Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 4, CANTOS 7-9, by EDMUND SPENSER



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THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 4, CANTOS 7-9, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Amoret rapt by greedie lust
Last Line: Comprised be, I will them in another tell.
Alternate Author Name(s): Clout, Colin


CANTO VII

Amoret rapt by greedie Lust
Belphebe saves from dread:
The squire her loves, and being blam'd,
His dayes in dole doth lead.

I

GREAT God of Love, that with thy cruell darts
Doest conquer greatest conquerors on ground,
And setst thy kingdome in the captive harts
Of kings and keasars, to thy service bound,
What glorie or what guerdon hast thou found
In feeble ladies tyranning so sore,
And adding anguish to the bitter wound,
With which their lives thou lanchedst long afore,
By heaping stormes of trouble on them daily more?

II

So whylome didst thou to faire Florimell;
And so and so to noble Britomart:
So doest thou now to her of whom I tell,
The lovely Amoret, whose gentle hart
Thou martyrest with sorow and with smart,
In salvage forrests and in deserts wide,
With beares and tygers taking heavie part,
Withouten comfort, and withouten guide,
That pittie is to heare the perils which she tride.

III

So soone as she with that brave Britonesse
Had left that turneyment for beauties prise,
They travel'd long; that now for wearinesse,
Both of the way and warlike exercise,
Both through a forest ryding did devise
T' alight, and rest their wearie limbs awhile.
There heavie sleepe the eye-lids did surprise
Of Britomart, after long tedious toyle,
That did her passed paines in quiet rest assoyle.

IV

The whiles faire Amoret, of nought affeard,
Walkt through the wood, for pleasure or for need;
When suddenly behind her backe she heard
One rushing forth out of the thickest weed,
That ere she backe could turne to taken heed,
Had unawares her snatched up from ground.
Feebly she shriekt, but so feebly indeed,
That Britomart heard not the shrilling sound,
There where through weary travel she lay sleeping sound.

V

It was to weet a wilde and salvage man,
Yet was no man, but onely like in shape,
And eke in stature higher by a span,
All overgrowne with haire, that could awhape
An hardy hart, and his wide mouth did gape
With huge great teeth, like to a tusked bore:
For he liv'd all on ravin and on rape
Of men and beasts; and fed on fleshly gore,
The signe whereof yet stain'd his bloudy lips afore.

VI

His neather lip was not like man nor beast,
But like a wide deepe poke, downe hanging low,
In which he wont the relickes of his feast
And cruell spoyle, which he had spard, to stow:
And over it his huge great nose did grow,
Full dreadfully empurpled all with bloud;
And downe both sides two wide long eares did glow,
And raught downe to his waste, when up he stood,
More great then th' eares of elephants by Indus flood.

VII

His wast was with a wreath of yvie greene
Engirt about, ne other garment wore:
For all his haire was like a garment seene;
And in his hand a tall young oake he bore,
Whose knottie snags were sharpned all afore,
And beath'd in fire for steele to be in sted.
But whence he was, or of what wombe ybore,
Of beasts, or of the earth, I have not red:
But certes was with milke of wolves and tygres fed.

VIII

This ugly creature in his armes her snatcht,
And through the forrest bore her quite away,
With briers and bushes all to-rent and scratcht;
Ne care he had, ne pittie of the pray,
Which many a knight had sought so many a day.
He stayed not, but in his armes her bearing
Ran, till he came to th' end of all his way,
Unto his cave, farre from all peoples hearing,
And there he threw her in, nought feeling, ne nought fearing.

IX

For she, deare ladie, all the way was dead,
Whilest he in armes her bore; but when she felt
Her selfe downe soust, she waked out of dread
Streight into griefe, that her deare hart nigh swelt,
And eft gan into tender teares to melt.
Then when she lookt about, and nothing found
But darknesse and dread horrour, where she dwelt,
She almost fell againe into a swound,
Ne wist whether above she were, or under ground.

X

With that she heard some one close by her side
Sighing and sobbing sore, as if the paine
Her tender hart in peeces would divide:
Which she long listning, softly askt againe
What mister wight it was that so did plaine?
To whom thus aunswer'd was: 'Ah, wretched wight!
That seekes to know anothers griefe in vaine,
Unweeting of thine owne like haplesse plight:
Selfe to forget to mind another, is oversight.'

XI

'Aye me!' said she, 'where am I, or with whom?
Emong the living, or emong the dead?
What shall of me, unhappy maid, become?
Shall death be th' end, or ought else worse, aread.'
'Unhappy mayd,' then answer'd she, 'whose dread
Untride is lesse then when thou shalt it try:
Death is to him that wretched life doth lead,
Both grace and gaine; but he in hell doth lie,
That lives a loathed life, and wishing cannot die.

XII

'This dismall day hath thee a caytive made,
And vassall to the vilest wretch alive,
Whose cursed usage and ungodly trade
The heavens abhorre, and into darkenesse drive.
For on the spoile of women he doth live,
Whose bodies chast, when ever in his powre
He may them catch, unable to gainestrive,
He with his shamefull lust doth first deflowre,
And afterwards themselves doth cruelly devoure.

XIII

'Now twenty daies, by which the sonnes of men
Divide their works, have past through heven sheene,
Since I was brought into this dolefull den;
During which space these sory eies have seen
Seaven women by him slaine, and eaten clene.
And now no more for him but I alone,
And this old woman, here remaining beene;
Till thou cam'st hither to augment our mone;
And of us three to morrow he will sure eate one.'

XIV

'Ah! dreadfull tidings which thou doest declare,'
Quoth she, 'of all that ever hath bene knowen!
Full many great calamities and rare
This feeble brest endured hath, but none
Equall to this, where ever I have gone.
But what are you, whom like unlucky lot
Hath linckt with me in the same chaine attone?'
'To tell,' quoth she, 'that which ye see, needs not;
A wofull wretched maid, of God and man forgot.

XV

'But what I was aeirkes me to reherse;
Daughter unto a lord of high degree,
That joyd in happy peace, till Fates perverse
With guilefull Love did secretly agree,
To overthrow my state and dignitie.
It was my lot to love a gentle swaine,
Yet was he but a squire of low degree;
Yet was he meet, unlesse mine eye did faine,
By any ladies side for leman to have laine.

XVI

'But, for his meannesse and disparagement,
My sire, who me too dearely well did love,
Unto my choise by no meanes would assent,
But often did my folly fowle reprove.
Yet nothing could my fixed mind remove,
But whether willed or nilled friend or foe,
I me resolv'd the utmost end to prove,
And rather then my love abandon so,
Both sire, and friends, and all for ever to forgo.

XVII

'Thenceforth I sought by secret meanes to worke
Time to my will, and from his wrathfull sight
To hide th' intent which in my heart did lurke,
Till I thereto had all things ready dight.
So on a day, unweeting unto wight,
I with that squire agreede away to flit,
And in a privy place, betwixt us hight,
Within a grove appointed him to meete;
To which I boldly came upon my feeble feete.

XVIII

'But ah! unhappy houre me thither brought:
For in that place where I him thought to find,
There was I found, contrary to my thought,
Of this accursed carle of hellish kind,
The shame of men, and plague of womankind;
Who trussing me, as eagle doth his pray,
Me hether brought with him, as swift as wind,
Where yet untouched till this present day,
I rest his wretched thrall, the sad Aemylia.'

