All keepe the broad high way, and take delight
With many rather for to goe astray,
And be partakers of their evill plight,
Then with a few to walke the rightest way.
O foolish men! why hast ye to your owne decay?'

XI

'Thy selfe to see, and tyred limbes to rest,
O matrone sage,' quoth she, 'I hether came,
And this good knight his way with me addrest,
Ledd with thy prayses and broad-blazed fame,
That up to heven is blowne.' The auncient dame
Him goodly greeted in her modest guyse,
And enterteynd them both, as best became,
With all the court'sies that she could devyse,
Ne wanted ought, to shew her bounteous or wise.

XII

Thus as they gan of sondrie thinges devise,
Loe! two most goodly virgins came in place,
Ylinked arme in arme in lovely wise;
With countenance demure, and modest grace,
They numbred even steps and equall pace:
Of which the eldest, that Fidelia hight,
Like sunny beames threw from her christall face,
That could have dazd the rash beholders sight,
And round about her head did shine like hevens light.

XIII

She was araied all in lilly white,
And in her right hand bore a cup of gold,
With wine and water fild up to the hight,
In which a serpent did himselfe enfold,
That horrour made to all that did behold;
But she no whitt did chaunge her constant mood:
And in her other hand she fast did hold
A booke that was both signd and seald with blood,
Wherin darke things were writt, hard to be understood.

XIV

Her younger sister, that Speranza hight,
Was clad in blew, that her beseemed well:
Not all so chearefull seemed she of sight,
As was her sister; whether dread did dwell,
Or anguish, in her hart, is hard to tell:
Upon her arme a silver anchor lay,
Whereon she leaned ever, as befell:
And ever up to heven, as she did pray,
Her stedfast eyes were bent, ne swarved other way.

XV

They, seeing Una, towardes her gan wend,
Who them encounters with like courtesee;
Many kind speeches they betweene them spend,
And greatly joy each other well to see:
Then to the knight with shamefast modestie
They turne themselves, at Unaes meeke request,
And him salute with well beseeming glee;
Who faire them quites, as him beseemed best,
And goodly gan discourse of many a noble gest.

XVI

Then Una thus: 'But she your sister deare,
The deare Charissa, where is she become?
Or wants she health, or busie is elswhere?'
'Ah no,' said they, 'but forth she may not come:
For she of late is lightned of her wombe,
And hath encreast the world with one sonne more,
That her to see should be but troublesome.'
'Indeed,' quoth she, 'that should her trouble sore;
But thankt be God, and her encrease so evermore.'

XVII

Then saide the aged Caelia: 'Deare dame,
Any you, good sir, I wote that of youre toyle
And labors long, through which ye hether came,
Ye both forwearied be: therefore a whyle
I read you rest, and to your bowres recoyle.'
Then called she a groome, that forth him ledd
Into a goodly lodge, and gan despoile
Of puissant armes, and laid in easie bedd:
His name was meeke Obedience rightfully aredd.

XVIII

Now when their wearie limbes with kindly rest,
And bodies were refresht with dew repast,
Fayre Una gan Fidelia fayre request,
To have her knight into her schoolehous plaste,
That of her heavenly learning he might taste,
And heare the wisedom of her wordes divine.
She graunted, and that knight so much agraste,
That she him taught celestiall discipline,
And opened his dull eyes, that light mote in them shine.

XIX

And that her sacred Booke, with blood ywritt,
That none could reade, except she did them teach,
She unto him disclosed every whitt,
And heavenly documents thereout did preach,
That weaker witt of man could never reach,
Of God, of grace, of justice, of free will,
That wonder was to heare her goodly speach:
For she was hable with her wordes to kill,
And rayse againe to life the hart that she did thrill.

XX

And when she list poure out her larger spright,
She would commaund the hasty sunne to stay,
Or backward turne his course from hevens hight:
Sometimes great hostes of men she could dismay;
Dry-shod to passe, she parts the flouds in tway;
And eke huge mountaines from their native seat
She would commanund, themselves to beare away,
And throw in raging sea with roaring threat:
Almightie God her gave such powre and puissaunce great.

XXI

The faithfull knight now grew in litle space,
By hearing her, and by her sisters lore,
To such perfection of all hevenly grace,
That wretched world he gan for to abhore,
And mortall life gan loath, as thing forlore,
Greevd with remembrance of his wicked wayes,
And prickt with anguish of his sinnes so sore,
That he desirde to end his wretched dayes:
So much the dart of sinfull guilt the soule dismayes.

XXII

But wise Speranza gave him comfort sweet,
And taught him how to take assured hold
Upon her silver anchor, as was meet;
Els had his sinnes so great and manifold
Made him forget all that Fidelia told.
In this distressed doubtfull agony,
When him his dearest Una did behold,
Disdeining life, desiring leave to dye,
She found her selfe assayld with great perplexity:

XXIII

And came to Caelia to declare her smart;
Who, well acquainted with that commune plight,
Which sinfull horror workes in wounded hart,
Her wisely comforted all that she might,
With goodly counsell and advisement right;
And streightway sent with carefull diligence,
To fetch a leach, the which had great insight
In that disease of grieved conscience,
And well could cure the same: his name was Patience.

XXIV

Who, comming to that sowle-diseased knight,
Could hardly him intreat to tell his grief:
Which knowne, and all that noyd his heavie spright
Well searcht, eftsoones he gan apply relief
Of salves and med'cines, which had passing prief,
And there to added wordes of wondrous might:
By which to ease he him recured brief,
And much aswag'd the passion of his plight,
That he his paine endur'd, as seeming now more light.

XXV

But yet the cause and root of all his ill,
Inward corruption and infected sin,
Not purg'd nor heald, behind remained still,
And festring sore did ranckle yett within,
Close creeping twixt the marow and the skin.
Which to extirpe, he laid him privily
Downe in a darksome lowly place far in,
Whereas he meant his corrosives to apply,
And with streight diet tame his stubborne malady.

XXVI

In ashes and sackcloth he did array
His daintie corse, proud humors to abate,
And dieted with fasting every day,
The swelling of his woundes to mitigate,
And made him pray both earely and eke late:
And ever as superfluous flesh did rott,
Amendment readie still at hand did wayt,
To pluck it out with pincers fyrie whott,
That soone in him was lefte no one corrupted jott.

XXVII

And bitter Penaunce, with an yron whip,
Was wont him once to disple every day:
And sharpe Remorse his hart did prick and nip,
That drops of blood thence like a well did play:
And sad Repentance used to embay
His body in salt water smarting sore,
The filthy blottes of sin to wash away.
So in short space they did to health restore
The man that would not live, but erst lay at deathes dore.

XXVIII

In which his torment often was so great,
That like a lyon he would cry and rore,
And rend his flesh, and his owne synewes eat.
His owne deare Una, hearing evermore
His ruefull shriekes and gronings, often tore
Her guiltlesse garments and her golden heare,
For pitty of his payne and anguish sore;
Yet all with patience wisely she did beare;
For well she wist, his cryme could els be never cleare.

XXIX

Whom, thus recover'd by wise Patience
And trew Repentaunce, they to Una brought;
Who, joyous of his cured conscience,
Him dearely kist, and fayrely eke besought
Himselfe to chearish, and consuming thought
To put away out of his carefull brest.
By this Charissa, late in child-bed brought,
Was woxen strong, and left her fruitfull nest;
To her fayre Una brought this unacquainted guest.

