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



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THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 3, CANTOS 1-3, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It falls me here to write of chastity
Last Line: The redcrosse knight diverst, but forth rode britomart.
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 THIRDE BOOKE

OF THE FAERIE QUEENE
CONTAYNING
THE LEGEND OF BRITOMARTIS
OR
OF CHASTITY

I

IT falls me here to write of Chastity,
That fayrest vertue, far above the rest;
For which what needes me fetch from Faery
Forreine ensamples, it to have exprest?
Sith it is shrined in my Soveraines brest,
And formd so lively in each perfect part,
That to all ladies, which have it profest,
Neede but behold the pourtraict of her hart,
If pourtrayd it might bee by any living art.

II

But living art may not least part expresse,
Nor life-resembling pencill it can paynt,
All were it Zeuxis or Praxiteles:
His daedale hand would faile, and greatly faynt,
And her perfections with his error taynt:
Ne poets witt, that passeth painter farre
In picturing the parts of beauty daynt,
So hard a workemanship adventure darre,
For fear through want of words her excellence to marre.

III

How then shall I, apprentice of the skill
That whilome in divinest wits did rayne,
Presume so high to stretch mine humble quill?
Yet now my luckelesse lott doth me constrayne
Hereto perforce. But, O dredd Soverayne,
Thus far forth pardon, sith that choicest witt
Cannot your glorious pourtraict figure playne,
That I in colourd showes may shadow itt,
And antique praises unto present persons fitt.

IV

But if in living colours, and right hew,
Your selfe you covet to see pictured,
Who can it doe more lively, or more trew,
Then that sweete verse, with nectar sprinckeled,
In which a gracious servaunt pictured
His Cynthia, his heavens fayrest light?
That with his melting sweetnes ravished,
And with the wonder of her beames bright,
My sences lulled are in slomber of delight.

V

But let that same delitious poet lend
A little leave unto a rusticke Muse
To sing his mistresse prayse, and let him mend,
If ought amis her liking may abuse:
Ne let his fayrest Cynthia refuse,
In mirrours more then one her selfe to see,
But either Gloriana let her chuse,
Or in Belphoebe fashioned to bee:
In th' one her rule, in th' other her rare chastitee.

CANTO I

Guyon encountreth Britomart:
Fayre Florimell is chaced:
Duessaes traines and Malecastaes
champions are defaced.

I

THE famous Briton Prince and Faery knight,
After long wayes and perilous paines endur'd,
Having their weary limbes to perfect plight
Restord, and sory wounds right well recur'd,
Of the faire Alma greatly were procur'd
To make there lenger sojourne and abode;
But when thereto they might not be allur'd
From seeking praise and deeds of armes abrode,
They courteous conge tooke, and forth together yode.

II

But the captiv'd Acrasia he sent,
Because of traveill long, a nigher way,
With a strong gard, all reskew to prevent,
And her to Faery court safe to convay,
That her for witnes of his hard assay
Unto his Faery Queene he might present:
But he him selfe betooke another way,
To make more triall of his hardiment,
And seeke adventures, as he with Prince Arthure went.

III

Long so they traveiled through wastefull wayes,
Where daungers dwelt, and perils most did wonne,
To hunt for glory and renowmed prayse:
Full many countreyes they did overronne,
From the uprising to the setting sunne,
And many hard adventures did atchieve;
Of all the which they honour ever wonne,
Seeking the weake oppressed to relieve,
And to recover right for such as wrong did grieve.

IV

At last, as through an open plaine they yode,
They spide a knight, that towards pricked fayre;
And him beside an aged squire there rode,
That seemd to couch under his shield three-square,
As if that age badd him that burden spare,
And yield it those that stouter could it wield:
He them espying, gan him selfe prepare,
And on his arme addresse his goodly shield,
That bore a lion passant in a golden field.

V

Which seeing good Sir Guyon, deare besought
The Prince, of grace, to let him ronne that turne.
He graunted: then the Faery quickly raught
His poynant speare, and sharply gan to spurne
His fomy steed, whose fiery feete did burne
The verdant gras, as he thereon did tread;
Ne did the other backe his foote returne,
But fiercely forward came withouten dread,
And bent his dreadful speare against the others head.

VI

They beene ymett, and both theyr points arriv'd;
But Guyon drove so furious and fell,
That seemd both shield and plate it would have riv'd:
Nathelesse it bore his foe not from his sell,
But made him stagger, as he were not well:
But Guyon selfe, ere well he was aware,
Nigh a speares length behind his crouper fell;
Yet in his fall so well him selfe he bare,
That mischievous mischaunce his life and limbs did spare.

VII

Great shame and sorrow of that fall he tooke;
For never yet, sith warlike armes he bore,
And shivering speare in bloody field first shooke,
He fownd him selfe dishonored so sore.
Ah! gentlest knight that ever armor bore,
Let not thee grieve dismounted to have beene,
And brought to grownd, that never wast before;
For not thy fault, but secret powre unseene:
That speare enchaunted was, which layd thee on the greene.

VIII

But weenedst thou what wight thee overthrew,
Much greater griefe and shamefuller regrett
For thy hard fortune then thou wouldst renew,
That of a single damzell thou wert mett
On equall plaine, and there so hard besett:
Even the famous Britomart it was,
Whom straunge adventure did from Britayne fett,
To seeke her lover, (love far sought, alas!)
Whose image shee had seene in Venus looking glas.

IX

Full of disdainefull wrath, he fierce uprose,
For to revenge that fowle reprochefull shame,
And snatching his bright sword, began to close
With her on foot, and stoutly forward came;
Dye rather would he then endure that same.
Which when his palmer saw, he gan to feare
His toward perill and untoward blame,
Which by that new rencounter he should reare:
For death sate on the point of that enchaunted speare.

X

And hasting towards him gan fayre perswade,
Not to provoke misfortune, nor to weene
His speares default to mend with cruell blade:
For by his mightie science he had seene
The secrete vertue of that weapon keene,
That mortall puissaunce mote not withstond:
Nothing on earth mote alwaies happy beene.
Great hazard were it, and adventure fond,
To loose long gotten honour with one evill hond.

XI

By such good meanes he him discounselled
From prosecuting his revenging rage;
And eke the Prince like treaty handeled,
His wrathfull will with reason to aswage,
And laid the blame, not to his carriage,
But to his starting steed, that swarv'd asyde,
And to the ill purveyaunce of his page,
That had his furnitures not firmely tyde:
So is his angry corage fayrly pacifyde.

XII

Thus reconcilement was betweene them knitt,
Through goodly temperaunce and affection chaste;
And either vowd with all their power and witt,
To let not others honour be defaste
Of friend or foe, who ever it embaste,
Ne armes to beare against the others syde:
In which accord the Prince was also plaste,
And with that golden chaine of concord tyde.
So goodly all agreed, they forth yfere did ryde.

XIII

O goodly usage of those antique tymes,
In which the sword was servaunt unto right!
When not for malice and contentious crymes,
But all for prayse, and proofe of manly might,
The martiall brood accustomed to fight:
Then honour was the meed of victory,
And yet the vanquished had no despight:
Let later age that noble use envy,
Vyle rancor to avoid, and cruel surquedry.

XIV

Long they thus traveiled in friendly wise,
Through countreyes waste and eke well edifyde,
Seeking adventures hard, to exercise
Their puissaunce, whylome full dernly tryde:
At length they came into a forest wyde,
Whose hideous horror and sad trembling sownd
Full griesly seemd: therein they long did ryde,
Yet tract of living creature none they fownd,
Save beares, lyons, and buls, which romed them arownd.

XV

All suddenly out of the thickest brush,
Upon a milkwhite palfrey all alone,
A goodly lady did foreby them rush,
Whose face did seeme as cleare as christall stone,
And eke through feare as white as whales bone:
Her garments all were wrought of beaten gold,
And all her steed with tinsell trappings shone,
Which fledd so fast that nothing mote him hold,
And scarse them leasure gave, her passing to behold.

XVI

Still as she fledd her eye she backward threw,
As fearing evill that poursewd her fast;
And her faire yellow locks behind her flew,
Loosely disperst with puff of every blast:
All as a blazing starre doth farre outcast
His hearie beames, and flaming lockes dispredd,
At sight whereof the people stand aghast:
But the sage wisard telles, as he has redd,
That it importunes death and dolefull dreryhedd.

XVII

So as they gazed after her a whyle,
Lo! where a griesly foster forth did rush,
Breathing out beastly lust her to defyle:
His tyreling jade he fiersly forth did push,
Through thicke and thin, both over banck and bush.
In hope her to attaine by hooke or crooke,
That from his gory sydes the blood did gush:
Large were his limbes, and terrible his looke,
And in his clownish hand a sharp bore speare he shooke.

XVIII

Which outrage when those gentle knights did see,
Full of great envy and fell gealosy,
They stayd not to avise who first should bee,
But all spurd after fast as they mote fly,
To reskew her from shamefull villany.
The Prince and Guyon equally bylive
Her selfe pursewd, in hope to win thereby
Most goodly meede, the fairest dame alive:
But after the foule foster Timias did strive.