XIX

'Ah! sad Aemylia,' then sayd Amoret,
'Thy ruefull plight I pitty as mine owne.
But read to me, by what devise or wit
Hast thou, in all this time, from him unknowne
Thine honor sav'd, though into thraldome throwne?'
'Through helpe,' quoth she, 'of this old woman here
I have so done, as she to me hath showne:
For ever, when he burnt in lustfull fire,
She in my stead supplide his bestiall desire.'

XX

Thus of their evils as they did discourse,
And each did other much bewaile and mone,
Loe! where the villaine selfe, their sorrowes sourse,
Came to the cave, and rolling thence the stone,
Which wont to stop the mouth thereof, that none
Might issue forth, came rudely rushing in,
And spredding over all the flore alone,
Gan dight him selfe unto his wonted sinne;
Which ended, then his bloudy banket should beginne.

XXI

Which when as fearefull Amoret perceived,
She staid not the utmost end thereof to try,
But like a ghastly gelt, whose wits are reaved,
Ran forth in hast with hideous outcry,
For horrour of his shamefull villany.
But after her full lightly he uprose,
And her pursu'd as fast as she did flie:
Full fast she flies, and farre afore him goes,
Ne feeles the thorns and thickets pricke her tender toes.

XXII

Nor hedge, nor ditch, nor hill, nor dale she staies,
But overleapes them all, like robucke light,
And through the thickest makes her nighest waies;
And evermore when with regardfull sight
She, looking backe, espies that griesly wight
Approching nigh, she gins to mend her pace,
And makes her feare a spur to hast her flight:
More swift then Myrrh' or Daphne in her race,
Or any of the Thracian Nimphes in salvage chase.

XXIII

Long so she fled, and so he follow'd long;
Ne living aide for her on earth appeares,
But if the heavens helpe to redresse her wrong,
Moved with pity of her plenteous teares.
It fortuned, Belphebe with her peares,
The woody nimphs, and with that lovely boy,
Was hunting then the libbards and the beares,
In these wild woods, as was her wonted joy,
To banish sloth, that oft doth noble mindes annoy.

XXIV

It so befell, as oft it fals in chace,
That each of them from other sundred were,
And that same gentle squire arriv'd in place
Where this same cursed caytive did appeare,
Pursuing that faire lady full of feare;
And now he her quite overtaken had;
And now he her away with him did beare
Under his arme, as seeming wondrous glad,
That by his grenning laughter mote farre off be rad.

XXV

Which drery sight the gentle squire espying,
Doth hast to crosse him by the nearest way,
Led with that wofull ladies piteous crying,
And him assailes with all the might he may:
Yet will not he the lovely spoile downe lay,
But with his craggy club in his right hand
Defends him selfe, and saves his gotten pray.
Yet had it bene right hard him to withstand,
But that he was full light and nimble on the land.

XXVI

Thereto the villaine used craft in fight;
For ever when the squire his javelin shooke,
He held the lady forth before him right,
And with her body, as a buckler, broke
The puissance of his intended stroke.
And if it chaunst, (as needs it must in fight)
Whilest he on him was greedy to be wroke,
That any little blow on her did light,
Then would he laugh aloud, and gather great delight.

XXVII

Which subtill sleight did him encumber much,
And made him oft, when he would strike, forbeare;
For hardly could he come the carle to touch,
But that he her must hurt, or hazard neare:
Yet he his hand so carefully did beare,
That at the last he did himselfe attaine,
And therein left the pike head of his speare.
A streame of coleblacke bloud thence gusht amaine,
That all her silken garments did with bloud bestaine.

XXVIII

With that he threw her rudely on the flore,
And laying both his hands upon his glave,
With dreadfull strokes let drive at him so sore,
That forst him flie abacke, himselfe to save:
Yet he therewith so felly still did rave,
That scarse the squire his hand could once upreare,
But, for advantage, ground unto him gave
Tracing and traversing, now here, now there;
For bootlesse thing it was to think such blowes to beare.

XXIX

Whilest thus in battell they embusied were,
Belphebe, raunging in that forrest wide,
The hideous noise of their huge strokes did heare,
And drew thereto, making her eare her guide.
Whom when that theefe approching nigh espide,
With bow in hand, and arrowes ready bent,
He by his former combate would not bide,
But fled away with ghastly dreriment,
Well knowing her to be his deaths sole instrument.

XXX

Whom seeing flie, she speedily poursewed
With winged feete, as nimble as the winde,
And ever in her bow she ready shewed
The arrow to his deadly marke desynde:
As when Latonaes daughter, cruell kynde,
In vengement of her mothers great disgrace,
With fell despight her cruell arrowes tynde
Gainst wofull Niobes unhappy race,
That all the gods did mone her miserable case.

XXXI

So well she sped her and so far she ventred,
That ere unto his hellish den he raught,
Even as he ready was there to have entred,
She sent an arrow forth with mighty draught,
That in the very dore him overcaught,
And in his nape arriving, through it thrild
His greedy throte, therewith in two distraught,
That all his vitall spirites thereby spild,
And all his hairy brest with gory bloud was fild.

XXXII

Whom when on ground she groveling saw to rowle,
She ran in hast his life to have bereft:
But ere she could him reach, the sinfull sowle,
Having his carrion corse quite sencelesse left,
Was fled to hell, surcharg'd with spoile and theft.
Yet over him she there long gazing stood,
And oft admir'd his monstrous shape, and oft
His mighty limbs, whilest all with filthy bloud
The place there overflowne seemd like a sodaine flood.

XXXIII

Thenceforth she past into his dreadfull den,
Where nought but darkesome drerinesse she found,
Ne creature saw, but hearkned now and then
Some litle whispering, and soft groning sound.
With that she askt, what ghosts there under ground
Lay hid in horrour of eternall night;
And bad them, if so be they were not bound,
To come and shew themselves before the light,
Now freed from feare and danger of that dismall wight.

XXXIV

Then forth the sad Aemylia issewed,
Yet trembling every joynt through former feare;
And after her the hag, there with her mewed,
A foule and lothsome creature, did appeare;
A leman fit for such a lover deare:
That mov'd Belphebe her no lesse to hate,
Then for to rue the others heavy cheare;
Of whom she gan enquire of her estate:
Who all to her at large, as hapned, did relate.

XXXV

Thence she them brought toward the place where late
She left the gentle squire with Amoret:
There she him found by that new lovely mate,
Who lay the whiles in swoune, full sadly set,
From her faire eyes wiping the deawy wet,
Which softly stild, and kissing them atweene,
And handling soft the hurts which she did get:
For of that carle she sorely bruz'd had beene,
Als of his owne rash hand one wound was to be seene.

XXXVI

Which when she saw, with sodaine glauncing eye,
Her noble heart with sight thereof was fild
With deepe disdaine, and great indignity,
That in her wrath she thought them both have thrild
With that selfe arrow which the carle had kild:
Yet held her wrathfull hand from vengeance sore,
But drawing nigh, ere he her well beheld,
'Is this the faith?' she said, -- and said no more,
But turnd her face, and fled away for evermore.

