“The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spencer (c. 1590-1596) Books I and II via Archive.Org

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Title: Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Book I

Author: Edmund Spenser

Release Date: March 7, 2005 [eBook #15272]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Velut inter ignes luna minores

New York
The MacMillan Company
London: MacMillan & CO., LTD.
Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1903




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




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 Æschylus; 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 mediævalism. 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.


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 mediæval 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 £50 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 Hymnsare 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:—

“Renownèd Spenser, lie a thought more nigh

To learnèd 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.


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 mediæval 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 μεγαλοψυχία), 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 mediævalism, 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.




Religious and Spirtual

Personal and Political

Redcross Knight


Reformed England

St George



True Religion

Prince Arthur

Magnificence, or

Private Virtue

Protestantism, or

the Church Militant

Lord Leicester



Spirtual Beauty

Queen Elizabeth



The Jesuits

Phillip II of Spain



False Religion

Mary Queen of Scots,

Church of Rome


Carnal Pride


Pope Sixtus V

The Lion

Reason, Natural Honor

Reformation by Force

Henry VIII, Civil Government

The Dragon


The Devil, Satan

Rome and Spain

Sir Satyrane

Natural Courage

Law and Order in Ireland

Sir John Perrott

The Monster


Greed of Romanism

Romish Priesthood


Blind Devotion, Superstition

Catholic Penance

Irish Nuns


Flagrant Sin


Irish Nuns


Church Robbery

Religious State of Ireland

Irish Clergy and Laity





Pagan Religion

The Sultan and the Saracens



The Dwarf

Prudence, Common Sense

Sir Trevisan


The Squire


The Anglican Clergy

The Horn


The English Bible


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, xlvi) is four syllables, and entertainment (X, xxxvii) is accented on the second and fourth syllables. Frequently there is in the line a cæsural 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, xxxi.)

“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.”





Birth of Edmund Spenser (about)


Birth of Sir Walter Raleigh



Death of Edward VI; Mary crowned.



Mary marries Philip of Spain.



Death of Mary; Elizabeth crowned.



Charles IX, king of France.



Council of Trent.

Visions of Bellay, published,


Sonnets of Petrarch, published,


Enters Pembroke Hall, Cambridge,




Gregory XIII, Pope of Rome.



Massacre of St. Batholomew.



Henry III, king of France.

Received M.A., leaves Cambridge,


Rudolph II, emperor.

Leaves Lancashire,


Elizabeth aids the Netherlands.

Visits Lord Leicester,


The Shepheards Calender,


Goes to Ireland,


Massacre of Smerwick.



Tasso’s Jersalem Delivered.

Lord Grey’s return to England,




Assassination of William the Silent.



Sixtus V, Pope. Drake’s voyage.



Leicester goes to the Netherlands.



Death of Sir Philip Sidney.

First marriage (before)


Execution of Mary Queen of Scots.

Clerk to the Council of Munster,


Defeat of Spanish Armada. Death of Leicester.

Visits England with Raleigh,


Assassination of Henry III; Henry IV crowned.

The Faerie Queene,, Books I, II, III,


Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Mother Hubberds Tale, Tears of the Muses, Ruines of Time, Daphnaida, The Visions,


Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, Henry VI.


Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, trans.



Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.



Richard III.

Second marriage,


Shakespeare’s Richard II

Colin Clout’s Come Home Again,


Shakespeare’s King John.

Amoretti, Epithalamion, Hymns,


Johnston’s Seven Champions of Christendom.

Astrophel, Prothalamion,


Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

The Faerie Queene, Books I-VI,


Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour.

Vision of the Present State of Ireland,


Edict of Nantes, Philip III crowned.

Death of Spenser,


Revolt of Irish. Expedition of Essex to Ireland.



A LETTER of the Authors expounding his whole intention in the course of this worke;1 which, for that it giveth great light to the reader, for the better understanding is hereunto annexed.



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 Æneas: 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,2 (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.

1 The letter served as an introduction to the first three books of the Faerie Queene.

2 An allusion to Sir Walter Raleigh’s poem Cynthia.

To the Right Noble and Valorous Knight,


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.








Queen of England, Fraunce and Ireland, and of Virginia,
Defender of the Faith etc.











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;

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.



10Helpe then, O holy Virgin chiefe of nine,°

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

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

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,°

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

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:°

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:

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.


10And on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore,

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:

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,

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

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

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,

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

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:

45Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld.


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,

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.



55Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,

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:

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,

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,°

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,

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,

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,

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,

90That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been.



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,

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.



100Be well aware, quoth then that Ladie milde,

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.

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

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:

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,

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,

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°

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,

135Into her mouth they crept, and suddain all were gone.



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

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.



145Which when the valiant Elfe° perceiv’d, he lept

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,

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,

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,

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:

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,

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

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:

180Her filthy parbreake all the place defiled has.



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,

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.



190The same so sore annoyed has the knight,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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;

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,

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,

225Making her death their life, and eke her hurt their good.



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,

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.°



235His Ladie seeing all that chaunst, from farre

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,

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;

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)°

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

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,

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.

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?

270With holy father sits not with such things to mell.



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,

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.



280Far hence (quoth he) in wastfull wildernesse

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,

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:

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°

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

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,

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.

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

315He strowd an Ave-Mary° after and before.



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:

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.



325Then choosing out few words most horrible,

(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;

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

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;

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.

