Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 2, CANTOS 1-3, by EDMUND SPENSER



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THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 2, CANTOS 1-3, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Right well I wote most mighty soueraine
Last Line: And to be easd of that base burden still did erne.
Alternate Author Name(s): Clout, Colin
Subject(s): Chaucer, Geoffrey (1342-1400); Country Life; England; Fables; Knights & Knighthood; Language; Morality; Poetry & Poets; Sleep; Virtue; English; Allegories; Words; Vocabulary; Ethics


THE SECOND BOOKE

OF THE FAERIE QUEENE
CONTAYNING
THE LEGEND OF SIR GUYON
OR
OF TEMPERAUNCE

I

RIGHT well I wote, most mighty Soveraine,
That all this famous antique history
Of some th' aboundance of an ydle braine
Will judged be, and painted forgery,
Rather then matter of just memory;
Sith none that breatheth living aire does know,
Where is that happy land of Faery,
Which I so much doe vaunt, yet no where show,
But vouch antiquities, which no body can know.

II

But let that man with better sence advize,
That of the world least part to us is red:
And daily how through hardy enterprize
Many great regions are discovered,
Which to late age were never mentioned.
Who ever heard of th' Indian Peru?
Or who in venturous vessell measured
The Amazons huge river, now found trew?
Or fruitfullest Virginia who did ever vew?

III

Yet all these were when no man did them know,
Yet have from wisest ages hidden beene;
And later times thinges more unknowne shall show.
Why then should witlesse man so much misweene,
That nothing is, but that which he hath seene?
What if within the moones fayre shining spheare,
What if in every other starre unseene,
Of other worldes he happily should heare?
He wonder would much more; yet such to some appeare.

IV

Of Faery Lond yet if he more inquyre,
By certein signes, here sett in sondrie place,
He may it fynd; ne let him then admyre,
But yield his sence to bee too blunt and bace,
That no'te without an hound fine footing trace.
And thou, O fayrest Princesse under sky,
In this fayre mirrhour maist behold thy face,
And thine owne realmes in lond of Faery,
And in this antique ymage thy great auncestry.

V

The which O pardon me thus to enfold
In covert vele, and wrap in shadowes light,
That feeble eyes your glory may behold,
Which ells could not endure those beames bright,
But would bee dazled with exceeding light.
O pardon! and vouchsafe with patient eare
The brave adventures of this Faery knight,
The good Sir Guyon, gratiously to heare;
In whom great rule of Temp'raunce goodly doth appeare.

CANTO I

Guyon, by Archimage abusd,
The Redcrosse Knight awaytes;
Fyndes Mordant and Amavia slaine
With Pleasures poisoned baytes.

I

THAT conning architect of cancred guyle,
Whom princes late displeasure left in bands,
For falsed letters and suborned wyle,
Soone as the Redcrosse Knight he understands
To beene departed out of Eden landes,
To serve againe his soveraine Elfin Queene,
His artes he moves, and out of caytives handes
Himselfe he frees by secret meanes unseene;
His shackles emptie lefte, him selfe escaped cleene.

II

And forth he fares full of malicious mynd,
To worken mischiefe and avenging woe,
Where ever he that godly knight may fynd,
His onely hart sore and his onely foe;
Sith Una now he algates must forgoe,
Whom his victorious handes did earst restore
To native crowne and kingdom late ygoe:
Where she enjoyes sure peace for evermore,
As wetherbeaten ship arryv'd on happie shore.

III

Him therefore now the object of his spight
And deadly food he makes: him to offend
By forged treason, or by open fight,
He seekes, of all his drifte the aymed end:
Thereto his subtile engins he does bend,
His practick witt, and his fayre fyled tonge,
With thousand other sleightes: for well he kend
His credit now in doubtfull ballaunce hong;
For hardly could bee hurt, who was already stong.

IV

Still as he went, he craftie stales did lay,
With cunning traynes him to entrap unwares,
And privy spyals plast in all his way,
To weete what course he takes, and how he fares;
To ketch him at a vauntage in his snares.
But now so wise and wary was the knigth
By tryall of his former harmes and cares,
That he descryde, and shonned still his slight:
The fish that once was caught, new bait wil hardly byte.

V

Nath'lesse th' enchaunter would not spare his payne,
In hope to win occasion to his will;
Which when he long awaited had in vayne,
He chaungd his mynd from one to other ill:
For to all good he enimy was still.
Upon the way him fortuned to meet,
Fayre marching underneath a shady hill,
A goodly knight, all armd in harnesse meete,
That from his head no place appeared to his feete.

VI

His carriage was full comely and upright,
His countenance demure and temperate,
But yett so sterne and terrible in sight,
That cheard his friendes, and did his foes amate:
He was an Elfin borne, of noble state
And mickle worship in his native land;
Well could he tourney and in lists debate,
And knighthood tooke of good Sir Huons hand,
When with King Oberon he came to Fary Land.

VII

Him als accompanyd upon the way
A comely palmer, clad in black attyre,
Of rypest yeares, and heares all hoarie gray,
That with a staffe his feeble steps did stire,
Least his long way his aged limbes should tire:
And if by lookes one may the mind aread,
He seemd to be a sage and sober syre,
And ever with slow pace the knight did lead,
Who taught his trampling steed with equall steps to tread.

VIII

Such whenas Archimago them did view,
He weened well to worke some uncouth wyle
Eftsoones, untwisting his deceiptfull clew,
He gan to weave a web of wicked guyle;
And with faire countenance and flattring style
To them approching, thus the knight bespake:
'Fayre sonne of Mars, that seeke with warlike spoyle,
And great atchiev'ments, great your selfe to make,
Vouchsafe to stay your steed for humble misers sake.'

IX

He stayd his steed for humble misers sake,
And badd tell on the tenor of his playnt;
Who feigning then in every limb to quake,
Through inward feare, and seeming pale and faynt,
With piteous mone his percing speach gan paynt:
Deare lady, how shall I declare thy cace,
Whom late I left in languorous constraynt?
Would God, thy selfe now present were in place,
To tell this ruefull tale! Thy sight could win thee grace.

X

'Or rather would, O! would it so had chaunst,
That you, most noble sir, had present beene
When that lewd rybauld, with vyle lust advaunst,
Laid first his filthie hands on virgin cleene,
To spoyle her dainty corps, so faire and sheene
As on the earth, great mother of us all,
With living eye more fayre was never seene,
Of chastity and honour virginall:
Witnes, ye heavens, whom she in vaine to help did call.'

XI

'How may it be,' sayd then the knight halfe wroth,
'That knight should knighthood ever so have shent?'
'None but that saw,' quoth he, 'would weene for troth,
How shamefully that mayd he did torment.
Her looser golden lockes he rudely rent,
And drew her on the ground, and his sharpe sword
Against her snowy brest he fiercely bent.
And threatned death with many a bloodie word;
Tounge hates to tell the rest, that eye to see abhord.'

XII

Therewith amoved from his sober mood,
'And lives he yet,' said he, 'that wrought this act,
And doen the heavens afford him vitall food?'
'He lives,' quoth he, 'and boasteth of the fact,
Ne yet hath any knight his courage crackt.'
'Where may that treachour then,' sayd he, 'be found,
Or by what meanes may I his footing tract?'
'That shall I shew,' said he, 'as sure as hound
The stricken deare doth chaleng by the bleeding wound.'

XIII

He stayd not lenger talke, but with fierce yre
And zealous haste away is quickly gone,
To seeke that knight, where him that crafty squyre
Supposd to be. They do arrive anone,
Where sate a gentle lady all alone,
With garments rent, and heare discheveled,
Wringing her handes, and making piteous mone:
Her swollen eyes were much disfigured,
And her faire face with teares was fowly blubbered.