XXXVII

He, seeing her depart, arose up light,
Right sore agrieved at her sharpe reproofe,
And follow'd fast: but when he came in sight,
He durst not nigh approch, but kept aloofe,
For dread of her displeasures utmost proofe.
And evermore, when he did grace entreat,
And framed speaches fit for his behoofe,
Her mortall arrowes she at him did threat,
And forst him backe with fowle dishonor to retreat.

XXXVIII

At last, when long he follow'd had in vaine,
Yet found no ease of griefe, nor hope of grace,
Unto those woods he turned backe againe,
Full of sad anguish and in heavy case:
And finding there fit solitary place
For wofull wight, chose out a gloomy glade,
Where hardly eye mote see bright heavens face,
For mossy trees, which covered all with shade
And sad melancholy: there he his cabin made.

XXXIX

His wonted warlike weapons all he broke,
And threw away, with vow to use no more,
Ne thenceforth ever strike in battell stroke,
Ne ever word to speake to woman more;
But in that wildernesse, of men forlore,
And of the wicked world forgotten quight,
His hard mishap in dolor to deplore,
And wast his wretched daies in wofull plight;
So on him selfe to wreake his follies owne despight.

XL

And eke his garment, to be thereto meet,
He wilfully did cut and shape anew;
And his faire lockes, that wont with ointment sweet
To be embaulm'd, and sweat out dainty dew,
He let to grow and griesly to concrew,
Uncomb'd, uncurl'd, and carelesly unshed;
That in short time his face they overgrew,
And over all his shoulders did dispred,
That who he whilome was, uneath was to be red.

XLI

There he continued in this carefull plight,
Wretchedly wearing out his youthly yeares,
Through wilfull penury consumed quight,
That like a pined ghost he soone appeares.
For other food then that wilde forrest beares,
Ne other drinke there did he ever tast,
Then running water, tempred with his teares,
The more his weakened body so to wast:
That out of all mens knowledge he was worne at last.

XLII

For on a day, by fortune as it fell,
His owne deare lord, Prince Arthure, came that way,
Seeking adventures, where he mote heare tell;
And as he through the wandring wood did stray,
Having espide this cabin far away,
He to it drew, to weet who there did wonne;
Weening therein some holy hermit lay,
That did resort of sinfull people shonne;
Or else some woodman shrowded there from scorching sunne.

XLIII

Arriving there, he found this wretched man,
Spending his daies in dolour and despaire,
And through long fasting woxen pale and wan,
All overgrowen with rude and rugged haire;
That albeit his owne deare squire he were,
Yet he him knew not, ne aviz'd at all,
But like strange wight, whom he had seene no where,
Saluting him, gan into speach to fall,
And pitty much his plight, that liv'd like outcast thrall.

XLIV

But to his speach he aunswered no whit,
But stood still mute, as if he had beene dum,
Ne signe of sence did shew, ne common wit,
As one with griefe and anguishe overcum,
And unto every thing did aunswere mum:
And ever when the Prince unto him spake,
He louted lowly, as did him becum,
And humble homage did unto him make,
Midst sorrow shewing joyous semblance for his sake.

XLV

At which his uncouth guise and usage quaint
The Prince did wonder much, yet could not ghesse
The cause of that his sorrowfull constraint;
Yet weend by secret signes of manlinesse,
Which close appeard in that rude brutishnesse,
That he whilome some gentle swaine had beene,
Traind up in feats of armes and knightlinesse;
Which he observ'd, by that he him had seene
To weld his naked sword, and try the edges keene;

XLVI

And eke by that he saw on every tree
How he the name of one engraven had,
Which likly was his liefest love to be,
For whom he now so sorely was bestad;
Which was by him BELPHEBE rightly rad.
Yet who was that Belphebe he ne wist;
Yet saw he often how he wexed glad,
When he it heard, and how the ground he kist,
Wherein it written was, and how himselfe he blist.

XLVII

Tho, when he long had marked his demeanor,
And saw that all he said and did was vaine,
Ne ought mote make him change his wonted tenor,
Ne ought mote ease or mitigate his paine,
He left him there in languor to remaine,
Till time for him should remedy provide,
And him restore to former grace againe.
Which for it is too long here to abide,
I will deferre the end until another tide.

CANTO VIII

The gentle squire recovers grace:
Sclaunder her guests doth staine:
Corflambo chaseth Placidas,
And is by Arthure slaine.

I

WELL said the wiseman, now prov'd true by this,
Which to this gentle squire did happen late,
That the displeasure of the mighty is
Then death it selfe more dread and desperate.
For naught the same may calme ne mitigate,
Till time the tempest doe thereof delay
With sufferaunce soft, which rigour can abate,
And have the sterne remembrance wypt away
Of bitter thoughts, which deepe therein infixed lay.

II

Like as it fell to this unhappy boy,
Whose tender heart the faire Belphebe had
With one sterne looke so daunted, that no joy
In all his life, which afterwards he lad,
He ever tasted; but with penaunce sad
And pensive sorrow pind and wore away,
Ne ever laught, ne once shew'd countenance glad;
But alwaies wept and wailed night and day,
As blasted bloosme through heat doth languish and decay.

III

Till on a day, as in his wonted wise
His doole he made, there chaunst a turtle dove
To come where he his dolors did devise,
That likewise late had lost her dearest love,
Which losse her made like passion also prove.
Who seeing his sad plight, her tender heart
With deare compassion deeply did emmove,
That she gan mone his undeserved smart,
And with her dolefull accent beare with him a part.

IV

Shee sitting by him, as on ground he lay,
Her mournefull notes full piteously did frame,
And thereof made a lamentable lay,
So sensibly compyld, that in the same
Him seemed oft he heard his owne right name.
With that he forth would poure so plenteous teares,
And beat his breast unworthy of such blame,
And knocke his head, and rend his rugged heares,
That could have perst the hearts of tigres and of beares.

V

Thus, long this gentle bird to him did use
Withouten dread of perill to repaire
Unto his wonne, and with her mournefull muse
Him to recomfort in his greatest care,
That much did ease his mourning and misfare:
And every day, for guerdon of her song,
He part of his small feast to her would share;
That, at the last, of all his woe and wrong
Companion she became, and so continued long.

VI

Upon a day, as she him sate beside,
By chance he certaine miniments forth drew,
Which yet with him as relickes did abide
Of all the bounty which Belphebe threw
On him, whilst goodly grace she did him shew:
Amongst the rest a jewell rich he found,
That was a ruby of right perfect hew,
Shap'd like a heart yet bleeding of the wound,
And with a litle golden chaine about it bound.

VII

The same he tooke, and with a riband new,
In which his ladies colours were, did bind
About the turtles necke, that with the vew
Did greatly solace his engrieved mind.
All unawares the bird, when she did find
Her selfe so deckt, her nimble wings displaid,
And flew away, as lightly as the wind:
Which sodaine accident him much dismaid,
And looking after long, did marke which way she straid.

VIII

But when as long he looked had in vaine,
Yet saw her forward still to make her flight,
His weary eie returnd to him againe,
Full of discomfort and disquiet plight,
That both his juell he had lost so light,
And eke his deare companion of his care.
But that sweet bird departing flew forth right
Through the wide region of the wastfull aire,
Untill she came where wonned his Belphebe faire.

IX

There found she her (as then it did betide)
Sitting in covert shade of arbors sweet,
After late weary toile, which she had tride
In salvage chase, to rest as seem'd her meet.
There she alighting, fell before her feet,
And gan to her her mournfull plaint to make,
As was her wont, thinking to let her weet
The great tormenting griefe that for her sake
Her gentle squire through her displeasure did pertake.