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,

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,

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

360In drowsie fit he findes: of nothing he takes keepe.



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:

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.



370The messenger approching to him spake,

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.

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

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,

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

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

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,

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

405Cast a black stole, most like to seeme° for Una fit.



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:

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.



415Thus well instructed, to their worke they hast,

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:

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

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,

Hymen Iö 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

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,

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,

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,

450Both for her noble bloud, and for her tender youth.



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?

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.



460Your owne deare sake forst me at first to leave

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:

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

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

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:

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,

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

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,

495With that misformed spright he backe returnd againe.


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:

And chearefull Chaunticlere° with his note shrill

Had warned once, that Phœbus fiery carre°

In hast was climbing up the Easterne hill,

Full envious that night so long his roome did fill.



10When those accursed messengers of hell,

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

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

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,

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,

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,

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

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,

45But hardly was restreined of that aged sire.



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.

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.



55Now when the rosy-fingred Morning° faire,

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,

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:

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,

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,

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,

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:

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

90The hidden power of herbes° and might of Magicke spell?



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

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.



100But he the knight, whose semblaunt he did beare,

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,

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,

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

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,

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

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,

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

135Doe backe rebut, and each to other yeeldeth land.



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,

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.



145The Sarazin sore daunted with the buffe

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

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;°

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,

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,

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,

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;

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,

180For present cause was none of dread her to dismay.



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,

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.



190Melting in teares, then gan she thus lament;

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!)

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°

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

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

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

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;

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;

225And twixt them both was born the bloudy bold Sansloy.



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,

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.



235Henceforth in safe assuraunce may ye rest,

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,

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

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

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 Phœbus now ymounted hie,

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

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;

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

270Small drops of gory bloud, that trickled down the same.



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,

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.



280At last whenas the dreadfull passion

Was overpast, and manhood well awake,

Yet musing at the straunge occasion,

And doubting much his sence, he thus bespake;

What voyce of damned Ghost from Limbo lake,°


Or guilefull spright wandring in empty aire,

Both which fraile men do oftentimes mistake,

Sends to my doubtfull eares these speaches rare,

And ruefull plaints, me bidding guiltlesse bloud to spare?



Then groning deepe, Nor damned Ghost, (quoth he,)


Nor guileful sprite to thee these wordes doth speake,

But once a man Fradubio,° now a tree,

Wretched man, wretched tree; whose nature weake

A cruell witch her cursed will to wreake,

Hath thus transformd, and plast in open plaines,


Where Boreas doth blow full bitter bleake,

And scorching Sunne does dry my secret vaines:

For though a tree I seeme, yet cold and heat me paines.



Say on Fradubio then, or man, or tree,

Quoth then the knight, by whose mischievous arts


Art thou misshaped thus, as now I see?

He oft finds med’cine, who his griefe imparts;

But double griefs afflict concealing harts,

As raging flames who striveth to suppresse.

The author then (said he) of all my smarts,


Is one Duessa a false sorceresse,

That many errant knights hath brought to wretchednesse.



In prime of youthly yeares, when corage hot

The fire of love and joy of chevalree

First kindled in my brest, it was my lot


To love this gentle Lady, whom ye see,

Now not a Lady, but a seeming tree;

With whom as once I rode accompanyde,

Me chaunced of a knight encountred bee,

That had a like faire Lady by his syde,

315Like a faire Lady, but did fowle Duessa hyde.



Whose forged beauty he did take in hand,

All other Dames to have exceeded farre;

I in defence of mine did likewise stand,

Mine, that did then shine as the Morning starre.


So both to battell fierce arraunged arre,

In which his harder fortune was to fall

Under my speare: such is the dye of warre:

His Lady left as a prise martiall,

Did yield her comely person to be at my call.



325So doubly lov’d of Ladies unlike faire,

Th’ one seeming such, the other such indeede,

One day in doubt I cast for to compare,

Whether in beauties glorie did exceede;

A Rosy girlond was the victors meede:


Both seemde to win, and both seemde won to bee,

So hard the discord was to be agreede.

Fraelissa was as faire, as faire mote bee,

And ever false Duessa seemde as faire as shee.



The wicked witch now seeing all this while


The doubtfull ballaunce equally to sway,

What not by right, she cast to win by guile,

And by her hellish science raisd streightway

A foggy mist, that overcast the day,

And a dull blast, that breathing on her face,


Dimmed her former beauties shining ray,

And with foule ugly forme did her disgrace:

Then was she faire alone, when none was faire in place.°



Then cride she out, Fye, fye, deformed wight,

Whose borrowed beautie now appeareth plaine


To have before bewitched all mens sight;

O leave her soone, or let her soone be slaine.

Her loathly visage viewing with disdaine,

Eftsoones I thought her such, as she me told,

And would have kild her; but with faigned paine


The false witch did my wrathfull hand with-hold;

So left her, where she now is turnd to treen mould.°



Then forth I tooke Duessa for my Dame,

And in the witch unweeting joyd long time,

Ne ever wist but that she was the same,°


Till on a day (that day is every Prime,

When Witches wont do penance for their crime)

I chaunst to see her in her proper hew,°

Bathing her selfe in origane and thyme:

A filthy foule old woman I did vew,

360That ever to have toucht her I did deadly rew.



Her neather parts misshapen, monstruous,

Were hidd in water, that I could not see.