XIX

The whiles faire Britomart, whose constant mind
Would not so lightly follow beauties chace,
Ne reckt of ladies love, did stay behynd,
And them awayted there a certaine space,
To weet if they would turne backe to that place:
But when she saw them gone, she forward went,
As lay her journey, through that perlous pace,
With stedfast corage and stout hardiment;
Ne evil thing she feard, ne evill thing she ment.

XX

At last, as nigh out of the wood she came,
A stately castle far away she spyde,
To which her steps directly she did frame.
That castle was most goodly edifyde,
And plaste for pleasure nigh that forrest syde:
But faire before the gate a spatious playne,
Mantled with greene, it selfe did spredden wyde,
On which she saw six knights, that did darrayne
Fiers battaill against one, with cruel might and mayne.

XXI

Mainely they all attonce upon him laid,
And sore beset on every side arownd,
That nigh he breathlesse grew, yet nought dismaid,
Ne ever to them yielded foot of grownd,
All had he lost much blood through many a wownd,
But stoutly dealt his blowes, and every way,
To which he turned in his wrathfull stownd,
Made them recoile, and fly from dredd decay,
That none of all the six before him durst assay.

XXII

Like dastard curres, that, having at a bay
The salvage beast embost in wearie chace,
Dare not adventure on the stubborne pray,
Ne byte before, but rome from place to place,
To get a snatch, when turned is his face.
In such distresse and doubtfull jeopardy
When Britomart him saw, she ran apace
Unto his reskew, and with earnest cry
Badd those same sixe forbeare that single enimy.

XXIII

But to her cry they list not lenden eare,
Ne ought the more their mightie strokes surceasse,
But gathering him rownd about more neare,
Their direfull rancour rather did encreasse;
Till that she, rushing through the thickest preasse,
Perforce disparted their compacted gyre,
And soone compeld to hearken unto peace:
Tho gan she myldly of them to inquyre
The cause of their dissention and outrageous yre.

XXIV

Whereto that single knight did answere frame:
'These six would me enforce by oddes of might,
To chaunge my liefe, and love another dame,
That death me liefer were then such despight,
So unto wrong to yield my wrested right:
For I love one, the truest one on grownd,
Ne list me chaunge; she th' Errant Damzell hight;
For whose deare sake full many a bitter stownd
I have endurd, and tasted many a bloody wownd.'

XXV

'Certes,' said she, 'then beene ye sixe to blame,
To weene your wrong by force to justify:
For knight to leave his lady were great shame,
That faithfull is, and better were to dy.
All losse is lesse, and lesse the infamy,
Then losse of love to him that loves but one:
Ne may love be compeld by maistery;
For soone as maistery comes, sweet Love anone
Taketh his nimble winges, and soone away is gone.'

XXVI

Then spake one of those six: 'There dwelleth here,
Within this castle wall, a lady fayre,
Whose soveraine beautie hath no living pere;
Thereto so bounteous and so debonayre,
That never any mote with her compayre.
She hath ordaind this law, which we approve,
That every knight, which doth this way repayre,
In case he have no lady nor no love,
Shall doe unto her service, never to remove.

XXVII

'But if he have a lady or a love,
Then must he her forgoe with fowle defame,
Or els with us by dint of sword approve,
That she is fairer then our fairest dame;
As did this knight, before ye hether came.'
'Perdy,' said Britomart, 'the choise is hard:
But what reward had he that overcame?'
'He should advaunced bee to high regard,'
Said they, 'and have our ladies love for his reward.

XXVIII

'Therefore aread, sir, if thou have a love.'
'Love have I sure,' quoth she, 'but lady none;
Yet will I not fro mine owne love remove,
Ne to your lady will I service done,
But wreake your wronges wrought to this knight alone,
And prove his cause.' With that, her mortall speare
She mightily aventred towards one,
And downe him smot ere well aware he weare;
Then to the next she rode, and downe the next did beare.

XXIX

Ne did she stay, till three on ground she layd,
That none of them himselfe could reare againe;
The fourth was by that other knight dismayd,
All were he wearie of his former paine,
That now there do but two of six remaine;
Which two did yield before she did them smight.
'Ah!' sayd she then, 'now may ye all see plaine,
That truth is strong, and trew love most of might,
That for his trusty servaunts doth so strongly fight.'

XXX

'Too well we see,' saide they, 'and prove too well
Our faulty weakenes, and your matchlesse might:
Forthy, faire sir, yours be the damozell,
Which by her owne law to your lot doth light,
And we your liege men faith unto you plight.'
So underneath her feet their swords they mard,
And after, her besought, well as they might,
To enter in and reape the dew reward:
She graunted, and then in they all together far'd.

XXXI

Long were it to describe the goodly frame
And stately port of Castle Joyeous,
(For so that castle hight by commun name)
Where they were entertaynd with courteous
And comely glee of many gratious
Faire ladies, and of many a gentle knight,
Who through a chamber long and spacious,
Eftsoones them brought unto their ladies sight,
That of them cleeped was the Lady of Delight.

XXXII

But for to tell the sumptuous aray
Of that great chamber should be labour lost:
For living wit, I weene, cannot display
The roiall riches and exceeding cost
Of every pillour and of every post;
Which all of purest bullion framed were,
And with great perles and pretious stones embost,
That the bright glister of their beames cleare
Did sparckle forth great light, and glorious did appeare.

XXXIII

These stranger knights, through passing, forth were led
Into an inner rowme, whose royaltee
And rich purveyance might uneath be red;
Mote princes place beseeme so deckt to bee.
Which stately manner when as they did see,
The image of superfluous riotize,
Exceeding much the state of meane degree,
They greatly wondred whence so sumpteous guize
Might be maintaynd, and each gan diversely devize.

XXXIV

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

XXXV

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

XXXVI

And whilst he slept, she over him would spred
Her mantle, colour'd like the starry skyes,
And her soft arme lay underneath his hed,
And with ambrosiall kisses bathe his eyes;
And whilst he bath'd, with her two crafty spyes
She secretly would search each daintie lim,
And throw into the well sweet rosemaryes,
And fragrant violets, and paunces trim,
And ever with sweet nectar she did sprinkle him.

XXXVII

So did she steale his heedelesse hart away,
And joyd his love in secret unespyde.
But for she saw him bent to cruell play,
To hunt the salvage beast in forrest wyde,
Dreadfull of daunger, that mote him betyde,
She oft and oft adviz'd him to refraine
From chase of greater beastes, whose brutish pryde
Mote breede him scath unwares: but all in vaine;
For who can shun the chance that dest'ny doth ordaine?

XXXVIII

Lo! where beyond he lyeth languishing,
Deadly engored of a great wilde bore,
And by his side the goddesse groveling
Makes for him endlesse mone, and evermore
With her soft garment wipes away the gore,
Which staynes his snowy skin with hatefull hew:
But when she saw no helpe might him restore,
Him to a dainty flowre she did transmew,
Which in that cloth was wrought, as if it lively grew.

XXXIX

So was that chamber clad in goodly wize:
And rownd about it many beds were dight,
As whylome was the antique worldes guize,
Some for untimely ease, some for delight,
As pleased them to use, that use it might:
And all was full of damzels and of squyres,
Dauncing and reveling both day and night,
And swimming deepe in sensuall desyres;
And Cupid still emongest them kindled lustfull fyres.

XL

And all the while sweet musicke did divide
Her looser notes with Lydian harmony;
And all the while sweet birdes thereto applide
Their daintie layes and dulcet melody,
Ay caroling of love and jollity,
That wonder was to heare their trim consort.
Which when those knights beheld, with scornefull eye,
They sdeigned such lascivious disport,
And loath'd the loose demeanure of that wanton sort.

XLI

Thence they were brought to that great ladies vew,
Whom they found sitting on a sumptuous bed,
That glistred all with gold and glorious shew,
As the proud Persian queenes accustomed:
She seemd a woman of great bountihed
And of rare beautie, saving that askaunce
Her wanton eyes, ill signes of womanhed,
Did roll too lightly, and too often glaunce,
Without regard of grace or comely amenaunce.

XLII

Long worke it were, and needlesse, to devize
Their goodly entertainement and great glee:
She caused them be led in courteous wize
Into a bowre, disarmed for to be,
And cheared well with wine and spiceree:
The Rederosse Knight was soone disarmed there,
But the brave mayd would not disarmed bee,
But onely vented up her umbriere.
And so did let her goodly visage to appere.

XLIII

As when fayre Cynthia, in darkesome night,
Is in a noyous cloud enveloped,
Where she may finde the substance thin and light
Breakes forth her silver beames, and her bright hed
Discovers to the world discomfited;
Of the poore traveiler, that went astray,
With thousand blessings she is heried;
Such was the beautie and the shining ray,
With which fayre Britomart gave ligh unto the day.