X

She her beholding with attentive eye,
At length did marke about her purple brest
That precious juell, which she formerly
Had knowne right well, with colourd ribbands drest:
Therewith she rose in hast, and her addrest
With ready hand it to have reft away:
But the swift bird obayd not her behest,
But swarv'd aside, and there againe did stay;
She follow'd her, and thought againe it to assay.

XI

And ever when she night approcht, the dove
Would flit a litle forward, and then stay,
Till she drew neare, and then againe remove;
So tempting her still to pursue the pray,
And still from her escaping soft away:
Till that at length into that forrest wide
She drew her far, and led with slow delay.
In th' end she her unto that place did guide,
Whereas that wofull man in languor did abide.

XII

Eftsoones she flew unto his fearelesse hand,
And there a piteous ditty new deviz'd,
As if she would have made her understand
His sorrowes cause, to be of her despis'd.
Whom when she saw in wretched weedes disguiz'd,
With heary glib deform'd, and meiger face,
Like ghost late risen from his grave agryz'd,
She knew him not, but pittied much his case,
And wisht it were in her to doe him any grace.

XIII

He her beholding, at her feet downe fell,
And kist the ground on which her sole did tread,
And washt the same with water, which did well
From his moist eies, and like two streames procead;
Yet spake no word whereby she might aread
What mister wight he was, or what he ment;
But as one daunted with her presence dread,
Onely few ruefull lookes unto her sent,
As messengers of his true meaning and intent.

XIV

Yet nathemore his meaning she ared,
But wondred much at his so selcouth case,
And by his persons secret seemlyhed
Well weend that he had beene some man of place,
Before misfortune did his hew deface:
That, being mov'd with ruth, she thus bespake:
'Ah, wofull man! what Heavens hard disgrace,
Or wrath of cruell wight on thee ywrake,
Or selfe disliked life, doth thee thus wretched make?

XV

'If Heaven, then none may it redresse or blame,
Sith to his powre we all are subject borne;
If wrathfull wight, then fowle rebuke and shame
Be theirs, that have so cruell thee forlorne;
But if through inward griefe or wilfull scorne
Of life it be, then better doe advise;
For he whose daies in wilfull woe are worne,
The grace of his Creator doth despise,
That will not use his gifts for thanklesse nigardise.'

XVI

When so he heard her say, eftsoones he brake
His sodaine silence, which he long had pent,
And sighing inly deepe, her thus bespake:
'Then have they all themselves against me bent:
For Heaven, first author of my languishment,
Envying my too great felicity,
Did closely with a cruell one consent
To cloud my daies in dolefull misery,
And make me loath this life, still longing for to die.

XVII

'Ne any but your selfe, O dearest dred,
Hath done this wrong, to wreake on worthlesse wight
Your high displesure, through misdeeming bred:
That, when your pleasure is to deeme aright,
Ye may redresse, and me restore to light.'
Which sory words her mightie hart did mate
With mild regard, to see his ruefull plight,
That her inburning wrath she gan abate,
And him receiv'd againe to former favours state.

XVIII

In which he long time afterwards did lead
An happie life with grace and good accord,
Fearlesse of fortunes chaunge or envies dread,
And eke all mindlesse of his owne deare lord,
The noble Prince, who never heard one word
Of tydings, what did unto him betide,
Or what good fortune did to him afford,
But through the endlesse world did wander wide,
Him seeking evermore, yet no where him descride.

XIX

Till on a day, as through that wood he rode,
He chaunst to come where those two ladies late,
Aemylia and Amoret, abode,
Both in full sad and sorrowfull estate;
The one right feeble through the evill rate
Of food, which in her duresse she had found:
The other almost dead and desperate
Through her late hurts, and through that haplesse wound
With which the squire in her defence her sore astound.

XX

Whom when the Prince beheld, he gan to rew
The evill case in which those ladies lay;
But most was moved at the piteous vew,
Of Amoret, so neare unto decay,
That her great daunger did him much dismay.
Eftsoones that pretious liquour forth he drew,
Which he in store about him kept alway,
And with few drops thereof did softly dew
Her wounds, that unto strength restor'd her soone anew.

XXI

Tho, when they both recovered were right well,
He gan of them inquire, what evill guide
Them thether brought, and how their harmes befell.
To whom they told all that did them betide,
And how from thraldome vile they were untide
Of that same wicked carle, by virgins hond;
Whose bloudie corse they shew'd him there beside,
And eke his cave, in which they both were bond:
At which he wondred much, when all those signes he fond.

XXII

And evermore he greatly did desire
To know, what virgin did them thence unbind;
And oft of them did earnestly inquire,
Where was her won, and how he mote her find.
But when as nought according to his mind
He could outlearne, he them from ground did reare,
(No service lothsome to a gentle kind)
And on his warlike beast them both did beare,
Himselfe by them on foot, to succour them from feare.

XXIII

So when that forrest they had passed well,
A litle cotage farre away they spide,
To which they drew, ere night upon them fell;
And entring in, found none therein abide,
But one old woman sitting there beside,
Upon the ground, in ragged rude attyre,
With filthy lockes about her scattered wide,
Gnawing her nayles for felnesse and for yre,
And there out sucking venime to her parts entyre.

XXIV

A foule and loathly creature sure in sight,
And in conditions to be loath'd no lesse:
For she was stuft with rancour and despight
Up to the throat; that oft with bitternesse
It forth would breake, and gush in great excesse,
Pouring out streames of poyson and of gall
Gainst all that truth or vertue doe professe:
Whom she with leasings lewdly did miscall,
And wickedly backbite: her name men Sclaunder call.

XXV

Her nature is, all goodnesse to abuse,
And causelesse crimes continually to frame,
With which she guiltlesse persons may accuse,
And steale away the crowne of their good name;
Ne ever knight so bold, ne ever dame
So chast and loyall liv'd, but she would strive
With forged cause them falsely to defame;
Ne ever thing so well was doen alive,
But she with blame would blot, and of due praise deprive.

XXVI

Her words were not, as common words are ment,
T' expresse the meaning of the inward mind,
But noysome breath, and poysnous spirit sent
From inward parts, with cancred malice lind,
And breathed forth with blast of bitter wind;
Which passing through the eares would pierce the hart,
And wound the soule it selfe with griefe unkind:
For like the stings of aspes, that kill with smart,
Her spightfull words did pricke and wound the inner part.

XXVII

Such was that hag, unmeet to host such guests,
Whom greatest princes court would welcome fayne;
But neede, that answers not to all requests,
Bad them not looke for better entertayne;
And eke that age despysed nicenesse vaine,
Enur'd to hardnesse and to homely fare,
Which them to warlike discipline did trayne,
And manly limbs endur'd with litle care
Against all hard mishaps and fortunelesse misfare.

XXVIII

Then all that evening, welcommed with cold
And chearelesse hunger, they together spent;
Yet found no fault, but that the hag did scold
And rayle at them with grudgefull discontent,
For lodging there without her owne consent;
Yet they endured all with patience milde,
And unto rest themselves all onely lent;
Regardlesse, of that queane so base and vilde
To be unjustly blamd, and bitterly revilde.

