SPENSER'S THE FAERIE QUEENE
EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY GEORGE ARMSTRONG WAUCHOPE, M.A., Ph.D.
Professor of English in the South Carolina College
Velut inter ignes luna minores
New York The Macmillan Company London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd. 1921 Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1903.
INTRODUCTION: I. The Age which produced the Faerie Queene II. The Author of the Faerie Queene III. Study of the Faerie Queene: 1. A Romantic Epic 2. Influence of the New Learning 3. Interpretation of the Allegory 4. The Spenserian Stanza 5. Versification 6. Diction and Style IV. Chronological Table of Events
THE FAERIE QUEENE. BOOK I: Letter to Sir Walter Raleigh Sonnet to Sir Walter Raleigh Dedication to Queen Elizabeth Canto I Canto II Canto III Canto IV Canto V Canto VI Canto VII Canto VIII Canto IX Canto X Canto XI Canto XII
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I. THE AGE WHICH PRODUCED THE FAERIE QUEENE
The study of the Faerie Queene should be preceded by a review of the great age in which it was written. An intimate relation exists between the history of the English nation and the works of English authors. This close connection between purely external events and literary masterpieces is especially marked in a study of the Elizabethan Age. To understand the marvelous outburst of song, the incomparable drama, and the stately prose of this period, one must enter deeply into the political, social, and religious life of the times.
The Faerie Queene was the product of certain definite conditions which existed in England toward the close of the sixteenth century. The first of these national conditions was the movement known as the revival of chivalry; the second was the spirit of nationality fostered by the English Reformation; and the third was that phase of the English Renaissance commonly called the revival of learning.
The closing decade of Queen Elizabeth's reign was marked by a strong reaction toward romanticism. The feudal system with its many imperfections had become a memory, and had been idealized by the people. The nation felt pride in its new aristocracy, sprung largely from the middle class, and based rather on worth than ancestry. The bitterness of the Wars of the Roses was forgotten, and was succeeded by an era of reconciliation and good feeling. England was united in a heroic queen whom all sects, ranks, and parties idolized. The whole country exulting in its new sense of freedom and power became a fairyland of youth, springtime, and romantic achievement.
Wise and gallant courtiers, like Sidney, Leicester, and Raleigh, gathered about the queen, and formed a new chivalry devoted to deeds of adventure and exploits of mind in her honor. The spirit of the old sea-kings lived again in Drake and his bold buccaneers, who swept the proud Spaniards from the seas. With the defeat of the Invincible Armada, the greatest naval expedition of modern times, the fear of Spanish and Catholic domination rolled away. The whole land was saturated with an unexpressed poetry, and the imagination of young and old was so fired with patriotism and noble endeavor that nothing seemed impossible. Add to this intense delight in life, with all its mystery, beauty, and power, the keen zest for learning which filled the air that men breathed, and it is easy to understand that the time was ripe for a new and brilliant epoch in literature. First among the poetic geniuses of the Elizabethan period came Edmund Spenser with his Faerie Queene, the allegory of an ideal chivalry.
This poem is one of the fruits of that intellectual awakening which first fertilized Italian thought in the twelfth century, and, slowly spreading over Europe, made its way into England in the fifteenth century. The mighty impulse of this New Learning culminated during the reign of the Virgin Queen in a profound quickening of the national consciousness, and in arousing an intense curiosity to know and to imitate the rich treasures of the classics and romance. Its first phase was the classical revival. The tyrannous authority of ecclesiasticism had long since been broken; a general reaction from Christian asceticism had set in; and by the side of the ceremonies of the church had been introduced a semi-pagan religion of art—the worship of moral and sensuous beauty. Illiteracy was no longer the style at court. Elizabeth herself set the example in the study of Greek. Books and manuscripts were eagerly sought after, Scholars became conversant with Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and the great tragic poets Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus; and translations for the many of Vergil, Ovid, Plautus, Terence, and Seneca poured forth from the printing-presses of London. The English mind was strongly tempered by the idealistic philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, and the influence of Latin tragedy and comedy was strongly felt by the early English drama.
Along with this classical culture came a higher appreciation of the beauty of mediaevalism. The romantic tendency of the age fostered the study of the great epics of chivalry, Ariosto's Orlando Furioso and Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, and of the cycles of French romance. From the Italian poets especially Spenser borrowed freely. Ariosto's fresh naturalness and magic machinery influenced him most strongly, but he was indebted to the semi-classical Tasso for whole scenes. On the whole, therefore, Spenser's literary affinities were more with the Gothic than the classical.
Spenser was also the spokesman of his time on religious questions. The violent controversies of the Reformation period were over. Having turned from the beliefs of ages with passionate rejection, the English people had achieved religious freedom, and were strongly rooted in Protestantism, which took on a distinctly national aspect. That Calvinism was at that time the popular and aristocratic form of Protestantism is evident from references in the Faerie Queene.
Spenser lived in the afterglow of the great age of chivalry. The passing glories of knighthood in its flower impressed his imagination like a gorgeous dream, and he was thus inspired to catch and crystallize into permanent art its romantic spirit and heroic deeds. Into the framework of his romance of chivalry he inserted a veiled picture of the struggles and sufferings of his own people in Ireland. The Faerie Queene might almost be called the epic of the English conquest of Ireland. The poet himself and many of his friends were in that unhappy island as representatives of the queen's government, trying to pacify the natives, and establish law and order out of discontent and anarchy. Spenser's poem was written for the most part amidst all these scenes of misery and disorder, and the courage, justice, and energy shown by his countrymen were aptly portrayed under the allegory of a mighty spiritual warfare of the knights of old against the power of evil.
Spenser's essay on A View of the Present State of Ireland shows that, far from shutting himself up in a fool's paradise of fancy, he was fully awake to the social and political condition of that turbulent island, and that it furnished him with concrete examples of those vices and virtues, bold encounters and hair-breadth escapes, strange wanderings and deeds of violence, with which he has crowded the allegory of the Faerie Queene.
II. THE AUTHOR OF THE FAERIE QUEENE
Edmund Spenser was born in London near the Tower in the year 1552. His parents were poor, though they were probably connected with the Lancashire branch of the old family of Le Despensers, "an house of ancient fame," from which the Northampton Spencers were also descended. The poet's familiarity with the rural life and dialect of the north country supports the theory that as a boy he spent some time in Lancashire. Beyond two or three facts, nothing is known with certainty of his early years. He himself tells us that his mother's name was Elizabeth, and that London was his "most kindly nurse." His name is mentioned as one of six poor pupils of the Merchant Taylors' School, who received assistance from a generous country squire.
At the age of seventeen, Master Edmund became a student in Pembroke Hall, one of the colleges of the great University of Cambridge. His position was that of a sizar, or paid scholar, who was exempt from the payment of tuition fees and earned his way by serving in the dining hall or performing other menial duties. His poverty, however, did not prevent him from forming many helpful friendships with his fellow-students. Among his most valued friends he numbered Launcelot Andrews, afterward Bishop of Winchester, Edward Kirke, a young man of Spenser's own age, who soon after edited his friend's first important poem, the Shepheards Calender, with elaborate notes, and most important of all, the famous classical scholar, a fellow of Pembroke, Gabriel Harvey, who was a few years older than Spenser, and was later immortalized as the Hobbinoll of the Faerie Queene. It was by Harvey that the poet was introduced to Sir Philip Sidney, the most accomplished gentleman in England, and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth.
Spenser's residence in Cambridge extended over seven years, during which he received the usual degrees of bachelor and master of arts. He became one of the most learned of English poets, and we may infer that while at this seat of learning he laid the foundations for his wide scholarship in the diligent study of the Greek and Latin classics, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, the pastoral poetry of Theocritus and Vergil, and the great mediaeval epics of Italian literature. On account of some misunderstanding with the master and tutors of his college, Spenser failed to receive the appointment to a fellowship, and left the University in 1576, at the age of twenty-four. His failure to attain the highest scholastic recognition was due, it is supposed, to his being involved in some of the dangerous controversies which were ripe in Cambridge at that time "with daily spawning of new opinions and heresies in divinity, in philosophy, in humanity, and in manners."
On leaving the University, Spenser resided for about a year with relatives in Lancashire, where he found employment. During this time he had an unrequited love affair with an unknown beauty whom he celebrated in the Shepheards Calender under the name of Rosalind, "the widow's daughter of the glen." A rival, Menalchas, was more successful in finding favor with his fair neighbor. Although he had before this turned his attention to poetry by translating the sonnets of Petrarch and Du Bellay (published in 1569), it was while here in the North country that he first showed his high poetic gifts in original composition.
After a visit to Sir Philip Sidney at Penshurst, Spenser went down to London with his friend in 1578, and was presented to Sidney's great uncle, the Earl of Leicester. He thus at once had an opportunity for advancement through the influence of powerful patrons, a necessity with poor young authors in that age. An immediate result of his acquaintance with Sidney, with whom he was now on relations of intimate friendship, was an introduction into the best society of the metropolis. This period of association with many of the most distinguished and cultivated men in England, together with the succession of brilliant pageants, masks, and processions, which he witnessed at court and at Lord Leicester's mansion, must have done much to refine his tastes and broaden his outlook on the world.
In personal appearance Spenser was a fine type of a sixteenth century gentleman. The grace and dignity of his bearing was enhanced by a face of tender and thoughtful expression in which warmth of feeling was subdued by the informing spirit of refinement, truthfulness, simplicity, and nobility. He possessed a fine dome-like forehead, curling hair, brown eyes, full sensuous lips, and a nose that was straight and strongly moulded. His long spare face was adorned with a full mustache and a closely cropped Van Dyke beard.