XXX

She was a woman in her freshest age,
Of wondrous beauty, and of bounty rare,
With goodly grace and comely personage,
That was on earth not easie to compare;
Full of great love, but Cupids wanton snare
As hell she hated, chaste in worke and will;
Her necke and brests were ever open bare,
That ay thereof her babes might sucke their fill:
The rest was all in yellow robes arayed still.

XXXI

A multitude of babes about her hong,
Playing their sportes, that joyd her to behold;
Whom still she fed, whiles they were weak and young,
But thrust them forth still, as they wexed old:
And on her head she wore a tyre of gold,
Adornd with gemmes and owches wondrous fayre,
Whose passing price uneath was to be told;
And by her sude there sate a gentle payre
Of turtle doves, she sitting in an yvory chayre.

XXXII

The knight and Una, entring, fayre her greet,
And bid her joy of that her happy brood;
Who them requites with court'sies seeming meet.
And entertaynes with friendly chearefull mood.

Then Una her besought, to be so good
As in her vertuous rules to schoole her knight,
Now after all his torment well withstood,
In that sad house of Penaunce, where his spright
Had past the paines of hell and long enduring night.

XXXIII

She was right joyious of her just request,
And taking by the hand that Faeries sonne,
Gan him instruct in everie good behest,
Of love, and righteousnes, and well to donne,
And wrath and hatred warely to shonne,
That drew on men Gods hatred and his wrath,
And many soules in dolours had fordonne:
In which when him she well instructed hath,
From thence to heaven she teacheth him the ready path.

XXXIV

Wherein his weaker wandring steps to guyde,
An auncient matrone she to her does call,
Whose sober lookes her wisedome well descryde:
Her name was Mercy, well knowne over all
To be both gratious and eke liberall:
To whom the carefull charge of him she gave,
To leade aright, that he should never fall
In all his waies through this wide worldes wave,
That Mercy in the end his righteous soule might save.

XXXV

The godly matrone by the hand him beares
Forth from her presence, by a narrow way,
Scattred with bushy thornes and ragged breares,
Which still before him she remov'd away,
That nothing might his ready passage stay:
And ever when his feet encombred were,
Or gan to shrinke, or from the right to stray,
She held him fast, and firmely did upbeare,
As carefull nourse her child from falling oft does reare.

XXXVI

Eftsoones unto an holy hospitall,
That was foreby the way, she did him bring,
In which seven bead-men, that had vowed all
Their life to service of high heavens King,
Did spend their daies in doing godly thing:
Their gates to all were open evermore,
That by the wearie way were traveiling,
And one sate wayting ever them before,
To call in commers by, that needy were and pore.

XXXVII

The first of them, that eldest was and best,
Of all the house had charge and governement,
As guardian and steward of the rest:
His office was to give entertainement
And lodging unto all that came and went:
Not unto such, as could him feast againe,
And double quite for that he on them spent,
But such as want of harbour did constraine:
Those for Gods sake his dewty was to entertaine.

XXXVIII

The second was as almner of the place:
His office was, the hungry for to feed,
And thristy give to drinke, a worke of grace:
He feard not once him selfe to be in need,
Ne car'd to hoord for those whom he did breede:
The grace of God he layd up still in store,
Which as a stocke he left unto his seede;
He had enough; what need him care for more?
And had he lesse, yet some he would give to the pore.

XXXIX

The third had of their wardrobe custody,
In which were not rich tyres, nor garments gay,
The plumes of pride, and winges of vanity,
But clothes meet to keepe keene cold away,
And naked nature seemely to aray;
With which bare wretched wights he dayly clad,
The images of God in earthly clay;
And if that no spare clothes to give he had,
His owne cote he would cut, and it distribute glad.

XL

The fourth appointed by his office was,
Poore prisoners to relieve with gratious ayd,
And captives to redeeme with price of bras,
From Turkes and Sarazins, which them had stayd;
And though they faulty were, yet well he wayd,
That God to us forgiveth every howre
Much more then that, why they in bands were layd,
And He, that harrowd hell with heavie stowre,
The faulty soules from thence brought to his heavenly bowre.

XLI

The fift had charge sick persons to attend,
And comfort those, in point of death which lay;
For them most needeth comfort in the end,
When sin, and hell, and death doe most dismay
The feeble soule departing hence away.
All is but lost, that living we bestow,
If not well ended at our dying day.
O man, have mind of that last bitter throw;
For as the tree does fall, so lyes it ever low.

XLII

The sixt had charge of them now being dead,
In seemely sort their corses to engrave,
And deck with dainty flowres their brydall bed,
That to their heavenly spouse both sweet and brave
They might appeare, when he their soules shall save.
The wondrous workmanship of Gods owne mould,
Whose face He made, all beastes to feare,
and gave
All in his hand, even dead we honour should.
Ah! dearest God me graunt, I dead be not defould.

XLIII

The seventh, now after death and buriall done,
Had charge the tender orphans of the dead
And wydowes ayd, least they should be undone:
In face of judgement he their right would plead,
No ought the powre of mighty men did dread
In their defence, nor would for gold or fee
Be wonne their rightfull causes downe to tread:
And when they stood in most necessitee,
He did supply their want, and gave them ever free.

XLIV

There when the Elfin knight arrived was,
The first and chiefest of the seven, whose care
Was guests to welcome, towardes him did pas:
Where seeing Mercie, that his steps upbare
And alwaies led, to her with reverence rare
He humbly louted in meeke lowlinesse,
And seemely welcome for her did prepare:
For of their order she was patronesse,
Albe Charissa were their chiefest founderesse.

XLV

There she awhile him stayes, him selfe to rest,
That to the rest more hable he might bee:
During which time, in every good behest
And godly worke of almes and charitee
Shee him instructed with great industree:
Shortly therein so perfect he became,
That, from the first unto the last degree,
His mortall life he learned had to frame
In holy righteousnesse, without rebuke or blame.

XLVI

Thence forward by that painfull way they pas,
Forth to an hill, that was both steepe and hy;
On top whereof a sacred chappell was,
And eke a litle hermitage thereby,
Wherein an aged holy man did lie,
That day and night said his devotion,
Ne other worldly busines did apply:
His name was Hevenly Contemplation;
Of God and goodnes was his meditation.

XLVII

Great grace that old man to him given had;
For God he often saw from heavens hight,
All were his earthly eien both blunt and bad,
And through great age had lost their kindly sight,
Yet wondrous quick and persaunt was his spright,
As eagles eie, that can behold the sunne.
That hill they scale with all their powre and might,
That his fraile thighes, nigh weary and fordonne,
Gan faile; but by her helpe the top at last he wonne.

XLVIII

There they doe finde that godly aged sire,
With snowy lockes adowne his shoulders shed,
As hoary frost with spangles doth attire
The mossy braunches of an oke halfe ded.
Each bone might through his body well be red,
And every sinew seene, through his long fast:
For nought he car'd his carcas long unfed;
His mind was full of spirituall repast,
And pyn'd his flesh, to keepe his body low and chast.

XLIX

Who, when these two approching he aspide,
At their first presence grew agrieved sore,
That forst him lay his hevenly thoughts aside;
And had he not that dame respected more,
Whom highly he did reverence and adore,
He would not once have moved for the knight.
They him saluted, standing far afore;
Who, well them greeting, humbly did requight,
And asked, to what end they clomb that tedious hight.

L

'What end,' quoth she, 'should cause us take such paine,
But that same end, which every living wight
Should make his marke, high heaven to attaine?
Is not from hence the way, that leadeth right
To that most glorious house, that glistreth bright
With burning starres and everliving fire,
Whereof the keies are to thy hand behight
By wise Fidelia? Shee doth thee require,
To shew it to this knight, according his desire.'