XXIX

Here well I weene, when as these rimes be red
With misregard, that some rash witted wight,
Whose looser thought will lightly be misled,
These gentle ladies will misdeeme too light,
For thus conversing with this noble knight;
Sith now of dayes such temperance is rare
And hard to finde, that heat of youthfull spright
For ought will from his greedie pleasure spare:
More hard for hungry steed t' abstaine from pleasant lare.

XXX

But antique age, yet in the infancie
Of time, did live then like an innocent,
In simple truth and blamelesse chastitie,
Ne then of guile had made experiment,
But voide of vile and treacherous intent,
Held vertue for it selfe in soveraine awe:
Then loyall love had royall regiment,
And each unto his lust did make a lawe,
From all forbidden things his liking to withdraw.

XXXI

The lyon there did with the lambe consort,
And eke the dove sate by the faulcons side,
Ne each of other feared fraud or tort,
But did in safe securitie abide,
Withouten perill of the stronger pride:
But when the world woxe old, it woxe warre old
(Whereof it hight) and having shortly tride
The traines of wit, in wickednesse woxe bold,
And dared of all sinnes the secrets to unfold.

XXXII

Then beautie, which was made to represent
The great Creatours owne resemblance bright,
Unto abuse of lawlesse lust was lent,
And made the baite of bestiall delight:
Then faire grew foule, and foule grew faire in sight,
And that which wont to vanquish God and man
Was made the vassall of the victors might;
Then did her glorious flowre wex dead and wan,
Despisd and troden downe of all that overran.

XXXIII

And now it is so utterly decayd,
That any bud thereof doth scarse remaine,
But if few plants, preserv'd through heavenly ayd,
In princes court doe hap to sprout againe,
Dew'd with her drops of bountie soveraine,
Which from that goodly glorious flowre proceed,
Sprung of the auncient stocke of princes straine,
Now th' onely remnant of that royall breed,
Whose noble kind at first was sure of heavenly seed.

XXXIV

Tho, soone as day discovered heavens face
To sinfull men with darknes overdight,
This gentle crew gan from their eye-lids chace
The drowzie humour of the dampish night,
And did themselves unto their journey dight.
So forth they yode, and forward softly paced,
That them to view had bene an uncouth sight,
How all the way the Prince on footpace traced,
The ladies both on horse, together fast embraced.

XXXV

Soone as they thence departed were afore,
That shamefull hag, the slaunder of her sexe,
Them follow'd fast, and them reviled sore,
Him calling theefe, them whores; that much did vexe
His noble hart: thereto she did annexe
False crimes and facts, such as they never ment,
That those two ladies much asham'd did wexe:
The more did she pursue her lewd intent,
And rayl'd and rag'd, till she had all her poyson spent.

XXXVI

At last, when they were passed out of sight,
Yet she did not her spightfull speach forbeare,
But after them did barke, and still backbite,
Though there were none her hatefull words to heare:
Like as a curre doth felly bite and teare
The stone which passed straunger at him threw;
So she them seeing past the reach of eare,
Against the stones and trees did rayle anew,
Till she had duld the sting which in her tongs end grew.

XXXVII

They, passing forth, kept on their readie way,
With easie steps so soft as foot could stryde,
Both for great feeblesse, which did oft assay
Faire Amoret, that scarcely she could ryde,
And eke through heavie armes, which sore annoyd
The Prince on foot, not wonted so to fare;
Whose steadie hand was faine his steede to guyde,
And all the way from trotting hard to spare;
So was his toyle the more, the more that was his care.

XXXVIII

At length they spide where towards them with speed
A squire came gallopping, as he would flie,
Bearing a litle dwarfe before his steed,
That all the way full loud for aide did crie,
That seem'd his shrikes would rend the brasen skie:
Whom after did a mightie man pursew,
Ryding upon a dromedare on hie,
Of stature huge, and horrible of hew,
That would have maz'd a man his dreadfull face to vew.

XXXIX

For from his fearefull eyes two fierie beames,
More sharpe then points of needles, did proceede,
Shooting forth farre away two flaming streames,
Full of sad powre, that poysonous bale did breede
To all that on him lookt without good heed,
And secretly his enemies did slay:
Like as the basiliske, of serpents seede,
From powrefull eyes close venim doth convay
Into the lookers hart, and killeth farre away.

XL

He all the way did rage at that same squire,
And after him full many threatnings threw,
With curses vaine in his avengefull ire:
But none of them (so fast away he flew)
Him overtooke before he came in vew.
Where when he saw the Prince in armour bright,
He cald to him aloud, his case to rew,
And rescue him through succour of his might,
From that his cruell foe, that him pursewd in sight.

XLI

Eftsoones the Prince tooke downe those ladies twaine
From loftie steede, and mounting in their stead,
Came to that squire, yet trembling every vaine:
Of whom he gan enquire his cause of dread:
Who as he gan the same to him aread,
Loe! hard behind his backe his foe was prest,
With dreadfull weapon aymed at his head,
That unto death had doen him unredrest,
Had not the noble Prince his readie stroke represt.

XLII

Who, thrusting boldly twixt him and the blow,
The burden of the deadly brunt did beare
Upon his shield, which lightly he did throw
Over his head, before the harme came neare.
Nathlesse it fell with so despiteous dreare
And heavie sway, that hard unto his crowne
The shield it drove, and did the covering reare:
Therewith both squire and dwarfe did tomble downe
Unto the earth, and lay long while in senselesse swowne.
XLIII

Whereat the Prince full wrath, his strong right hand
In full avengement heaved up on hie,
And stroke the Pagan with his steely brand
So sore, that to his saddle bow thereby
He bowed low, and so a while did lie:
And sure, had not his massie yron mace
Betwixt him and his hurt bene happily,
It would have cleft him to the girding place;
Yet, as it was, it did astonish him long space.

XLIV

But when he to himselfe returnd againe,
All full of rage he gan to curse and sweare,
And vow by Mahoune that he should be slaine.
With that his murdrous mace he up did reare,
That seemed nought the souse thereof could beare,
And therewith smote at him with all his might.
But ere that it to him approched neare,
The royall child, with readie quicke foresight,
Did shun the proofe thereof and it avoyded light.

XLV

But ere his hand he could recure againe,
To ward his bodie from the balefull stound,
He smote at him with all his might and maine,
So furiously, that, ere he wist, he found
His head before him tombling on the ground.
The whiles his babling tongue did yet blaspheme
And curse his god, that did him so confound;
The whiles his life ran foorth in bloudie streame,
His soule descended downe into the Stygian reame.

XLVI

Which when that squire beheld, he woxe full glad
To see his foe breath out his spright in vaine:
But that same dwarfe right sorie seem'd and sad,
And howld aloud to see his lord there slaine,
And rent his haire and scratcht his face for paine.
Then gan the Prince at leasure to inquire
Of all the accident, there hapned plaine,
And what he was, whose eyes did flame with fire;
All which was, thus to him declared by that squire.

XLVII

'This mightie man,' quoth he, 'whom you have slaine,
Of an huge geauntesse whylome was bred;
And by his strength rule to himselfe did gaine
Of many nations into thraldome led,
And mightie kingdomes of his force adred;
Whom yet he conquer'd not by bloudie fight,
Ne hostes of men with banners brode dispred,
But by the powre of his infectious sight,
With which he killed all that came within his might.