The Shepheards Calender was published in the winter of 1579 with a grateful and complimentary dedication to Sidney. It is an academic exercise consisting of a series of twelve pastoral poems in imitation of the eclogues of Vergil and Theocritus. The poem is cast in the form of dialogues between shepherds, who converse on such subjects as love, religion, and old age. In three eclogues the poet attacks with Puritan zeal the pomp and sloth of the worldly clergy, and one is devoted to the courtly praise of the queen. It was at once recognized as the most notable poem that had appeared since the death of Chaucer, and placed Spenser immediately at the head of living English poets.
In 1580 Spenser went over to Ireland as private secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton, the Artegall of the Legend of Justice in the Faerie Queene. After the recall of his patron he remained in that turbulent island in various civil positions for the rest of his life, with the exception of two or three visits and a last sad flight to England. For seven years he was clerk of the Court of Chancery in Dublin, and then was appointed clerk to the Council of Munster. In 1586 he was granted the forfeited estate of the Earl of Desmond in Cork County, and two years later took up his residence in Kilcolman Castle, which was beautifully situated on a lake with a distant view of mountains. In the disturbed political condition of the country, life here seemed a sort of exile to the poet, but its very loneliness and danger gave the stimulus needed for the development of his peculiar genius.
"Here," says Mr. Stopford Brooke, "at the foot of the Galtees, and bordered to the north by the wild country, the scenery of which is frequently painted in the Faerie Queene and in whose woods and savage places such adventures constantly took place in the service of Elizabeth as are recorded in the Faerie Queene, the first three books of that great poem were finished." Spenser had spent the first three years of his residence at Kilcolman at work on this masterpiece, which had been begun in England, under the encouragement of Sidney, probably before 1580. The knightly Sidney died heroically at the battle of Zutphen, in 1586, and Spenser voiced the lament of all England in the beautiful pastoral elegy Astrophel which he composed in memory of "the most noble and valorous knight."
Soon after coming to Ireland, Spenser made the acquaintance of Sir Walter Raleigh, which erelong ripened into intimate friendship. A memorable visit from Raleigh, who was now a neighbor of the poet's, having also received a part of the forfeited Desmond estate, led to the publication of the Faerie Queene. Sitting under the shade "of the green alders of the Mulla's shore," Spenser read to his guest the first books of his poem. So pleased was Raleigh that he persuaded the poet to accompany him to London, and there lay his poem at the feet of the great queen, whose praises he had so gloriously sung. The trip was made, Spenser was presented to Elizabeth, and read to her Majesty the three Legends of Holiness, Temperance, and Chastity. She was delighted with the fragmentary epic in which she heard herself delicately complimented in turn as Gloriana, Belphoebe, and Britomart, conferred upon the poet a pension of L50 yearly, and permitted the Faerie Queene to be published with a dedication to herself. Launched under such auspices, it is no wonder that the poem was received by the court and all England with unprecedented applause.
The next year while still in London, Spenser collected his early poems and issued them under the title of Complaints. In this volume were the Ruins of Time and the Tears of the Muses, two poems on the indifference shown to literature before 1580, and the remarkable Mother Hubberds Tale, a bitter satire on the army, the court, the church, and politics. His Daphnaida was also published about the same time. On his return to Ireland he gave a charming picture of life at Kilcolman Castle, with an account of his visit to the court, in Colin Clout's Come Home Again. The story of the long and desperate courtship of his second love, Elizabeth, whom he wedded in 1594, is told in the Amoretti, a sonnet sequence full of passion and tenderness. His rapturous wedding ode, the Epithalamion, which is, by general consent, the most glorious bridal song in our language, and the most perfect of all his poems in its freshness, purity, and passion, was also published in 1595. The next year Spenser was back in London and published the Prothalamion, a lovely ode on the marriage of Lord Worcester's daughters, and his four Hymns on Love and Beauty, Heavenly Love, and Heavenly Beauty. The first two Hymns are early poems, and the two latter maturer work embodying Petrarch's philosophy, which teaches that earthly love is a ladder that leads men to the love of God. In this year, 1596, also appeared the last three books of the Faerie Queene, containing the Legends of Friendship, Justice, and Courtesy.
At the height of his fame, happiness, and prosperity, Spenser returned for the last time to Ireland in 1597, and was recommended by the queen for the office of Sheriff of Cork. Surrounded by his beloved wife and children, his domestic life was serene and happy, but in gloomy contrast his public life was stormy and full of anxiety and danger. He was the acknowledged prince of living poets, and was planning the completion of his mighty epic of the private virtues in twelve books, to be followed by twelve more on the civic virtues. The native Irish had steadily withstood his claim to the estate, and continually harassed him with lawsuits. They detested their foreign oppressors and awaited a favorable opportunity to rise. Discord and riot increased on all sides. The ever growing murmurs of discontent gave place to cries for vengeance and unrepressed acts of hostility. Finally, in the fall of 1598, there occurred a fearful uprising known as Tyrone's Rebellion, in which the outraged peasants fiercely attacked the castle, plundering and burning. Spenser and his family barely escaped with their lives. According to one old tradition, an infant child was left behind in the hurried flight and perished in the flames; but this has been shown to be but one of the wild rumors repeated to exaggerate the horror of the uprising. Long after Spenser's death, it was also rumored that the last six books of the Faerie Queene had been lost in the flight; but the story is now utterly discredited.
Spenser once more arrived in London, but he was now in dire distress and prostrated by the hardships which he had suffered. There on January 16, 1599, at a tavern in King Street, Westminster, the great poet died broken-hearted and in poverty. Drummond of Hawthornden states that Ben Jonson told him that Spenser "died for lack of bread in King Street, and refused 20 pieces sent to him by my Lord of Essex, and said He was sorrie he had no time to spend them." The story is probably a bit of exaggerated gossip. He was buried close to the tomb of Chaucer in the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, his fellow-poets bearing the pall, and the Earl of Essex defraying the expenses of the funeral. Referring to the death of Spenser's great contemporary, Basse wrote:—
"Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh To learned Chaucer, and rare Beaumont, lie A little nearer Spenser, to make room For Shakespeare in your threefold, fourfold tomb."
"Thus," says Mr. Stopford Brooke, appropriately, "London, 'his most kindly nurse,' takes care also of his dust, and England keeps him in her love."
Spenser's influence on English poetry can hardly be overestimated. Keats called him "the poets' poet," a title which has been universally approved. "He is the poet of all others," says Mr. Saintsbury, "for those who seek in poetry only poetical qualities." His work has appealed most strongly to those who have been poets themselves, for with him the poetical attraction is supreme. Many of the greatest poets have delighted to call him master, and have shown him the same loving reverence which he gave to Chaucer. Minor poets like Sidney, Drayton, and Daniel paid tribute to his inspiration; Milton was deeply indebted to him, especially in Lycidas; and many of the pensive poets of the seventeenth century show traces of his influence. "Spenser delighted Shakespeare," says Mr. Church; "he was the poetical master of Cowley, and then of Milton, and in a sense of Dryden, and even Pope." Giles and Phineas Fletcher, William Browne, Sir William Alexander, Shenstone, Collins, Cowley, Gray, and James Thomson were all direct followers of Spenser. His influence upon the poets of the romantic revival of the nineteenth century is even more marked. "Spenser begot Keats," says Mr. Saintsbury, "and Keats begot Tennyson, and Tennyson begot all the rest." Among this notable company of disciples should be mentioned especially Rossetti, Morris, and Swinburne. If we include within the sphere of Spenser's influence also those who have made use of the stanza which he invented, we must add the names of Burns, Shelley, Byron, Beattie, Campbell, Scott, and Wordsworth. When we consider the large number of poets in whom Spenser awakened the poetic gift, or those to whose powers he gave direction, we may safely pronounce him the most seminal poet in the language.
III. STUDY OF THE FAERIE QUEENE
1. A ROMANTIC EPIC.—The Faerie Queene is the most perfect type which we have in English of the purely romantic poem. Four elements enter into its composition: "it is pastoral by association, chivalrous by temper, ethical by tendency, and allegorical by treatment" (Renton). Its subject was taken from the old cycle of Arthurian legends, which were brightened with the terrorless magic of Ariosto and Tasso. The scene of the adventures is laid in the enchanted forests and castles of the far away and unreal fairyland of mediaeval chivalry, and the incidents themselves are either highly improbable or frankly impossible. The language is frequently archaic and designedly unfamiliar. Much of the machinery and properties used in carrying on the story, such as speaking myrtles, magic mirrors, swords, rings, impenetrable armor, and healing fountains, is supernatural. All the characters—the knights, ladies, dwarfs, magicians, dragons, nymphs, satyrs, and giants—are the conventional figures of pastoral romance.
The framework of the plot of the Faerie Queene is vast and loosely put together. There are six main stories, or legends, and each contains several digressions and involved episodes. The plan of the entire work, which the author only half completed, is outlined in his letter to Sir Walter Raleigh. This letter serves as an admirable introduction to the poem, and should be read attentively by the student. Gloriana, the Queen of Fairyland, holds at her court a solemn feudal festival, lasting twelve days, during which she sends forth twelve of her greatest knights on as many separate adventures. The knights are commissioned to champion the cause of persons in distress and redress their wrongs. The ideal knight, Prince Arthur, is the central male figure of the poem. He is enamoured of Gloriana, having seen her in a wondrous vision, and is represented as journeying in quest of her. He appears in all of the legends at opportune moments to succor the knights when they are hard beset or in the power of their enemies. The six extant books contain respectively the legends of (I) the Knight of the Redcrosse, or Holiness, (II) Sir Guyon, the Knight of Temperance, (III) Britomart, the female Knight of Chastity, (IV) Sir Campbell and Sir Triamond, the Knights of Friendship, (V) Sir Artegall, the Knight of Justice, and (VI) Sir Caledore, the Knight of Courtesy. Book I is an allegory of man's relation to God, Book II, of man's relation to himself, Books III, IV, V, and VI, of man's relation to his fellow-man. Prince Arthur, the personification of Magnificence, by which Spenser means Magnanimity (Aristotle's [Greek: megalopsychia]), is the ideal of a perfect character, in which all the private virtues are united. It is a poem of culture, inculcating the moral ideals of Aristotle and the teachings of Christianity.