But they did seeme more foule and hideous,

Then womans shape man would beleeve to bee.


Thensforth from her most beastly companie

I gan refraine, in minde to slip away,

Soone as appeard safe opportunitie:

For danger great, if not assur’d decay,

I saw before mine eyes, if I were knowne to stray.



370The divelish hag by chaunges of my cheare°

Perceiv’d my thought, and drownd in sleepie night,°

With wicked herbs and ointments did besmeare

My body all, through charms and magicke might,

That all my senses were bereaved quight:


Then brought she me into this desert waste,

And by my wretched lovers side me pight,

Where now enclosd in wooden wals full faste,

Banisht from living wights, our wearie dayes we waste.



But how long time, said then the Elfin knight,


Are you in this misformed house to dwell?

We may not chaunge (quoth he) this evil plight,

Till we be bathed in a living well;°

That is the terme prescribed by the spell.

O how, said he, mote I that well out find,


That may restore you to your wonted well?

Time and suffised fates to former kynd

Shall us restore, none else from hence may us unbynd.



The false Duessa, now Fidessa hight,

Heard how in vaine Fradubio did lament,


And knew well all was true. But the good knight

Full of sad feare and ghastly dreriment,

When all this speech the living tree had spent,

The bleeding bough did thrust into the ground,

That from the bloud he might be innocent,


And with fresh clay did close the wooden wound:

Then turning to his Lady, dead with feare her found.



Her seeming dead he found with feigned feare,

As all unweeting of that well she knew,

And paynd himselfe with busie care to reare


Her out of carelesse swowne. Her eyelids blew

And dimmed sight with pale and deadly hew

At last she up gan lift: with trembling cheare

Her up he tooke, too simple and too trew,

And oft her kist. At length all passed feare,°

405He set her on her steede, and forward forth did beare.


Forsaken Truth long seekes her love,

and makes the Lyon mylde,

Marres blind Devotions mart, and fals

in hand of leachour vylde.



NOUGHT is there under heav’ns wide hollownesse,

That moves more deare compassion of mind,

Then beautie brought t’ unworthy wretchednesse

Through envies snares, or fortunes freakes unkind.


I, whether lately through her brightnesse blind,

Or through alleageance and fast fealtie,

Which I do owe unto all woman kind,

Feele my hart perst with so great agonie,

When such I see, that all for pittie I could die.



10And now it is empassioned so deepe,

For fairest Unaes sake, of whom I sing,

That my fraile eyes these lines with teares do steepe,

To thinke how she through guilefull handeling,

Though true as touch,° though daughter of a king,


Though faire as ever living wight was faire,

Though nor in word nor deede ill meriting,

Is from her knight divorced in despaire,

And her due loves° deriv’d to that vile witches share.


Yet she most faithfull Ladie all this while


Forsaken, wofull, solitarie mayd

Far from all peoples prease, as in exile,

In wildernesse and wastfull deserts strayd,

To seeke her knight; who subtilly betrayd

Through that late vision, which th’ Enchaunter wrought,


Had her abandond. She of nought affrayd,

Through woods and wastnesse wide him daily sought;

Yet wished tydings° none of him unto her brought.



One day nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,

From her unhastie beast she did alight,


And on the grasse her daintie limbes did lay

In secret shadow, farre from all mens sight:

From her faire head her fillet she undight,

And laid her stole aside. Her angels face

As the great eye of heaven° shyned bright,


And made a sunshine in the shadie place;

Did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace.



It fortuned out of the thickest wood

A ramping Lyon° rushed suddainly,

Hunting full greedy after salvage blood;


Soone as the royall virgin he did spy,

With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,

To have attonce devourd her tender corse:

But to the pray when as he drew more ny,

His bloody rage asswaged with remorse,

45And with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse.



In stead thereof he kist her wearie feet,

And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong,

As he her wronged innocence did weet.

O how can beautie maister the most strong,


And simple truth subdue avenging wrong?

Whose yeelded pride° and proud submission,

Still dreading death, when she had marked long,

Her hart gan melt in great compassion,

And drizling teares did shed for pure affection.



55The Lyon Lord of every beast in field,

Quoth she, his princely puissance doth abate,

And mightie proud to humble weake does yield,

Forgetfull of the hungry rage, which late

Him prickt, in pittie of my sad estate:


But he my Lyon, and my noble Lord,

How does he find in cruell hart to hate,

Her that him lov’d, and ever most adord,

As the God of my life? why hath he me abhord?



Redounding teares did choke th’ end of her plaint,


Which softly ecchoed from the neighbour wood;

And sad to see her sorrowfull constraint

The kingly beast upon her gazing stood;

With pittie calmd, downe fell his angry mood.

At last in close hart shutting up her paine,


Arose the virgin borne of heavenly brood,

And to her snowy Palfrey got againe,

To seeke her strayed Champion, if she might attaine.



The Lyon would not leave her desolate,

But with her went along, as a strong gard


Of her chast person, and a faithfull mate

Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard:

Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward,°

And when she wakt, he waited diligent,

With humble service to her will prepard:


From her faire eyes he tooke commaundement,

And ever by her lookes conceived her intent.



Long she thus traveiled through deserts wyde,

By which she thought her wandring knight shold pas,

Yet never shew of living wight espyde;


Till that at length she found the troden gras,

In which the tract of peoples footing was,

Under the steepe foot of a mountaine hore;

The same she followes, till at last she has

A damzell spyde° slow footing her before,

90That on her shoulders sad a pot of water bore.