XLIV

And eke those six, which lately with her fought,
Now were disarmd, and did them selves present
Unto her vew, and company unsought;
For they all seemed courteous and gent,
And all sixe brethren, borne of one parent,
Which had them traynd in all civilitee,
And goodly taught to tilt and turnament;
Now were they liegmen to this ladie free,
And her knights service ought, to hold of her in fee.

XLV

The first of them by name Gardante hight,
A jolly person, and of comely vew;
The second was Parlante, a bold knight,
And next to him Jocante did ensew;
Basciante did him selfe most courteous shew;
But fierce Bacchante seemd too fell and keene;
And yett in armes Noctante greater grew:
All were faire knights, and goodly well beseene,
But to faire Britomart they all but shadowes beene.

XLVI

For shee was full of amiable grace,
And manly terror mixed therewithall,
That as the one stird up affections bace,
So th' other did mens rash desires apall,
And hold them backe, that would in error fall;
As hee that hath espide a vermeill rose,
To which sharpe thornes and breres the way forstall,
Dare not for dread his hardy hand expose,
But wishing it far off, his ydle wish doth lose.

XLVII

Whom when the lady saw so faire a wight,
All ignorant of her contrary sex,
(For shee her weend a fresh and lusty knight)
Shee greatly gan enamoured to wex,
And with vaine thoughts her falsed fancy vex:
Her fickle hart conceived hasty fyre,
Like sparkes of fire which fall in sclender flex,
That shortly brent into extreme desyre,
And ransackt all her veines with passion entyre.

XLVIII

Eftsoones shee grew to great impatience,
And into termes of open outrage brust,
That plaine discovered her incontinence,
Ne reckt shee who her meaning did mistrust;
For she was given all to fleshly lust,
And poured forth in sensuall delight,
That all regard of shame she had discust,
And meet respect of honor putt to flight:
So shamelesse beauty soone becomes a loathly sight.

XLIX

Faire ladies, that to love captived arre,
And chaste desires doe nourish in your mind,
Let not her fault your sweete affections marre,
Ne blott the bounty of all womankind,
'Mongst thousands good one wanton dame to find:
Emongst the roses grow some wicked weeds:
For this was not to love, but lust, inclind;
For love does alwaies bring forth bounteous deeds,
And in each gentle hart desire of honor breeds.

L

Nought so of love this looser dame did skill,
But as a cole to kindle fleshly flame,
Giving the bridle to her wanton will,
And treading under foote her honest name:
Such love is hate, and such desire is shame.
Still did she rove at her with crafty glaunce
Of her false eies, that at her hart did ayme,
And told her meaning in her countenaunce;
But Britomart dissembled it with ignoraunce.

LI

Supper was shortly dight, and downe they satt;
Where they were served with all sumptuous fare,
Whiles fruitfull Ceres and Lyaeus fatt
Pourd out their plenty, without spight or spare:
Nought wanted there that dainty was and rare;
And aye the cups their bancks did overflow,
And aye, betweene the cups, she did prepare
Way to her love, and secret darts did throw;
But Britomart would not such guilfull message know.

LII

So when they slaked had the fervent heat
Of appetite with meates of every sort,
The lady did faire Britomart entreat,
Her to disarme, and with delightfull sport
to loose her warlike limbs and strong effort:
But when shee mote not thereunto be wonne,
(For shee her sexe under that straunge purport
Did use to hide, and plaine apparaunce shonne,)
In playner wise to tell her grievaunce she begonne.

LIII

And all attonce discovered her desire
With sighes, and sobs, and plaints, and piteous griefe,
The outward sparkes of her inburning fire;
Which spent in vaine, at last she told her briefe,
That, but if she did lend her short reliefe,
And doe her comfort, she mote algates dye.
But the chaste damzell, that had never priefe
Of such malengine and fine forgerye,
Did easely beleeve her strong extremitye.

LIV

Full easy was for her to have beliefe,
Who by self-feeling of her feeble sexe,
And by long triall of the inward griefe,
Where with imperious love her hart did vexe,
Could judge what paines doe loving harts perplexe.
Who meanes no guile, be guiled soonest shall,
And to faire semblaunce doth light faith annexe:
The bird, that knowes not the false fowlers call,
Into his hidden nett full easely doth fall.

LV

Forthy she would not in discourteise wise
Scorne the faire offer of good will profest;
For great rebuke it is, love to despise,
Or rudely sdeigne a gentle harts request;
But with faire countenaunce, as beseemed best,
Her entertaynd; nath'lesse shee inly deemd
Her love too light, to wooe a wandring guest:
Which she misconstruing, thereby esteemd
That from like inward fire that outward smoke had steemd.

LVI

Therewith a while she her flit fancy fedd,
Till she mote winne fit time for her desire,
But yet her wound still inward freshly bledd,
And through her bones the false instilled fire
Did spred it selfe, and venime close inspire.
Tho were the tables taken all away,
And every knight, and every gentle squire
Gan choose his dame with basciomani gay,
With whom he ment to make his sport and courtly play.

LVII

Some fell to daunce, some fel to hazardry,
Some to make love, some to make meryment,
As diverse witts to diverse things apply;
And all the while faire Malecasta bent
Her crafty engins to her close intent.
By this th' eternall lampes, wherewith high Jove
Doth light the lower world, were halfe yspent,
And the moist daughters of huge Atlas strove
Into the ocean deepe to drive their weary drove.

LVIII

High time it seemed then for everie wight
Them to betake unto their kindly rest:
Eftesoones long waxen torches weren light,
Unto their bowres to guyden every guest:
Tho, when the Britonesse saw all the rest
Avoided quite, she gan her selfe despoile,
And safe committ to her soft fethered nest,
Wher through long watch, and late daies weary toile,
She soundly slept, and carefull thoughts did quite assoile.

LIX

Now whenas all the world in silence deepe
Yshrowded was, and every mortall wight
Was drowned in the depth of deadly sleepe,
Faire Malecasta, whose engrieved spright
Could find no rest in such perplexed plight,
Lightly arose out of her wearie bed,
And, under the blacke vele of guilty night,
Her with a scarlott mantle covered,
That was with gold and ermines faire enveloped.

LX

Then panting softe, and trembling every joynt,
Her fearfull feete towards the bowre she mov'd,
Where she for secret purpose did appoynt
To lodge the warlike maide, unwisely loov'd;
And to her bed approching, first she proov'd
Whether she slept or wakte; with her softe hand
She softely felt if any member moov'd,
And lent her wary eare to understand
If any puffe of breath or signe of sence shee fond.

LXI

Which whenas none she fond, with easy shifte,
For feare least her unwares she should abrayd,
Th' embroderd quilt she lightly up did lifte,
And by her side her selfe she softly layd,
Of every finest fingers touch affrayd;
Ne any noise she made, ne word she spake,
But inly sigh'd. At last the royall mayd
Out of her quiet slomber did awake,
And chaungd her weary side, the better ease to take.

LXII

Where feeling one close couched by her side,
She lightly lept out of her filed bedd,
And to her weapon ran, in minde to gride
The loathed leachour. But the dame, halfe dedd
Through suddein feare and ghastly drerihedd,
Did shrieke alowd, that through the hous it rong,
And the whole family, therewith adredd,
Rashly out of their rouzed couches sprong,
And to the troubled chamber all in armes did throng.

LXIII

And those sixe knights, that ladies champions,
And eke the Redcrosse Knight ran to the stownd,
Halfe armd and halfe unarmd, with them attons:
Where when confusedly they came, they fownd
Their lady lying on the sencelesse grownd;
On thother side, they saw the warlike mayd
Al in her snow-white smocke, with locks unbownd,
Threatning the point of her avenging blaed;
That with so troublous terror they were all dismayd.

LXIV

About their ladye first they flockt arownd;
Whom having laid in comfortable couch,
Shortly they reard out of her frosen swownd;
And afterwardes they gan with fowle reproch
To stirre up strife, and troublous contecke broch:
But, by ensample of the last dayes losse,
None of them rashly durst to her approch,
Ne in so glorious spoile themselves embosse:
Her succourd eke the champion of the bloody crosse.

LXV

But one of those sixe knights, Gardante hight,
Drew out a deadly bow and arrow keene,
Which forth he sent with felonous despight,
And fell intent, against the virgin sheene:
The mortall steele stayd not till it was seene
To gore her side; yet was the wound not deepe,
But lightly rased her soft silken skin,
That drops of purple blood thereout did weepe,
Which did her lilly smock with staines of vermeil steep.

LXVI

Wherewith enrag'd, she fiercely at them flew,
And with her flaming sword about her layd,
That none of them foule mischiefe could eschew,
But with her dreadfull strokes were all dismayd:
Here, there, and every where about her swayd
Her wrathfull steele, that none mote it abyde;
And eke the Redcrosse Knight gave her good ayd,
Ay joyning foot to foot, and syde to syde,
That in short space their foes they have quite terrifyde.

LXVII

Tho whenas all were put to shamefull flight,
The noble Britomartis her arayd,
And her bright armes about her body dight:
For nothing would she lenger there be stayd,
Where so loose life, and so ungentle trade,
Was usd of knights and ladies seeming gent:
So, earely, ere the grosse earthes gryesy shade
Was all disperst out of the firmament,
They tooke their steeds, and forth upon their journey went.