2. INFLUENCE OF THE NEW LEARNING.—Like Milton, Gray, and other English poets, Spenser was a scholar familiar with the best in ancient and modern literature. As to Spenser's specific indebtedness, though he owed much in incident and diction to Chaucer's version of the Romance of the Rose and to Malory's Morte d'Arthur, the great epic poets, Tasso and Ariosto, should be given first place. The resemblance of passages in the Faerie Queene to others in the Orlando Furioso and the Jerusalem Delivered is so striking that some have accused the English poet of paraphrasing and slavishly borrowing from the two Italians. Many of these parallels are pointed out in the notes. To this criticism, Mr. Saintsbury remarks: "Not, perhaps, till the Orlando has been carefully read, and read in the original, is Spenser's real greatness understood. He has often, and evidently of purpose, challenged comparison; but in every instance it will be found that his beauties are emphatically his own. He has followed Ariosto only as Vergil has followed Homer, and much less slavishly."
The influence of the New Learning is clearly evident in Spenser's use of classical mythology. Greek myths are placed side by side with Christian imagery and legends. Like Dante, the poet did not consider the Hellenic doctrine of sensuous beauty to be antagonistic to the truths of religion. There is sometimes an incongruous confusion of classicism and mediaevalism, as when a magician is seen in the house of Morpheus, and a sorcerer goes to the realm of Pluto. Spenser was guided by a higher and truer sense of beauty than the classical purists know.
A very attractive element of his classicism is his worship of beauty. The Greek conception of beauty included two forms—the sensuous and the spiritual. So richly colored and voluptuous are his descriptions that he has been called the painters' poet, "the Rubens," and "the Raphael of the poets." As with Plato, Spenser's idea of the spiritually beautiful includes the true and the good. Sensuous beauty is seen in the forms of external nature, like the morning mist and sunshine, the rose gardens, the green elders, and the quiet streams. His ideal of perfect sensuous and spiritual beauty combined is found in womanhood. Such a one is Una, the dream of the poet's young manhood, and we recognize in her one whose soul is as fair as her face—an idealized type of a woman in real life who calls forth all our love and reverence.
3. INTERPRETATION OF THE ALLEGORY.—In the sixteenth century it was the opinion of Puritan England that every literary masterpiece should not only give entertainment, but should also teach some moral or spiritual lesson. "No one," says Mr. Patee, "after reading Spenser's letter to Raleigh, can wander far into Spenser's poem without the conviction that the author's central purpose was didactic, almost as much as was Bunyan's in Pilgrim's Progress." Milton doubtless had this feature of the Faerie Queene in mind when he wrote in Il Penseroso:—
"And if aught else great bards beside In sage and solemn tunes have sung Of turneys, and of trophies hung, Of forests and enchantments drear, Where more is meant than meets the ear."
That the allegory of the poem is closely connected with its aim and ethical tendency is evident from the statement of the author that "the generall end therefore of all the booke is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline. Which for that I conceived should be most plausible and pleasing, being coloured with an historical fiction, the which the most part of men delight to read, rather for varietie of matter then for profite of the ensample." The Faerie Queene is, therefore, according to the avowed purpose of its author, a poem of culture. Though it is one of the most highly artistic works in the language, it is at the same time one of the most didactic. "It professes," says Mr. Church, "to be a veiled exposition of moral philosophy."
The allegory is threefold,—moral, religious, and personal.
(a) Moral Allegory.—The characters all represent various virtues and vices, whose intrigues and warfare against each other symbolize the struggle of the human soul after perfection. The Redcross Knight, for example, personifies the single private virtue of holiness, while Prince Arthur stands for that perfect manhood which combines all the moral qualities; Una represents abstract truth, while Gloriana symbolizes the union of all the virtues in perfect womanhood.
(b) Religious or Spiritual Allegory.—Under this interpretation the Redcross Knight is a personification of Protestant England, or the church militant, while Una represents the true religion of the Reformed Church. On the other hand, Archimago symbolizes the deceptions of the Jesuits and Duessa the false Church of Rome masquerading as true religion.
(c) Personal and Political Allegory.—Here we find a concrete presentation of many of Spenser's chief contemporaries. One of Spenser's prime objects in composing his epic was to please certain powerful persons at court, and above all to win praise and patronage from the vain and flattery loving queen, whom he celebrates as Gloriana. Prince Arthur is a character that similarly pays homage to Lord Leicester. In the Redcross Knight he compliments, no doubt, some gentleman like Sir Philip Sidney or Sir Walter Raleigh, as if he were a second St. George, the patron saint of England, while in Una we may see idealized some fair lady of the court. In Archimago he satirizes the odious King Philip II of Spain, and in false Duessa the fascinating intriguer, Mary Queen of Scots, who was undeserving so hard a blow.
KEY TO THE ALLEGORY IN BOOK I
Characters Moral Religious and Personal and Spirtual Political
Redcross Knight Holiness Reformed England St George
Una Truth True Religion
Prince Arthur Magnificence, or Protestantism, or Lord Leicester Private Virtue the Church Militant
Gloriana Glory Spirtual Beauty Queen Elizabeth
Archimago Hypocrisy The Jesuits Phillip II of Spain
Duessa Falsehood False Religion Mary Queen of Scots, Church of Rome
Orgoglio Carnal Pride Antichrist Pope Sixtus V
The Lion Reason, Reformation by Force Henry VIII, Natural Honor Civil Government
The Dragon Sin The Devil, Satan Rome and Spain
Sir Satyrane Natural Courage Law and Order Sir John Perrott in Ireland
The Monster Avarice Greed of Romanism Romish Priesthood
Corceca Blind Devotion, Catholic Penance Irish Nuns Superstition
Abessa Flagrant Sin Immorality Irish Nuns
Kirkrapine Church Robbery Religious State Irish Clergy of Ireland and Laity
Sansjoy Joylessness Pagan Religion The Sultan and the Saracens
The Dwarf Prudence, Common Sense
Sir Trevisan Fear
The Squire Purity The Anglican Clergy
The Horn Truth The English Bible
Lucifera Pride, Vanity Woman of Babylon Church of Rome
4. THE SPENSERIAN STANZA.—The Faerie Queene is written in the Spenserian Stanza, a form which the poet himself invented as a suitable vehicle for a long narrative poem. Suggestions for its construction were taken from three Italian metres—the Ottava Rima, the Terza Rima, the Sonnet—and the Ballade stanza. There are eight lines in the iambic pentameter measure (five accents); e.g.—
v -/- v -/- v -/- v -/- v -/- a gen tle knight was prick ing on the plaine followed by one iambic hexameter, or Alexandrine (six accents); e.g.
v -/- v -/- v -/- v -/- v -/- v -/- as one for knight ly giusts and fierce encount ers fitt The rhymes are arranged in the following order: ab ab bc bcc. It will be observed that the two quatrains are bound together by the first two b rhymes, and the Alexandrine, which rhymes with the eighth line, draws out the harmony with a peculiar lingering effect. In scanning and reading it is necessary to observe the laws of accentuation and pronunciation prevailing in Spenser's day; e.g. in learned (I, i), undeserved (I, ii), and woundes (V, xvii) the final syllable is sounded, patience (X, xxix) is trisyllabic, devotion (X, xl) is four syllables, and entertainment (X, xxxvii) is accented on the second and fourth syllables. Frequently there is in the line a caesural pause, which may occur anywhere; e.g.
"And quite dismembred hath; the thirsty land Dronke up his life; his corse left on the strand." (III, xx.)
The rhythm of the meter is also varied by the alternating of end-stopped and run-on lines, as in the last quotation. An end-stopped line has a pause at the end, usually indicated by some mark of punctuation. A run-on line should be read closely with the following line with only a slight pause to indicate the line-unit. Monotony is prevented by the occasional use of a light or feminine ending—a syllable on which the voice does not or cannot rest; e.g.—
"Then choosing out few words most horrible." (I, xxxvii.) "That for his love refused deity." (III, xxi.) "His ship far come from watrie wilderness." (III, xxxii.)
The use of alliteration, i.e. having several words in a line beginning with the same letter, is another device frequently employed by Spenser for musical effect; e.g.—
"In which that wicked wight his dayes doth weare." (I, xxxvi.) "Sweet slombring deaw, the which to sleep them biddes." (I, xxxvi.)
5. VERSIFICATION.—In the handling of his stanza, Spenser revealed a harmony, sweetness, and color never before dreamed of in the English. Its compass, which admitted of an almost endless variety of cadence, harmonized well with the necessity for continuous narration. It appeals to the eye as well as to the ear, with its now languid, now vigorous, but always graceful turn of phrase. Its movement has been compared to the smooth, steady, irresistible sweep of water in a mighty river. Like Lyly, Marlowe, and Shakespeare, Spenser felt the new delight in the pictorial and musical qualities of words, and invented new melodies and word pictures. He aimed rather at finish, exactness, and fastidious neatness than at ease, freedom, and irregularity; and if his versification has any fault, it is that of monotony. The atmosphere is always perfectly adapted to the theme.