LI

'Thrise happy man,' said then the father grave,
'Whose staggering steps thy steady hand doth lead,
And shewes the way, his sinfull soule to save!
Who better can the way to heaven aread
Then thou thy selfe, that was both borne and bred
In hevenly throne, where thousand angels shine?
Thou doest the praiers of the righteous sead
Present before the Majesty Divine,
And His avenging wrath to clemency incline.

LII

'Yet, since thou bidst, thy pleasure shalbe donne.
Then come, thou man of earth, and see the way,
That never yet was seene of Faries sonne,
That never leads the traveiler astray,
But, after labors long and sad delay,
Brings them to joyous rest and endlesse blis.
But first thou must a season fast and pray,
Till from her bands the spright assoiled is,
And have her strength recur'd from fraile infirmitis.'

LIII

That done, he leads him to the highest mount;
Such one, as that same mighty man of God,
That blood-red billowes like a walled front
On either side disparted with his rod,
Till that his army dry-foot through them yod,
Dwelt forty daies upon; where writt in stone
With bloody letters by the hand of God,
The bitter doome of death and balefull mone
He did receive, whiles flashing fire about him shone.

LIV

Or like that sacred hill, whose head full hie,
Adornd with fruitfull olives all arownd,
Is, as it were for endlesse memory
Of that deare Lord, who oft thereon was fownd,
For ever with a flowring girlond crownd:
Or like that pleasaunt mount, that is for ay
Through famous poets verse each where renownd,
On which the thrise three learned ladies play
Their hevenly notes, and make full many a lovely lay.

LV

From thence, far off he unto him did shew
A litle path, that was both steepe and long,
Which to a goodly citty led his vew;
Whose wals and towres were builded high and strong
Of perle and precious stone, that earthly tong
Cannot describe, nor wit of man can tell;
Too high a ditty for my simple song:
The Citty of the Greate King hight it well,
Wherein eternall peace and happinesse doth dwell.

LVI

As he thereon stood gazing, he might see
The blessed angels to and fro descend
From highest heven, in gladsome companee,
And with great joy into that citty wend,
As commonly as frend does with his frend.
Whereat he wondred much, and gan enquere,
What stately building durst so high extend
Her lofty towres unto the starry sphere,
And what unknowen nation there empeopled were.

LVII

'Faire knight,' quoth he, 'Hierusalem that is,
The New Hierusalem, that God has built
For those to dwell in, that are chosen his,
His chosen people purg'd from sinful guilt,
With pretious blood, which cruelly was spilt
On cursed tree, of that unspotted Lam,
That for the sinnes of al the world was kilt:
Now are they saints all in that citty sam,
More dear unto their God, then younglings to their dam.'

LVIII

'Till now,' said then the knight, 'I weened well,
That great Cleopolis, where I have beene,
In which that fairest Fary Queene doth dwell,
The fairest citty was, that might be seene;
And that bright towre all built of christall clene,
Panthea, seemd the brightest thing that was:
But now by proofe all otherwise I weene;
For this great citty that does far surpas,
And this bright angels towre quite dims that towre of glas.'

LIX

'Most trew,' then said the holy aged man;
'Yet is Cleopolis, for earthly frame,
The fairest peece that eie beholden can:
And well beseemes all knights of noble name,
That covett in th' immortall booke of fame
To be eternized, that same to haunt,
And doen their service to that soveraigne dame,
That glory does to them for guerdon graunt:
For she is hevenly borne, and heaven may justly vaunt.

LX

And thou, faire ymp, sprong out from English race,
How ever now accompted Elfins sonne,
Well worthy doest thy service for her grace,
To aide a virgin desolate foredonne.
But when thou famous victory hast wonne,
And high emongst all knights hast hong thy shield,
Thenceforth the suitt of earthly conquest shonne,
And wash thy hands from guilt of bloody field:
For blood can nought but sin, and wars but sorrows yield.

LXI

'Then seek this path, that I to thee presage,
Which after all to heaven shall thee send;
Then peaceably thy painefull pilgrimage
To yonder same Hierusalem doe bend,
Where is for thee ordaind a blessed end:
For thou, emongst those saints whom thou doest see,
Shalt be a saint, and thine owne nations frend
And patrone: thou Saint George shalt called bee,
Saint George of mery England, the signe of victoree.'

LXII

'Unworthy wretch,' quoth he, 'of so great grace,
How dare I thinke such glory to attaine?'
'These, that have it attaynd, were in like cace,'
Quoth he, 'as wretched, and liv'd in like paine.'
'But deeds of armes must I at last be faine
And ladies love to leave, so dearely bought?'
'What need of armes, where peace doth ay remaine,'
Said he, 'and battailes none are to be fought?
As for loose loves, they' are vaine, and vanish into nought.'

LXIII

'O let me not,' quoth he, 'then turne againe
Backe to the world, whose joyes so fruitlesse are,
But let me heare for aie in peace remaine,
Or streight way on that last long voiage fare,
That nothing may my present hope empare.'
'That may not be,' said he, 'ne maist thou yitt
Forgoe that royal maides bequeathed care,
Who did her cause into thy hand committ,
Till from her cursed foe thou have her freely quitt.'

LXIV

'Then shall I soone,' quoth he, 'so God me grace,
Abett that virgins cause disconsolate,
And shortly back returne unto this place,
To walke this way in pilgrims poore estate.
But now aread, old father, why of late
Didst thou behight me borne of English blood,
Whom all a Faeries sonne doen nominate?'
'That word shall I,' said he, 'avouchen good,
Sith to thee is unknowne the cradle of thy brood.

LXV

'For well I wote, thou springst from ancient race
Of Saxon kinges, that have with mightie hand
And many bloody battailes fought in place
High reard their royall throne in Britane land,
And vanquisht them, unable to withstand:
From thence a Faery thee unweeting reft,
There as thou slepst in tender swadling band,
And her base Elfin brood there for thee left:
Such men do chaungelings call, so chaungd by Faeries theft.

LXVI

'Thence she, thee brought into this Faery lond,
And in an heaped furrow did thee hyde;
Where thee a ploughman all unweeting fond,
As he his toylesome teme that way did guyde,
And brought thee up in ploughmans state to byde,
Whereof Georgos he thee gave to name;
Till prickt with courage, and thy forces pryde,
To Fary court thou cam'st to seeke for fame,
And prove thy puissaunt armes, as seemes thee best became.'

LXVII

'O holy sire,' quoth he, 'how shall I quight
The many favours I with thee have fownd,
That hast my name and nation redd aright,
And taught the way that does to heaven bownd?'
This saide, adowne he looked to the grownd,
To have returnd, but dazed were his eyne,
Through passing brightnes, which did quite confound
His feeble sence, and too exceeding shyne:
So darke are earthly thinges compard to things divine.

LXVIII

At last, whenas himselfe he gan to fynd,
To Una back he cast him to retyre;
Who him awaited still with pensive mynd.
Great thankes and goodly meed to that good syre
He thens departing gave, for his paynes hyre.
So came to Una, who him joyd to see,
And after litle rest, gan him desyre,
Of her adventure myndfull for to bee.
So leave they take of Coelia and her daughters three.

CANTO XI

The knight with that old Dragon fights
Two dayes incessantly:
The third, him overthrowes, and gayns
Most glorious victory.