XIV

The knight, approching nigh, thus to her said:
'Fayre lady, through fowle sorrow ill bedight,
Great pitty is to see you thus dismayd,
And marre the blossom of your beauty bright:
Forthy appease your griefe and heavy plight,
And tell the cause of your conceived payne:
For if he live that hath you doen despight,
He shall you doe dew recompence agayne,
Or els his wrong with greater puissance maintaine.'

XV

Which when she heard, as in despightfull wise,
She wilfully her sorrow did augment,
And offred hope of comfort did augment,
Her golden lockes most cruelly she rent,
And scratcht her face with ghastly dreriment;
Ne would she speake, ne see, ne yet be seene,
But hid her visage, and her head downe bent,
Either for grievous shame, or for great teene,
As if her hart with sorow had transfixed beene:

XVI

Till her that squyre bespake: 'Madame, my liefe,
For Gods deare love be not so wilfull bent,
But doe vouchsafe now to receive reliefe,
The which good fortune doth to you present.
For what bootes it to weepe and to wayment,
When ill is chaunst, but doth the ill increase,
And the weake minde with double woe torment?'
When she her squyre heard speake, she gan appease
Her voluntarie paine, and feele some secret ease.

XVII

Eftsoone she said: 'Ah! gentle trustie squyre,
What comfort can I, wofull wretch, conceave,
Or why should ever I henceforth desyre
To see faire heavens face, and life not leave,
Sith that false traytour did my honour reave?'
'False traytour certes,' saide the Faerie knight,
'I read the man, that ever would deceave
A gentle lady, or her wrong through might:
Death were too little paine for such a fowle despight.

XVIII

'But now, fayre lady, comfort to you make,
And read who hath ye wrought this shamfull plight,
That short revenge the man may overtake,
Where so he be, and soone upon him light.'
'Certes,' saide she, 'I wote not how he hight,
But under him a gray steede did he wield,
Whose sides with dapled circles weren dight;
Upright he rode, and in his silver shield
He bore a bloodie crosse, that quartred all the field.'

XIX

'Now by my head,' saide Guyon, 'much I muse,
How that same knight should do so fowle amis,
Or ever gentle damzell so abuse:
For may I boldly say, he surely is
A right good knight, and trew of word ywis:
I present was, and can it witnesse well,
When armes he swore, and streight did enterpris
Th' adventure of the Errant Damozell;
In which he hath great glory wonne, as I heare tell.

XX

'Nathlesse he shortly shall againe be tryde,
And fairely quit him of th' imputed blame,
Els be ye sure he dearely shall abyde,
Or make you good amendment for the same:
All wrongs have mendes, but no amendes of shame.
Now therefore, lady, rise out of your paine,
And see the salving of your blotted name.'
Full loth she seemd thereto, but yet did faine;
For she was inly glad her purpose so to gaine.

XXI

Her purpose was not such as she did faine,
Ne yet her person such as it was seene;
But under simple shew and semblant plaine
Lurkt false Duessa secretly unseene,
As a chaste virgin, that had wronged beene:
So had false Archimago her disguysd,
To cloke her guile with sorrow and sad teene;
And eke himselfe had craftily devisd
To be her squire, and do her service well aguisd.

XXII

Her late, forlorne and naked, he had found,
Where she did wander in waste wildernesse,
Lurking in rockes and caves far under ground,
And with greene mosse cov'ring her nakednesse,
To hide her shame and loathly filthinesse,
Sith her Prince Arthur of proud ornaments
And borrowd beauty spoyld. Her nathelesse
Th' enchaunter finding fit for his intents
Did thus revest, and deckt with dew habiliments.

XXIII

For all he did was to deceive good knights,
And draw them from pursuit of praise and fame,
To slug in slouth and sensuall delights,
And end their daies with irrenowmed shame.
And now exceeding griefe him overcame,
To see the Redcrosse thus advaunced hye;
Therefore this craftie engine he did frame,
Against his praise to stirre up enmitye
Of such, as vertues like mote unto him allye.

XXIV

So now he Guyon guydes an uncouth way
Through woods and mountaines, till they came at last
Into a pleasant dale, that lowly lay
Betwixt two hils, whose high heads, overplast,
The valley did with coole shade overcast:
Through midst thereof a little river rold,
By which there sate a knight with helme unlaste,
Himselfe refreshing with the liquid cold,
After his travell long, and labours manifold.

XXV

'Lo! yonder he,' cryde Archimage alowd,
'That wrought the shamefull fact, which I did shew,
And now he doth himselfe in secret shrowd,
To fly the vengeaunce for his outrage dew;
But vaine: for ye shall dearely do him rew,
So God ye speed and send you good successe;
Which we far off will here abide to vew.'
So they him left, inflam'd with wrathfulnesse,
That streight against that knight his speare he did addresse.

XXVI

Who, seeing him from far so fierce to pricke,
His warlike armes about him gan embrace,
And in the rest his ready speare did sticke;
Tho, when as still he saw him towards pace,
He gan rencounter him in equall race:
They bene ymett, both ready to affrap,
When suddeinly that warriour gan abace
His threatned speare, as if some new mishap
Had him betide, or hidden danger did entrap:

XXVII

And cryde, 'Mercie, sir knight! and mercie, lord,
For mine offence and heedelesse hardiment,
That had almost committed crime abhord,
And with reprochfull shame mine honour shent,
Whiles cursed steele against that badge I bent,
The sacred badge of my Redeemers death,
Which on your shield is set for ornament.'
But his fierce foe his steed could stay uneath,
Who, prickt with courage kene, did cruell battell breath.

XXVIII

But when he heard him speake, streight way he knew
His errour, and himselfe inclyning sayd:
'Ah! deare Sir Guyon, well becommeth you,
But me behoveth rather to upbrayd,
Whose hastie hand so far from reason strayd,
That almost it did haynous violence
On that fayre ymage of that heavenly mayd,
That decks and armes your shield with faire defence:
Your court'sie takes on you anothers dew offence.'

XXIX

So beene they both at one, and doen upreare
Their bevers bright, each other for to greet;
Goodly comportaunce each to other beare,
And entertaine themselves with court'sies meet.
Then saide the Redcrosse Knight: 'Now mote I weet,
Sir Guyon, why with so fierce saliaunce,
And fell intent, ye did at earst me meet;
For sith I know your goodly governaunce,
Great cause, I weene, you guided, or some uncouth chaunce.'

XXX

'Certes,' said he, 'well mote I shame to tell
The fond encheason that me hether led.
A false infamous faitour late befell
Me for to meet, that seemed ill bested,
And playnd of grievous outrage, which he red
A knight had wrought against a ladie gent;
Which to avenge, he to this place me led,
Where you he made the marke of his intent,
And now is fled: foule shame him follow, wher he went!'

XXXI

So can he turne his earnest unto game,
Through goodly handling and wise temperaunce.
By this his aged guide in presence came,
Who, soone as on that knight his eye did glaunce,
Eftsoones of him had perfect cognizaunce,
Sith him in Faery court he late avizd;
And sayd: 'Fayre sonne, God give you happy chaunce,
And that deare Crosse uppon your shield devizd,
Wherewith above all knights ye goodly seeme aguizd.

XXXII

'Joy may you have, and everlasting fame,
Of late most hard atchiev'ment by you donne,
For which enrolled is your glorious name
In heavenly regesters above the sunne,
Where you a saint with saints your seat have wonne:
But wretched we, where ye have left your marke,
Must now anew begin like race to ronne.
God guide thee, Guyon, well to end thy warke,
And to the wished haven bring thy weary barke.'

XXXIII

'Palmer,' him answered the Redcrosse Knight,
'His be the praise, that this atchiev'ment wrought,
Who made my hand the organ of His might:
More then goodwill to me attribute nought;
For all I did, I did but as I ought.
But you, faire sir, whose pageant next ensewes,
Well mote yee thee, as well can wish your thought,
That home ye may report thrise happy newes;
For well ye worthy bene for worth and gentle thewes.'