6. DICTION AND STYLE.—The peculiar diction of the Faerie Queene should receive the careful attention of the student. As a romantic poet, Spenser often preferred archaic and semi-obsolete language to more modern forms. He uses four classes of words that were recognized as the proper and conventional language of pastoral and romantic poetry; viz. (a) archaisms, (b) dialect, (c) classicisms, and (d) gallicisms. He did not hesitate to adopt from Chaucer many obsolete words and grammatical forms. Examples are: the double negative with ne; eyen, lenger, doen, ycladd, harrowd, purchas, raught, seely, stowre, swinge, owch, and withouten. He also employs many old words from Layamon, Wiclif, and Langland, like swelt, younglings, noye, kest, hurtle, and loft. His dialectic forms are taken from the vernacular of the North Lancashire folk with which he was familiar. Some are still a part of the spoken language of that region, such as, brent, cruddled, forswat, fearen, forray, pight, sithen, carle, and carke.
Examples of his use of classical constructions are: the ablative absolute, as, which doen (IV, xliii); the relative construction with when, as, which when (I, xvii), that when (VII, xi); the comparative of the adjective in the sense of "too," as, weaker (I, xlv), harder (II, xxxvi); the participial construction after till, as, till further tryall made (I, xii); the superlative of location, as, middest (IV, xv); and the old gerundive, as, wandering wood (I, xiii). Most of the gallicisms found are anglicized loan words from the French romans d'aventure, such as, disseized, cheare, chappell, assoiled, guerdon, palfrey, recreaunt, trenchand, syre, and trusse. Notwithstanding Spenser's use of foreign words and constructions, his language is as thoroughly English in its idiom as that of any of our great poets.
"I think that if he had not been a great poet," says Leigh Hunt, "he would have been a great painter."
"After reading," says Pope, "a canto of Spenser two or three days ago to an old lady, between seventy and eighty years of age, she said that I had been showing her a gallery of pictures. I do not know how it is, but she said very right. There is something in Spenser that pleases one as strongly in old age as it did in youth. I read the Faerie Queene when I was about twelve, with infinite delight; and I think it gave me as much, when I read it over about a year or two ago."
The imperishable charm of the poem lies in its appeal to the pure sense of beauty. "A beautiful pagan dream," says Taine, "carries on a beautiful dream of chivalry." The reader hears in its lines a stately and undulating rhythm that intoxicates the ear and carries him on with an irresistible fascination, he sees the unsubstantial forms of fairyland go sweeping by in a gorgeous and dreamlike pageantry, and he feels pulsing in its luxuriant and enchanted atmosphere the warm and beauty-loving temper of the Italian Renaissance. "Spenser is superior to his subject," says Taine, "comprehends it fully, frames it with a view to the end, in order to impress upon it the proper mark of his soul and his genius. Each story is modified with respect to another, and all with respect to a certain effect which is being worked out. Thus a beauty issues from this harmony,—the beauty in the poet's heart,—which his whole work strives to express; a noble and yet a laughing beauty, made up of moral elevation and sensuous seductions, English in sentiment, Italian in externals, chivalric in subject, modern in its perfection, representing a unique and admirable epoch, the appearance of paganism in a Christian race, and the worship of form by an imagination of the North."
EVENTS IN SPENSER'S LIFE A.D. CONTEMPORARY EVENTS
Birth of Edmund Spenser (about) 1552 Birth of Sir Walter Raleigh 1553 Death of Edward VI; Mary crowned. 1554 Mary marries Philip of Spain. 1558 Death of Mary; Elizabeth crowned. 1560 Charles IX, king of France. 1568 Council of Trent. Visions of Bellay, published, 1569 Sonnets of Petrarch, published, 1569 Enters Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, 1569 1572 Gregory XIII, Pope of Rome. 1572 Massacre of St. Batholomew. 1574 Henry III, king of France. Received M.A., leaves Cambridge, 1576 Rudolph II, emperor. Leaves Lancashire, 1578 Elizabeth aids the Netherlands. Visits Lord Leicester, 1579 The Shepheards Calender, 1579 Goes to Ireland, 1580 Massacre of Smerwick. 1581 Tasso's Jersalem Delivered. Lord Grey's return to England, 1582 1584 Assassination of William the Silent. 1585 Sixtus V, Pope. Drake's voyage. 1585 Leicester goes to the Netherlands. 1586 Death of Sir Philip Sidney. First marriage (before) 1587 Execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Clerk to the Council of Munster, 1588 Defeat of Spanish Armada. Death of Leicester. Visits England with Raleigh, 1589 Assassination of Henry III; Henry IV crowned. The Faerie Queene, Books I, 1590 Shakespeare's Love's II, III, Labour's Lost. Mother Hubberds Tale, Tears of 1591 Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, the Muses, Ruines of Time, Henry VI. Daphnaida, The Visions 1591 Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, trans. 1593 Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. 1593 Richard III. Second marriage, 1594 Shakespeare's Richard II. Colin Clout's Come Home Again, 1595 Shakespeare's King John. Amoretti, Epithalamion, Hymns 1595 Johnston's Seven Champions of Christendom. Astrophel, Prothalamion, 1596 Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. The Faerie Queene, Books I-VI 1596 Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour. Vision of the Present State of 1598 Edict of Nantes, Ireland Philip III crowned. Death of Spenser, 1599 Revolt of Irish. Expedition of Essex to Ireland.
* * * * *
THE FAERIE QUEENE
* * * * *
LETTER TO SIR WALTER RALEIGH
A LETTER of the Authors expounding his whole intention in the course of this worke; which, for that it giveth great light to the reader, for the better understanding is hereunto annexed.
TO THE RIGHT NOBLE AND VALOROUS
SIR WALTER RALEIGH, KNIGHT.
Lo: Wardein of the Stanneries, and her majesties lieutenaunt of the countie of Cornewayll.
Knowing how doubtfully all Allegories may be constructed, and this booke of mine, which I have entituled The Faery Queene, being a continued Allegorie, or darke conceit, I have thought good, as well for avoyding of jealous opinions and misconstructions, as also for your better light in reading thereof, (being so, by you commanded) to discover unto you the generall intention and meaning, which in the whole course thereof I have fashioned, without expressing of any particular purposes, or by-accidents therein occasioned. The generall end therefore of all the booke, is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline. Which for that I conceived shoulde be most plausible and pleasing, beeing coloured with an historicall fiction, the which the most part of men delight to read, rather for varietie of matter than for profit of the ensample: I chose the historie of king Arthure, as most fit for the excellencie of his person, beeing made famous by many mens former workes, and also furthest from the danger of envie, and suspicion of present time. In which I have followed all the antique poets historicall: first Homer, who in the persons of Agamemnon and Ulysses hath ensampled a good governour and a vertuous man, the one in his Ilias, the other in his Odysseis: then Virgil, whose like intention was to doe in the person of Aeneas: after him Ariosto comprised them both in his Orlando: and lately Tasso dissevered them againe, and formed both parts in two persons, namely, that part which they in philosophy call Ethice, or vertues of a private man, coloured in his Rinaldo: the other named Politice, in his Godfredo. By ensample of which excellent Poets, I laboure to pourtraict in Arthure, before he was king, the image of a brave knight, perfected in the twelve private morall vertues, as Aristotle hath devised: which if I find to be well accepted, I may be perhaps encoraged to frame the other part of pollitike vertues in his person, after he came to bee king.
To some I know this Methode will seem displeasant, which had rather have good discipline delivered plainly in way of precepts, or sermoned at large, as they use, then thus clowdily enwrapped in Allegoricall devises. But such, mee seeme, should be satisfied with the use of these dayes, seeing all things accounted by their showes, and nothing esteemed of, that is not delightfull and pleasing to common sense. For this cause is Xenophon preferred before Plato, for that the one, in the exquisite depth of his judgement, formed a Commune-wealth, such as it should be; but the other, in the person of Cyrus and the Persians, fashioned a government, such as might best be: So much more profitable and gracious is doctrine by ensample then by rule. So have I laboured to do in the person of Arthure: whom I conceive, after his long education by Timon (to whom he was by Merlin delivered to be brought up, so soone as he was borne of the Lady Igrayne) to have seen in a dreame or vision the Faerie Queene, with whose excellent beautie ravished, hee awaking, resolved to seek her out: and so, being by Merlin armed, and by Timon throughly instructed, he went to seeke her forth in Faery land. In that Faery Queene I mean Glory in my generall intention: but in my particular I conceive the most excellent and glorious person of our soveraine the Queene, and her kingdome in Faery land. And yet, in some places else, I doe otherwise shadow her. For considering shee beareth two persons, the one of a most royall Queene or Empresse, the other of a most vertuous and beautifull lady, this latter part in some places I doe expresse in Belphoebe, fashioning her name according to your owne excellent conceipt of Cynthia, (Phoebe and Cynthia being both names of Diana). So in the person of Prince Arthure I sette forth magnificence in particular, which vertue, for that (according to Aristotle and the rest) it is the perfection of all the rest, and containeth in it them all, therefore in the whole course I mention the deeds of Arthure appliable to the vertue, which I write of in that booke. But of the twelve other vertues I make XII other knights the patrons, for the more varietie of the historic: Of which these three bookes containe three. The first, of the Knight of the Red crosse, in whom I expresse Holinesse: the second of Sir Guyon, in whome I set foorth Temperance: the third of Britomartis, a Lady knight, in whom I picture Chastitie. But because the beginning of the whole worke seemeth abrupt and as depending upon other antecedents, it needs that yee know the occasion of these three knights severall adventures. For the Methode of a Poet historicall is not such as of an Historiographer. For an Historiographer discourseth of affaires orderly as they were done, accounting as well the times as the actions; but a Poet thrusteth into the middest, even where it most concerneth him, and there recoursing to the things forepast, and divining of things to come, maketh a pleasing analysis of all. The beginning therefore of my historie, if it were to be told by an Historiographer, should be the twelfth booke, which is the last; where I devise that the Faery Queene kept her annuall feast twelve daies; uppon which twelve severall dayes, the occasions of the twelve severall adventures hapned, which being undertaken by XII severall knights, are in these twelve books severally handled and discoursed.