I

HIGH time now gan it wex for Una fayre
To thinke of those her captive parents deare,
And their forwasted kingdom to repayre:
Whereto whenas they now approched neare,
With hartie wordes her knight she gan to cheare,
And in her modest maner thus bespake:
'Deare knight, as deare as ever knight was deare,
That all these sorrowes suffer for my sake,
High heven behold the tedious toyle, ye for me take.

II

'Now are we come unto my native soyle,
And to the place, where all our perilles dwell;
Here hauntes that feend, and does his dayly spoyle;
Therefore henceforth bee at your keeping well,
And ever ready for your foeman fell.
The sparke of noble corage now awake,
And strive your excellent selfe to excell;
That shall ye evermore renowmed make
Above all knights on earth, that batteill undertake.'

III

And pointing forth, 'Lo! yonder is,' said she, 'The brasen
towre, in which my parents deare
For dread of that huge feend emprisond be;
Whom I from far see on the walles appeare,
Whose sight my feeble soule doth greatly cheare:
And on the top of all I do espye
The watchman wayting tydings glad to heare;
That, O my parents, might I happily
Unto you bring, to ease you of your misery!'

IV

With that they heard a roaring hideous sownd,
That all the ayre with terror filled wyde,
And seemd uneath to shake the stedfast ground.
Eftsoones that dreadfull dragon they espyde,
Where stretcht he lay upon the sunny side
Of a great hill, himselfe like a great hill.
But all so soone as he from far descryde
Those glistring armes, that heven with light did fill,
He rousd himselfe full blyth, and hastned them untill.

V

Then badd the knight his lady yede aloof,
And to an hill her selfe withdraw asyde,
From whence she might behold that battailles proof,
And eke be safe from daunger far descryde:
She him obayd, and turnd a litle wyde.
Now, O thou sacred Muse, most learned dame,
Fayre ympe of Phoebus, and his aged bryde,
The nourse of time and everlasting fame,
That warlike handes ennoblest with immortall name;

VI

O gently come into my feeble brest,
Come gently, but not with that mightie rage,
Wherewith the martiall troupes thou doest infest,
And hartes of great heroes doest enrage,
That nought their kindled corage may aswage:
Soone as thy dreadfull trompe begins to sownd,
The god of warre with his fiers equipage
Thou doest awake, sleepe never he so sownd,
And scared nations doest with horror sterne astownd.

VII

Fayre goddesse, lay that furious fitt asyde,
Till I of warres and bloody Mars doe sing,
And Bryton fieldes with Sarazin blood bedyde,
Twixt that great Faery Queene and Paynim King,
That with their horror heven and earth did ring,
A worke of labour long, and endlesse prayse:
But now a while lett downe that haughtie string,
And to my tunes thy second tenor rayse,
That I this man of God his godly armes may blaze.

VIII

By this the dreadfull beast drew nigh to hand,
Halfe flying and halfe footing in his haste,
That with his largenesse measured much land,
And made wide shadow under his huge waste;
As mountaine doth the valley overcaste.
Approching nigh, he reared high afore
His body monstrous, horrible, and vaste,
Which, to increase his wondrous greatnes more,
Was swoln with wrath, and poyson, and with bloody gore.

IX

And over, all with brasen scales was armd,
Like plated cote of steele, so couched neare,
That nought mote perce, ne might his corse bee harmd
With dint of swerd, nor push of pointed speare:
Which as an eagle, seeing pray appeare,
His aery plumes doth rouze, full rudely dight,
So shaked he, that horror was to heare:
For as the clashing of an armor bright,
Such noyse his rouzed scales did send unto the knight.

X

His flaggy winges, when forth he did display,
Were like two sayles, in which the hollow wynd
Is gathered full, and worketh speedy way:
And eke the pennes, that did his pineons bynd,
Were like mayne-yardes, with flying canvas lynd,
With which whenas him list the ayre to beat,
And there by force unwonted passage fynd,
The clowdes before him fledd for terror great,
And all the hevens stood still, amazed with his threat.

XI

His huge long tayle, wownd up in hundred foldes,
Does overspred his long bras-scaly back,
Whose wreathed boughtes when ever he unfoldes,
And thick entangled knots adown does slack,
Bespotted as with shieldes of red and blacke,
It sweepeth all the land behind him farre,
And of three furlongs does but litle lacke;
And at the point two stinges in fixed arre,
Both deadly sharp, that sharpest steele exceeden farr.

XII

But stinges and sharpest steele did far exceed
The sharpnesse of his cruel rending clawes:
Dead was it sure, as sure as death in deed,
What ever thing does touch his ravenous pawes,
Or what within his reach he ever drawes.
But his most hideous head my tongue to tell
Does tremble; for his deepe devouring jawes
Wyde gaped, like the griesly mouth of hell,
Through which into his darke abysse all ravin fell.

XIII

And, that more wondrous was, in either jaw
Three ranckes of yron teeth enraunged were,
In which yett trickling blood and gobbets raw
Of late devoured bodies did appeare,
That sight thereof bredd cold congealed feare:
Which to increase, and all atonce to kill,
A cloud of smoothering smoke and sulphure seare
Out of his stinking gorge forth steemed still,
That all the ayre about with smoke and stench did fill.

XIV

His blazing eyes, like two bright shining shieldes,
Did burne with wrath, and sparkled living fyre;
As two broad beacons, sett in open fieldes,
Send forth their flames far of to every shyre,
And warning give, that enimies conspyre
With fire and sword the region to invade;
So flam'd his eyne with rage and rancorous yre:
But far within, as in a hollow glade,
Those glaring lampes were sett, that made a dreadfull shade.

XV

So dreadfully he towardes him did pas,
Forelifting up a loft his speckled brest,
And often bounding on the brused gras,
As for great joyaunce of his newcome guest.
Eftsoones he gan advaunce his haughty crest,
As chauffed bore his bristles doth upreare,
And shoke his scales to battaile ready drest,
That made the Redcrosse Knight nigh quake for feare,
As bidding bold defyaunce to his foeman neare.

XVI

The knight gan fayrely couch his steady speare,
And fiersely ran at him with rigorous might:
The pointed steele, arriving rudely theare,
His harder hyde would nether perce nor bight,
But, glauncing by, foorth passed forward right:
Yet, sore amoved with so puissaunt push,
The wrathfull beast about him turned light,
And him so rudely, passing by, did brush
With his long tayle, that horse and man to ground did rush.

XVII

Both horse and man up lightly rose againe,
And fresh encounter towardes him addrest:
But th' ydle stroke yet backe recoyld in vaine,
And found no place his deadly point to rest.
Exceeding rage enflam'd the furious beast,
To be avenged of so great despight;
For never felt his imperceable brest
So wondrous force from hand of living wight;
Yet had he prov'd the powre of many a puissant knight.

XVIII

Then, with his waving wings displayed wyde,
Himselfe up high he lifted from the ground,
And with strong flight did forcibly divyde
The yielding ayre, which nigh too feeble found
Her flitting parts, and element unsound,
To beare so great a weight: he, cutting way
With his broad sayles, about him soared round;
At last, low stouping with unweldy sway,
Snatcht up both horse and man, to beare them quite away.

XIX

Long he them bore above the subject plaine,
So far as ewghen bow a shaft may send,
Till struggling strong did him at last constraine
To let them downe before his flightes end:
As hagard hauke, presuming to contend
With hardy fowle, above his hable might,
His wearie pounces all in vaine doth spend
To trusse the pray too heavy for his flight;
Which, comming down to ground, does free it selfe by fight.