To whom approching she to her gan call,

To weet, if dwelling place were nigh at hand;

But the rude wench her answerd nought at all;

She could not heare, nor speake, nor understand;


Till seeing by her side the Lyon stand,

With suddaine feare her pitcher downe she threw,

And fled away: for never in that land

Face of faire Ladie she before did vew,

And that dread Lyons looke her cast in deadly hew.°



100Full fast she fled, ne never lookt behynd,

As if her life upon the wager lay,°

And home she came, whereas her mother blynd°

Sate in eternall night: nought could she say,

But suddaine catching hold, did her dismay


With quaking hands, and other signes of feare;

Who full of ghastly fright and cold affray,

Gan shut the dore. By this arrived there

Dame Una, wearie Dame, and entrance did requere.



Which when none yeelded, her unruly Page°


With his rude claws the wicket open rent,

And let her in; where of his cruell rage

Nigh dead with feare, and faint astonishment,

She found them both in darkesome corner pent;

Where that old woman day and night did pray


Upon her beads devoutly penitent;

Nine hundred Pater nosters° every day,

And thrise nine hundred Aves she was wont to say.



And to augment her painefull pennance more,

Thrise every weeke in ashes she did sit,


And next her wrinkled skin rough sackcloth wore,

And thrise three times did fast from any bit:

But now for feare her beads she did forget.

Whose needlesse dread for to remove away,

Faire Una framed words and count’nance fit:


Which hardly doen, at length she gan them pray,

That in their cotage small that night she rest her may.



The day is spent, and commeth drowsie night,

When every creature shrowded is in sleepe;

Sad Una downe her laies in wearie plight,


And at her feete the Lyon watch doth keepe:

In stead of rest, she does lament, and weepe

For the late losse of her deare loved knight,

And sighes, and grones, and ever more does steepe

Her tender brest in bitter teares all night,

135All night she thinks too long, and often lookes for light.



Now when Aldeboran° was mounted hie

Above the shynie Cassiopeias chaire,°

And all in deadly sleepe did drowned lie,

One knocked at the dore,° and in would fare;


He knocked fast, and often curst, and sware,

That readie entrance was not at his call:

For on his backe a heavy load he bare

Of nightly stelths, and pillage severall,

Which he had got abroad by purchase criminall.



145He was, to weete, a stout and sturdy thiefe,

Wont to robbe Churches of their ornaments,

And poore mens boxes of their due reliefe,

Which given was to them for good intents;

The holy Saints of their rich vestiments


He did disrobe, when all men carelesse slept,

And spoild the Priests of their habiliments,

Whiles none the holy things in safety kept;

Then he by conning sleights in at the window crept.



And all that he by right or wrong could find,


Unto this house he brought, and did bestow

Upon the daughter of this woman blind,

Abessa, daughter of Corceca slow,

With whom he whoredome usd, that few did know,

And fed her fat with feast of offerings,


And plentie, which in all the land did grow;

Ne spared he to give her gold and rings:

And now he to her brought part of his stolen things.



Thus long the dore with rage and threats he bet,

Yet of those fearfull women none durst rize,


The Lyon frayed them, him in to let:

He would no longer stay him to advize,°

But open breakes the dore in furious wize,

And entring is; when that disdainfull beast

Encountring fierce, him suddaine doth surprize,


And seizing cruell clawes on trembling brest,

Under his Lordly foot him proudly hath supprest.



Him booteth not resist,° nor succour call,

His bleeding hart is in the vengers hand,

Who streight him rent in thousand peeces small,


And quite dismembred hath: the thirsty land

Drunke up his life; his corse left on the strand.

His fearefull friends weare out the wofull night,

Ne dare to weepe, nor seeme to understand

The heavie hap, which on them is alight,

180Affraid, least to themselves the like mishappen might.



Now when broad day the world discovered has,

Up Una rose, up rose the Lyon eke,

And on their former journey forward pas,

In wayes unknowne, her wandring knight to seeke,


With paines farre passing that long wandring Greeke,°

That for his love refused deitie;

Such were the labours of his Lady meeke,

Still seeking him, that from her still did flie;

Then furthest from her hope, when most she weened nie.



190Soone as she parted thence, the fearfull twaine,

That blind old woman and her daughter deare,°

Came forth, and finding Kirkrapine there slaine,

For anguish great they gan to rend their heare,

And beat their brests, and naked flesh to teare.


And when they both had wept and wayld their fill,

Then forth they ran like two amazed deare,

Halfe mad through malice, and revenging will,

To follow her, that was the causer of their ill.



Whom overtaking, they gan loudly bray,


With hollow howling, and lamenting cry,

Shamefully at her rayling all the way,

And her accusing of dishonesty,

That was the flowre of faith and chastity;

And still amidst her rayling, she did pray,


That plagues, and mischiefs, and long misery

Might fall on her, and follow all the way,

And that in endlesse error she might ever stray.



But when she saw her prayers nought prevaile,

She backe returned with some labour lost;


And in the way as shee did weepe and waile,

A knight her met in mighty armes embost,

Yet knight was not for all his bragging bost,

But subtill Archimag, that Una sought

By traynes into new troubles to have tost:


Of that old woman tidings he besought,

If that of such a Ladie she could tellen ought.