XLVIII

'Ne was he ever vanquished afore,
But ever vanquisht all with whom he fought;
Ne was there man so strong, but he downe bore,
Ne woman yet so faire, but he her brought
Unto his bay, and captived her thought.
For most of strength and beautie his desire
Was spoyle to make, and wast them unto nought,
By casting secret flakes of lustfull fire
From his false eyes, into their harts and parts entire.

XLIX

'Therefore Corflambo was he cald aright,
Though namelesse there his bodie now doth lie;
Yet hath he left one daughter that is hight
The faire Paeana; who seemes outwardly
So faire as ever yet saw living eie:
And were her vertue like her beautie bright,
She were as faire as any under skie.
But ah! she given is to vaine delight,
And eke too loose of life, and eke of love too light.

L

'So as it fell, there was a gentle squire,
That lov'd a ladie of high parentage;
But for his meane degree might not aspire
To match so high, her friends with counsell sage
Dissuaded her from such a disparage.
But she, whose hart to love was wholly lent,
Out of his hands could not redeeme her gage,
But firmely following her first intent,
Resolv'd with him to wend, gainst all her friends consent.

LI

'So twixt themselves they pointed time and place,
To which when he according did repaire,
An hard mishap and disaventrous case
Him chaunst; in stead of his Aemylia faire,
This gyants sonne, that lies there on the laire
An headlesse heape, him unawares there caught,
And, all dismayd through mercilesse despaire,
Him wretched thrall unto his dongeon brought,
Where he remaines, of all unsuccour'd and unsought.

LII

'This gyants daughter came upon a day
Unto the prison in her joyous glee,
To view the thrals which there in bondage lay:
Amongst the rest she chaunced there to see
This lovely swaine, the squire of low degree;
To whom she did her liking lightly cast,
And wooed him her paramour to bee:
From day to day she woo'd and prayd him fast,
And for his love him promist libertie at last.

LIII

'He, though affide unto a former love,
To whom his faith he firmely ment to hold,
Yet seeing not how thence he mote remove,
But by that meanes which fortune did unfold,
Her graunted love, but with affection cold,
To win her grace his libertie to get.
Yet she him still detaines in captive hold,
Fearing least, if she should him freely set,
He would her shortly leave, and former love forget.

LIV

'Yet so much favour she to him hath hight
Above the rest, that he sometimes may space
And walke about her gardens of delight,
Having a keeper still with him in place;
Which keeper is this dwarfe, her dearling base,
To whom the keyes of every prison dore
By her committed be, of speciall grace,
And at his will may whom he list restore,
And whom he list reserve, to be afflicted more.

LV

'Whereof when tydings came unto mine eare,
Full inly sorie, for the fervent zeale
Which I to him as to my soule did beare,
I thether went; where I did long conceale
My selfe, till that the dwarfe did me reveale,
And told his dame her squire of low degree
Did secretly out of her prison steale;
For me he did mistake that squire to bee;
For never two so like did living creature see.

LVI

'Then was I taken and before her brought:
Who, through the likenesse of my outward hew,
Being likewise beguiled in her thought,
Gan blame me much for being so untrew,
To seeke by flight her fellowship t' eschew,
That lov'd me deare, as dearest thing alive.
Thence she commaunded me to prison new;
Whereof I glad did not gainesay nor strive,
But suffred that same dwarfe me to her dongeon drive.

LVII

'There did I finde mine onely faithfull frend
In heavy plight and sad perplexitie;
Whereof I sorie, yet my selfe did bend
Him to recomfort with my companie.
But him the more agreev'd I found thereby
For all his joy, he said, in that distresse,
Was mine and his Aemylias libertie.
Aemylia well he lov'd, as I mote ghesse;
Yet greater love to me then her he did professe.

LVIII

'But I with better reason him aviz'd,
And shew'd him how, through error and mis-thought
Of our like persons, eath to be disguiz'd,
Or his exchange or freedome might be wrought.
Whereto full loth was he, ne would for ought
Consent that I, who stood all fearelesse free,
Should wilfully be into thraldome brought,
Till Fortune did perforce it so decree.
Yet, overrul'd at last, he did to me agree.

LIX

'The morrow next, about the wonted howre,
The dwarfe cald at the doore of Amyas,
To come forthwith unto his ladies bowre.
In steed of whom forth came I, Placidas,
And undiscerned forth with him did pas.
There with great joyance and with gladsome glee
Of faire Paeana I received was,
And oft imbrast, as if that I were hee,
And with kind words accoyd, vowing great love to mee.

LX

'Which I, that was not bent to former love,
As was my friend, that had her long refusd,
Did well accept, as well it did behove,
And to the present neede it wisely usd.
My former hardnesse first I faire excusd;
And after promist large amends to make.
With such smooth termes her error I abusd,
To my friends good more then for mine owne sake,
For whose sole libertie I love and life did stake.

LXI

'Thenceforth I found more favour at her hand,
That to her dwarfe, which had me in his charge,
She bad to lighten my too heavie band,
And graunt more scope to me to walke at large.
So on a day, as by the flowrie marge
Of a fresh streame I with that elfe did play,
Finding no meanes how I might us enlarge,
But if that dwarfe I could with me convay,
I lightly snatcht him up, and with me bore away.

LXII

'Thereat he shriekt aloud, that with his cry
The tyrant selfe came forth with yelling bray,
And me pursew'd; but nathemore would I
Forgoe the purchase of my gotten pray,
But have perforce him hether brought away.'
Thus as they talked, loe! where nigh at hand
Those ladies two, yet doubtfull through dismay,
In presence came, desirous t' understand
Tydings of all which there had hapned on the land.

LXIII

Where soone as sad Aemylia did espie
Her captive lovers friend, young Placidas,
All mindlesse of her wonted modestie,
She to him ran, and him with streight embras
Enfolding said: 'And lives yet Amyas?'
'He lives,' quoth he, 'and his Aemylia loves.'
'Then lesse,' said she, 'by all the woe I pas,
With which my weaker patience Fortune proves.
But what mishap thus long him fro my selfe removes?'

LXIV

Then gan he all this storie to renew,
And tell the course of his captivitie;
That her deare hart full deepely made to rew,
And sigh full sore, to heare the miserie,
In which so long he mercilesse did lie.
Then, after many teares and sorrowes spent,
She deare besought the Prince of remedie:
Who thereto did with readie will consent,
And well perform'd, as shall appeare by his event.

CANTO IX

The squire of low degree, releast,
Paeana takes to wife:
Britomart fightes with many knights;
Prince Arthur stints their strife.

I

HARD is the doubt, and difficult to deeme,
When all three kinds of love together meet,
And doe dispart the hart with powre extreme,
Whether shall weigh the balance downe; to weet,
The deare affection unto kindred sweet,
Or raging fire of love to woman kind,
Or zeale of friends combynd with vertues meet.
But of them all, the band of vertuous mind,
Me seemes, the gentle hart should most assured bind.

II

For naturall affection soone doth cesse,
And quenched is with Cupids greater flame:
But faithfull friendship doth them both suppresse,
And them with maystring discipline doth tame,
Through thoughts aspyring to eternall fame.
For as the soule doth rule the earthly masse,
And all the service of the bodie frame,
So love of soule doth love of bodie passe,
No lesse then perfect gold surmounts the meanest brasse.