XX

He so disseized of his gryping grosse,
The knight his thrillant speare againe assayd
In his bras-plated body to embosse,
And three mens strength unto the stroake he layd;
Wherewith the stiffe beame quaked, as affrayd,
And glauncing from his scaly necke, did glyde
Close under his left wing, then broad displayd.
The percing steele there wrought a wound full wyde,
That with the uncouth smart the monster lowdly cryde.

XXI

He cryde, as raging seas are wont to rore,
When wintry storme his wrathful wreck does threat;
The rolling billowes beat the regged shore,
As they the earth would shoulder from her seat,
And greedy gulfe does gape, as he would eat
His neighbour element in his revenge:
Then gin the blustring brethren boldly threat,
To move the world from off his steadfast henge,
And boystrous battaile make, each other to avenge.

XXII

The steely head stuck fast still in his flesh,
Till with his cruell clawes he snatcht the wood,
And quite a sunder broke. Forth flowed fresh
A gushing river of blacke gory blood,
That drowned all the land, whereon he stood:
The streame thereof would drive a water-mill.
Trebly augmented was his furious mood
With bitter sence of his deepe rooted ill,
That flames of fire he threw forth from his large nosethril.

XXIII

His hideous tayle then hurled he about,
And therewith all enwrapt the nimble thyes
Of his froth-fomy steed, whose courage stout
Striving to loose the knott, that fast him tyes,
Himselfe in streighter bandes too rash implyes,
That to the ground he is perforce constraynd
To throw his ryder: who can quickly ryse
From of the earth, with durty blood distaynd,
For that reprochfull fall right fowly he disdaynd.

XXIV

And fercely tooke his trenchand blade in hand,
With which he stroke so furious and so fell,
That nothing seemd the puissaunce could withstand:
Upon his crest the hardned yron fell;
But his more hardned crest was armd so well,
That deeper dint therein it would not make;
Yet so extremely did the buffe him quell,
That from thenceforth he shund the like to take,
But, when he saw them come, he did them still forsake.

XXV

The knight was wroth to see his stroke beguyld,
And smot againe with more outrageous might;
But backe againe the sparcling steele recoyld,
And left not any marke where it did light,
As if in adamant rocke it had beene pight.
The beast, impatient of his smarting wound,
And of so fierce and forcible despight,
Thought with his winges to stye above the ground;
But his late wounded wing unserviceable found.

XXVI

Then, full of griefe and anguish vehement,
He lowdly brayd, that like was never heard,
And from his wide devouring oven sent
A flake of fire, that, flashing in his beard,
Him all amazd, and almost made afeard:
The scorching flame sore swinged all his face,
And through his armour all his body seard,
That he could not endure so cruell cace,
But thought his armes to leave, and helmet to unlace.

XXVII

Not that great champion of the antique world,
Whom famous poetes verse so much doth vaunt,
And hath for twelve huge labours high extold,
So many furies and sharpe fits did haunt,
When him the poysoned garment did enchaunt,
With Centaures blood and bloody verses charmd,
As did this knight twelve thousand dolours daunt,
Whom fyrie steele now burnt, that erst him armd,
That erst him goodly armd, now most of all him harmd.

XXVIII

Faynt, wearie, sore, emboyled, grieved, brent
With heat, toyle, wounds, armes, smart, and inward fire,
That never man such mischiefes did torment;
Death better were, death did he oft desire,
But death will never come, when needes require.
Whom so dismayd when that his foe beheld,
He cast to suffer him no more respire,
But gan his sturdy sterne about to weld,
And him so strongly stroke, that to the ground him feld.

XXIX

It fortuned (as fayre it then befell,)
Behynd his backe, unweeting, where he stood,
Of auncient time there was a springing well,
From which fast trickled forth a silver flood,
Full of great vertues, and for med'cine good.
Whylome, before that cursed dragon got
That happy land, and all with innocent blood
Defyld those sacred waves, it rightly hot
The Well of Life, ne yet his vertues had forgot.

XXX

For unto life the dead it could restore,
And guilt of sinfull crimes cleane wash away;
Those that with sicknesse were infected sore
It could recure, and aged long decay
Renew, as one were borne that very day.
Both Silo this, and Jordan, did excell,
And th' English Bath, and eke the German Spau,
Ne can Cephise, nor Hebrus match this well:
Into the same the knight back overthrowen fell.

XXXI

Now gan the golden Phoebus for to steepe
His fierie face in billowes of the west,
And his faint steedes watred in ocean deepe,
Whiles from their journall labours they did rest,
When that infernall monster, having kest
His wearie foe into that living well,
Can high advaunce his broad discoloured brest
Above his wonted pitch, with countenance fell,
And clapt his yron wings, as victor he did dwell.

XXXII

Which when his pensive lady saw from farre,
Great woe and sorrow did her soule assay,
As weening that the sad end of the warre,
And gan to highest God entirely pray,
That feared chaunce from her to turne away:
With folded hands, and knees full lowly bent,
All night shee watcht, ne once adowne would lay
Her dainty limbs in her sad dreriment,
But praying still did wake, and waking did lament.

XXXIII

The morrow next gan earely to appeare,
That Titan rose to runne his daily race;
But earely, ere the morrow next gan reare
Out of the sea faire Titans deawy face,
Up rose the gentle virgin from her place,
And looked all about, if she might spy
Her loved knight to move his manly pace:
For she had great doubt of his safety,
Since late she saw him fall before his enimy.

XXXIV

At last she saw, where he upstarted brave
Out of the well, wherein he drenched lay:
As eagle fresh out of the ocean wave,
Where he hath lefte his plumes all hory gray,
And deckt himselfe with fethers youthly gay,
Like eyas hauke up mounts unto the skies,
His newly budded pineons to assay,
And merveiles at him selfe, stil as he flies:
So new this new-borne knight to battell new did rise.

XXXV

Whom when the damned feend so fresh did spy,
No wonder if he wondred at the sight,
And doubted, whether his late enimy
It were, or other new supplied knight.
He, now to prove his late renewed might,
High brandishing his bright deaw-burning blade,
Upon his crested scalp so sore did smite,
That to the scull a yawning wound it made:
The deadly dint his dulled sences all dismaid.

XXXVI

I wote not whether the revenging steele
Were hardned with that holy water dew,
Wherein he fell, or sharper edge did feele,
Or his baptized hands now greater grew,
Or other secret vertue did ensew;
Els never could the force of fleshly arme,
Ne molten mettall, in his blood embrew:
For till that stownd could never wight him harme,
By subtilty, nor slight, nor might, nor mighty charme.

XXXVII

The cruell wound enraged him so sore,
That loud he yelled for exceeding paine;
As hundred ramping lions seemd to rore,
Whom ravenous hunger did thereto constraine:
Then gan he tosse aloft his stretched traine,
And therewith scourge the buxome aire so sore,
That to his force to yielden it was faine;
Ne ought his sturdy strokes might stand afore,
That high trees overthrew, and rocks in peeces tore.

XXXVIII

The same advauncing high above his head,
With sharpe intended sting so rude him smott,
That to the earth him drove, as stricken dead,
Ne living wight would have him life behott:
The mortall sting his angry needle shott
Quite through his shield, and in his shoulder seasd,
Where fast it stucke, ne would thereout be gott:
The griefe thereof him wondrous sore diseasd,
Ne might his rancling paine with patience be appeasd.

XXXIX

But yet more mindfull of his honour deare
Then of the grievons smart, which him did wring,
From loathed soile he can him lightly reare,
And strove to loose the far in fixed sting:
Which when in vaine he tryde with struggeling,
Inflam'd with wrath, his raging blade he hefte,
And strooke so strongly, that the knotty string
Of his huge taile he quite a sonder clefte;
Five joints thereof he hewd, and but the stump him lefte.