The first was this. In the beginning of the feast, there presented him selfe a tall clownish younge man, who falling before the Queene of Faeries desired a boone (as the manner then was) which during that feast she might not refuse: which was that hee might have the atchievement of any adventure, which during that feast should happen; that being granted, he rested him selfe on the fioore, unfit through his rusticitie for a better place. Soone after entred a faire Ladie in mourning weedes, riding on a white Asse, with a dwarfe behind her leading a warlike steed, that bore the Armes of a knight, and his speare in the dwarfes hand. She falling before the Queene of Faeries, complayned that her father and mother, an ancient King and Queene, had bene by an huge dragon many yeers shut up in a brazen Castle, who thence suffered them not to issew: and therefore besought the Faery Queene to assigne her some one of her knights to take on him that exployt. Presently that clownish person upstarting, desired that adventure; whereat the Queene much wondering, and the Lady much gaine-saying, yet he earnestly importuned his desire. In the end the Lady told him, that unlesse that armour which she brought would serve him (that is, the armour of a Christian man specified by Saint Paul, V. Ephes.) that he could not succeed in that enterprise: which being forth with put upon him with due furnitures thereunto, he seemed the goodliest man in al that company, and was well liked of the Lady. And eftesoones taking on him knighthood, and mounting on that straunge Courser, he went forth with her on that adventure: where beginneth the first booke, viz.
A gentle knight was pricking on the playne, etc.
The second day there came in a Palmer bearing an Infant with bloody hands, whose Parents he complained to have bene slaine by an enchauntresse called Acrasia: and therefore craved of the Faery Queene, to appoint him some knight to performe that adventure, which being assigned to Sir Guyon, he presently went foorth with the same Palmer: which is the beginning of the second booke and the whole subject thereof. The third day there came in a Groome, who complained before the Faery Queene, that a vile Enchaunter, called Busirane, had in hand a most faire Lady, called Amoretta, whom he kept in most grevious torment. Whereupon Sir Scudamour, the lover of that Lady, presently tooke on him that adventure. But beeing unable to performe it by reason of the hard Enchauntments, after long sorrow, in the end met with Britomartis, who succoured him, and reskewed his love.
But by occasion hereof, many other adventures are intermedled; but rather as accidents then intendments. As the love of Britomart, the overthrow of Marinell, the miserie of Florimell, the vertuousness of Belphoebe; and many the like.
Thus much, Sir, I have briefly-over-run to direct your understanding to the wel-head of the History, that from thence gathering the whole intention of the conceit, ye may as in a handfull gripe all the discourse, which otherwise may happely seem tedious and confused. So humbly craving the continuance of your honourable favour towards me, and th' eternall establishment of your happines, I humbly take leave.
Yours most humbly affectionate,
23 Januarie, 1589.
 The letter served as an introduction to the first three books of the Faerie Queene.
 An allusion to Sir Walter Raleigh's poem Cynthia.
* * * * *
To the Right Noble and Valorous Knight,
SIR WALTER RALEIGH,
Lord Wardein of the Stanneryes, and Lieftenaunt of Cornewaile,
To thee that art the sommers Nightingale, Thy soveraigne Goddesses most deare delight, Why doe I send this rustick Madrigale, That may thy tunefull eare unseason quite? Thou onely fit this argument to write In whose high thoughts Pleasure hath built her bowre, And dainty Love learnd sweetly to endite. My rimes I know unsavory and sowre, To taste the streames, that, like a golden showre, Flow from thy fruitfull head, of thy Loves praise; Fitter perhaps to thunder martiall stowre, When so thee list thy loftie Muse to raise: Yet, till that thou thy poeme wilt make knowne, Let thy faire Cinthias praises be thus rudely showne.
* * * * *
TO THE MOST HIGH, MIGHTIE, AND MAGNIFICENT EMPERESSE RENOWNED FOR PIETIE, VERTVE, AND ALL GRATIOVS GOVERNMENT
BY THE GRACE OF GOD Queen of England, Fraunce and Ireland, and of Virginia, Defender of the Faith etc.
HER MOST HUMBLE SERVAUNT EDMVND SPENSER DOTH IN ALL HUMILITIE DEDICATE, PRESENT, AND CONSECRATE THESE HIS LABOVRS TO LIVE WITH THE ETERNITIE OF HER FAME.
* * * * *
THE FIRST BOOKE OF THE FAERIE QUEENE
THE LEGENDE OF THE KNIGHT OF THE RED CROSSE, OR OF HOLINESSE
* * * * * I
Lo I the man,[*] whose Muse whilome did maske, As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds, Am now enforst a far unfitter taske, For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds, And sing of Knights and Ladies[*] gentle deeds; 5 Whose prayses having slept in silence long, Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds To blazon broade emongst her learned throng: Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song.
Helpe then, O holy Virgin chiefe of nine,[*] 10 Thy weaker Novice to performe thy will; Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still, Of Faerie knights[*] and fairest Tanaquill,[*] Whom that most noble Briton Prince[*] so long 15 Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill, That I must rue his undeserved wrong: O helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong.
And thou most dreaded impe of highest Jove,[*] Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart 20 At that good knight so cunningly didst rove, That glorious fire it kindled in his hart, Lay now thy deadly Heben bow apart, And with thy mother milde come to mine ayde; Come both, and with you bring triumphant Mart,[*] 25 In loves and gentle jollities arrayd, After his murdrous spoiles and bloudy rage allayd.
And with them eke, O Goddesse heavenly bright,[*] Mirrour of grace and Majestie divine, Great Lady of the greatest Isle, whose light 30 Like Phoebus lampe[*] throughout the world doth shine, Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne, And raise my thoughts, too humble and too vile, To thinke of that true glorious type of thine,[*] The argument of mine afflicted stile:[*] 35 The which to heare, vouchsafe, O dearest dred,[*] a-while.
* * * * *
The Patron of true Holinesse foule Errour doth defeate; Hypocrisie him to entrappe doth to his home entreate.
A GENTLE Knight[*] was pricking on the plaine, Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde, Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine, The cruel markes of many'a bloudy fielde; Yet armes till that time did he never wield: 5 His angry steede did chide his foming bitt, As much disdayning to the curbe to yield: Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt, As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.
And on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore, 10 The deare remembrance of his dying Lord, For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore, And dead as living ever him ador'd: Upon his shield the like was also scor'd, For soveraine hope,[*] which in his helpe he had: 15 Right faithfull true he was in deede and word, But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad; Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.
Upon a great adventure he was bond, That greatest Gloriana[*] to him gave, 20 That greatest Glorious Queene of Faerie lond, To winne him worship, and her grace to have, Which of all earthly things he most did crave; And ever as he rode, his hart did earne To prove his puissance in battell brave 25 Upon his foe, and his new force to learne; Upon his foe, a Dragon[*] horrible and stearne.
A lovely Ladie[*] rode him faire beside, Upon a lowly Asse more white then snow, Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide 30 Under a vele, that wimpled was full low, And over all a blacke stole she did throw, As one that inly mournd: so was she sad, And heavie sat upon her palfrey slow; Seemed in heart some hidden care she had, 35 And by her in a line a milke white lambe she lad.
So pure and innocent, as that same lambe, She was in life and every vertuous lore, And by descent from Royall lynage came Of ancient Kings and Queenes, that had of yore 40 Their scepters stretcht from East to Westerne shore, And all the world in their subjection held; Till that infernall feend with foule uprore Forwasted all their land, and them expeld: Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld. 45
Behind her farre away a Dwarfe[*] did lag, That lasie seemd in being ever last, Or wearied with bearing of her bag Of needments at his backe. Thus as they past, The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast, 50 And angry Jove an hideous storme of raine Did poure into his Lemans lap so fast, That everie wight to shrowd it did constrain, And this faire couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.
Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand, 55 A shadie grove[*] not far away they spide, That promist ayde the tempest to withstand: Whose loftie trees yclad with sommers pride Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide, Not perceable with power of any starre: 60 And all within were pathes and alleies wide, With footing worne, and leading inward farre: Faire harbour that them seemes; so in they entred arre.
And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led, Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony, 65 Which therein shrouded from the tempest dred, Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky. Much can they prayse the trees so straight and hy, The sayling Pine,[*] the Cedar proud and tall, The vine-prop Elme, the Poplar never dry,[*] 70 The builder Oake,[*] sole king of forrests all, The Aspine good for staves, the Cypresse funerall.[*]
The Laurell,[*] meed of mightie Conquerours And Poets sage, the firre that weepeth still,[*] The Willow[*] worne of forlorne Paramours, 75 The Eugh[*] obedient to the benders will, The Birch for shaftes, the Sallow for the mill, The Mirrhe[*] sweete bleeding in the bitter wound, The warlike Beech,[*] the Ash for nothing ill,[*] The fruitfull Olive, and the Platane round, 80 The carver Holme,[*] the Maple seeldom inward sound.