CANTO II

The Redcrosse Knight to Britomart
Describeth Artegall:
The wondrous myrrhour, by which she
In love with him did fall.

I

HERE have I cause in men just blame to find,
That in their proper praise too partiall bee,
And not indifferent to woman kind,
To whom no share in armes and chevalree
They doe impart, ne maken memoree
Of their brave gestes and prowesse martiall:
Scarse doe they spare to one, or two, or three,
Rowme in their writtes; yet the same writing small
Does all their deedes deface, and dims their glories all.

II

But by record of antique times I finde,
That wemen wont in warres to beare most sway,
And to all great exploites them selves inclind:
Of which they still the girlond bore away,
Till envious men, fearing their rules decay,
Gan coyne streight lawes to curb their liberty:
Yet sith they warlike armes have laide away,
They have exceld in artes and pollicy,
That now we foolish men that prayse gin eke t' envy.

III

Of warlike puissaunce in ages spent,
Be thou, faire Britomart, whose prayse I wryte;
But of all wisedom bee thou precedent,
O soveraine Queene, whose prayse I would endyte,
Endite I would as dewtie doth excyte;
But ah! my rymes to rude and rugged arre,
When in so high an object they doe lyte,
And,striving fit to make, I feare doe marre:
Thy selfe thy prayses tell, and make them knowen farre.

IV

She, traveiling with Guyon, by the way
Of sondry thinges faire purpose gan to find,
T' abridg their journey long and lingring day:
Mongst which it fell into that Fairies mind
To aske this Briton maid, what uncouth wind
Brought her into those partes, and what inquest
Made her dissemble her disguised kind:
Faire lady she him seemd, like lady drest,
But fairest knight alive, when armed was her brest.

V

Thereat she sighing softly, had no powre
To speake a while, ne ready answere make,
But with hart-thrilling throbs and bitter stowre,
As if she had a fever fitt, did quake,
And every daintie limbe with horrour shake,
And ever and anone the rosy red
Flasht through her face, as it had beene a flake
Of lightning through bright heven fulmined:
At last, the passion past, she thus him answered:

VI

'Faire sir, I let you weete, that from the howre
I taken was from nourses tender pap,
I have beene trained up in warlike stowre,
To tossen speare and shield, and to affrap
The warlike ryder to his most mishap:
Sithence I loathed have my life to lead,
As ladies wont, in pleasures wanton lap,
To finger the fine needle and nyce thread;
Me lever were with point of foemans speare be dead.

VII

'All my delight on deedes of armes is sett,
To hunt out perilles and adventures hard,
By sea, by land, where so they may be mett,
Onely for honour and for high regard,
Without respect of richesse or reward.
For such intent into these partes I came,
Withouten compasse or withouten card,
Far fro my native soyle, that is by name
The Greater Brytayne, here to seeke for praise and fame.

VIII

'Fame blazed hath, that here in Faery Lond
Doe many famous knightes and ladies wonne,
And many straunge adventures to bee fond,
Of which great worth and worship may be wonne;
Which I to prove, this voyage have begonne.
But mote I weet of you, right courteous knight,
Tydings of one, that hath unto me donne
Late foule dishonour and reprochfull spight,
The which I seeke to wreake, and Arthegall he hight.'

IX

The word gone out she backe againe would call,
As her repenting so to have missayd,
But that he it uptaking ere the fall,
Her shortly answered: 'Faire martiall mayd,
Certes ye misavised beene, t' upbrayd
A gentle knight with so unknightly blame:
For weet ye well, of all that ever playd
At tilt or tourney, or like warlike game,
The noble Arthegall hath ever borne the name.

X

'Forthy great wonder were it, if such shame
Should ever enter in his bounteous thought,
Or ever doe that mote deserven blame:
The noble corage never weeneth ought,
That may unworthy of it selfe be thought.
Therefore, faire damzell, be ye well aware,
Least that too farre ye have your sorrow sought:
You and your countrey both I wish welfare,
And honour both; for each of other worthy are.'

XI

The royall maid woxe inly wondrous glad,
To heare her love so highly magnifyde,
And joyd that ever she affixed had
Her hart on knight so goodly glorifyde,
How ever finely she it faind to hyde:
The loving mother, that nine monethes did beare,
In the deare closett of her painefull syde,
Her tender babe, it seeing safe appeare,
Doth not so much rejoyce as she rejoyced theare.

XII

But to occasion him to further talke,
To feed her humor with his pleasing style,
Her list in stryfull termes with him to balke,
And thus replyde: 'How ever, sir, ye fyle
Your courteous tongue, his prayses to compyle,
It ill beseemes a knight of gentle sort,
Such as ye have him boasted, to beguyle
A simple maide, and worke so hainous tort,
In shame of knighthood, as I largely can report.

XIII

'Let bee therefore my vengeaunce to disswade,
And read, where I that faytour false may find.'
'Ah! but if reason faire might you perswade
To slake your wrath, and mollify your mind,'
Said he, 'perhaps ye should it better find:
For hardie thing it is, to weene by might
That man to hard conditions to bind,
Or ever hope to match in equall fight,
Whose prowesse paragone saw never living wight.

XIV

'Ne soothlich is it easie for to read
Where now on earth, or how, he may be fownd;
For he ne wonneth in one certeine stead,
But restlesse walketh all the world arownd,
Ay doing thinges that to his fame redownd,
Defending ladies cause and orphans right,
Where so he heares that any doth confownd
Them comfortlesse, through tyranny or might:
So is his soveraine honour raisde to hevens hight.'

XV

His feeling wordes her feeble sence much pleased,
And softly sunck into her molten hart:
Hart that is inly hurt is greatly eased
With hope of thing that may allegge his smart;
For pleasing wordes are like to magick art,
That doth the charmed snake in slomber lay:
Such secrete ease felt gentle Britomart,
Yet list the same efforce with faind gainesay:
So dischord ofte in musick makes the sweeter lay:

XVI

And sayd: 'Sir knight, these ydle termes forbeare,
And sith it is uneath to finde his haunt,
Tell me some markes by which he may appeare,
If chaunce I him encounter paravaunt;
For perdy one shall other slay, or daunt:
What shape, what shield, what armes, what steed, what stedd,
And what so else his person most may vaunt.'
All which the Redcrosse Knight to point aredd,
And him in everie part before her fashioned.

XVII

Yet him in everie part before she knew,
How ever list her now her knowledge fayne,
Sith him whylome in Brytayne she did vew,
To her revealed in a mirrhour playne,
Whereof did grow her first engraffed payne,
Whose root and stalke so bitter yet did taste,
That, but the fruit more sweetnes did contayne,
Her wretched dayes in dolour she mote waste,
And yield the pray of love to lothsome death at last.

XVIII

By straunge occasion she did him behold,
And much more straungely gan to love his sight,
As it in bookes hath written beene of old.
In Deheubarth, that now South-Wales is hight,
What time King Ryence raign'd and dealed right,
The great magitien Merlin had deviz'd,
By his deepe science and hell-dreaded might,
A looking glasse, right wondrously aguiz'd,
Whose vertues through the wyde worlde soone were solemniz'd.

XIX

It vertue had to shew in perfect sight
What ever thing was in the world contaynd,
Betwixt the lowest earth and hevens hight,
So that it to the looker appertaynd;
What ever foe had wrought, or frend had faynd,
Therein discovered was, ne ought mote pas,
Ne ought in secret from the same remaynd;
Forthy it round and hollow shaped was,
Like to the world it selfe, and seemd a world of glas.

XX

Who wonders not, that reades so wonderous worke?
But who does wonder, that has red the towre,
Wherein th' Aegyptian Phao long did lurke
From all mens vew, that none might her discoure,
Yet she might all men vew out of her bowre?
Great Ptolomaee it for his lemans sake
Ybuilded all of glasse, by magicke powre,
And also it impregnable did make;
Yet when his love was false, he with a peaze it brake.

XXI

Such was the glassy globe, that Merlin made,
And gave unto King Ryence for his gard,
That never foes his kingdome might invade,
But he it knew at home before he hard
Tydings thereof, and so them still debar'd.
It was a famous present for a prince,
And worthy worke of infinite reward,
That treasons could bewray, and foes convince:
Happy this realme, had it remayned ever since!

XXII

One day it fortuned fayre Britomart
Into her fathers closet to repayre;
For nothing he from her reserv'd apart,
Being his onely daughter and his hayre:
Where when she had espyde that mirrhour fayre,
Her selfe awhile therein she vewd in vaine;
Tho her avizing of the vertues rare
Which thereof spoken were, she gan againe
Her to bethinke of that mote to her selfe pertaine.

XXIII

But as it falleth, in the gentlest harts
Imperious Love hath highest set his throne,
And tyrannizeth in the bitter smarts
Of them that to him buxome are and prone:
So thought this mayd (as maydens use to done)
Whom fortune for her husband would allot;
Not that she lusted after any one,
For she was pure from blame of sinfull blot,
Yet wist her life at last must lincke in that same knot.