Therewith she gan her passion to renew,

And cry, and curse, and raile, and rend her heare,

Saying, that harlot she too lately knew,


That caused her shed so many a bitter teare,

And so forth told the story of her feare:

Much seemed he to mone her haplesse chaunce,

And after for that Ladie did inquere;

Which being taught, he forward gan advaunce

225His fair enchaunted steed, and eke his charmed launce.



Ere long he came where Una traveild slow,

And that wilde Champion wayting her besyde:

Whom seeing such, for dread he durst not show

Himselfe too nigh at hand, but turned wyde


Unto an hill; from whence when she him spyde,

By his like seeming shield, her knight by name

She weend it was, and towards him gan ryde:

Approaching nigh, she wist it was the same,

And with faire fearefull humblesse towards him shee came:



235And weeping said, Ah my long lacked Lord,

Where have ye bene thus long out of my sight?

Much feared I to have bene quite abhord,

Or ought have done,° that ye displeasen might,

That should as death° unto my deare heart light:


For since mine eye your joyous sight did mis,

My chearefull day is turnd to chearelesse night,

And eke my night of death the shadow is;

But welcome now my light, and shining lampe of blis.



He thereto meeting said, My dearest Dame,


Farre be it from your thought, and fro my will,

To thinke that knighthood I so much should shame,

As you to leave, that have me loved still,

And chose in Faery court° of meere goodwill,

Where noblest knights were to be found on earth:


The earth shall sooner leave her kindly skill,°

To bring forth fruit, and make eternall derth,

Then I leave you, my liefe, yborne of heavenly berth.


And sooth to say, why I left you so long,

Was for to seeke adventure in strange place,


Where Archimago said a felon strong

To many knights did daily worke disgrace;

But knight he now shall never more deface:

Good cause of mine excuse; that mote ye please

Well to accept, and evermore embrace


My faithfull service, that by land and seas

Have vowd you to defend: now then your plaint appease.



His lovely words her seemd due recompence

Of all her passed paines: one loving howre

For many yeares of sorrow can dispence:


A dram of sweet is worth a pound of sowre:

She has forgot, how many a woful stowre

For him she late endurd; she speakes no more

Of past: true is, that true love hath no powre

To looken backe; his eyes be fixt before.

270Before her stands her knight, for whom she toyld so sore.



Much like, as when the beaten marinere,

That long hath wandred in the Ocean wide,

Oft soust in swelling Tethys saltish teare,

And long time having tand his tawney hide


With blustring breath of heaven, that none can bide,

And scorching flames of fierce Orions hound,°

Soone as the port from farre he has espide,

His chearefull whistle merrily doth sound,

And Nereus crownes with cups°; his mates him pledg around.



280Such joy made Una, when her knight she found;

And eke th’ enchaunter joyous seemd no lesse,

Then the glad marchant, that does vew from ground°

His ship farre come from watrie wildernesse,

He hurles out vowes, and Neptune oft doth blesse:


So forth they past, and all the way they spent

Discoursing of her dreadful late distresse,

In which he askt her, what the Lyon ment:

Who told her all that fell in journey as she went.



They had not ridden farre, when they might see


One pricking towards them with hastie heat,

Full strongly armd, and on a courser free,

That through his fiercenesse fomed all with sweat,

And the sharpe yron did for anger eat,

When his hot ryder spurd his chauffed side;


His looke was sterne, and seemed still to threat

Cruell revenge, which he in hart did hyde,

And on his shield Sans loy° in bloudie lines was dyde.



When nigh he drew unto this gentle payre

And saw the Red-crosse, which the knight did beare,


He burnt in fire, and gan eftsoones prepare

Himselfe to battell with his couched speare.

Loth was that other, and did faint through feare,

To taste th’ untryed dint of deadly steele;

But yet his Lady did so well him cheare,


That hope of new goodhap he gan to feele;

So bent his speare, and spurd his horse with yron heele.



But that proud Paynim forward came so fierce,

And full of wrath, that with his sharp-head speare,

Through vainly crossed shield° he quite did pierce,


And had his staggering steede not shrunke for feare,

Through shield and bodie eke he should him beare:

Yet so great was the puissance of his push,

That from his saddle quite he did him beare:

He tombling rudely downe to ground did rush,

315And from his gored wound a well of bloud did gush.



Dismounting lightly from his loftie steed,

He to him lept, in mind to reave his life,

And proudly said, Lo there the worthie meed

Of him that slew Sansfoy with bloudie knife;


Henceforth his ghost freed from repining strife,

In peace may passen over Lethe lake,°

When mourning altars purgd with enemies life,°

The blacke infernall Furies° doen aslake:

Life from Sansfoy thou tookst, Sansloy shall from thee take.



325Therewith in haste his helmet gan unlace,°

Till Una cried, O hold that heavie hand,

Deare Sir, what ever that thou be in place:

Enough is, that thy foe doth vanquisht stand

Now at thy mercy: Mercie not withstand:


For he is one the truest knight alive,

Though conquered now he lie on lowly land,

And whilest him fortune favourd, faire did thrive

In bloudie field: therefore of life him not deprive.