XXXIV

So courteous conge both did give and take,
With right hands plighted, pledges of good will.
Then Guyon forward gan his voyage make
With his blacke palmer, that him guided still.
Still he him guided over dale and hill,
And with his steedy staffe did point his way:
His race with reason, and with words his will,
From fowle intemperaunce he ofte did stay,
And suffred not in wrath his hasty steps to stray.

XXXV

In this faire wize they traveild long yfere,
Through many hard assayes, which did betide,
Of which he honour still away did beare,
And spred his glory through all countryes wide.
At last, as chaunst them by a forest side
To passe, for succour from the scorching ray,
They heard a ruefull voice, that dearnly cride,
With percing shriekes, and many a dolefull lay;
Which to attend, awhile their forward steps they stay.

XXXVI

'But if that carelesse hevens,' quoth she, 'despise
The doome of just revenge, and take delight
To see sad pageaunts of mens miseries,
As bownd by them to live in lives despight,
Yet can they not warne Death from wretched wight.
Come then, come soone, come, sweetest Death, to me,
And take away this long lent loathed light:
Sharpe be thy wounds, but sweete the medicines be,
That long captived soules from weary thraldome free.

XXXVII

'But thou, sweete babe, whom frowning froward fate
Hath made sad witnesse of thy fathers fall,
Sith heven thee deignes to hold in living state,
Long maist thou live, and better thrive withall,
Then to thy lucklesse parents did befall:
Live thou, and to thy mother dead attest,
That cleare she dide from blemish criminall:
Thy litle hands embrewd in bleeding brest,
Loe! I for pledges leave. So give me leave to rest.'

XXXVIII

With that a deadly shrieke she forth did throw,
That through the wood reechoed againe,
And after gave a grone so deepe and low,
That seemd her tender heart was rent in twaine,
Or thrild with point of thorough piercing paine:
As gentle hynd, whose sides with cruell steele
Through launched, forth her bleeding life does raine,
Whiles the sad pang approching shee does feele,
Braies out her latest breath, and up her eies doth seele.

XXXIX

Which when that warriour heard, dismounting straict
From his tall steed, he rusht into the thick,
And soone arrived where that sad pourtraict
Of death and dolour lay, halfe dead, halfe quick;
In whose white alabaster brest did stick
A cruell knife, that made a griesly wownd,
From which forth gusht a stream of goreblood thick,
That all her goodly garments staind arownd,
And into a deepe sanguine dide the grassy grownd.

XL

Pitifull spectacle of deadly smart,
Beside a bubling fountaine low she lay,
Which shee increased with her bleeding hart,
And the cleane waves with purple gore did ray;
Als in her lap a lovely babe did play
His cruell sport, in stead of sorrow dew;
For in her streaming blood he did embay
His litle hands, and tender joints embrew;
Pitifull spectacle, as ever eie did vew.

XLI

Besides them both, upon the soiled gras
The dead corse of an armed knight was spred,
Whose armour all with blood besprincled was;
His ruddy lips did smyle, and rosy red
Did paint his chearefull cheekes, yett being ded;
Seemd to have beene a goodly personage,
Now in his freshest flowre of lustyhed,
Fitt to inflame faire lady with loves rage,
But that fiers fate did crop the blossome of his age.

XLII

Whom when the good Sir Guyon did behold,
His hart gan wexe as starke as marble stone,
And his fresh blood did frieze with fearefull cold,
That all his sences seemd berefte attone.
At last his mighty ghost gan deepe to grone,
As lion, grudging in his great disdaine,
Mournes inwardly, and makes to him selfe mone,
Til ruth and fraile affection did constraine
His stout courage to stoupe, and shew his inward paine.

XLIII

Out of her gored wound the cruell steel
He lightly snatcht, and did the floodgate stop
With his faire garment: then gan softly feel
Her feeble pulse, to prove if any drop
Of living blood yet in her veynes did hop;
Which when he felt to move, he hoped faire
To call backe life to her forsaken shop:
So well he did her deadly wounds repaire,
That at the last shee gan to breath out living aire.

XLIV

Which he perceiving, greatly gan rejoice,
And goodly counsell, that for wounded hart
Is meetest med'cine, tempred with sweete voice:
'Ay me! deare lady, which the ymage art
Of ruefull pitty, and impatient smart,
What direfull chaunce, armd with avenging fate,
Or cursed hand, hath plaid this cruell part,
Thus fowle to hasten your untimely date?
Speake, O dear lady, speake: help never comes too late.'

XLV

Therewith her dim eie-lids she up gan reare,
On which the drery death did sitt, as sad
As lump of lead, and made darke clouds appeare:
But when as him, all in bright armour clad,
Before her standing she espied had,
As one out of a deadly dreame affright,
She weakely started, yet she nothing drad:
Streight downe againe her selfe in great despight
She groveling threw to ground, as hating life and light.

XLVI

The gentle knight her soone with carefull paine
Uplifted light, and softly did uphold:
Thrise he her reard, and thrise she sunck againe,
Till he his armes about her sides gan fold,
And to her said: 'Yet if the stony cold
Have not all seized on your frozen hart,
Let one word fall that may your griefe unfold,
And tell the secrete of your mortall smart:
He oft finds present helpe, who does his griefe impart.'

XLVII

Then, casting up a deadly looke, full low
Shee sight from bottome of her wounded brest,
And after, many bitter throbs did throw:
With lips full pale and foltring tong opprest,
These words she breathed forth from riven chest:
'Leave, ah! leave of, what ever wight thou bee,
To lett a weary wretch from her dew rest,
And trouble dying soules tranquilitee.
Take not away now got, which none would give to me.'

XLVIII

'Ah! far be it,' said he, 'deare dame, fro mee,
To hinder soule from her desired rest,
Or hold sad life in long captivitee:
For all I seeke is but to have redrest
The bitter pangs that doth your heart infest.
Tell then, O lady, tell what fatall priefe
Hath with so huge misfortune you opprest:
That I may cast to compas your reliefe,
Or die with you in sorrow, and partake your griefe.'

XLIX

With feeble hands then stretched forth on hye,
As heven accusing guilty of her death,
And with dry drops congealed in her eye,
In these sad wordes she spent her utmost breath:
'Heare then, O man, the sorrowes that uneath
My tong can tell, so far all sence that pas:
Loe! this dead corpse, that lies here underneath,
The gentlest knight, that ever on greene gras
Gay steed with spurs did pricke, the good Sir Mortdant was.

L

'Was (ay the while, that he is not so now!)
My lord, my love, my deare lord, my deare love,
So long as hevens just with equall brow
Vouchsafed to behold us from above.
One day, when him high corage did emmove,
As wont ye knightes to seeke adventures wilde,
He pricked forth, his puissant force to prove.
Me then he left enwombed of this childe,
This luckles childe, whom thus ye see with blood defild.

LI

'Him fortuned (hard fortune ye may ghesse)
To come where vile Acrasia does wonne,
Acrasia, a false enchaunteresse,
That many errant knightes hath fowle fordonne:
Within a wandring island, that doth ronne
And stray in perilous gulfe, her dwelling is:
Fayre sir, if ever there ye travell, shonne
The cursed land where many wend amis,
And know it by the name; it hight the Bowre of Blis.

LII

'Her blis is all in pleasure and delight,
Wherewith she makes her lovers dronken mad,
And then with words and weedes of wondrous might,
On them she workes her will to uses bad:
My liefest lord she thus beguiled had;
For he was flesh (all flesh doth frayltie breed):
Whom when I heard to beene so ill bestad,
Weake wretch, I wrapt myselfe in palmers weed,
And cast to seek him forth through danger and great dreed.

LIII

'Now had fayre Cynthia by even tournes
Full measured three quarters of her yeare,
And thrise three tymes had fild her crooked hornes,
Whenas my wombe her burdein would forbeare,
And bad me call Lucina to me neare.
Lucina came: a manchild forth I brought:
The woods, the nymphes, my bowres, my midwives, weare:
Hard helpe at need! So deare thee, babe, I bought;
Yet nought to dear I deemd, while so my deare I sought.