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way, Untill the blustring storme is overblowne; When weening to returne, whence they did stray, They cannot finde that path, which first was showne, 85 But wander too and fro in wayes unknowne, Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene, That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne: So many pathes, so many turnings seene, That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been. 90
At last resolving forward still to fare, Till that some end they finde or in or out, That path they take, that beaten seemd most bare, And like to lead the labyrinth about; Which when by tract they hunted had throughout, 95 At length it brought them to a hollow cave Amid the thickest woods. The Champion stout Eftsoones dismounted from his courser brave, And to the Dwarfe awhile his needlesse spere he gave.
Be well aware, quoth then that Ladie milde, 100 Least suddaine mischiefe ye too rash provoke: The danger hid, the place unknowne and wilde, Breedes dreadfull doubts: Oft fire is without smoke, And perill without show: therefore your stroke, Sir Knight, with-hold, till further triall made. 105 Ah Ladie, (said he) shame were to revoke[*] The forward footing for an hidden shade: Vertue gives her selfe light, through darkenesse for to wade.
Yea but (quoth she) the perill of this place I better wot then you, though now too late 110 To wish you backe returne with foule disgrace, Yet wisedome warnes, whilest foot is in the gate, To stay the steppe, ere forced to retrate. This is the wandring wood,[*] this Errours den, A monster vile, whom God and man does hate: 115 Therefore I read beware. Fly fly (quoth then The fearefull Dwarfe) this is no place for living men.
But full of fire and greedy hardiment, The youthfull knight could not for ought be staide, But forth unto the darksome hole he went, 120 And looked in: his glistring armor made A litle glooming light, much like a shade, By which he saw the ugly monster[*] plaine, Halfe like a serpent horribly displaide, But th'other halfe did womans shape retaine, 125 Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.[*]
And as she lay upon the durtie ground, Her huge long taile her den all overspred, Yet was in knots and many boughtes upwound, Pointed with mortall sting. Of her there bred[*] 130 A thousand yong ones, which she dayly fed, Sucking upon her poisnous dugs, eachone Of sundry shapes, yet all ill favored: Soone as that uncouth light upon them shone, Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all were gone. 135
Their dam upstart, out of her den effraide, And rushed forth, hurling her hideous taile About her cursed head, whose folds displaid Were stretcht now forth at length without entraile. She lookt about, and seeing one in mayle 140 Armed to point,[*] sought backe to turne againe; For light she hated as the deadly bale, Ay wont in desert darknesse to remaine, Where plain none might her see, nor she see any plaine.
Which when the valiant Elfe[*] perceiv'd, he lept 145 As Lyon fierce upon the flying pray, And with his trenchand blade her boldly kept From turning backe, and forced her to stay: Therewith enrag'd she loudly gan to bray, And turning fierce, her speckled taile advaunst, 150 Threatning her angry sting, him to dismay: Who nought aghast his mightie hand enhaunst: The stroke down from her head unto her shoulder glaunst.
Much daunted with that dint, her sence was dazd, Yet kindling rage, her selfe she gathered round, 155 And all attonce her beastly body raizd With doubled forces high above the ground: Tho wrapping up her wrethed sterne arownd, Lept fierce upon his shield, and her huge traine All suddenly about his body wound, 160 That hand or foot to stirre he strove in vaine: God helpe the man so wrapt in Errours endlesse traine.
His Lady sad to see his sore constraint, Cride out, Now now Sir knight, shew what ye bee, Add faith unto your force, and be not faint: 165 Strangle her, else she sure will strangle thee. That when he heard, in great perplexitie, His gall did grate for griefe[*] and high disdaine, And knitting all his force got one hand free, Wherewith he grypt her gorge with so great paine, 170 That soone to loose her wicked bands did her constraine.
Therewith she spewd out of her filthy maw A floud of poyson horrible and blacke, Full of great lumpes of flesh and gobbets raw, Which stunck so vildly, that it forst him slacke 175 His grasping hold, and from her turne him backe: Her vomit full of bookes[*] and papers was, With loathly frogs and toades, which eyes did lacke, And creeping sought way in the weedy gras: Her filthy parbreake all the place defiled has. 180
As when old father Nilus[*] gins to swell With timely pride above the Aegyptian vale, His fattie waves do fertile slime outwell, And overflow each plaine and lowly dale: But when his later spring gins to avale, 185 Huge heapes of mudd he leaves, wherein there breed Ten thousand kindes of creatures, partly male And partly female of his fruitful seed; Such ugly monstrous shapes elswhere may no man reed.
The same so sore annoyed has the knight, 190 That welnigh choked with the deadly stinke, His forces faile, ne can no lenger fight. Whose corage when the feend perceiv'd to shrinke, She poured forth out of her hellish sinke Her fruitfull cursed spawne of serpents small, 195 Deformed monsters, fowle, and blacke as inke, With swarming all about his legs did crall, And him encombred sore, but could not hurt at all.
As gentle Shepheard[*] in sweete even-tide, When ruddy Phoebus gins to welke in west, 200 High on an hill, his flocke to vewen wide, Markes which do byte their hasty supper best, A cloud of combrous gnattes do him molest, All striving to infixe their feeble stings, That from their noyance he no where can rest, 205 But with his clownish hands their tender wings He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their murmurings.
Thus ill bestedd,[*] and fearefull more of shame, Then of the certeine perill he stood in, Halfe furious unto his foe he came, 210 Resolv'd in minde all suddenly to win, Or soone to lose, before he once would lin And strooke at her with more then manly force, That from her body full of filthie sin He raft her hatefull head without remorse; 215 A streame of cole black bloud forth gushed from her corse.
Her scattred brood,[*] soone as their Parent deare They saw so rudely falling to the ground, Groning full deadly, all with troublous feare, Gathred themselves about her body round, 220 Weening their wonted entrance to have found At her wide mouth: but being there withstood They flocked all about her bleeding wound, And sucked up their dying mothers blood, Making her death their life, and eke her hurt their good. 225
That detestable sight him much amazde, To see th' unkindly Impes, of heaven accurst, Devoure their dam; on whom while so he gazd, Having all satisfide their bloudy thurst, Their bellies swolne he saw with fulnesse burst, 230 And bowels gushing forth: well worthy end Of such as drunke her life, the which them nurst;[*] Now needeth him no lenger labour spend, His foes have slaine themselves, with whom he should contend.[*]
His Ladie seeing all that chaunst, from farre 235 Approcht in hast to greet his victorie, And said, Faire knight, borne under happy starre,[*] Who see your vanquisht foes before you lye: Well worthie be you of that Armorie,[*] Wherin ye have great glory wonne this day, 240 And proov'd your strength on a strong enimie, Your first adventure: many such I pray, And henceforth ever wish that like succeed it may.[*]
Then mounted he upon his Steede againe, And with the Lady backward sought to wend; 245 That path he kept which beaten was most plaine, Ne ever would to any by-way bend, But still did follow one unto the end, The which at last out of the wood them brought. So forward on his way (with God to frend)[*] 250 He passed forth, and new adventure sought; Long way he travelled, before he heard of ought.
At length they chaunst to meet upon the way An aged Sire,[*] in long blacke weedes yclad, His feete all bare, his beard all hoarie gray 255 And by his belt his booke he hanging had; Sober he seemde, and very sagely sad, And to the ground his eyes were lowly bent, Simple in shew, and voyde of malice bad, And all the way he prayed, as he went, 260 And often knockt his brest, as one that did repent.
He faire the knight saluted, louting low, Who faire him quited, as that courteous was: And after asked him, if he did know Of straunge adventures, which abroad did pas. 265 Ah my deare Sonne (quoth he) how should, alas, Silly old man, that lives in hidden cell, Bidding his beades all day for his trespas, Tydings of warre and worldly trouble tell? With holy father sits not with such things to mell. 270
But if of daunger which hereby doth dwell, And homebred evil ye desire to heare, Of a straunge man I can you tidings tell, That wasteth all this countrey farre and neare. Of such (said he) I chiefly do inquere, 275 And shall you well reward to shew the place, In which that wicked wight his dayes doth weare: For to all knighthood it is foule disgrace, That such a cursed creature lives so long a space.
Far hence (quoth he) in wastfull wildernesse 280 His dwelling is, by which no living wight May ever passe, but thorough great distresse. Now (sayd the Lady) draweth toward night, And well I wote, that of your later fight Ye all forwearied be: for what so strong, 285 But wanting rest will also want of might? The Sunne that measures heaven all day long, At night doth baite his steedes the Ocean waves emong.
Then with the Sunne take Sir, your timely rest, And with new day new worke at once begin: 290 Untroubled night they say gives counsell best. Right well Sir knight ye have advised bin, (Quoth then that aged man;) the way to win Is wisely to advise: now day is spent; Therefore with me ye may take up your In[*] 295 For this same night. The knight was well content: So with that godly father to his home they went.
A little lowly Hermitage it was, Downe in a dale, hard by a forests side, Far from resort of people, that did pas 300 In travell to and froe: a little wyde[*] There was an holy Chappell edifyde, Wherein the Hermite dewly wont to say His holy things each morne and eventyde: Thereby a Christall streame did gently play, 305 Which from a sacred fountaine welled forth alway.
Arrived there, the little house they fill, Ne looke for entertainement, where none was: Rest is their feast, and all things at their will: The noblest mind the best contentment has. 310 With faire discourse the evening so they pas: For that old man of pleasing wordes had store, And well could file his tongue as smooth as glas, He told of Saintes and Popes, and evermore He strowd an Ave-Mary[*] after and before. 315
The drouping Night thus creepeth on them fast, And the sad humour[*] loading their eye liddes, As messenger of Morpheus[*] on them cast Sweet slombring deaw, the which to sleepe them biddes. Unto their lodgings then his guestes he riddes: 320 Where when all drownd in deadly sleepe he findes, He to this study goes, and there amiddes His Magick bookes and artes[*] of sundry kindes, He seekes out mighty charmes, to trouble sleepy mindes.