XL

Hart cannot thinke, what outrage and what cries,
With fowle enfouldred smoake and flashing fire,
The hell-bred beast threw forth unto the skies,
That all was covered with darknesse dire:
Then fraught with rancour, and engorged yre,
He cast at once him to avenge for all,
And gathering up himselfe out of the mire
With his uneven wings, did fiercely fall
Upon his sunne-bright shield, and grypt it fast withall.

XLI

Much was the man encombred with his hold,
In feare to lose his weapon in his paw,
Ne wist yett how his talaunts to unfold;
For harder was from Cerberus greedy jaw
To plucke a bone, then from his cruell claw
To reave by strength the griped gage away:
Thrise he assayd it from his foote to draw,
And thrise in vaine to draw it did assay;
It booted nought to thinke to robbe him of his pray.

XLII

Tho, when he saw no power might prevaile,
His trusty sword he cald to his last aid,
Wherewith he fiersly did his foe assaile,
And double blowes about him stoutly laid,
That glauncing fire out of the yron plaid,
As sparckles from the andvile use to fly,
When heavy hammers on the wedg are swaid;
Therewith at last he forst him to unty
One of his grasping feete, him to defend thereby.

XLIII

The other foote, fast fixed on his shield,
Whenas no strength nor stroks mote him constraine
To loose, ne yet the warlike pledg to yield,
He smott thereat with all his might and maine,
That nought so wondrous puissaunce might sustaine:
Upon the joint the lucky steele did light,
And made such way, that hewd it quite in twaine:
The paw yett missed not his minisht might,
But hong still on the shield, as it at first was pight.

XLIV

For griefe thereof, and divelish despight,
From his infernall fournace forth he threw
Huge flames, that dimmed all the hevens light,
Enrold in duskish smoke and brimstone blew;
As burning Aetna from his boyling stew
Doth belch out flames, and rockes in peeces broke,
And ragged ribs of mountaines molten new,
Enwrapt in coleblacke clowds and filthy smoke,
That al the land with stench, and heven with horror choke.

XLV

The heate whcreof, and harmefull pestilence,
So sore him noyd, that forst him to retire
A litle backeward for his best defence,
To save his body from the scorching fire,
Which he from hellish entrailes did expire.
It chaunst (Eternall God that chaunce did guide)
As he recoiled backeward, in the mire
His nigh foreweried feeble feet did slide,
And downe he fell, with dread of shame sore terrifide.

XLVI

There grew a goodly tree him faire beside,
Loaden with fruit and apples rosy redd,
As they in pure vermilion had beene dide,
Whereof great vertues over all were redd:
For happy life to all which thereon fedd,
And life eke everlasting did befall:
Great God it planted in that blessed stedd
With his Almighty hand, and did it call
The Tree of Life, the crime of our first fathers fall.

XLVII

In all the world like was not to be fownd,
Save in that soile, where all good things did grow,
And freely sprong out of the fruitfull grownd,
As incorrupted Nature did them sow,
Till that dredd dragon all did overthrow.
Another like faire tree eke grew thereby,
Whereof who so did eat, eftsoones did know
Both good and ill: O mournfull memory!
That tree through one mans fault hath doen us all to dy.

XLVIII

From that first tree forth flowd, as from a well,
A trickling streame of balme, most soveraine
And dainty deare, which on the ground still fell,
And overflowed all the fertile plaine,
As it had deawed bene with timely raine:
Life and long health that gracious ointment gave,
And deadly wounds could heale, and reare againe
The sencelesse corse appointed for the grave.
Into that same he fell: which did from death him save.

XLIX

For nigh thereto the ever damned beast
Durst not approch, for he was deadly made,
And al that life preserved did detest:
Yet he it oft adventur'd to invade.
By this the drouping day-light gan to fade,
And yield his rowme to sad succeeding night,
Who with her sable mantle gan to shade
The face of earth, and wayes of living wight,
And high her burning torch set up in heaven bright.

L

When gentle Una saw the second fall
Of her deare knight, who, weary of long fight,
And faint through losse of blood, moov'd not at all,
But lay as in a dreame of deepe delight,
Besmeard with pretious balme, whose vertuous might
Did heale his woundes, and scorching heat alay,
Againe she stricken was with sore affright,
And for his safetie gan devoutly pray,
And watch the noyous night, and wait for joyous day.

LI

The joyous day gan early to appeare,
And fayre Aurora from the deawy bed
Of aged Tithone gan her selfe to reare,
With rosy cheekes, for shame as blushing red;
Her golden locks for hast were loosely shed
About her eares, when Una her did marke
Clymbe to her charet, all with flowers spred,
From heven high to chace the chearelesse darke;
With mery note her lowd salutes the mounting larke.

LII

Then freshly up arose the doughty knight,
All healed of his hurts and woundes wide,
And did himselfe to battaile ready dight;
Whose early foe awaiting him beside
To have devourd, so soone as day he spyde,
When now he saw himselfe so freshly reare,
As if late fight had nought him damnifyde,
He woxe dismaid, and gan his fate to feare;
Nathlesse with wonted rage he him advaunced neare.

LIII

And in his first encounter, gaping wyde,
He thought attonce him to have swallowd quight,
And rusht upon him with outragious pryde;
Who him rencountring fierce, as hauke in flight,
Perforce rebutted backe. The weapon bright,
Taking advantage of his open jaw,
Ran through his mouth with so importune might,
That deepe emperst his darksom hollow maw,
And, back retyrd, his life blood forth with all did draw.

LIV

So downe he fell, and forth his life did breath,
That vanisht into smoke and cloudes swift;
So downe he fell, that th' earth him underneath
Did grone, as feeble so great load to lift;
So downe he fell, as an huge rocky clift,
Whose false foundacion waves have washt away,
With dreadfull poyse is from the mayneland rift,
And, rolling downe, great Neptune doth dismay;
So downe he fell, and like an heaped mountaine lay.

LV

The knight him selfe even trembled at his fall,
So huge and horrible a masse it seemd;
And his deare lady, that beheld it all,
Durst not approch for dread which she misdeemd;
But yet at last, whenas the direfull feend
She saw not stirre, of-shaking vaine affright,
She nigher drew, and saw that joyous end:
Then God she praysd, and thankt her faithfull knight,
That had atchievde so great a conquest by his might.

CANTO XII

Fayre Una to the Redcrosse Knight
Betrouthed is with joy:
Though false Duessa, it to barre,
Her false sleightes doe imploy.

I

BEHOLD! I see the haven nigh at hand,
To which I meane my wearie course to bend;
Vere the maine shete, and beare up with the land,
The which afore is fayrly to be kend,
And seemeth safe from storms that may offend:
There this fayre virgin, wearie of her way,
Must landed bee, now at her journeyes end;
There eke my feeble barke a while may stay,
Till mery wynd and weather call her thence away.

II

Scarsely had Phiebus in the glooming east
Yett harnessed his fyrie-footed teeme,
Ne reard above the earth his flaming creast,
When the last deadly smoke aloft did steeme,
That signe of last outbreathed life did seeme
Unto the watchman on the castle wall;
Who thereby dead that balefull beast did deeme,
And to his lord and lady lowd gan call,
To tell, how he had seene the dragons fatall fall.

III

Uprose with hasty joy, and feeble speed,
That aged syre, the lord of all that land,
And looked forth, to weet if trew indeed
Those tydinges were, as he did understand:
Which whenas trew by tryall he out fond,
He badd to open wyde his brasen gate,
Which long time had beene shut, and out of hond
Proclaymed joy and peace through all his state;
For dead now was their foe, which them forrayed late.