LIV

'Him so I sought, and so at last I fownd,
Where him that witch had thralled to her will,
In chaines of lust and lewde desyres ybownd,
And so transformed from his former skill,
That me he knew not, nether his owne ill;
Till through wise handling and faire governaunce,
I him recured to a better will,
Purged from drugs of fowle intemperaunce:
Then meanes I gan devise for his deliverance.

LV

'Which when the vile enchaunteresse perceiv'd,
How that my lord from her I would reprive,
With cup thus charmd, him parting she deceivd:
Sad verse, give death to him that death does give,
And losse of love to her that loves to live,
So soone as Bacchus with the Nymphe does lincke.
So parted we, and on our journey drive,
Till, comming to this well, he stoupt to drincke:
The charme fulfild, dead suddeinly he downe did sincke.

LVI

'Which when I, wretch' -- Not one word more she sayd,
But breaking of the end for want of breath,
And slyding soft, as downe to sleepe her layd,
And ended all her woe in quiet death.
That seeing good Sir Guyon, could uneath
From teares abstayne, for griefe his hart did grate,
And from so heavie sight his head did wreath,
Accusing fortune, and too cruell fate,
Which plonged had faire lady in so wretched state.

LVII

Then, turning to his palmer, said: 'Old syre,
Behold the ymage of mortalitie,
And feeble nature cloth'd with fleshly tyre.
When raging passion with fierce tyranny
Robs reason of her dew regalitie,
And makes it servaunt to her basest part,
The strong it weakens with infirmitie,
And with bold furie armes the weakest hart:
The strong through pleasure soonest falles, the weake through smart.'

LVIII

'But Temperaunce,' said he, 'with golden squire
Betwixt them both can measure out a meane,
Nether to melt in pleasures whott desyre,
Nor frye in hartlesse griefe and dolefull tene.
Thrise happy man, who fares them both atweene!
But sith this wretched woman overcome
Of anguish, rather then of crime, hath bene,
Reserve her cause to her eternall doome,
And, in the meane, vouchsafe her honorable toombe.'

LIX

'Palmer,' quoth he, 'death is an equall doome
To good and bad, the commen in of rest;
But after death the tryall is to come,
When best shall bee to them that lived best:
But both alike, when death hath both supprest,
Religious reverence doth buriall teene,
Which who so wants, wants so much of his rest:
For all so great shame after death I weene,
As selfe to dyen bad, unburied bad to beene.'

LX

So both agree their bodies to engrave:
The great earthes wombe they open to the sky,
And with sad cypresse seemely it embrave;
Then, covering with a clod their closed eye,
They lay therein those corses tenderly,
And bid them sleepe in everlasting peace.
But ere they did their utmost obsequy,
Sir Guyon, more affection to increace,
Bynempt a sacred vow, which none should ay releace.

LXI

The dead knights sword out of his sheath he drew,
With which he cutt a lock of all their heare,
Which medling with their blood and earth, he threw
Into the grave, and gan devoutly sweare:
'Such and such evil God on Guyon reare,
And worse and worse, young orphane, be thy payne,
If I or thou dew vengeance doe forbeare,
Till guiltie blood her guerdon doe obtayne.'
So shedding many teares, they closd the earth agayne.

CANTO II

Babes bloody handes may not be clensd:
The face of Golden Meane:
Her sisters, two Extremities,
Strive her to banish cleane.

I

THUS when Sir Guyon, with his faithful guyde,
Had with dew rites and dolorous lament
The end of their sad tragedie uptyde,
The litle babe up in his armes he hent;
Who, with sweet pleasaunce and bold blandishment,
Gan smyle on them, that rather ought to weepe,
As carelesse of his woe, or innocent
Of that was doen; that ruth emperced deepe
In that knightes hart, and wordes with bitter teares did steepe:

II

'Ah! lucklesse babe, borne under cruell starre,
And in dead parents balefull ashes bred,
Full little weenest thou, what sorrowes are
Left thee for porcion of thy livelyhed:
Poore orphane! in the wide world scattered,
As budding braunch rent from the native tree,
And throwen forth, till it be withered!
Such is the state of men! Thus enter we
Into this life with woe, and end with miseree!'

III

Then soft him selfe inclyning on his knee
Downe to that well, did in the water weene
(So love does loath disdainefull nicitee)
His guiltie handes from bloody gore to cleene.
He washt them oft and oft, yet nought they beene
For all his washing cleaner. Still he strove,
Yet still the litle hands were bloody seene:
The which him into great amaz'ment drove,
And into diverse doubt his wavering wonder clove.

IV

He wist not whether blott of fowle offence
Might not be purgd with water nor with bath;
Or that High God, in lieu of innocence,
Imprinted had that token of his wrath,
To shew how sore bloodguiltinesse he hat'th;
Or that the charme and veneme, which they dronck,
Their blood with secret filth infected hath,
Being diffused through the sencelesse tronck,
That, through the great contagion, direful deadly stonck.

V

Whom thus at gaze the palmer gan to bord
With goodly reason, and thus fayre bespake:
'Ye bene right hard amated, gratious lord,
And of your ignorance great merveill make,
Whiles cause not well conceived ye mistake.
But know, that secret vertues are infusd
In every fountaine, and in everie lake,
Which who hath skill them rightly to have chusd
To proofe of passing wonders hath full often usd.

VI

'Of those some were so from their sourse indewd
By great Dame Nature, from whose fruitfull pap
Their welheads spring, and are with moisture deawd;
Which feedes each living plant with liquid sap,
And filles with flowres fayre Floraes painted lap:
But other some by guifte of later grace,
Or by good prayers, or by other hap,
Had vertue pourd into their waters bace,
And thenceforth were renowmd, and sought from place to place.

VII

Such is this well, wrought by occasion straunge,
Which to her nymph befell. Upon a day,
As she the woodes with bow and shaftes did raunge,
The hartlesse hynd and robucke to dismay,
Dan Faunus chaunst to meet her by the way,
And kindling fire at her faire burning eye,
Inflamed was to follow beauties pray,
And chaced her, that fast from him did fly;
As hynd from her, so she fled from her enimy.

VIII

'At last, when fayling breath began to faint,
And saw no meanes to scape, of shame affrayd,
She set her downe to weepe for sore constraint,
And to Diana calling lowd for ayde,
Her deare besought, to let her die a mayd.
The goddesse heard, and suddeine, where she sate,
Welling out streames of teares, and quite dismayd
With stony feare of that rude rustick mate,
Transformd her to a stone from stedfast virgins state.

IX

'Lo! now she is that stone, from whose two heads,
As from two weeping eyes, fresh streames do flow,
Yet colde through feare and old conceived dreads;
And yet the stone her semblance seemes to show,
Shapt like a maide, that such ye may her know;
And yet her vertues in her water byde;
For it is chaste and pure, as purest snow,
Ne lets her waves with any filth be dyde,
But ever like her selfe unstayned hath beene tryde.

X

'From thence it comes, that this babes bloody hand
May not be clensd with water of this well:
Ne certes, sir, strive you it to withstand,
But let them still be bloody, as befell,
That they his mothers innocence may tell,
As she bequeathd in her last testament;
That as a sacred symbole it may dwell
In her sonnes flesh, to mind revengement,
And be for all chaste dames an endlesse moniment.'

XI

He harkned to his reason, and the childe
Uptaking, to the palmer gave to beare;
But his sad fathers armes with blood defilde,
An heavie load, himselfe did lightly reare;
And turning to that place, in which whyleare
He left his loftie steed with golden sell
And goodly gorgeous barbes, him found not theare:
By other accident, that earst befell,
He is convaide; but how or where, here fits not tell.

XII

Which when Sir Guyon saw, all were he wroth,
Yet algates mote he soft himselfe appease,
And fairely fare on foot, how ever loth:
His double burden did him sore disease.
So long they traveiled with litle ease,
Till that at last they to a castle came,
Built on a rocke adjoyning to the seas:
It was an auncient worke of antique fame,
And wondrous strong by nature, and by skilfull frame.