Her piteous words might not abate his rage,


But rudely rending up his helmet, would

Have slaine him straight: but when he sees his age,

And hoarie head of Archimago old,

His hasty hand he doth amazed hold,

And halfe ashamed, wondred at the sight:


For that old man well knew he, though untold,

In charmes and magicke to have wondrous might,

Ne ever wont in field,° ne in round lists to fight;



And said, Why Archimago, lucklesse syre,

What doe I see? what hard mishap is this,


That hath thee hither brought to taste mine yre?

Or thine the fault, or mine the error is,

Instead of foe to wound my friend amis?

He answered nought, but in a traunce still lay,

And on those guilefull dazed eyes of his


The cloude of death did sit. Which doen away,

He left him lying so, ne would no lenger stay:



But to the virgin comes, who all this while

Amased stands, her selfe so mockt to see

By him, who has the guerdon of his guile,


For so misfeigning her true knight to bee:

Yet is she now in more perplexitie,

Left in the hand of that same Paynim bold,

From whom her booteth not at all to flie;

Who, by her cleanly garment catching hold,

360Her from her Palfrey pluckt, her visage to behold.



But her fierce servant, full of kingly awe

And high disdaine, whenas his soveraine Dame

So rudely handled by her foe he sawe,

With gaping jawes full greedy at him came,


And ramping on his shield, did weene the same

Have reft away with his sharpe rending clawes:

But he was stout, and lust did now inflame

His corage more, that from his griping pawes

He hath his shield redeem’d, and foorth his swerd he drawes.


370O then too weake and feeble was the forse

Of salvage beast, his puissance to withstand:

For he was strong, and of so mightie corse,

As ever wielded speare in warlike hand,

And feates of armes did wisely understand.


Eftsoones he perced through his chaufed chest

With thrilling point of deadly yron brand,

And launcht his Lordly hart: with death opprest

He roar’d aloud, whiles life forsooke his stubborne brest.



Who now is left to keepe the forlorne maid


From raging spoile of lawlesse victors will?

Her faithfull gard remov’d, her hope dismaid,

Her selfe a yielded pray to save or spill.

He now Lord of the field, his pride to fill,

With foule reproches, and disdainfull spight


Her vildly entertaines, and will or nill,

Beares her away upon his courser light:

Her prayers nought prevaile, his rage is more of might.°



And all the way, with great lamenting paine,

And piteous plaints she filleth his dull eares,


That stony hart could riven have in twaine,

And all the way she wets with flowing teares:

But he enrag’d with rancor, nothing heares.

Her servile beast yet would not leave her so,

But followes her farre off, ne ought he feares,


To be partaker of her wandring woe,

More mild in beastly kind, then that her beastly foe.


To sinfull house of Pride, Duessa

guides the faithfull knight,

Where brother’s death to wreak Sansjoy

doth chalenge him to fight.



YOUNG knight whatever that dost armes professe,

And through long labours huntest after fame,

Beware of fraud, beware of ficklenesse,

In choice, and change of thy deare loved Dame,


Least thou of her beleeve too lightly blame,

And rash misweening doe thy hart remove:

For unto knight there is no greater shame,

Then lightnesse and inconstancie in love;

That doth this Redcrosse knights ensample plainly prove.



10Who after that he had faire Una lorne,

Through light misdeeming of her loialtie,

And false Duessa in her sted had borne,

Called Fidess’, and so supposd to bee;

Long with her traveild, till at last they see


A goodly building, bravely garnished,

The house of mightie Prince it seemd to bee:

And towards it a broad high way that led,

All bare through peoples feet, which thither traveiled.



Great troupes of people traveild thitherward


Both day and night, of each degree and place,°

But few returned, having scaped hard,°

With balefull beggerie, or foule disgrace;

Which ever after in most wretched case,

Like loathsome lazars,° by the hedges lay.


Thither Duessa bad him bend his pace:

For she is wearie of the toilesome way,

And also nigh consumed is the lingring day.



A stately Pallace built of squared bricke,

Which cunningly was without morter laid,


Whose wals were high, but nothing strong, nor thick,

And golden foile all over them displaid,

That purest skye with brightnesse they dismaid:

High lifted up were many loftie towres,

And goodly galleries farre over laid,


Full of faire windowes and delightful bowres;

And on the top a Diall told the timely howres.



It was a goodly heape for to behould,

And spake the praises of the workmans wit;

But full great pittie, that so faire a mould


Did on so weake foundation ever sit:

For on a sandie hill, that still did flit

And fall away, it mounted was full hie,

That every breath of heaven shaked it:

And all the hinder parts, that few could spie,

45Were ruinous and old, but painted cunningly.



Arrived there, they passed in forth right;

For still to all the gates stood open wide:

Yet charge of them was to a Porter hight

Cald Malvenù,° who entrance none denide:


Thence to the hall, which was on every side

With rich array and costly arras dight:

Infinite sorts of people did abide

There waiting long, to win the wished sight

Of her that was the Lady of that Pallace bright.



55By them they passe, all gazing on them round,

And to the Presence mount; whose glorious vew

Their frayle amazed senses did confound:

In living Princes court none ever knew

Such endlesse richesse, and so sumptuous shew;


Ne Persia selfe, the nourse of pompous pride

Like ever saw. And there a noble crew

Of Lordes and Ladies stood on every side,

Which with their presence faire the place much beautifide.