III

All which who list by tryall to assay,
Shall in this storie find approved plaine;
In which these squires true friendship more did sway,
Then either care of parents could refraine,
Or love of fairest ladie could constraine.
For though Paeana were as faire as morne,
Yet did this trustie squire with proud disdaine
For his friends sake her offred favours scorne,
And she her selfe her syre, of whom she was yborne.

IV

Now after that Prince Arthur graunted had
To yeeld strong succour to that gentle swayne,
Who now long time had lyen in prison sad,
He gan advise how best he mote darrayne
That enterprize, for greatest glories gayne.
That headlesse tyrants tronke he reard from ground,
And having ympt the head to it agayne,
Upon his usuall beast it firmely bound,
And made it so to ride as it alive was found.

V

Then did he take that chaced squire, and layd
Before the ryder, as he captive were,
And made his dwarfe, though with unwilling ayd,
To guide the beast that did his maister beare,
Till to his castle they approched neare.
Whom when the watch, that kept continuall ward,
Saw comming home, all voide of doubtfull feare,
He, running downe, the gate to him unbard;
Whom straight the Prince ensuing, in together far'd.

VI

There he did find in her delitious boure
The faire Paeana playing on a rote,
Complayning of her cruell paramoure,
And singing all her sorrow to the note,
As she had learned readily by rote;
That with the sweetnesse of her rare delight
The Prince halfe rapt, began on her to dote:
Till, better him bethinking of the right,
He her unwares attacht, and captive held by might.

VII

Whence being forth produc'd, when she perceived
Her owne deare sire, she cald to him for aide.
But when of him no aunswere she received,
But saw him sencelesse by the squire upstaide,
She weened well that then she was betraide:
Then gan she loudly cry, and weepe, and waile,
And that same squire of treason to upbraide:
But all in vaine; her plaints might not prevaile;
Ne none there was to reskue her, ne none to baile.

VIII

Then tooke he that same dwarfe, and him compeld
To open unto him the prison dore,
And forth to bring those thrals which there he held.
Thence forth were brought to him above a score
Of knights and squires to him unknowne afore:
All which he did from bitter bondage free,
And unto former liberty restore.
Amongst the rest, that squire of low degree
Came forth full weake and wan, not like him selfe to bee.

IX

Whom soone as faire Aemylia beheld,
And Placidas, they both unto him ran,
And him embracing fast betwixt them held,
Striving to comfort him all that they can,
And kissing oft his visage pale and wan;
That faire Paeana, them beholding both,
Gan both envy, and bitterly to ban;
Through jealous passion weeping inly wroth,
To see the sight perforce, that both her eyes were loth.

X

But when a while they had together beene,
And diversly conferred of their case,
She, though full oft she both of them had seene
A sunder, yet not ever in one place,
Began to doubt, when she them saw embrace,
Which was the captive squire she lov'd so deare,
Deceived through great likenesse of their face,
For they so like in person did appeare,
That she uneath discerned, whether whether weare.

XI

And eke the Prince, when as he them avized,
Their like resemblaunce much admired there,
And mazd how Nature had so well disguized
Her worke, and counterfet her selfe so nere,
As if that by one patterne seene somewhere
She had them made a paragone to be,
Or whether it through skill or errour were.
Thus gazing long, at them much wondred he;
So did the other knights and squires, which them did see.

XII

Then gan they ransacke that same castle strong,
In which he found great store of hoorded threasure,
The which that tyrant gathered had by wrong
And tortious powre, without respect or measure.
Upon all which the Briton Prince made seasure,
And afterwards continu'd there a while,
To rest him selfe, and solace in soft pleasure
Those weaker ladies after weary toile;
To whom he did divide part of his purchast spoile.

XIII

And for more joy, that captive lady faire,
The faire Paeana, he enlarged free,
And by the rest did set in sumptuous chaire,
To feast and frollicke; nathemore would she
Shew gladsome countenaunce nor pleasaunt glee,
But grieved was for losse both of her sire,
And eke of lordship, with both land and fee:
But most she touched was with griefe entire
For losse of her new love, the hope of her desire.

XIV

But her the Prince, through his well wonted grace,
To better termes of myldnesse did entreat
From that fowle rudenesse which did her deface;
And that same bitter corsive, which did eat
Her tender heart, and made refraine from meat,
He with good thewes and speaches well applyde
Did mollifie, and calme her raging heat.
For though she were most faire, and goodly dyde,
Yet she it all did mar with cruelty and pride.

XV

And for to shut up all in friendly love,
Sith love was first the ground of all her griefe,
That trusty squire he wisely well did move
Not to despise that dame, which lov'd him liefe,
Till he had made of her some better priefe,
But to accept her to his wedded wife.
Thereto he offred for to make him chiefe
Of all her land and lordship during life:
He yeelded, and her tooke; so stinted all their strife.

XVI

From that day forth in peace and joyous blis
They liv'd together long without debate,
Ne private jarre, ne spite of enemis
Could shake the safe assuraunce of their state.
And she, whom Nature did so faire create
That she mote match the fairest of her daies,
Yet with lewd loves and lust intemperate
Had it defaste, thenceforth reformd her waies,
That all men much admyrde her change, and spake her praise.

XVII

Thus when the Prince had perfectly compylde
These paires of friends in peace and setled rest,
Him selfe, whose minde did travell as with chylde
Of his old love, conceav'd in secret brest,
Resolved to pursue his former quest;
And taking leave of all, with him did beare
Faire Amoret, whom Fortune by bequest
Had left in his protection whileare,
Exchanged out of one into an other feare.

XVIII

Feare of her safety did her not constraine,
For well she wist now in a mighty hond
Her person, late in perill, did remaine,
Who able was all daungers to withstond:
But now in feare of shame she more did stond,
Seeing her selfe all soly succourlesse,
Left in the victors powre, like vassall bond;
Whose will her weakenesse could no way represse,
In case his burning lust should breake into excesse.

XIX

But cause of feare sure had she none at all
Of him, who goodly learned had of yore
The course of loose affection to forstall,
And lawlesse lust to rule with reasons lore;
That all the while he by his side her bore,
She was as safe as in a sanctuary.
Thus many miles they two together wore,
To seeke their loves dispersed diversly,
Yet neither shewed to other their hearts privity.

XX

At length they came, whereas a troupe of knights
They saw together skirmishing, as seemed:
Sixe they were all, all full of fell despight,
But foure of them the battell best beseemed,
That which of them was best mote not be deemed.
Those foure were they from whom false Florimell
By Braggadochio lately was redeemed;
To weet, sterne Druon, and lewd Claribell,
Love-lavish Blandamour, and lustfull Paridell.

XXI

Druons delight was all in single life,
And unto ladies love would lend no leasure:
The more was Claribell enraged rife
With fervent flames, and loved out of measure:
So eke lov'd Blandamour, but yet at pleasure
Would change his liking, and new lemans prove:
But Paridell of love did make no threasure,
But lusted after all that him did move.
So diversly these foure disposed were to love.

XXII

But those two other, which beside them stoode,
Were Britomart and gentle Scudamour;
Who all the while beheld their wrathfull moode,
And wondred at their impacable stoure,
Whose like they never saw till that same houre:
So dreadfull strokes each did at other drive,
And laid on load with all their might and powre,
As if that every dint the ghost would rive
Out of their wretched corses, and their lives deprive.