XIII

Therein three sisters dwelt of sundry sort,
The children of one syre by mothers three;
Who dying whylome did divide this fort
To them by equall shares in equall fee:
But stryfull mind and diverse qualitee
Drew them in partes, and each made others foe:
Still did they strive, and daily disagree;
The eldest did against the youngest goe,
And both against the middest meant to worken woe.

XIV

Where when the knight arriv'd, he was right well
Receiv'd, as knight of so much worth became,
Of second sister, who did far excell
The other two; Medina was her name,
A sober sad, and comely courteous dame;
Who, rich arayd, and yet in modest guize,
In goodly garments, that her well became,
Fayre marching forth in honorable wize,
Him at the threshold mett, and well did enterprize.

XV

She led him up into a goodly bowre,
And comely courted with meet modestie,
Ne in her speach, ne in her haviour,
Was lightnesse seene, or looser vanitie,
But gratious womanhood, and gravitie,
Above the reason of her youthly yeares:
Her golden lockes she roundly did uptye
In breaded tramels, that no looser heares
Did out of order stray about her daintie eares.

XVI

Whilest she her selfe thus busily did frame,
Seemely to entertaine her new-come guest,
Newes hereof to her other sisters came,
Who all this while were at their wanton rest,
Accourting each her frend with lavish fest:
They were two knights of perelesse puissaunce,
And famous far abroad for warlike gest,
Which to these ladies love did countenaunce,
And to his mistresse each himselfe strove to advaunce.

XVII

He that made love unto the eldest dame
Was hight Sir Huddibras, an hardy man;
Yet not so good of deedes as great of name,
Which he by many rash adventures wan,
Since errant armes to sew he first began:
More huge in strength then wise in workes he was,
And reason with foole-hardize over ran;
Sterne melancholy did his courage pas;
And was, for terrour more, all armd in shyning bras.

XVIII

But he that lov'd the youngest was Sansloy,
He that faire Una late fowle outraged,
The most unruly and the boldest boy,
That ever warlike weapons menaged,
And to all lawlesse lust encouraged
Through strong opinion of his matchlesse might;
Ne ought he car'd, whom he endamaged
By tortious wrong, or whom bereav'd of right.
He now this ladies champion chose for love to fight.

XIX

These two gay knights, vowd to so diverse loves,
Each other does envy with deadly hate,
And daily warre against his foeman moves,
In hope to win more favour with his mate,
And th' others pleasing service to abate,
To magnifie his owne. But when they heard,
How in that place straunge knight arrived late,
Both knights and ladies forth right angry far'd,
And fercely unto battell sterne themselves prepar'd.

XX

But ere they could proceede unto the place
Where he abode, themselves at discord fell,
And cruell combat joynd in middle space:
With horrible assault, and fury fell,
They heapt huge strokes, the scorned life to quell,
That all on uprore from her settled seat
The house was raysd, and all that in did dwell;
Seemd that lowde thunder with amazement great
Did rend the ratling skyes with flames of fouldring heat.

XXI

The noyse thereof cald forth that straunger knight,
To weet what dreadfull thing was there in hand;
Where when as two brave knightes in bloody fight
With deadly rancour he enraunged fond,
His sunbroad shield about his wrest he bond,
And shyning blade unsheathd, with which he ran
Unto that stead, their strife to understond;
And at his first arrivall, them began
With goodly meanes to pacifie, well as he can.

XXII

But they him spying, both with greedy forse
Attonce upon him ran, and him beset
With strokes of mortall steele without remorse,
And on his shield like yron sledges bet:
As when a beare and tygre, being met
In cruell fight on Lybicke ocean wide,
Espye a traveiler with feet surbet,
Whom they in equall pray hope to divide,
They stint their strife, and him assayle on everie side.

XXIII

But he, not like a weary traveilere,
Their sharp assault right boldly did rebut,
And suffred not their blowes to byte him nere,
But with redoubled buffes them backe did put:
Whose grieved mindes, which choler did englut,
Against themselves turning their wrathfull spight,
Gan with new rage their shieldes to hew and cut;
But still when Guyon came to part their fight,
With heavie load on him they freshly gan to smight.

XXIV

As a tall ship tossed in troublous seas,
Whom raging windes, threatning to make the pray
Of the rough rockes, doe diversly disease,
Meetes two contrarie billowes by the way,
That her on either side doe sore assay,
And boast to swallow her in greedy grave;
Shee, scorning both their spights, does make wide way,
And with her brest breaking the fomy wave,
Does ride on both their backs, and faire her self doth save:

XXV

So boldly he him beares, and rusheth forth
Betweene them both, by conduct of his blade.
Wondrous great prowesse and heroick worth
He shewd that day, and rare ensample made,
When two so mighty warriours he dismade:
Attonce he wards and strikes, he takes and paies,
Now forst to yield, now forcing to invade,
Before, behind, and round about him laies:
So double was his paines, so double be his praise.

XXVI

Straunge sort of fight, three valiaunt knights to see
Three combates joine in one, and to darraine
A triple warre with triple enmitee,
All for their ladies froward love to gaine,
Which gotten was but hate. So Love does raine
In stoutest minds, and maketh monstrous warre;
He maketh warre, he maketh peace againe,
And yett his peace is but continuall jarre:
O miserable men, that to him subject arre!

XXVII

Whilst thus they mingled were in furious armes,
The faire Medina, with her tresses torne
And naked brest, in pitty of their harmes,
Emongst them ran, and, falling them beforne,
Besought them by the womb, which them had born,
And by the loves, which were to them most deare,
And by the knighthood, which they sure had sworn,
Their deadly cruell discord to forbeare,
And to her just conditions of faire peace to heare.

XXVIII

But her two other sisters, standing by,
Her lowd gainsaid, and both their champions bad
Pursew the end of their strong enmity,
As ever of their loves they would be glad.
Yet she with pitthy words and counsell sad
Still strove their stubborne rages to revoke,
That, at the last, suppressing fury mad,
They gan abstaine from dint of direfull stroke,
And hearken to the sober speaches which she spoke.

XXIX

'Ah! puissaunt lords, what cursed evill spright,
Or fell Erinnys, in your noble harts
Her hellish brond hath kindled with despight,
And stird you up to worke your wilfull smarts?
Is this the joy of armes? be these the parts
Of glorious knighthood, after blood to thrust,
And not regard dew right and just desarts?
Vaine is the vaunt, and victory unjust,
That more to mighty hands then rightful cause doth trust.

XXX

'And were there rightfull cause of difference,
Yet were not better, fayre it to accord,
Then with bloodguiltinesse to heape offence,
And mortal vengeaunce joyne to crime abhord?
O fly from wrath! fly, O my liefest lord!
Sad be the sights, and bitter fruites of warre,
And thousand furies wait on wrathfull sword;
Ne ought the praise of prowesse more doth marre
Then fowle revenging rage, and base contentious jarre.

XXXI

'But lovely concord, and most sacred peace,
Doth nourish vertue, and fast friendship breeds;
Weake she makes strong, and strong thing does increace,
Till it the pitch of highest praise exceeds;
Brave be her warres, and honorable deeds,
By which she triumphes over yre and pride,
And winnes an olive girlond for her meeds:
Be therefore, O my deare lords, pacifide,
And this misseeming discord meekely lay aside.'

XXXII

Her gracious words their rancour did appall,
And suncke so deepe into their boyling brests,
That downe they lett their cruell weapons fall,
And lowly did abase their lofty crests
To her faire presence and discrete behests.
Then she began a treaty to procure,
And stablish termes betwixt both their requests,
That as a law for ever should endure;
Which to observe, in word of knights they did assure.