Then choosing out few words most horrible, 325 (Let none them read) thereof did verses frame, With which and other spelles like terrible, He bad awake blacke Plutoes griesly Dame,[*] And cursed heaven and spake reprochfull shame Of highest God, the Lord of life and light; 330 A bold bad man, that dar'd to call by name Great Gorgon,[*] Prince of darknesse and dead night, At which Cocytus[*] quakes, and Styx is put to flight.
And forth he cald out of deepe darknesse dred Legions of Sprights,[*] the which like little flyes 335 Fluttring about his ever damned hed, Awaite whereto their service he applyes, To aide his friends, or fray his enimies: Of those he chose[*] out two, the falsest twoo, And fittest for to forge true-seeming lyes; 340 The one of them he gave a message too, The other by him selfe staide other worke to doo.
He making speedy way through spersed ayre, And through the world of waters wide and deepe, To Morpheus house doth hastily repaire. 345 Amid the bowels of the earth full steepe, And low, where dawning day doth never peepe, His dwelling is; there Tethys[*] his wet bed Doth ever wash, and Cynthia[*] still doth steepe In silver deaw his ever-drouping hed, 350 Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black doth spred.
Whose double gates[*] he findeth locked fast, The one faire fram'd of burnisht Yvory, The other all with silver overcast; And wakeful dogges before them farre do lye, 355 Watching to banish Care their enimy, Who oft is wont to trouble gentle Sleepe. By them the Sprite doth passe in quietly, And unto Morpheus comes, whom drowned deepe In drowsie fit he findes: of nothing he takes keepe. 360
And more, to lulle him in his slumber soft,[*] A trickling streame from high rock tumbling downe, And ever-drizling raine upon the loft, Mixt with a murmuring winde, much like the sowne Of swarming Bees, did cast him in a swowne: 365 No other noyse, nor peoples troublous cryes, As still are wont t'annoy the walled towne, Might there be heard: but carelesse Quiet lyes, Wrapt in eternall silence farre from enemyes.
The messenger approching to him spake, 370 But his wast wordes returnd to him in vaine: So sound he slept, that nought mought him awake. Then rudely he him thrust, and pusht with paine Whereat he gan to stretch: but he againe Shooke him so hard, that forced him to speake. 375 As one then in a dreame, whose dryer braine[*] Is tost with troubled sights and fancies weake, He mumbled soft, but would not all[*] his silence breake.
The Sprite then gan more boldly him to wake, And threatned unto him the dreaded name 380 Of Hecate[*]: whereat he gan to quake, And lifting up his lumpish head, with blame Halfe angry asked him, for what he came. Hither (quoth he) me Archimago sent, He that the stubborne Sprites can wisely tame, 385 He bids thee to him send for his intent A fit false dreame, that can delude the sleepers sent.[*]
The God obayde, and, calling forth straightway A diverse dreame out of his prison darke, Delivered it to him, and downe did lay 390 His heavie head, devoide of carefull carke, Whose sences all were straight benumbed and starke. He backe returning by the Yvorie dore, Remounted up as light as chearefull Larke, And on his litle winges the dreame he bore 395 In hast unto his Lord, where he him left afore.
Who all this while with charmes and hidden artes, Had made a Lady of that other Spright, And fram'd of liquid ayre her tender partes So lively, and so like in all mens sight, 400 That weaker sence it could have ravisht quight: The maker selfe, for all his wondrous witt, Was nigh beguiled with so goodly sight: Her all in white he clad, and over it Cast a black stole, most like to seeme[*] for Una fit. 405
Now when that ydle dreame was to him brought, Unto that Elfin knight he bad him fly, Where he slept soundly void of evill thought, And with false shewes abuse his fantasy, In sort as he him schooled privily: 410 And that new creature, borne without her dew,[*] Full of the makers guile, with usage sly He taught to imitate that Lady trew, Whose semblance she did carrie under feigned hew.
Thus well instructed, to their worke they hast, 415 And coming where the knight in slomber lay, The one upon his hardy head him plast And made him dreame of loves and lustfull play, That nigh his manly hart did melt away, Bathed in wanton blis and wicked joy: 420 Then seemed him his Lady by him lay, And to him playnd, how that false winged boy, Her chast hart had subdewd, to learne Dame Pleasures toy.
And she herselfe of beautie soveraigne Queene, Fayre Venus[*] seemde unto his bed to bring 425 Her, whom he waking evermore did weene, To bee the chastest flowre, that ay did spring On earthly braunch, the daughter of a king, Now a loose Leman to vile service bound: And eke the Graces[*] seemed all to sing, 430 Hymen Io Hymen[*] dauncing all around, Whilst freshest Flora[*] her with Yvie girlond crownd.
In this great passion of unwonted lust, Or wonted feare of doing ought amis, He started up, as seeming to mistrust 435 Some secret ill, or hidden foe of his: Lo there before his face his Lady is, Under blake stole hyding her bayted hooke; And as halfe blushing offred him to kis, With gentle blandishment and lovely looke, 440 Most like that virgin true, which for her knight him took.
All cleane dismayd to see so uncouth sight, And half enraged at her shamelesse guise, He thought have slaine her in his fierce despight: But hasty heat tempring with suffrance wise, 445 He stayde his hand, and gan himselfe advise To prove his sense,[*] and tempt her faigned truth. Wringing her hands in womans pitteous wise, Tho can she weepe,[*] to stirre up gentle ruth, Both for her noble bloud, and for her tender youth. 450
And said, Ah Sir, my liege Lord and my love, Shall I accuse the hidden cruell fate, And mightie causes wrought in heaven above, Or the blind God,[*] that doth me thus amate, For hoped love to winne me certaine hate? 455 Yet thus perforce he bids me do, or die. Die is my dew; yet rew my wretched state You, whom my hard avenging destinie Hath made judge of my life or death indifferently.
Your owne deare sake forst me at first to leave 460 My Fathers kingdome—There she stopt with teares; Her swollen hart her speech seemd to bereave, And then againe begun; My weaker yeares Captiv'd to fortune and frayle worldly feares, Fly to your fayth for succour and sure ayde: 465 Let me not dye in languor and long teares. Why Dame (quoth he) what hath ye thus dismayd? What frayes ye, that were wont to comfort me affrayd?
Love of your selfe, she saide, and deare constraint, Lets me not sleepe, but wast the wearie night 470 In secret anguish and unpittied plaint, Whiles you in carelesse sleepe are drowned quight. Her doubtfull words made that redoubted knight Suspect her truth: yet since no' untruth he knew, Her fawning love with foule disdainefull spight 475 He would not shend; but said, Deare dame I rew, That for my sake unknowne such griefe unto you grew.
Assure your selfe, it fell not all to ground;[*] For all so deare as life is to my hart, I deeme your love, and hold me to you bound: 480 Ne let vaine feares procure your needlesse smart, Where cause is none, but to your rest depart. Not all content, yet seemd she to appease Her mournefull plaintes, beguiled of her art, And fed with words that could not chuse but please, 485 So slyding softly forth, she turned as to her ease.
Long after lay he musing at her mood, Much griev'd to thinke that gentle Dame so light, For whose defence he was to shed his blood. At last, dull wearinesse of former fight 490 Having yrockt asleepe his irkesome spright, That troublous dreame gan freshly tosse his braine, With bowres, and beds, and Ladies deare delight: But when he saw his labour all was vaine, With that misformed spright he backe returnd againe. 495
* * * * *
The guilefull great Enchaunter parts the Redcrosse Knight from truth, Into whose stead faire Falshood steps, and workes him wofull ruth.
By this the Northerne wagoner[*] had set His sevenfold teme[*] behind the stedfast starre,[*] That was in Ocean waves yet never wet, But firme is fixt, and sendeth light from farre To all that in the wide deepe wandring arre: 5 And chearefull Chaunticlere[*] with his note shrill Had warned once, that Phoebus fiery carre[*] In hast was climbing up the Easterne hill, Full envious that night so long his roome did fill.
When those accursed messengers of hell, 10 That feigning dreame, and that faire-forged Spright[*] Came to their wicked maister, and gan tell Their bootelesse paines, and ill succeeding night: Who all in rage to see his skilfull might Deluded so, gan threaten hellish paine 15 And sad Proserpines wrath, them to affright. But when he saw his threatning was but vaine, He cast about, and searcht his baleful bookes againe.
Eftsoones he tooke that miscreated faire, And that false other Spright, on whom he spred 20 A seeming body of the subtile aire, Like a young Squire, in loves and lustybed His wanton dayes that ever loosely led, Without regard of armes and dreaded fight: Those two he tooke, and in a secret bed, 25 Coverd with darknesse and misdeeming night, Them both together laid, to joy in vaine delight.
Forthwith he runnes with feigned faithfull hast Unto his guest, who after troublous sights And dreames, gan now to take more sound repast, 30 Whom suddenly he wakes with fearfull frights, As one aghast with feends or damned sprights, And to him cals, Rise, rise, unhappy Swaine That here wex old in sleepe, whiles wicked wights Have knit themselves in Venus shameful chaine, 35 Come see where your false Lady doth her honour staine.
All in amaze he suddenly upstart With sword in hand, and with the old man went Who soone him brought into a secret part Where that false couple were full closely ment 40 In wanton lust and leud embracement: Which when he saw, he burnt with gealous fire, The eye of reason was with rage yblent, And would have slaine them in his furious ire, But hardly was restreined of that aged sire. 45
Returning to his bed in torment great, And bitter anguish of his guiltie sight, He could not rest, but did his stout heart eat, And wast his inward gall with deepe despight, Yrkesome of life, and too long lingring night. 50 At last faire Hesperus[*] in highest skie Had spent his lampe and brought forth dawning light, Then up he rose, and clad him hastily; The Dwarfe him brought his steed: so both away do fly.