IV

Then gan triumphant trompets sownd on hye,
That sent to heven the ecchoed report
Of their new joy, and happie victory
Gainst him, that had them long opprest with tort,
And fast imprisoned in sieged fort.
Then all the people, as in solemne feast,
To him assembled with one full consort,
Rejoycing at the fall of that great beast,
From whose eternall bondage now they were releast.

V

Forth came that auncient lord and aged queene,
Arayd in antique robes downe to the grownd,
And sad habiliments right well beseene:
A noble crew about them waited rownd
Of sage and sober peres, all gravely gownd;
Whom far before did march a goodly band
Of tall young men, all hable armes to sownd;
But now they laurell braunches bore in hand,
Glad signe of victory and peace in all their land.

VI

Unto that doughtie conquerour they came,
And him before themselves prostrating low,
Their lord and patrone loud did him proclame,
And at his feet their lawrell boughes did throw.
Soone after them, all dauncing on a row,
The comely virgins came, with girlands dight,
As fresh as flowres in medow greene doe grow,
When morning deaw upon their leaves doth light:
And in their handes sweet timbrels all upheld on hight.

VII

And them before, the fry of children young
Their wanton sportes and childish mirth did play,
And to the maydens sownding tymbrels song,
In well attuned notes, a joyous lay,
And made delightfull musick all the way,
Untill they came where that faire virgin stood.
As fayre Diana, in fresh sommers day,
Beholdes her nymphes enraung'd in shady wood,
Some wrestle, some do run, some bathe in christall flood;

VIII

So she beheld those maydens meriment
With chearefull vew; who, when to her they came,
Themselves to ground with gracious humblesse bent,
And her ador'd by honorable name,
Lifting to heven her everlasting fame:
Then on her head they sett a girlond greene,
And crowned her twixt earnest and twixt game;
Who, in her self-resemblance well beseene,
Did seeme, such as she was, a goodly maiden queene.

IX

And after all the raskall many ran,
Heaped together in rude rablement,
To see the face of that victorious man;
Whom all admired, as from heaven sent,
And gazd upon with gaping wonderment.
But when they came where that dead dragon lay,
Stretcht on the ground in monstrous large extent,
The sight with ydle feare did them dismay,
Ne durst approch him nigh, to touch, or once assay.

X

Some feard and fledd; some feard, and well it faynd;
One, that would wiser seeme then all the rest,
Warnd him not touch, for yet perhaps remaynd
Some lingring life within his hollow brest,
Or in his wombe might lurke some hidden nest
Of many dragonettes, his fruitfull seede;
Another saide, that in his eyes did rest
Yet sparckling fyre, and badd thereof take heed;
Another said, he saw him move his eyes indeed.

XI

One mother, whenas her foolehardy chyld
Did come to neare, and with his talants play,
Halfe dead through feare, her litle babe revyld,
And to her gossibs gan in counsell say:
'How can I tell, but that his talants may
Yet scratch my sonne, or rend his tender hand?'
So diversly them selves in vaine they fray;
Whiles some more bold, to measure him nigh stand,
To prove how many acres he did spred of land.

XII
Thus flocked all the folke him rownd about,
The whiles that boarie king, with all his traine,
Being arrived where that champion stout
After his foes defeasaunce did remaine,
Him goodly greetes, and fayre does entertayne
With princely gifts of yvory and gold,
And thousand thankes him yeeldes for all his paine:
Then when his daughter deare he does behold,
Her dearely doth imbrace, and kisseth manifold.

XIII

And after to his pallace he them bringes,
With shaumes, and trompets, and with clarions sweet;
And all the way the joyous people singes,
And with their garments strowes the paved street;
Whence mounting up, they fynd purveyaunce meet
Of all that royall princes court became,
And all the floore was underneath their feet
Bespredd with costly scarlott of great name,
On which they lowly sitt, and fitting purpose frame.

XIV

What needes me tell their feast and goodly guize,
In which was nothing riotous nor vaine?
What needes of dainty dishes to devize,
Of comely services, or courtly trayne?
My narrow leaves cannot in them contayne
The large discourse of roiall princes state.
Yet was their manner then but bare and playne:
For th' antique world excesse and pryde did hate;
Such proud luxurious pompe is swollen up but late.

XV

Then, when with meates and drinkes of every kinde
Their fervent appetites they quenched had,
That auncient lord gan fit occasion finde,
Of straunge adventures, and of perils sad,
Which in his travell him befallen had,
For to demaund of his renowmed guest:
Who then with utt'rance grave, and count'nance sad,
From poynt to poynt, as is before exprest,
Discourst his voyage long, according his request.

XVI

Great pleasure, mixt with pittifull regard,
That godly king and queene did passionate,
Whyles they his pittifull adventures heard,
That oft they did lament his lucklesse state,
And often blame the too importune fate,
That heapd on him so many wrathfull wreakes;
For never gentle knight, as he of late,
So tossed was in Fortunes cruell freakes;
And all the while salt teares bedeawd the hearers cheaks.

XVII

Then sayd the royall pere in sober wise:
'Deare sonne, great beene the evils which ye bore
From first to last in your late enterprise,
That I note whether praise or pitty more:
For never living man, I weene, so sore
In sea of deadly daungers was distrest;
But since now safe ye seised have the shore,
And well arrived are, (High God be blest!)
Let us devize of ease and everlasting rest.'

XVIII

'Ah! dearest lord,' said then that doughty knight,
'Of ease or rest I may not yet devize;
For by the faith which I to armes have plight,
I bownden am streight after this emprize,
As that your daughter can ye well advize,
Backe to retourne to that great Faery Queene,
And her to serve sixe yeares in warlike wize,
Gainst that proud Paynim King that works her teene:
Therefore I ought crave pardon, till I there have beene.'

XIX

'Unhappy falls that hard necessity,'
Quoth he, 'the troubler of my happy peace,
And vowed foe of my felicity;
Ne I against the same can justly preace:
But since that band ye cannot now release,
Nor doen undoe, (for vowes may not be vayne)
Soone as the terme of those six yeares shall cease,
Ye then shall hether backe retourne agayne,
The marriage to accomplish vowd betwixt you twayn.

XX

'Which, for my part, I covet to performe,
In sort as through the world I did proclame,
That who so kild that monster most deforme,
And him in hardy battayle overcame,
Should have mine onely daughter to his dame,
And of my kingdome heyre apparaunt bee:
Therefore since now to thee perteynes the same,
By dew desert of noble chevalree,
Both daughter and eke kingdome, lo! I yield to thee.'

XXI

Then forth he called that his daughter fayre,
The fairest Un', his onely daughter deare,
His onely daughter and his only hayre;
Who forth proceeding with sad sober cheare,
As bright as doth the morning starre appeare
Out of the east, with flaming lockes bedight,
To tell that dawning day is drawing neare,
And to the world does bring long wished light;
So faire and fresh that lady shewd her selfe in sight:

XXII

So faire and fresh, as freshest flowre in May;
For she had layd her mournefull stole aside,
And widow-like sad wimple throwne away,
Wherewith her heavenly beautie she did hide,
Whiles on her wearie journey she did ride;
And on her now a garment she did weare
All lilly white, withoutten spot or pride,
That seemd like silke and silver woven neare,
But neither silke nor silver therein did appeare.