XXXIII

Which to confirme, and fast to bind their league,
After their weary sweat and bloody toile,
She them besought, during their quiet treague,
Into her lodging to repaire a while,
To rest themselves, and grace to reconcile.
They soone consent: so forth with her they fare,
Where they are well receivd, and made to spoile
Themselves of soiled armes, and to prepare
Their minds to pleasure, and their mouths to dainty fare.

XXXIV

And those two froward sisters, their faire loves,
Came with them eke, all were they wondrous loth,
And fained cheare, as for the time behoves;
But could not colour yet so well the troth,
But that their natures bad appeard in both:
For both did at their second sister grutch,
And inly grieve, as doth an hidden moth
The inner garment frett, not th' utter touch;
One thought her cheare too litle, th' other thought too mutch.

XXXV

Elissa (so the eldest hight) did deeme
Such entertainment base, ne ought would eat,
Ne ought would speake, but evermore did seeme
As discontent for want of merth or meat;
No solace could her paramour intreat
Her once to show, ne court, nor dalliaunce;
But with bent lowring browes, as she would threat,
She scould, and frownd with froward countenaunce,
Unworthy of faire ladies comely governaunce.

XXXVI

But young Perissa was of other mynd,
Full of disport, still laughing, loosely light,
And quite contrary to her sisters kynd;
No measure in her mood, no rule of right,
But poured out in pleasure and delight;
In wine and meats she flowd above the banck,
And in excesse exceeded her owne might;
In sumptuous tire she joyd her selfe to pranck,
But of her love too lavish (litle have she thanck.)

XXXVII

Fast by her side did sitt the bold Sansloy,
Fitt mate for such a mincing mineon,
Who in her loosenesse tooke exceeding joy;
Might not be found a francker franion,
Of her leawd parts to make companion:
But Huddibras, more like a malecontent,
Did see and grieve at his bold fashion;
Hardly could he endure his hardiment,
Yett still he satt, and inly did him selfe torment.

XXXVIII

Betwixt them both the faire Medina sate
With sober grace and goodly carriage:
With equall measure she did moderate
The strong extremities of their outrage.
That forward paire she ever would asswage,
When they would strive dew reason to exceed;
But that same froward twaine would accorage,
And of her plenty adde unto their need:
So kept she them in order, and her selfe in heed.

XXXIX

Thus fairely shee attempered her feast,
And pleasd them all with meete satiety:
At last, when lust of meat and drinke was ceast,
She Guyon deare besought of curtesie,
To tell from whence he came through jeopardy,
And whether now on new adventure bownd:
Who with bold grace, and comely gravity,
Drawing to him the eies of all arownd,
From lofty siege began these words aloud to sownd.

XL

'This thy demaund, O lady, doth revive
Fresh memory in me of that great Queene,
Great and most glorious virgin Queene alive,
That with her soveraine powre, and scepter shene,
All Faery Lond does peaceably sustene.
In widest ocean she her throne does reare,
That over all the earth it may be seene;
As morning sunne her beames dispredden cleare,
And in her face faire peace and mercy doth appeare.

XLI

'In her the richesse of all heavenly grace
In chiefe degree are heaped up on hye:
And all, that els this worlds enclosure bace
Hath great or glorious in mortall eye,
Adornes the person of her Majestye;
That men beholding so great excellence,
And rare perfection in mortalitye,
Doe her adore with sacred reverence,
As th' idole of her Makers great magnificence.

XLII

'To her I homage and my service owe,
In number of the noblest knightes on ground,
Mongst whom on me she deigned to bestowe
Order of Maydenhead, the most renownd,
That may this day in all the world be found.
An yearely solemne feast she wontes to hold,
The day that first doth lead the yeare around;
To which all knights of worth and courage bold
Resort, to heare of straunge adventures to be told.

XLIII

'There this old palmer shewd himselfe that day,
And to that mighty Princesse did complaine
Of grievous mischiefes, which a wicked Fay
Had wrought, and many whelmd in deadly paine,
Whereof he crav'd redresse. My soveraine,
Whose glory is in gracious deeds, and joyes
Throughout the world her mercy to maintaine,
Eftsoones devisd redresse for such annoyes:
Me, all unfitt for so great purpose, she employes.

XLIV

'Now hath faire Phebe with her silver face
Thrise seene the shadowes of the neather world,
Sith last I left that honorable place,
In which her roiall presence is enrold;
Ne ever shall I rest in house nor hold,
Till I that false Acrasia have wonne;
Of whose fowle deedes, too hideous to bee told,
I witnesse am, and this their wretched sonne,
Whose wofull parents she hath wickedly fordonne.'

XLV

'Tell on, fayre sir,' said she, 'that dolefull tale,
From which sad ruth does seeme you to restraine,
That we may pitty such unhappie bale,
And learne from Pleasures poyson to abstaine:
Ill by ensample good doth often gayne.'
Then forward he his purpose gan pursew,
And told the story of the mortall payne,
Which Mordant and Amavia did rew;
As with lamenting eyes him selfe did lately vew.

XLVI

Night was far spent, and now in ocean deep
Orion, flying fast from hissing Snake,
His flaming head did hasten for to steep,
When of his pitteous tale he end did make;
Whilst with delight of that he wisely spake
Those guestes beguyled did beguyle their eyes
Of kindly sleepe, that did them overtake.
At last, when they had markt the chaunged skyes,
They wist their houre was spent; then each to rest him hyes.

CANTO III

Vaine Braggadocchio, getting Guyons
horse, is made the scorne
Of knighthood trew, and is of fayre
Belphaebe fowle forlorne.

I

SOONE as the morrow fayre with purple beames
Disperst the shadowes of the misty night,
And Titan, playing on the eastern streames,
Gan cleare the deawy ayre with springing light,
Sir Guyon, mindfull of his vow yplight,
Uprose from drowsie couch, and him addrest
Unto the journey which he had behight:
His puissaunt armes about his noble brest,
And many-folded shield he bound about his wrest.

II

Then taking conge of that virgin pure,
The bloody-handed babe unto her truth
Did earnestly committ, and her conjure,
In vertuous lore to traine his tender youth,
And all that gentle noriture ensueth:
And that, so soone as ryper yeares he raught,
He might, for memory of that dayes ruth,
Be called Ruddymane, and thereby taught
T' avenge his parents death on them that had it wrought.

III

So forth he far'd, as now befell, on foot,
Sith his good steed is lately from him gone;
Patience perforce: helplesse what may it boot
To frett for anger, or for griefe to mone?
His palmer now shall foot no more alone.
So fortune wrought, as under greene woodes syde
He lately hard that dying lady grone,
He left his steed without, and speare besyde,
And rushed in on foot to ayd her, ere she dyde.

IV

The whyles a losell wandring by the way,
One that to bountie never cast his mynd,
Ne thought of honour ever did assay
His baser brest, but in his kestrell kynd
A pleasing vaine of glory he did fynd,
To which his flowing toung and troublous spright
Gave him great ayd, and made him more inclynd:
He, that brave steed there finding ready dight,
Purloynd both steed and speare, and ran away full light.

V

Now gan his hart all swell in jollity,
And of him selfe great hope and help conceiv'd,
That puffed up with smoke of vanity,
And with selfe-loved personage deceiv'd,
He gan to hope of men to be receiv'd
For such as he him thought, or faine would bee:
But for in court gay portaunce he perceiv'd
And gallant shew to be in greatest gree,
Eftsoones to court he cast t' advaunce his first degree.

VI

And by the way he chaunced to espy
One sitting ydle on a sunny banck,
To whom avaunting in great bravery,
As peacocke, that his painted plumes doth pranck,
He smote his courser in the trembling flanck,
And to him threatned his hart-thrilling speare:
The seely man, seeing him ryde so ranck
And ayme at him, fell flatt to ground for feare,
And crying 'Mercy!' loud, his pitious handes gan reare.