XXIV

Eftsoones there was presented to her eye
A comely knight, all arm'd in complete wize,
Through whose bright ventayle, lifted up on hye,
His manly face, that did his foes agrize,
And frends to termes of gentle truce entize,
Lookt foorth, as Phoebus face out of the east
Betwixt two shady mountaynes doth arize:
Portly his person was, and much increast
Through his heroicke grace and honorable gest.

XXV

His crest was covered with a couchant hownd,
And all his armour seemd of antique mould,
But wondrous massy and assured sownd,
And round about yfretted all with gold,
In which there written was, with cyphres old,
Achilles armes, which Arthegall did win.
And on his shield enveloped sevenfold
He bore a crowned litle ermilin,
That deckt the azure field with her fayre pouldred skin.

XXVI

The damzell well did vew his personage,
And liked well, ne further fastned not,
But went her way; ne her unguilty age
Did weene, unwares, that her unlucky lot
Lay hidden in the bottome of the pot:
Of hurt unwist most daunger doth redound:
But the false archer, which that arrow shot
So slyly that she did not feele the wound,
Did smyle full smoothly at her weetlesse wofull stound.

XXVII

Thenceforth the fether in her lofty crest,
Ruffed of love, gan lowly to availe,
And her prowd portaunce and her princely gest,
With which she earst tryumphed, now did quaile:
Sad, solemne, sowre, and full of fancies fraile
She woxe; yet wist she nether how, nor why;
She wist not, silly mayd, what she did aile,
Yet wist she was not well at ease perdy,
Yet thought it was not love, but some melancholy.

XXVIII

So soone as Night had with her pallid hew
Defaste the beautie of the shyning skye,
And reft from men the worldes desired vew,
She with her nourse adowne to sleepe did lye;
But sleepe full far away from her did fly:
In stead thereof sad sighes and sorrowes deepe
Kept watch and ward about her warily,
That nought she did but wayle, and often steepe
Her dainty couch with teares, which closely she did weepe.

XXIX

And if that any drop of slombring rest
Did chaunce to still into her weary spright,
When feeble nature felt her selfe opprest,
Streight way with dreames, and with fantastick sight
Of dreadfull things, the same was put to flight,
That oft out of her bed she did astart,
As one with vew of ghastly feends affright:
Tho gan she to renew her former smart,
And thinke of that fayre visage, written in her hart.

XXX

One night, when she was tost with such unrest,
Her aged nourse, whose name was Glauce hight,
Feeling her leape out of her loathed nest,
Betwixt her feeble armes her quickly keight,
And downe againe in her warme bed her dight:
'Ah! my deare daughter, ah! my dearest dread,
What uncouth fit,' sayd she, 'what evill plight,
Hath thee opprest, and with sad drearyhead
Chaunged thy lively cheare, and living made thee dead?

XXXI

'For not of nought these suddein ghastly feares
All night afflict thy naturall repose;
And all the day, when as thine equall peares
Their fit disports with faire delight doe chose,
Thou in dull corners doest thy selfe inclose,
Ne tastest princes pleasures, ne doest spred
A broad thy fresh youths fayrest flowre, but lose
Both leafe and fruite, both too untimely shed,
As one in wilfull bale for ever buried.

XXXII

'The time that mortall men their weary cares
Do lay away, and all wilde beastes do rest,
And every river eke his course forbeares,
Then doth this wicked evill thee infest,
And rive with thousand throbs thy thrilled brest;
Like an huge Aetn' of deepe engulfed gryefe,
Sorrow is heaped in thy hollow chest,
Whence foorth it breakes in sighes and anguish ryfe,
As smoke and sulphure mingled with confused stryfe.

XXXIII

'Ay me! how much I feare least love it bee!
But if that love it be, as sure I read
By knowen signes and passions which I see,
Be it worthy of thy race and royall sead,
Then I avow by this most sacred head
Of my deare foster childe, to ease thy griefe,
And win thy will: therefore away doe dread;
For death nor daunger from thy dew reliefe
Shall me debarre: tell me, therefore, my liefest liefe.'

XXXIV

So having sayd, her twixt her armes twaine
Shee streightly straynd, and colled tenderly,
And every trembling joynt and every vaine
Shee softly felt, and rubbed busily,
To doe the frosen cold away to fly;
And her faire deawy eies with kisses deare
Shee ofte did bathe, and ofte againe did dry;
And ever her importund, not to feare
To let the secret of her hart to her appeare.

XXXV

The damzell pauzd, and then thus fearfully:
'Ah! nurse, what needeth thee to eke my paine?
Is not enough that I alone doe dye,
But it must doubled bee with death of twaine?
For nought for me but death there doth remaine.'
'O daughter deare,' said she, 'despeire no whit;
For never sore, but might a salve obtaine:
That blinded god, which hath ye blindly smit,
Another arrow hath your lovers hart to hit.'

XXXVI

'But mine is not,' quoth she, 'like other wownd;
For which no reason can finde remedy.'
'Was never such, but mote the like be fownd,'
Said she, 'and though no reason may apply
Salve to your sore, yet love can higher stye
Then reasons reach, and oft hath wonders donne.'
'But neither god of love nor god of skye
Can doe,' said she, 'that which cannot be donne.'
'Things ofte impossible,' quoth she, 'seeme ere begonne.'

XXXVII

'These idle wordes,' said she, 'doe nought aswage
My stubborne smart, but more annoiaunce breed:
For no no usuall fire, no usuall rage
Yt is, O nourse, which on my life doth feed,
And sucks the blood which from my hart doth bleed:
But since thy faithfull zele lets me not hyde
My crime, (if crime it be) I will it reed.
Nor prince, nor pere it is, whose love hath gryde
My feeble brest of late, and launched this wound wyde.

XXXVIII

'Nor man it is, nor other living wight;
For then some hope I might unto me draw;
But th' only shade and semblant of a knight,
Whose shape or person yet I never saw,
Hath me subjected to Loves cruell law:
The same one day, as me misfortune led,
I in my fathers wondrous mirrhour saw,
And, pleased with that seeming goodly-hed,
Unwares the hidden hooke with baite I swallowed.

XXXIX

'Sithens it hath infixed faster hold
Within my bleeding bowells, and so sore
Now ranckleth in this same fraile fleshly mould,
That all mine entrailes flow with poisnous gore,
And th'ulcer groweth daily more and more;
Ne can my ronning sore finde remedee,
Other then my hard fortune to deplore,
And languish as the leafe faln from the tree,
Till death make one end of my daies and miseree.'

XL

'Daughter,' said she, 'what need ye be dismayd,
Or why make ye such monster of your minde?
Of much more uncouth thing I was affrayd;
Of filthy lust, contrary unto kinde:
But this affection nothing straunge I finde;
For who with reason can you aye reprove,
To love the semblaunt pleasing most your minde,
And yield your heart whence ye cannot remove?
No guilt in you, but in the tyranny of Love.

XLI

'Not so th' Arabian Myrrhe did sett her mynd,
Nor so did Biblis spend her pining hart,
But lov'd their native flesh against al kynd,
And to their purpose used wicked art:
Yet playd Pasiphae a more monstrous part,
That lov'd a bul, and learnd a beast to bee:
Such shamefull lusts who loaths not, which depart
From course of nature and of modestee?
Swete Love such lewdnes bands from his faire companee.

XLII

'But thine, my deare, (welfare thy heart,
my deare)
Though straunge beginning had, yet fixed is
On one that worthy may perhaps appeare;
And certes seemes bestowed not amis:
Joy thereof have thou and eternall blis.'
With that upleaning on her elbow weake,
her alablaster brest she soft did kis,
Which all that while shee felt to pant and quake,
As it an earth-quake were: at last she thus bespake:

XLIII

'Beldame, your words doe worke me litle ease;
For though my love be not so lewdly bent
As those ye blame, yet may it nought appease
My raging smart, ne ought my flame relent,
But rather doth my helpelesse griefe augment.
For they, how ever shamefull and unkinde,
Yet did possesse their horrible intent:
Short end of sorowes they therby did finde;
So was their fortune good, though wicked were their minde.

XLIV

'But wicked fortune mine, though minde be good,
Can have no end, nor hope of my desire,
But feed on shadowes, whiles I die for food,
And like a shadow wexe, whiles with entire
Affection I doe languish and expire.
I, fonder then Cephisus foolish chyld,
Who, having vewed in a fountaine shere
His face, was with the love thereof beguyld;
I, fonder, love a shade, the body far exyld.'

XLV

'Nought like,' quoth shee, 'for that same wretched boy
Was of him selfe the ydle paramoure,
Both love and lover, without hope of joy;
For which he faded to a watry flowre.
But better fortune thine, and better howre,
Which lov'st the shadow of a warlike knight;
No shadow, but a body hath in powre:
That body, wheresoever that it light,
May learned be by cyphers, or by magicke might.