High above all a cloth of State was spred,


And a rich throne, as bright as sunny day,

On which there sate most brave embellished

With royall robes and gorgeous array,

A mayden Queene, that shone as Titans ray,

In glistring gold, and peerelesse pretious stone:


Yet her bright blazing beautie did assay

To dim the brightnesse of her glorious throne,

As envying her selfe, that too exceeding shone.



Exceeding shone, like Phœbus fairest childe,°

That did presume his fathers firie wayne,


And flaming mouthes of steedes unwonted wilde

Through highest heaven with weaker hand to rayne;

Proud of such glory and advancement vaine,

While flashing beames do daze his feeble eyen,

He leaves the welkin way most beaten plaine,


And rapt with whirling wheeles, inflames the skyen,

With fire not made to burne, but fairely for to shyne.



So proud she shyned in her Princely state,

Looking to heaven; for earth she did disdayne:

And sitting high; for lowly she did hate:


Lo underneath her scornefull feete was layne

A dreadfull Dragon° with an hideous trayne,

And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,

Wherein her face she often vewed fayne,

And in her selfe-lov’d semblance tooke delight;

90For she was wondrous faire, as any living wight.



Of griesly Pluto she the daughter was,

And sad Proserpina the Queene of hell;

Yet did she thinke her pearlesse worth to pas

That parentage,° with pride so did she swell;


And thundring Jove, that high in heaven doth dwell,

And wield the world, she claymed for her syre,

Or if that any else did Jove excell:

For to the highest she did still aspyre,

Or if ought higher were then that, did it desyre.



100And proud Lucifera men did her call,

That made her selfe a Queene, and crownd to be,

Yet rightfull kingdome she had none at all,

Ne heritage of native soveraintie,

But did usurpe with wrong and tyrannie


Upon the scepter, which she now did hold:

Ne ruld her Realmes with lawes, but pollicie,

And strong advizement of six wisards old,°

That with their counsels bad her kingdome did uphold.



Soone as the Elfin knight in presence came,


And false Duessa seeming Lady faire,

A gentle Husher, Vanitie by name

Made rowme, and passage for them did prepaire:

So goodly brought them to the lowest staire

Of her high throne, where they on humble knee


Making obeyssance, did the cause declare,

Why they were come, her royall state to see,

To prove the wide report of her great Majestee.



With loftie eyes, halfe loth to looke so low,

She thanked them in her disdainefull wise;


Ne other grace vouchsafed them to show

Of Princesse worthy, scarse them bad arise.

Her Lordes and Ladies all this while devise

Themselves to setten forth to straungers sight:

Some frounce their curled haire in courtly guise,


Some prancke their ruffes, and others trimly dight

Their gay attire: each others greater pride does spight.



Goodly they all that knight do entertaine,

Right glad with him to have increast their crew:

But to Duess’ each one himselfe did paine


All kindnesse and faire courtesie to shew;

For in that court whylome her well they knew:

Yet the stout Faerie mongst the middest crowd

Thought all their glorie vaine in knightly vew,

And that great Princesse too exceeding prowd,

135That to strange knight no better countenance allowd.



Suddein upriseth from her stately place

The royall Dame, and for her coche did call:

All hurtlen forth, and she with Princely pace,

As faire Aurora in her purple pall,


Out of the east the dawning day doth call:

So forth she comes: her brightnesse brode doth blaze;

The heapes of people thronging in the hall,

Do ride each other, upon her to gaze:

Her glorious glitterand light doth all mens eyes amaze.



145So forth she comes, and to her coche° does clyme,

Adorned all with gold, and girlonds gay,

That seemd as fresh as Flora in her prime,

And strove to match, in royall rich array,

Great Junoes golden chaire, the which they say


The Gods stand gazing on, when she does ride

To Joves high house through heavens bras-paved way

Drawne of faire Pecocks, that excell in pride,

And full of Argus eyes their tailes dispredden wide.



But this was drawne of six unequall beasts,


On which her six sage Counsellours did ryde,

Taught to obay their bestiall beheasts,

With like conditions° to their kinds applyde:

Of which the first, that all the rest did guyde,

Was sluggish Idlenesse the nourse of sin;


Upon a slouthful Asse he chose to ryde,

Arayd in habit blacke, and amis thin,

Like to an holy Monck, the service to begin.



And in his hand his Portesse still he bare,

That much was worne, but therein little red,


For of devotion he had little care,

Still drownd in sleepe, and most of his dayes ded;

Scarse could he once uphold his heavie hed,

To looken, whether it were night or day:

May seeme the wayne was very evill led,


When such an one had guiding of the way,

That knew not, whether right he went, or else astray.



From worldly cares himselfe he did esloyne,

And greatly shunned manly exercise,

From every worke he chalenged essoyne,°


For contemplation sake: yet otherwise,

His life he led in lawlesse riotise;

By which he grew to grievous malady;

For in his lustlesse limbs through evill guise

A shaking fever raignd continually:

180Such one was Idlenesse, first of this company.


And by his side rode loathsome Gluttony,

Deformed creature, on a filthie swyne;

His belly was up-blowne with luxury,

And eke with fatnesse swollen were his eyne,


And like a Crane° his necke was long and fyne,

With which he swallowed up excessive feast,

For want whereof poore people oft did pyne;

And all the way, most like a brutish beast,

He spued up his gorge, that all did him deteast.