Now when the rosy-fingred Morning[*] faire, 55 Weary of aged Tithones[*] saffron bed, Had spread her purple robe through deawy aire, And the high hils Titan[*] discovered, The royall virgin shooke off drowsy-hed; And rising forth out of her baser bowre, 60 Lookt for her knight, who far away was fled, And for her Dwarfe, that wont to wait each houre: Then gan she waile and weepe, to see that woefull stowre.
And after him she rode with so much speede As her slow beast could make; but all in vaine: 65 For him so far had borne his light-foot steede, Pricked with wrath and fiery fierce disdaine, That him to follow was but fruitlesse paine; Yet she her weary limbes would never rest, But every hill and dale, each wood and plaine, 70 Did search, sore grieved in her gentle brest, He so ungently left her, whom she loved best.
But subtill Archimago, when his guests He saw divided into double parts, And Una wandring in woods and forrests, 75 Th' end of his drift, he praisd his divelish arts, That had such might over true meaning harts: Yet rests not so, but other meanes doth make, How he may worke unto her further smarts: For her he hated as the hissing snake, 80 And in her many troubles did most pleasure take.
He then devisde himselfe how to disguise; For by his mightie science he could take As many formes and shapes in seeming wise, As ever Proteus[*] to himselfe could make: 85 Sometime a fowle, sometime a fish in lake, Now like a foxe, now like a dragon fell, That of himselfe he ofte for feare would quake, And oft would flie away. O who can tell The hidden power of herbes[*] and might of Magicke spell? 90
But now seemde best the person to put on Of that good knight, his late beguiled guest: In mighty armes he was yclad anon: And silver shield, upon his coward brest A bloudy crosse, and on his craven crest 95 A bounch of haires discolourd diversly: Full jolly knight he seemde, and well addrest, And when he sate upon his courser free, Saint George himself ye would have deemed him to be.
But he the knight, whose semblaunt he did beare, 100 The true Saint George, was wandred far away, Still flying from his thoughts and gealous feare; Will was his guide, and griefe led him astray. At last him chaunst to meete upon the way A faithless Sarazin[*] all arm'd to point, 105 In whose great shield was writ with letters gay Sans foy: full large of limbe and every joint He was, and cared not for God or man a point.
He had a faire companion[*] of his way, A goodly Lady clad in scarlot red, 110 Purfled with gold and pearle of rich assay, And like a Persian mitre on her hed She wore, with crowns and owches garnished, The which her lavish lovers to her gave; Her wanton palfrey all was overspred 115 With tinsell trappings, woven like a wave, Whose bridle rung with golden bels and bosses brave.
With faire disport and courting dalliaunce She intertainde her lover all the way: But when she saw the knight his speare advaunce, 120 She soone left off her mirth and wanton play, And bade her knight addresse him to the fray: His foe was nigh at hand. He prickt with pride And hope to winne his Ladies heart that day, Forth spurred fast: adowne his coursers side 125 The red bloud trickling staind the way, as he did ride.
The knight of the Redcrosse when him he spide, Spurring so hote with rage dispiteous, Gan fairely couch his speare, and towards ride: Soone meete they both, both fell and furious, 130 That daunted with their forces hideous, Their steeds do stagger, and amazed stand, And eke themselves, too rudely rigorous, Astonied with the stroke of their owne hand Doe backe rebut, and each to other yeeldeth land. 135
As when two rams[*] stird with ambitious pride, Fight for the rule of the rich fleeced flocke, Their horned fronts so fierce on either side Do meete, that with the terrour of the shocke Astonied both, stand sencelesse as a blocke, 140 Forgetfull of the hanging victory:[*] So stood these twaine, unmoved as a rocke, Both staring fierce, and holding idely The broken reliques[*] of their former cruelty.
The Sarazin sore daunted with the buffe 145 Snatcheth his sword, and fiercely to him flies; Who well it wards, and quyteth cuff with cuff: Each others equall puissaunce envies,[*] And through their iron sides[*] with cruell spies Does seeke to perce: repining courage yields 150 No foote to foe. The flashing fier flies As from a forge out of their burning shields, And streams of purple bloud new dies the verdant fields.
Curse on that Crosse (quoth then the Sarazin), That keepes thy body from the bitter fit;[*] 155 Dead long ygoe I wote thou haddest bin, Had not that charme from thee forwarned it: But yet I warne thee now assured sitt,[*] And hide thy head. Therewith upon his crest With rigour so outrageous[*] he smitt, 160 That a large share[*] it hewd out of the rest, And glauncing down his shield from blame him fairly blest.[*]
Who thereat wondrous wroth, the sleeping spark Of native vertue gan eftsoones revive, And at his haughtie helmet making mark, 165 So hugely stroke, that it the steele did rive, And cleft his head. He tumbling downe alive, With bloudy mouth his mother earth did kis. Greeting his grave: his grudging[*] ghost did strive With the fraile flesh; at last it flitted is, 170 Whither the soules do fly of men that live amis.
The Lady when she saw her champion fall, Like the old ruines of a broken towre, Staid not to waile his woefull funerall, But from him fled away with all her powre; 175 Who after her as hastily gan scowre, Bidding the Dwarfe with him to bring away The Sarazins shield, signe of the conqueroure. Her soone he overtooke, and bad to stay, For present cause was none of dread her to dismay. 180
She turning backe with ruefull countenaunce, Cride, Mercy mercy Sir vouchsafe to show On silly Dame, subject to hard mischaunce, And to your mighty will. Her humblesse low In so ritch weedes and seeming glorious show, 185 Did much emmove his stout heroicke heart, And said, Deare dame, your suddin overthrow Much rueth me; but now put feare apart, And tell, both who ye be, and who that tooke your part.
Melting in teares, then gan she thus lament; 190 The wretched woman, whom unhappy howre Hath now made thrall to your commandement, Before that angry heavens list to lowre, And fortune false betraide me to your powre, Was, (O what now availeth that I was!) 195 Borne the sole daughter of an Emperour,[*] He that the wide West under his rule has, And high hath set his throne, where Tiberis doth pas.
He in the first flowre of my freshest age, Betrothed me unto the onely haire[*] 200 Of a most mighty king, most rich and sage; Was never Prince so faithfull and so faire, Was never Prince so meeke and debonaire; But ere my hoped day of spousall shone, My dearest Lord fell from high honours staire 205 Into the hands of his accursed fone, And cruelly was slaine, that shall I ever mone.
His blessed body spoild of lively breath, Was afterward, I know not how, convaid And fro me hid: of whose most innocent death 210 When tidings came to me, unhappy maid, O how great sorrow my sad soule assaid. Then forth I went his woefull corse to find, And many yeares throughout the world I straid, A virgin widow, whose deepe wounded mind 215 With love long time did languish as the striken hind.
At last it chaunced this proud Sarazin To meete me wandring, who perforce me led With him away, but yet could never win The Fort, that Ladies hold in soveraigne dread; 220 There lies he now with foule dishonour dead, Who whiles he livde, was called proud Sansfoy, The eldest of three brethren, all three bred Of one bad sire, whose youngest is Sansjoy; And twixt them both was born the bloudy bold Sansloy. 225
In this sad plight, friendlesse, unfortunate, Now miserable I Fidessa dwell, Craving of you in pitty of my state, To do none ill, if please ye not do well. He in great passion all this while did dwell, 230 More busying his quicke eyes, her face to view, Then his dull eares, to heare what she did tell; And said, Faire Lady hart of flint would rew The undeserved woes and sorrowes which ye shew.
Henceforth in safe assuraunce may ye rest, 235 Having both found a new friend you to aid, And lost an old foe that did you molest: Better new friend then an old foe is said. With chaunge of cheare the seeming simple maid Let fall her eyen, as shamefast to the earth, 240 And yeelding soft, in that she nought gain-said, So forth they rode, he feining seemely merth, And she coy lookes: so dainty they say maketh derth.[*]
Long time they thus together traveiled, Till weary of their way, they came at last 245 Where grew two goodly trees, that faire did spred Their armes abroad, with gray mosse overcast, And their greene leaves trembling with every blast, Made a calme shadow far in compasse round: The fearfull Shepheard often there aghast 250 Under them never sat, ne wont there sound[*] His mery oaten pipe, but shund th' unlucky ground.
But this good knight soone as he them can spie, For the cool shade[*] him thither hastly got: For golden Phoebus now ymounted hie, 255 From fiery wheeles of his faire chariot Hurled his beame so scorching cruell hot, That living creature mote it not abide; And his new Lady it endured not. There they alight, in hope themselves to hide 260 From the fierce heat, and rest their weary limbs a tide.
Faire seemely pleasaunce[*] each to other makes, With goodly purposes[*] there as they sit: And in his falsed fancy he her takes To be the fairest wight that lived yit; 265 Which to expresse he bends his gentle wit, And thinking of those braunches greene to frame A girlond for her dainty forehead fit, He pluckt a bough;[*] out of whose rift there came Small drops of gory bloud, that trickled down the same. 270
Therewith a piteous yelling voyce was heard, Crying, O spare with guilty hands[*] to teare My tender sides in this rough rynd embard, But fly, ah fly far hence away, for feare Least to you hap, that happened to me heare, 275 And to this wretched Lady, my deare love, O too deare love, love bought with death too deare. Astond he stood, and up his haire did hove, And with that suddein horror could no member move.