XLVI

'But if thou may with reason yet represse
The growing evill, ere it strength have gott,
And thee abandond wholy doe possesse,
Against it strongly strive, and yield thee nott,
Til thou in open fielde adowne be smott.
But if the passion mayster thy fraile might,
So that needs love or death must bee thy lott,
Then I avow to thee, by wrong or right
To compas thy desire, and find that loved knight.'

XLVII

Her chearefull words much cheard the feeble spright
Of the sicke virgin, that her downe she layd
In her warme bed to sleepe, if that she might;
And the old-woman carefully displayd
The clothes about her round with busy ayd,
So that at last a litle creeping sleepe
Surprisd her sence. Shee, therewith well apayd,
The dronken lamp down in the oyl did steepe,
And sett her by to watch, and sett her by to weepe.

XLVIII

Earely the morrow next, before that day
His joyous face did to the world revele,
They both uprose and tooke their ready way
Unto the church, their praiers to appele,
With great devotion, and with litle zele:
For the faire damzell from the holy herse
Her love-sicke hart to other thoughts did steale;
And that old dame said many an idle verse,
Out of her daughters hart fond fancies to reverse.

XLIX

Retourned home, the royall infant fell
Into her former fitt; forwhy no powre
Nor guidaunce of her selfe in her did dwell.
But th' aged nourse, her calling to her bowre,
Had gathered rew, and savine, and the flowre
Of camphora, and calamint, and dill,
All which she in a earthen pot did poure,
And to the brim with colt wood did it fill,
And many drops of milk and blood through it did spill.

L

Then, taking thrise three heares from of her head,
Them trebly breaded in a threefold lace,
And round about the pots mouth bound the thread,
And after having whispered a space
Certein sad words, with hollow voice and bace,
Shee to the virgin sayd, thrise sayd she itt:
'Come, daughter, come, come; spit upon my face,
Spitt thrise upon me, thrise upon me spitt;
Th' uneven nomber for this busines is most fitt.'

LI

That sayd, her rownd about she from her turnd,
She turned her contrary to the sunne,
Thrise she her turnd contrary, and returnd
All contrary, for she the right did shunne,
And ever what she did was streight undonne.
So thought she to undoe her daughters love:
But love, that is in gentle brest begonne,
No ydle charmes so lightly may remove;
That well can witnesse, who by tryall it does prove.

LII

Ne ought it mote the noble mayd avayle,
Ne slake the fury of her cruell flame,
But that shee still did waste, and still did wayle,
That through long languour and hart-burning brame
She shortly like a pyned ghost became,
Which long hath waited by the Stygian strond.
That when old Glauce saw, for feare least blame
Of her miscarriage should in her be fond,
She wist not how t' amend, nor how it to withstond.

CANTO III

Merlin bewrayes to Britomart
The state of Arthegall:
And shews the famous progeny,
Which from them springen shall.

I

MOST sacred fyre, that burnest mightily
In living brests, ykindled first above,
Emongst th' eternall spheres and lamping sky,
And thence pourd into men, which men call Love;
Not that same which doth base affections move
In brutish mindes, and filthy lust inflame,
But that sweete fit that doth true beautie love,
And choseth Vertue for his dearest dame,
Whence spring all noble deedes and never dying fame:

II

Well did antiquity a god thee deeme,
That over mortall mindes hast so great might,
To order them as best to thee doth seeme,
And all their actions to direct aright:
The fatall purpose of divine foresight
Thou doest effect in destined descents,
Through deepe impression of thy secret might,
And stirredst up th' heroes high intents,
Which the late world admyres for wondrous moniments.

III

But thy dredd dartes in none doe triumph more,
Ne braver proofe, in any, of thy powre
Shew'dst thou, then in this royall maid of yore,
Making her seeke an unknowne paramoure,
From the worlds end, through many a bitter stowre:
From whose two loynes thou afterwardes did rayse
Most famous fruites of matrimoniall bowre,
Which through the earth have spredd their living prayse,
That Fame in tromp of gold eternally displayes.

IV

Begin then, O my dearest sacred dame,
Daughter of Phoebus and of Memorye,
That doest ennoble with immortall name
The warlike worthies, from antiquitye,
In thy great volume of eternitye:
Begin, O Clio, and recount from hence
My glorious Soveraines goodly auncestrye,
Till that by dew degrees and long protense,
Thou have it lastly brought unto her Excellence.

V

Full many wayes within her troubled mind
Old Glauce cast, to cure this ladies griefe:
Full many waies she sought, but none could find,
Nor herbes, nor charmes, nor counsel, that is chiefe
And choisest med'cine for sick harts reliefe:
Forthy great care she tooke, and greater feare,
Least that it should her turne to fowle repriefe
And sore reproch, when so her father deare
Should of his dearest daughters hard misfortune heare.

VI

At last she her avisde, that he which made
That mirrhour, wherein the sicke damosell
So straungely vewed her straunge lovers shade,
To weet, the learned Merlin, well could tell,
Under what coast of heaven the man did dwell,
And by what means his love might best be wrought:
For though beyond the Africk Ismael
Or th' Indian Peru he were, she thought
Him forth through infinite endevour to have sought.

VII

Forthwith them selves disguising both in straunge
And base atyre, that none might them bewray,
To Maridunum, that is now by chaunge
Of name Cayr-Merdin cald, they tooke their way:
There the wise Merlin whylome wont (they say)
To make his wonne, low underneath the ground,
In a deepe delve, farre from the vew of day,
That of no living wight he mote be found,
When so he counseld with his sprights encompast round.

VIII

And if thou ever happen that same way
To traveill, go to see that dreadfull place:
It is an hideous hollow cave (they say)
Under a rock, that lyes a litle space
From the swift Barry, tombling downe apace
Emongst the woody hilles of Dynevowre:
But dare thou not, I charge, in any cace,
To enter into that same balefull bowre,
For feare the cruell feendes should thee unwares devowre.

IX

But standing high aloft, low lay thine eare,
And there such ghastly noyse of yron chaines
And brasen caudrons thou shalt rombling heare,
Which thousand sprights with long enduring paines
Doe tosse, that it will stonn thy feeble braines;
And oftentimes great grones, and grievous stownds,
When too huge toile and labour them constraines,
And oftentimes loud strokes, and ringing sowndes,
From under that deepe rock most horribly rebowndes.

X

The cause, some say, is this: A litle whyle
Before that Merlin dyde, he did intend
A brasen wall in compas to compyle
About Cairmardin, and did it commend
Unto these sprights, to bring to perfect end.
During which worke the Lady of the Lake,
Whom long he lov'd, for him in hast did send;
Who, thereby forst his workemen to forsake,
Them bownd, till his retourne, their labour not to slake.

XI

In the meane time, through that false ladies traine,
He was surprisd, and buried under beare,
Ne ever to his worke returnd againe:
Nath'lesse those feends may not their work forbeare,
So greatly his commandement they feare,
But there doe toyle and traveile day and night,
Untill that brasen wall they up doe reare:
For Merlin had in magick more insight
Then ever him before or after living wight.

XII

For he by wordes could call out of the sky
Both sunne and moone, and make them him obay:
The land to sea, and sea to maineland dry,
And darksom night he eke could turne to day:
Huge hostes of men he could alone dismay,
And hostes of men of meanest thinges could frame,
When so him list his enimies to fray:
That to this day, for terror of his fame,
The feends do quake, when any him to them does name.

XIII

And sooth, men say that he was not the sonne
Of mortall syre or other living wight,
But wondrously begotten, and begonne
By false illusion of a guilefull spright
On a faire lady nonne, that whilome hight
Matilda, daughter to Pubidius,
Who was the lord of Mathraval by right,
And coosen unto King Ambrosius:
Whence he indued was with skill so merveilous.

XIV

They, here ariving, staid a while without,
Ne durst adventure rashly in to wend,
But of their first intent gan make new dout,
For dread of daunger, which it might portend:
Untill the hardy mayd (with love to frend)
First entering, the dreadfull mage there fownd
Deepe busied bout worke of wondrous end,
And writing straunge characters in the grownd,
With which the stubborne feendes he to his service bownd.

XV

He nought was moved at their entraunce bold,
For of their comming well he wist afore;
Yet list them bid their businesse to unfold,
As if ought in this world in secrete store
Were from him hidden, or unknowne of yore.
Then Glauce thus: 'Let not it thee offend,
That we thus rashly through thy darksom dore
Unwares have prest: for either fatall end,
Or other mightie cause, us two did hether send.'

XVI

He bad tell on; and then she thus began:
'Now have three moones with borrowd brothers light
Thrise shined faire, and thrise seemd dim and wan,
Sith a sore evill, which this virgin bright
Tormenteth, and doth plonge in dolefull plight,
First rooting tooke; but what thing it mote bee,
Or whence it sprong, I can not read aright;
But this I read, that, but if remedee
Thou her afford, full shortly I her dead shall see.'