VII

Thereat the scarcrow wexed wondrous prowd,
Through fortune of his first adventure fayre,
And with big thundring voice revyld him lowd:
'Vile caytive, vassall of dread and despayre,
Unworthie of the commune breathed ayre,
Why livest thou, dead dog, a lenger day,
And doest not unto death thy selfe prepayre?
Dy, or thy selfe my captive yield for ay;
Great favour I thee graunt, for aunswere thus to stay.'

VIII

'Hold, O deare lord, hold your dead-doing hand!'
Then loud he cryde, 'I am your humble thrall.'
'Ah, wretch!' quoth he, 'thy destinies withstand
My wrathfull will, and doe for mercy call.
I give thee life: therefore prostrated fall,
And kisse my stirrup; that thy homage bee.'
The miser threw him selfe, as an offall,
Streight at his foot in base humilitee,
And cleeped him his liege, to hold of him in fee.

IX

So happy peace they made and faire accord.
Eftsoones this liegeman gan to wexe more bold,
And when he felt the folly of his lord,
In his owne kind he gan him selfe unfold:
For he was wylie witted, and growne old
In cunning sleightes and practick knavery.
From that day forth he cast for to uphold
His ydle humour with fine flattery,
And blow the bellowes to his swelling vanity.

X

Trompart, fitt man for Braggadochio,
To serve at court in view of vaunting eye;
Vaineglorious man, when fluttring wind does blow
In his light winges, is lifted up to skye;
The scorne of knighthood and trew chevalrye,
To thinke, without desert of gentle deed
And noble worth, to be advaunced hye:
Such prayse is shame; but honour, vertues meed,
Doth beare the fayrest flowre in honourable seed.

XI

So forth they pas, a well consorted payre,
Till that at length with Archimage they meet:
Who, seeing one that shone in armour fayre,
On goodly courser thondring with his feet,
Eftsoones supposed him a person meet
Of his revenge to make the instrument:
For since the Redcrosse Knight he erst did weet,
To beene with Guyon knitt in one consent,
The ill, which earst to him, he now to Guyon ment.

XII

And comming close to Trompart gan inquere
Of him, what mightie warriour that mote bee,
That rode in golden sell with single spere,
But wanted sword to wreake his enmitee.
'He is a great adventurer,' said he,
'That hath his sword through hard assay forgone,
And now hath vowd, till he avenged bee
Of that despight, never to wearen none;
That speare is him enough to doen a thousand grone.'

XIII

Th' enchaunter greatly joyed in the vaunt,
And weened well ere long his will to win,
And both his foen with equall foyle to daunt.
Tho to him louting lowly did begin
To plaine of wronges, which had committed bin
By Guyon, and by that false Redcrosse Knight,
Which two, through treason and deceiptfull gin,
Had slayne Sir Mordant and his lady bright:
That mote him honour win, to wreak so foule despight.

XIV

Therewith all suddeinly he seemd enragd,
And threatned death with dreadfull countenaunce,
As if their lives had in his hand beene gagd;
And with stiffe force shaking his mortall launce,
To let him weet his doughtie valiaunce,
Thus said: 'Old man, great sure shalbe thy meed,
If, where those knights for feare of dew vengeaunce
Doe lurke, thou certeinly to mee areed,
That I may wreake on them their hainous hateful deed.'

XV

'Certes, my lord,' said he, 'that shall I soone,
And give you eke good helpe to their decay.
But mote I wisely you advise to doon,
Give no ods to your foes, but doe purvay
Your selfe of sword before that bloody day:
For they be two the prowest knights on grownd,
And oft approv'd in many hard assay;
And eke of surest steele, that may be fownd,
Doe arme your self against that day, them to confownd.'

XVI

'Dotard,' saide he, 'let be thy deepe advise;
Seemes that through many yeares thy wits thee faile,
And that weake eld hath left thee nothing wise,
Els never should thy judgement be so frayle,
To measure manhood by the sword or mayle.
Is not enough fowre quarters of a man,
Withouten sword or shield, an hoste to quayle?
Thou litle wotest what this right-hand can:
Speake they, which have beheld the battailes which it wan.'

XVII

The man was much abashed at his boast;
Yet well he wist, that who so would contend
With either of those knightes on even coast,
Should neede of all his armes, him to defend;
Yet feared least his boldnesse should offend:
When Braggadocchio saide: 'Once I did sweare,
When with one sword seven knightes I brought to end,
Thence forth in battaile never sword to beare,
But it were that which noblest knight on earth doth weare.'

XVIII

'Perdy, sir knight,' saide then th' enchaunter blive,
'That shall I shortly purchase to your hond:
For now the best and noblest knight alive
Prince Arthur is, that wonnes in Faerie Lond;
He hath a sword, that flames like burning brond.
The same, by my device, I undertake
Shall by to morrow by thy side be fond.'
At which bold word that boaster gan to quake,
And wondred in his minde what mote that monster make.

XIX

He stayd not for more bidding, but away
Was suddein vanished out of his sight:
The northerne winde his wings did broad display
At his commaund, and reared him up light
From of the earth to take his aerie flight.
They lookt about, but no where could espye
Tract of his foot: then dead through great affright
They both nigh were, and each bad other flye:
Both fled attonce, ne ever backe retourned eye:

XX

Till that they come unto a forrest greene,
In which they shrowd themselves from causeles feare;
Yet feare them followes still, where so they beene.
Each trembling leafe and whistling wind they heare,
As ghastly bug, their haire on end does reare:
Yet both doe strive their fearefulnesse to faine.
At last they heard a horne, that shrilled cleare
Throughout the wood, that ecchoed againe,
And made the forrest ring, as it would rive in twaine.

XXI

Eft through the thicke they heard one rudely rush;
With noyse whereof he from his loftie steed
Downe fell to ground, and crept into a bush,
To hide his coward head from dying dreed.
But Trompart stoutly stayd to taken heed
Of what might hap. Eftsoone there stepped foorth
A goodly ladie clad in hunters weed,
That seemd to be a woman of great worth,
And, by her stately portance, borne of heavenly birth.

XXII

Her face so faire as flesh it seemed not,
But hevenly pourtraict of bright angels hew,
Cleare as the skye, withouten blame or blot,
Through goodly mixture of complexions dew;
And in her cheekes the vermeill red did shew
Like roses in a bed of lillies shed,
The which ambrosiall odours from them threw,
And gazers sence with double pleasure fed,
Hable to heale the sicke, and to revive the ded.

XXIII

In her faire eyes two living lamps did flame,
Kindled above at th' Hevenly Makers light,
And darted fyrie beames out of the same,
So passing persant, and so wondrous bright,
That quite bereav'd the rash beholders sight:
In them the blinded god his lustfull fyre
To kindle oft assayd, but had no might;
For with dredd majestie and awfull yre
She broke his wanton darts, and quenched bace desyre.

XXIV

Her yvorie forhead, full of bountie brave,
Like a broad table did it selfe dispred,
For Love his loftie triumphes to engrave,
And write the battailes of his great godhed:
All good and honour might therein be red:
For there their dwelling was. And when she spake,
Sweete wordes, like dropping honny, she did shed,
And twixt the perles and rubins softly brake
A silver sound, that heavenly musicke seemd to make.

XXV

Upon her eyelids many Graces sate,
Under the shadow of her even browes,
Working belgardes and amorous retrate,
And everie one her with a grace endowes,
And everie one with meekenesse to her bowes.
So glorious mirrhour of celestiall grace,
And soveraine moniment of mortall vowes,
How shall frayle pen descrive her heavenly face,
For feare, through want of skill, her beauty to disgrace?

XXVI

So faire, and thousand thousand times more faire,
She seemd, when she presented was to sight;
And was yclad, for heat of scorching aire,
All in a silken camus lylly whight,
Purfled upon with many a folded plight,
Which all above besprinckled was throughout
With golden aygulets, that glistred bright,
Like twinckling starres, and all the skirt about
Was hemd with golden fringe.