XXIII

As when Dan Aeolus, in great displeasure,
For losse of his deare love by Neptune hent,
Sends forth the winds out of his hidden threasure,
Upon the sea to wreake his fell intent;
They, breaking forth with rude unruliment
From all foure parts of heaven, doe rage full sore,
And tosse the deepes, and teare the firmament,
And all the world confound with wide uprore,
As if in stead thereof they Chaos would restore.

XXIV

Cause of their discord and so fell debate
Was for the love of that same snowy maid,
Whome they had lost in turneyment of late,
And seeking long, to weet which way she straid,
Met here together, where, through lewd upbraide
Of Ate and Duessa, they fell out,
And each one taking part in others aide,
This cruell conflict raised thereabout,
Whose dangerous successe depended yet in dout.

XXV

For sometimes Paridell and Blandamour
The better had, and bet the others backe;
Eftsoones the others did the field recoure,
And on their foes did worke full cruell wracke:
Yet neither would their fiendlike fury slacke,
But evermore their malice did augment;
Till that uneath they forced were, for lacke
Of breath, their raging rigour to relent,
And rest themselves for to recover spirits spent.

XXVI

Then gan they change their sides, and new parts take;
For Paridell did take to Druons side,
For old despight, which now forth newly brake
Gainst Blandamour, whom alwaies he envide;
And Blandamour to Claribell relide:
So all afresh gan former fight renew.
As when two barkes, this caried with the tide,
That with the wind, contrary courses sew,
If wind and tide doe change, their courses change anew.

XXVII

Thenceforth they much more furiously gan fare,
As if but then the battell had begonne,
Ne helmets bright ne hawberks strong did spare,
That through the clifts the vermeil bloud out sponne,
And all adowne their riven sides did ronne.
Such mortall malice wonder was to see
In friends profest, and so great outrage donne:
But sooth is said, and tride in each degree,
Faint friends when they fall out most cruell fomen bee.

XXVIII

Thus they long while continued in fight,
Till Scudamour and that same Briton maide
By fortune in that place did chance to light:
Whom soone as they with wrathfull eie bewraide,
They gan remember of the fowle upbraide,
The which that Britonesse had to them donne,
In that late turney for the snowy maide;
Where she had them both shamefully fordonne,
And eke the famous prize of beauty from them wonne.

XXIX

Eftsoones all burning with a fresh desire
Of fell revenge, in their malicious mood
They from them selves gan turne their furious ire,
And cruell blades, yet steeming with whot bloud,
Against those two let drive, as they were wood:
Who wondring much at that so sodaine fit,
Yet nought dismayd, them stoutly well withstood;
Ne yeelded foote, ne once abacke did flit,
But being doubly smitten, likewise doubly smit.

XXX

The warlike dame was on her part assaid
Of Claribell and Blandamour attone;
And Paridell and Druon fiercely laid
At Scudamour, both his professed fone.
Foure charged two, and two surcharged one;
Yet did those two them selves so bravely beare,
That the other litle gained by the lone,
But with their owne repayed duely weare,
And usury withall: such gaine was gotten deare.

XXXI

Full oftentimes did Britomart assay
To speake to them, and some emparlance move;
But they for nought their cruell hands would stay,
Ne lend an eare to ought that might behove:
As when an eager mastiffe once doth prove
The tast of bloud of some engored beast,
No words may rate, nor rigour him remove
From greedy hold of that his blouddy feast:
So litle did they hearken to her sweet beheast.

XXXII

Whom when the Briton Prince a farre beheld
With ods of so unequall match opprest,
His mighty heart with indignation sweld,
And inward grudge fild his heroicke brest:
Eftsoones him selfe he to their aide addrest,
And thrusting fierce into the thickest preace,
Divided them, how ever loth to rest,
And would them faine from battell to surceasse,
With gentle words perswading them to friendly peace.

XXXIII

But they so farre from peace or patience were,
That all at once at him gan fiercely flie,
And lay on load, as they him downe would beare:
Like to a storme, which hovers under skie,
Long here and there and round about doth stie,
At length breakes downe in raine, and haile, and sleet,
First from one coast, till nought thereof be drie;
And then another, till that likewise fleet;
And so from side to side till all the world it weet.

XXXIV

But now their forces greatly were decayd,
The Prince yet being fresh untoucht afore;
Who them with speaches milde gan first disswade
From such foule outrage, and them long forbore:
Till, seeing them through suffrance hartned more,
Him selfe he bent their furies to abate,
And layd at them so sharpely and so sore,
That shortly them compelled to retrate,
And being brought in daunger, to relent too late.

XXXV

But now his courage being throughly fired,
He ment to make them know their follies prise,
Had not those two him instantly desired
T' asswage his wrath, and pardon their mesprise.
At whose request he gan him selfe advise
To stay his hand, and of a truce to treat
In milder tearmes, as list them to devise:
Mongst which, the cause of their so cruell heat
He did them aske: who all that passed gan repeat;
XXXVI

And told at large how that same errant knight,
To weet, faire Britomart, them late had foyled
In open turney, and by wrongfull fight
Both of their publicke praise had them despoyled,
And also of their private loves beguyled;
Of two full hard to read the harder theft.
But she that wrongfull challenge soone assoyled,
And shew'd that she had not that lady reft,
(As they supposd) but her had to her liking left.

XXXVII

To whom the Prince thus goodly well replied:
'Certes, sir knights, ye seemen much to blame,
To rip up wrong that battell once hath tried;
Wherein the honor both of armes ye shame,
And eke the love of ladies foule defame;
To whom the world this franchise ever yeelded,
That of their loves choise they might freedom clame,
And in that right should by all knights be shielded:
Gainst which, me seemes, this war ye wrongfully have wielded.'

XXXVIII

'And yet,' quoth she, 'a greater wrong remaines:
For I thereby my former love have lost,
Whom seeking ever since, with endlesse paines,
Hath me much sorrow and much travell cost:
Aye me, to see that gentle maide so tost!'
But Scudamour, then sighing deepe, thus saide:
'Certes her losse ought me to sorrow most,
Whose right she is, where ever she be straide,
Through many perils wonne, and many fortunes waide.

XXXIX

'For from the first that I her love profest,
Unto this houre, this present lucklesse howre,
I never joyed happinesse nor rest,
But thus turmoild from one to other stowre,
I wast my life, and doe my daies devowre
In wretched anguishe and incessant woe,
Passing the measure of my feeble powre,
That, living thus a wretch and loving so,
I neither can my love, ne yet my life forgo.

XL

Then good Sir Claribell him thus bespake:
'Now were it not, Sir Scudamour, to you
Dislikefull paine, so sad a taske to take,
Mote we entreat you, sith this gentle crew
Is now so well accorded all anew,
That, as we ride together on our way,
Ye will recount to us in order dew
All that adventure, which ye did assay
For that faire ladies love: past perils well apay.'

XLI

So gan the rest him likewise to require,
But Britomart did him importune hard
To take on him that paine: whose great desire
He glad to satisfie, him selfe prepar'd
To tell through what misfortune he had far'd
In that atchievement, as to him befell;
And all those daungers unto them declar'd,
Which sith they cannot in this canto well
Comprised be, I will them in another tell.





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