XVII

Therewith th'enchaunter softly gan to smyle
At her smooth speeches, weeting inly well
That she to him dissembled womanish guyle,
And to her said: 'Beldame, by that ye tell,
More neede of leach-crafte hath your damozell,
Then of my skill: who helpe may have elswhere,
In vaine seekes wonders out of magick spell.'
Th' old woman wox half blanck those wordes to heare;
And yet was loth to let her purpose plaine appeare;

XVIII

And to him said: 'Yf any leaches skill,
Or other learned meanes, could have redrest
This my deare daughters deepe engraffed ill,
Certes I should be loth thee to molest:
But this sad evill, which doth her infest,
Doth course of naturall cause farre exceed,
And housed is within her hollow brest,
That either seemes some cursed witches deed,
Or evill spright, that in her doth such torment breed.'

XIX

The wisard could no lenger beare her bord,
But brusting forth in laughter, to her sayd:
'Glauce, what needes this colourable word,
To cloke the cause that hath it selfe bewrayd?
Ne ye, fayre Britomartis, thus arayd,
More hidden are then sunne in cloudy vele;
Whom thy good fortune, having fate obayd,
Hath hether brought, for succour to appele:
The which the Powres to thee are pleased to revele.'

XX

The doubtfull mayd, seeing her selfe descryde,
Was all abasht, and her pure yvory
Into a cleare carnation suddeine dyde;
As fayre Aurora, rysing hastily,
Doth by her blushing tell that she did lye
All night in old Tithonus frosen bed,
Whereof she seemes ashamed inwardly.
But her olde nourse was nought dishartened,
But vauntage made of that which Merlin had ared;

XXI

And sayd: 'Sith then thou knowest all our griefe,
(For what doest not thou knowe?) of grace, I pray,
Pitty our playnt, and yield us meet reliefe.'
With that the prophet still awhile did stay,
And then his spirite thus gan foorth display:
'Most noble virgin, that by fatall lore
Hast learn'd to love, let no whit thee dismay
The hard beginne that meetes thee in the dore,
And with sharpe fits thy tender hart oppresseth sore.

XXII

'For so must all things excellent begin,
And eke enrooted deepe must be that tree,
Whose big embodied braunches shall not lin,
Till they to hevens hight forth stretched bee.
For from thy wombe a famous progenee
Shall spring, out of the auncient Trojan blood,
Which shall revive the sleeping memoree
Of those same antique peres, the hevens brood,
Which Greeke and Asian rivers stayned with their blood.

XXIII

'Renowmed kings and sacred emperours,
Thy fruitfull ofspring, shall from thee de scend;
Brave captaines and most mighty warriours,
That shall their conquests through all lands extend,
And their decayed kingdomes shall amend:
The feeble Britons, broken with long warre,
They shall upreare, and mightily defend
Against their forren foe, that commes from farre,
Till universall peace compound all civill jarre.

XXIV

'It was not, Britomart, thy wandring eye,
Glauncing unwares in charmed looking glas,
But the streight course of hevenly destiny,
Led with Eternall Providence, that has
Guyded thy glaunce, to bring His will to pas:
Ne is thy fate, ne is thy fortune ill,
To love the prowest knight that ever was:
Therefore submit thy wayes unto His will,
And doe, by all dew meanes, thy destiny fulfill.'

XXV

'But read,' saide Glauce, 'thou magitian,
What meanes shall she out seeke, or what waies take?
How shall she know, how shall she finde the man?
Or what needes her to toyle, sith Fates can make
Way for themselves, their purpose to pertake?'
Then Merlin thus: 'Indeede the Fates are firme,
And may not shrinck, though all the world do shake:
Yet ought mens good endevours them confirme,
And guyde the heavenly causes to their constant terme.

XXVI

'The man, whom heavens have ordaynd to bee
The spouse of Britomart, is Arthegall:
He wonneth in the land of Fayeree,
Yet is no Fary borne, ne sib at all
To Elfes, but sprong of seed terrestriall,
And whylome by false Faries stolne away,
Whyles yet in infant cradle he did crall;
Ne other to himselfe is knowne this day,
But that he by an Elfe was gotten of a Fay.

XXVII

'But sooth he is the sonne of Gorlois,
And brother unto Cador, Cornish king,
And for his warlike feates renowmed is,
From where the day out of the sea doth spring
Untill the closure of the evening.
From thence him, firmely bound with faithfull band,
To this his native soyle thou backe shalt bring,
Strongly to ayde his countrey to withstand
The powre of forreine Paynims, which invade thy land.

XXVIII

'Great ayd thereto his mighty puissaunce
And dreaded name shall give in that sad day:
Where also proofe of thy prow valiaunce
Thou then shalt make, t' increase thy lovers pray.
Long time ye both in armes shall beare great sway,
Till thy wombes burden thee from them do call,
And his last fate him from thee take away,
Too rathe cut off by practise criminall
Of secrete foes, that him shall make in mischiefe fall.

XXIX

'With thee yet shall he leave, for memory
Of his late puissaunce, his ymage dead,
That living him in all activity
To thee shall represent. He from the head
Of his coosen Constantius, without dread,
Shall take the crowne, that was his fathers right,
And therewith crowne himselfe in th' others stead:
Then shall he issew forth with dreadfull might,
Against his Saxon foes in bloody field to fight.

XXX

'Like as a lyon, that in drowsie cave
Hath long time slept, himselfe so shall he shake,
And comming forth, shall spred his banner brave
Over the troubled South, that it shall make
The warlike Mertians for feare to quake:
Thrise shall he fight with them, and twise shall win,
But the third time shall fayre accordaunce make:
And if he then with victorie can lin,
He shall his dayes with peace bring to his earthly in.

XXXI

'His sonne, hight Vortipore, shall him succeede
In kingdome, but not in felicity;
Yet shall he long time warre with happy speed,
And with great honour many batteills try:
But at the last to th' importunity
Of froward fortune shall be forst to yield.
But his sonne Malgo shall full mightily
Avenge his fathers losse, with speare and shield,
And his proud foes discomfit in victorious field.

XXXII

'Behold the man! and tell me, Britomart,
If ay more goodly creature thou didst see:
How like a gyaunt in each manly part
Beares he himselfe with portly majestee,
That one of th' old heroes seemes to bee!
He the six islands, comprovinciall
In auncient times unto Great Britainee,
Shall to the same reduce, and to him call
Their sondry kings to doe their homage severall.

XXXIII

'All which his sonne Careticus awhile
Shall well defend, and Saxons powre suppresse,
Untill a straunger king, from unknowne soyle
Arriving, him with multitude oppresse;
Great Gormond, having with huge mightinesse
Ireland subdewd, and therein fixt his throne,
Like a swift otter, fell through emptinesse,
Shall overswim the sea with many one
Of his Norveyses, to assist the Britons fone.

XXXIV

'He in his furie all shall overronne,
And holy church with faithlesse handes deface,
That thy sad people, utterly fordonne,
Shall to the utmost mountaines fly apace:
Was never so great waste in any place,
Nor so fowle outrage doen by living men:
For all thy citties they shall sacke and race,
And the greene grasse that groweth they shall bren,
That even the wilde beast shall dy in starved den.

XXXV

'Whiles thus thy Britons doe in languour pine,
Proud Etheldred shall from the North arise,
Serving th' ambitious will of Augustine,
And passing Dee with hardy enterprise,
Shall backe repulse the valiaunt Brockwell twise,
And Bangor with massacred martyrs fill;
But the third time shall rew his foolhardise:
For Cadwan, pittying his peoples ill,
Shall stoutly him defeat, and thousand Saxons kill.

XXXVI

'But after him, Cadwallin mightily
On his sonne Edwin all those wrongs shall wreake;
Ne shall availe the wicked sorcery
Of false Pellite, his purposes to breake,
But him shall slay, and on a gallowes bleak
Shall give th' enchaunter his unhappy hire:
Then shall the Britons, late dismayd and weake,
From their long vassallage gin to respire,
And on their Paynim foes avenge their ranckled ire.

XXXVII

'Ne shall he yet his wrath so mitigate,
Till both the sonnes of Edwin he have slayne,
Offricke and Osricke, twinnes unfortunate,
Both slaine in battaile upon Layburne playne,
Together with the king of Louthiane,
Hight Adin, and the king of Orkeny,
Both joynt partakers of their fatall payne:
But Penda, fearefull of like desteny,
Shall yield him selfe his liegeman, and sweare fealty.

XXXVIII

'Him shall he make his fatall instrument,
T' afflict the other Saxons unsubdewd;
He marching forth with fury insolent
Against the good King Oswald, who, indewd
With heavenly powre, and by angels reskewd,
Al holding crosses in their hands on hye,
Shall him defeate withouten blood imbrewd:
Of which that field for endlesse memory
Shall Hevenfield be cald to all posterity.

XXXIX

Whereat Cadwallin wroth, shall forth issew,
And an huge hoste into Northumber lead,
With which he godly Oswald shall subdew,
And crowne with martiredome his sacred head.
Whose brother Oswin, daunted with like dread,
With price of silver shall his kingdome buy,
And Penda, seeking him adowne to tread,
Shall tread adowne, and doe him fowly dye,
But shall with guifts his lord Cadwallin pacify.