XXVII

Below her ham her weed did somewhat trayne,
And her streight legs most bravely were embayld
In gilden buskins of costly cordwayne,
All bard with golden bendes, which were entayld
With curious antickes, and full fayre aumayld:
Before, they fastned were under her knee
In a rich jewell, and therein entrayld
The ends of all their knots, that none might see
How they within their fouldings close enwrapped bee.

XXVIII

Like two faire marble pillours they were seene,
Which doe the temple of the gods support,
Whom all the people decke with girlands greene,
And honour in their festivall resort;
Those same with stately grace and princely port
She taught to tread, when she her selfe would grace,
But with the woody nymphes when she did sport,
Or when the flying libbard she did chace,
She could them nimbly move, and after fly apace.

XXIX

And in her hand a sharpe bore-speare she held,
And at her backe a bow and quiver gay,
Stuft with steele-headed dartes, wherewith she queld
The salvage beastes in her victorious play,
Knit with a golden bauldricke, which forelay
Athwart her snowy brest, and did divide
Her daintie paps; which, like young fruit in May,
Now little gan to swell, and being tide,
Through her thin weed their places only signifide.

XXX

Her yellow lockes, crisped like golden wyre,
About her shoulders weren loosely shed,
And when the winde emongst them did inspyre,
They waved like a penon wyde dispred,
And low behinde her backe were scattered:
And whether art it were, or heedelesse hap,
As through the flouring forrest rash she fled,
In her rude heares sweet flowres themselves did lap,
And flourishing fresh leaves and blossomes did enwrap.

XXXI

Such as Diana by the sandy shore
Of swift Eurotas, or on Cynthus greene,
Where all the nymphes have her unwares forlore,
Wandreth alone with bow and arrowes keene,
To seeke her game: or as that famous queene
Of Amazons, whom Pyrrhus did destroy,
The day that first of Priame she was seene,
Did shew her selfe in great triumphant joy,
To succour the weake state of sad afflicted Troy.

XXXII

Such when as hartlesse Trompart her did vew,
He was dismayed in his coward minde,
And doubted, whether he himselfe should shew,
Or fly away, or bide alone behinde:
Both feare and hope he in her face did finde,
When she at last, him spying, thus bespake:
'Hayle, groome! didst not thou see a bleeding hynde,
Whose right haunch earst my stedfast arrow strake?
If thou didst, tell me, that I may her overtake.'

XXXIII

Wherewith reviv'd, this answere forth he threw:
'O goddesse, (for such I thee take to bee;
For nether doth thy face terrestriall shew,
Nor voyce sound mortall) I avow to thee,
Such wounded beast as that I did not see,
Sith earst into this forrest wild I came.
But mote thy goodlyhed forgive it mee,
To weete which of the gods I shall thee name,
That unto thee dew worship I may rightly frame.'

XXXIV

To whom she thus -- But ere her words ensewd,
Unto the bush her eye did suddein glaunce,
In which vaine Braggadocchio was mewd,
And saw it stirre: she lefte her percing launce,
And towards gan a deadly shafte advaunce,
In mind to marke the beast. At which sad stowre,
Trompart forth stept, to stay the mortall chaunce,
Out crying: 'O, what ever hevenly powre,
Or earthly wight thou be, withhold this deadly howre!

XXXV

'O stay thy hand! for yonder is no game
For thy fiers arrowes, them to exercize,
But loe! my lord, my liege, whose warlike name
Is far renowmd through many bold emprize;
And now in shade he shrowded youder lies.'
She staid: with that he crauld out of his nest,
Forth creeping on his caitive hands and thies,
And standing stoutly up, his lofty crest
Did fiercely shake, and rowze, as comming late from rest.

XXXVI

As fearfull fowle, that long in secret cave
For dread of soring hauke her selfe hath hid,
Not caring how, her silly life to save,
She her gay painted plumes disorderid,
Seeing at last her selfe from daunger rid,
Peepes forth, and soone renews her native pride;
She gins her feathers fowle disfigured
Prowdly to prune, and sett on every side;
So shakes off shame, ne thinks how erst she did her hide.

XXXVII

So when her goodly visage he beheld,
He gan himselfe to vaunt; but when he vewd
Those deadly tooles which in her hand she held,
Soone into other fitts he was transmewd,
Till she to him her gracious speach renewd:
'All haile, sir knight, and well may thee befall,
As all the like, which honor have pursewd
Through deeds of armes and prowesse martiall!
All vertue merits praise, but such the most of all.'

XXXVIII

To whom he thus: 'O fairest under skie,
Trew be thy words, and worthy of thy praise,
That warlike feats doest highest glorifie.
Therein have I spent all my youthly daies,
And many battailes fought and many fraies
Throughout the world, wher so they might be found,
Endevoring my dreaded name to raise
Above the moone, that Fame may it resound
In her eternall tromp, with laurell girlond cround.

XXXIX

'But what art thou, O lady, which doest raunge
In this wilde forest, where no pleasure is,
And doest not it for joyous court exchaunge,
Emongst thine equall peres, where happy blis
And all delight does raigne, much more then this?
There thou maist love, and dearly loved be,
And swim in pleasure, which thou here doest mis;
There maist thou best be seene, and best maist see:
The wood is fit for beasts, the court is fitt for thee.'

XL

'Who so in pompe of prowd estate,' quoth she,
'Does swim, and bathes him selfe in courtly blis,
Does waste his dayes in darke obscuritee,
And in oblivion ever buried is:
Where ease abownds, yt's eath to doe amis:
But who his limbs with labours, and his mynd
Behaves with cares, cannot so easy mis.
Abroad in armes, at home in studious kynd,
Who seekes with painfull toile, shal Honor soonest fynd.

XLI

'In woods, in waves, in warres she wonts to dwell,
And wilbe found with perill and with paine;
Ne can the man, that moulds in ydle cell,
Unto her happy mansion attaine:
Before her gate High God did sweate ordaine,
And wakefull watches ever to abide:
But easy is the way, and passage plaine
To Pleasures pallace; it may soone be spide,
And day and night her dores to all stand open wide.

XLII

'In princes court --' The rest she would have sayd,
But that the foolish man, fild with delight
Of her sweete words, that all his sence dismayd,
And with her wondrous beauty ravisht quight,
Gan burne in filthy lust, and, leaping light,
Thought in his bastard armes her to embrace.
With that she, swarving backe, her javelin bright
Against him bent, and fiercely did menace:
So turned her about, and fled away apace.

XLIII

Which when the pesaunt saw, amazd he stood,
And grieved at her flight; yet durst he nott
Pursew her steps through wild unknowen wood;
Besides he feard her wrath, and threatned shott,
Whiles in the bush he lay, not yet forgott:
Ne car'd he greatly for her presence vayne,
But turning said to Trompart: 'What fowle blott
Is this to knight, that lady should agayne
Depart to woods untoucht, and leave so proud disdayne!'

XLIV

'Perdy,' said Trompart, 'lett her pas at will,
Least by her presence daunger mote befall.
For who can tell (and sure I feare it ill)
But that shee is some powre celestiall?
For whiles she spake, her great words did apall
My feeble corage, and my heart oppresse,
That yet I quake and tremble over all.'
'And I,' said Braggadocchio, 'thought no lesse,
When first I heard her born sound with such ghastlinesse.

XLV

'For from my mothers wombe this grace I have
Me given by eternall destiny,
That earthly thing may not my corage brave
Dismay with feare, or cause on foote to flye,
But either hellish feends, or powres on hye:
Which was the cause, when earst that horne I heard,
Weening it had beene thunder in the skye,
I hid my selfe from it, as one affeard;
But when I other knew, my selfe I boldly reard.

XLVI

'But now, for feare of worse that may betide,
Let us soone hence depart.' They soone agree;
So to his steed he gott, and gan to ride,
As one unfitt therefore, that all might see
He had not trayned bene in chevalree.
Which well that valiaunt courser did discerne;
For he despisd to tread in dew degree,
But chaufd and fom'd, with corage fiers and sterne,
And to be easd of that base burden still did erne.





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