XXIII

The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame,
And glorious light of her sunshyny face,
To tell, were as to strive against the streame:
My ragged rimes are all too rude and bace,
Her heavenly lineaments for to enchace.
Ne wonder; for her own deare loved knight,
All were she daily with himselfe in place,
Did wonder much at her celestiall sight:
Oft had he seene her faire, but never so faire dight.

XXIV

So fairely dight, when she in presence came,
She to her syre made humble reverence,
And bowed low, that her right well became,
And added grace unto her excellence:
Who with great wisedome and grave eloquence
Thus gan to say -- But eare he thus had sayd,
With flying speede, and seeming great pretence,
Came running in, much like a man dismayd,
A messenger with letters, which his message sayd.

XXV

All in the open hall amazed stood
At suddeinnesse of that unwary sight,
And wondred at his breathlesse hasty mood.
But he for nought would stay his passage right,
Till fast before the king he did alight;
Where falling flat, great humblesse he did make,
And kist the ground whereon his foot was pight;
Then to his handes that writt he did betake,
Which he disclosing, read thus, as the paper spake:

XXVI

'To thee, most mighty king of Eden fayre,
Her greeting sends in these sad lines addrest
The wofull daughter and forsaken heyre
Of that great Emperour of all the West;
And bids thee be advized for the best,
Ere thou thy daughter linck in holy band
Of wedlocke to that new unknowen guest:
For he already plighted his right hand
Unto another love, and to another land.

XXVII

'To me, sad mayd, or rather widow sad,
He was affyaunced long time before,
And sacred pledges he both gave, and had,
False erraunt knight, infamous, and forswore!
Witnesse the burning altars, which he swore,
And guilty heavens of his bold perjury,
Which though he hath polluted oft of yore,
Yet I to them for judgement just doe fly,
And them conjure t' avenge this shamefull injury.

XXVIII

'Therefore since mine he is, or free or bond,
Or false or trew, or living or else dead,
Withhold, O soverayne prince, your hasty hond
From knitting league with him, I you aread;
Ne weene my right with strength adowne to tread,
Through weakenesse of my widowhed or woe:
For Truth is strong, her rightfull cause to plead,
And shall finde friends, if need requireth soe.
So bids thee well to fare, thy neither friend nor foe,
FIDESSA.'

XXIX

When he these bitter byting wordes had red,
The tydings straunge did him abashed make,
That still he sate long time astonished,
As in great muse, ne word to creature spake.
At last his solemne silence thus he brake,
With doubtfull eyes fast fixed on his guest:
'Redoubted knight, that for myne only sake
Thy life and honor late adventurest,
Let nought be hid from me, that ought to be exprest.

XXX

'What meane these bloody vowes and idle threats,
Throwne out from womanish impatient mynd?
What hevens? what altars? what enraged heates,
Here heaped up with termes of love unkynd,
My conscience cleare with guilty bands would bynd?
High God be witnesse, that I guiltlesse ame!
But if your selfe, sir knight, ye faulty fynd,
Or wrapped be in loves of former dame,
With cryme doe not it cover, but disclose the same.'

XXXI

To whom the Redcrosse Knight this answere sent:
'My lord, my king, be nought hereat dismayd,
Till well ye wote by grave intendiment,
What woman, and wherefore, doth me upbrayd
With breach of love and loialty betrayd.
It was in my mishaps, as hitherward
I lately traveild, that unwares I strayd
Out of my way, through perils straunge and hard;
That day should faile me ere I had them all declard.

XXXII

'There did I find, or rather I was fownd
Of this false woman, that Fidessa hight;
Fidessa hight the falsest dame on grownd,
Most false Duessa, royall richly dight,
That easy was t' inveigle weaker sight:
Who by her wicked arts and wiely skill,
Too false and strong for earthly skill or might,
Unwares me wrought unto her wicked will,
And to my foe betrayd, when least I feared ill.'

XXXIII

Then stepped forth the goodly royall mayd,
And on the ground her selfe prostrating low,
With sober countenaunce thus to him sayd:
'O pardon me, my soveraine lord, to sheow
The secret treasons, which of late I know
To have bene wrought by that false sorceresse.
Shee, onely she, it is, that earst did throw
This gentle knight into so great distresse,
That death him did awaite in daily wretchednesse.

XXXIV

'And now it seemes, that she suborned hath
This crafty messenger with letters vaine,
To worke new woe and improvided scath,
By breaking of the band betwixt us twaine;
Wherein she used hath the practicke paine
Of this false footman, clokt with simplenesse,
Whome if ye please for to discover plaine,
Ye shall him Archimago find, I ghesse,
The falsest man alive; who tries, shall find no lesse.'

XXXV

The king was greatly moved at her speach,
And, all with suddein indignation fraight,
Bad on that messenger rude hands to reach.
Eftsoones the gard, which on his state did wait,
Attacht that faytor false, and bound him strait:
Who, seeming sorely chauffed at his band,
As chained beare, whom cruell dogs doe bait,
With ydle force did faine them to withstand,
And often semblaunce made to scape out of their hand.

XXXVI

But they him layd full low in dungeon deepe,
And bound him hand and foote with yron chains,
And with continual watch did warely keepe:
Who then would thinke, that by his subtile trains
He could escape fowle death or deadly pains?
Thus when that princes wrath was pacifide,
He gan renew the late forbidden bains,
And to the knight his daughter deare he tyde,
With sacred rites and vowes for ever to abyde.

XXXVII

His owne two hands the holy knotts did knitt,
That none but death for ever can divide;
His owne two hands, for such a turne most fitt,
The housling fire did kindle and provide,
And holy water thereon sprinckled wide;
At which the bushy teade a groome did light,
And sacred lamp in secret chamber hide,
Where it should not be quenched day nor night,
For feare of evill fates, but burnen ever bright.

XXXVIII

Then gan they sprinckle all the posts with wine,
And made great feast to solemnize that day:
They all perfumde with frankincense divine,
And precious odours fetcht from far away,
That all the house did sweat with great aray:
And all the while sweete musicke did apply
Her curious skill, the warbling notes to play,
To drive away the dull melancholy;
The whiles one sung a song of love and jollity.

XXXIX

During the which there was an heavenly noise
Heard sownd through all the pallace pleasantly,
Like as it had bene many an angels voice
Singing before th' Eternall Majesty,
In their trinall triplicities on hye;
Yett wist no creature, whence that hevenly sweet
Proceeded, yet each one felt secretly,
Himselfe thereby refte of his sences meet,
And ravished with rare impression in his sprite.

XL

Great joy was made that day of young and old,
And solemne feast proclaymd throughout the land,
That their exceeding merth may not be told:
Suffice it heare by signes to understand
The usuall joyes at knitting of loves band.
Thrise happy man the knight himselfe did hold,
Possessed of his ladies hart and hand,
And ever, when his eie did her behold,
His heart did seeme to melt in pleasures manifold.

XLI

Her joyous presence and sweet company
In full content he there did long enjoy,
Ne wicked envy, ne vile gealosy,
His deare delights were hable to annoy:
Yet, swimming in that sea of blisfull joy,
He nought forgott, how he whilome had sworne,
In case he could that monstrous beast destroy,
Unto his Faery Queene backe to retourne:
The which he shortly did, and Una left to mourne.

XLII

Now strike your sailes, yee jolly mariners,
For we be come unto a quiet rode,
Where we must land some of our passengers,
And light this weary vessell of her lode.
Here she a while may make her safe abode,
Till she repaired have her tackles spent,
And wants supplide; and then againe abroad
On the long voiage whereto she is bent:
Well may she speede, and fairely finish her intent.






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