XL

Then shall Cadwallin die, and then the raine
Of Britons eke with him attonce shall dye;
Ne shall the good Cadwallader, with paine
Or powre, be hable it to remedy,
When the full time, prefixt by destiny,
Shalbe expird of Britons regiment:
For Heven it selfe shall their successe envy,
And them with plagues and murrins pestilent
Consume, till all their warlike puissaunce be spent.

XLI

'Yet after all these sorrowes, and huge hills
Of dying people, during eight yeares space,
Cadwallader, not yielding to his ills,
From Armoricke, where long in wretched cace
He liv'd, retourning to his native place,
Shalbe by vision staide from his intent:
For th' Heavens have decreed to displace
The Britons for their sinnes dew punishment,
And to the Saxons over-give their government.

XLII

'Then woe, and woe, and everlasting woe,
Be to the Briton babe, that shalbe borne
To live in thraldome of his fathers foe!
Late king, now captive, late lord, now forlorne,
The worlds reproch, the cruell victors scorne,
Banisht from princely bowre to wasteful wood!
O! who shal helpe me to lament and mourne
The royall seed, the antique Trojan blood,
Whose empire lenger here then ever any stood?'

XLIII

The damzell was full deepe empassioned,
Both for his griefe, and for her peoples sake,
Whose future woes so plaine he fashioned,
And sighing sore, at length him thus bespake:
'Ah! but will Hevens fury never slake,
Nor vengeaunce huge relent it selfe at last?
Will not long misery late mercy make,
But shall their name for ever be defaste,
And quite from of the earth their memory be raste?'

XLIV

'Nay, but the terme,' sayd he, 'is limited,
That in this thraldome Britons shall abide,
And the just revolution measured,
That they as straungers shalbe notifide:
For twise fowre hundreth yeares shalbe supplide,
Ere they to former rule restor'd shalbee,
And their importune fates all satisfide:
Yet during this their most obscuritee,
Their beames shall ofte breake forth, that men them faire may see.

XLV

'For Rhodoricke, whose surname shalbe Great,
Shall of him selfe a brave ensample shew,
That Saxon kings his frendship shall intreat;
And Howell Dha shall goodly well indew
The salvage minds with skill of just and trew;
Then Griffyth Conan also shall up reare
His dreaded head, and the old sparkes renew
Of native corage, that his foes shall feare
Least back againe the kingdom he from them should beare.

XLVI

'Ne shall the Saxons selves all peaceably
Enjoy the crowne, which they from Britons wonne
First ill, and after ruled wickedly:
For ere two hundred yeares be full outronne,
There shall a Raven, far from rising sunne,
With his wide wings upon them fiercely fly,
And bid his faithlesse chickens overonne
The fruitfull plaines, and with fell cruelty,
In their avenge, tread downe the victors surquedry.

XLVII

'Yet shall a third both these and thine subdew:
There shall a Lion from the sea-bord wood
Of Neustria come roring, with a crew
Of hungry whelpes, his battailous bold brood,
Whose clawes were newly dipt in cruddy blood,
That from the Daniske tyrants head shall rend
Th' usurped crowne, as if that he were wood,
And the spoile of the countrey conquered
Emongst his young ones shall divide with bountyhed.

XLVIII

'Tho, when the terme is full accomplishid,
There shall a sparke of fire, which hath long-while
Bene in his ashes raked up and hid,
Bee freshly kindled in the fruitfull ile
Of Mona, where it lurked in exile;
Which shall breake forth into bright burning flame,
And reach into the house that beares the stile
Of roiall majesty and soveraine name:
So shall the Briton blood their crowne agayn reclame.

XLIX

'Thenceforth eternall union shall be made
Betweene the nations different afore,
And sacred Peace shall lovingly persuade
The warlike minds to learne her goodly lore,
And civile armes to exercise no more:
Then shall a royall Virgin raine, which shall
Stretch her white rod over the Belgicke shore,
And the great Castle smite so sore with all,
That it shall make him shake, and shortly learn to fall.

L

'But yet the end is not. --' There Merlin stayd,
As overcomen of the spirites powre,
Or other ghastly spectacle dismayd,
That secretly he saw, yet note discoure:
Which suddein fitt and halfe extatick stoure
When the two fearefull wemen saw, they grew
Greatly confused in behaveoure:
At last the fury past, to former hew
Hee turnd againe, and chearfull looks as earst did shew.

LI

Then, when them selves they well instructed had
Of all that needed them to be inquird,
They both, conceiving hope of comfort glad,
With lighter hearts unto their home retird;
Where they in secret counsell close conspird,
How to effect so hard an enterprize,
And to possesse the purpose they desird:
Now this, now that twixt them they did devize,
And diverse plots did frame, to maske in strange disguise.

LII

At last the nourse in her foolhardy wit
Conceivd a bold devise, and thus bespake:
'Daughter, I deeme that counsel aye most fit,
That of the time doth dew advauntage take:
Ye see that good King Uther now doth make
Strong warre upon the Paynim brethren, hight
Octa and Oza, whome hee lately brake
Beside Cayr Verolame in victorious fight,
That now all Britany doth burne in armes bright.

LIII

'That therefore nought our passage may empeach,
Let us in feigned armes our selves disguize,
And our weake hands (whom need new strength shall teach)
The dreadful speare and shield to exercize:
Ne certes, daughter, that same warlike wize,
I weene, would you misseeme; for ye beene tall
And large of limbe t' atchieve an hard emprize,
Ne ought ye want, but skil, which practize small
Wil bring, and shortly make you a mayd martiall.

LIV

'And sooth, it ought your corage much inflame,
To heare so often, in that royall hous,
From whence to none inferior ye came,
Bards tell of many wemen valorous,
Which have full many feats adventurous
Performd, in paragone of proudest men:
The bold Bunduca, whose victorious
Exployts made Rome to quake, stout Guendolen,
Renowmed Martia, and redoubted Emmilen;

LV

'And that which more then all the rest may sway,
Late dayes ensample, which these eyes beheld:
In the last field before Menevia,
Which Uther with those forrein pagans held,
I saw a Saxon virgin, the which feld
Great Ulfin thrise upon the bloody playne,
And had not Carados her hand withheld
From rash revenge, she had him surely slayne,
Yet Carados himselfe from her escapt with payne.'

LVI

'Ah! read,' quoth Britomart, 'how is she hight?'
'Fayre Angela,' quoth she, 'men do her call,
No whit lesse fayre then terrible in fight:
She hath the leading of a martiall
And mightie people, dreaded more then all
The other Saxons, which doe, for her sake
And love, themselves of her name Angles call.
Therefore, faire infant, her ensample make
Unto thy selfe, and equall corage to thee take.'

LVII

Her harty wordes so deepe into the mynd
Of the yong damzell sunke, that great desire
Of warlike armes in her forthwith they tynd,
And generous stout courage did inspyre,
That she resolv'd, unweeting to her syre,
Advent'rous knighthood on her selfe to don,
And counseld with her nourse, her maides attyre
To turne into a massy habergeon,
And bad her all things put in readinesse anon.

LVIII

Th' old woman nought that needed did omit;
But all thinges did conveniently purvay.
It fortuned (so time their turne did fitt)
A band of Britons, ryding on forray
Few dayes before, had gotten a great pray
Of Saxon goods, emongst the which was seene
A goodly armour, and full rich aray,
Which long'd to Angela, the Saxon queene,
All fretted round with gold, and goodly wel beseene.

LIX

The same, with all the other ornaments,
King Ryence caused to be hanged hy
In his chiefe church, for endlesse moniments
Of his successe and gladfull victory:
Of which her selfe avising readily,
In th' evening late old Glauce thether led
Faire Britomart, and that same armory
Downe taking, her therein appareled,
Well as she might, and with brave bauldrick garnished.

LX

Beside those armes there stood a mightie speare,
Which Bladud made by magick art of yore,
And usd the same in batteill aye to beare;
Sith which it had beene here preserv'd in store,
For his great vertues proved long afore:
For never wight so fast in sell could sit,
But him perforce unto the ground it bore:
Both speare she tooke and shield, which hong by it;
Both speare and shield of great powre, for her purpose fit.

LXI

Thus when she had the virgin all arayd,
Another harnesse, which did hang thereby,
About her selfe she dight, that the yong mayd
She might in equall armes accompany,
And as her squyre attend her carefully:
Tho to their ready steedes they clombe full light,
And through back waies, that none might them espy,
Covered with secret cloud of silent night,
Themselves they forth convaid, and passed forward right.

LXII

Ne rested they, till that to Faery Lond
They came, as Merlin them directed late:
Where meeting with this Redcrosse Knight, she fond
Of diverse thinges discourses to dilate,
But most of Arthegall and his estate.
At last their wayes so fell, that they mote part:
Then each to other well affectionate,
Frendship professed with unfained hart:
The Redcrosse Knight diverst, but forth rode Britomart.





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