190In greene vine leaves he was right fitly clad;

For other clothes he could not weare for heat,

And on his head an yvie girland had,

From under which fast trickled downe the sweat:

Still as he rode, he somewhat still did eat,


And in his hand did beare a bouzing can,

Of which he supt so oft, that on his seat

His dronken corse he scarse upholden can,

In shape and life more like a monster, then a man.



Unfit he was for any worldly thing,


And eke unhable once to stirre or go,

Not meet to be of counsell to a king,

Whose mind in meat and drinke was drowned so,

That from his friend he seldome knew his fo:

Full of diseases was his carcas blew,


And a dry dropsie° through his flesh did flow:

Which by misdiet daily greater grew:

Such one was Gluttony, the second of that crew.



And next to him rode lustfull Lechery,

Upon a bearded Goat, whose rugged haire,


And whally eyes (the signe of gelosy),

Was like the person selfe, whom he did beare:

Who rough, and blacke, and filthy did appeare,

Unseemely man to please faire Ladies eye;

Yet he of Ladies oft was loved deare,


When fairer faces were bid standen by:

O who does know the bent of womens fantasy?



In a greene gowne he clothed was full faire,

Which underneath did hide his filthinesse,

And in his hand a burning hart he bare,


Full of vaine follies, and new fanglenesse,

For he was false, and fraught with ficklenesse;

And learned had to love with secret lookes;

And well could daunce, and sing with ruefulnesse,

And fortunes tell, and read in loving bookes,

225And thousand other wayes, to bait his fleshly hookes.



Inconstant man, that loved all he saw,

And lusted after all that he did love;

Ne would his looser life be tide to law,

But joyd weak wemens hearts to tempt and prove,


If from their loyall loves he might them move;

Which lewdnesse fild him with reprochfull paine

Of that fowle evill, which all men reprove,

That rots the marrow and consumes the braine:

Such one was Lecherie, the third of all this traine.



235And greedy Avarice by him did ride,

Upon a Camell° loaden all with gold;

Two iron coffers hong on either side,

With precious mettall full as they might hold;

And in his lap an heape of coine he told;


For of his wicked pelfe his God he made,

And unto hell him selfe for money sold;

Accursed usurie was all his trade,

And right and wrong ylike in equall ballaunce waide.



His life was nigh unto deaths doore yplast,


And thred-bare cote, and cobled shoes he ware,

Ne scarse good morsell all his life did tast,

But both from backe and belly still did spare,

To fill his bags, and richesse to compare;

Yet chylde ne kinsman living had he none


To leave them to; but thorough daily care

To get, and nightly feare to lose his owne,

He led a wretched life unto him selfe unknowne.°



Most wretched wight, whom nothing might suffise,

Whose greedy lust did lacke in greatest store,


Whose need had end, but no end covetise,

Whose wealth was want, whose plenty made him pore,

Who had enough, yet wished ever more;

A vile disease, and eke in foote and hand

A grievous gout tormented him full sore,


That well he could not touch, nor go, nor stand;

Such one was Avarice, the fourth of this faire band.



And next to him malicious Envie rode,

Upon a ravenous wolfe, and still did chaw

Betweene his cankred teeth a venemous tode,


That all the poison ran about his chaw;

But inwardly he chawed his owne maw

At neighbours wealth, that made him ever sad;

For death it was when any good he saw,

And wept, that cause of weeping none he had,

270But when he heard of harme, he wexed wondrous glad.



All in a kirtle of discolourd say

He clothed was, ypainted full of eyes;

And in his bosome secretly there lay

An hatefull Snake, the which his taile uptyes


In many folds, and mortall sting implyes.

Still as he rode, he gnasht his teeth, to see

Those heapes of gold with griple Covetyse;

And grudged at the great felicitie

Of proud Lucifera, and his owne companie.



280He hated all good workes and vertuous deeds,

And him no lesse, that any like did use,

And who with gracious bread the hungry feeds,

His almes for want of faith he doth accuse;

So every good to bad he doth abuse:


And eke the verse of famous Poets witt

He does backebite, and spightfull poison spues

From leprous mouth on all that ever writt:

Such one vile Envie was, that fifte in row did sitt.



And him beside rides fierce revenging Wrath,


Upon a Lion, loth for to be led;

And in his hand a burning brond he hath,

The which he brandisheth about his hed;

His eyes did hurle forth sparkles fiery red,

And stared sterne on all that him beheld,


As ashes pale of hew and seeming ded;

And on his dagger still his hand he held,

Trembling through hasty rage, when choler in him sweld.



His ruffin raiment all was staind with blood,

Which he had spilt, and all to rags yrent,


Through unadvized rashnesse woxen wood;

For of his hands he had no governement,

Ne car’d for bloud in his avengement:

But when the furious fit was overpast,

His cruell facts he often would repent;


Yet wilfull man he never would forecast,

How many mischieves should ensue his heedlesse hast.



Full many mischiefes follow cruell Wrath;

Abhorred bloodshed and tumultuous strife,

Unmanly murder, and unthrifty scath,°


Bitter despight, with rancours rusty knife,

And fretting griefe the enemy of life;

All these, and many evils moe haunt ire,

The swelling Splene,° and Frenzy raging rife,

The shaking Palsey, and Saint Fraunces fire:°

315Such one was Wrath, the last of this ungodly tire.



And after all, upon the wagon beame

Rode Sathan, with a smarting whip in hand,

With which he forward lasht the laesie teme,

So oft as Slowth still in the mire did stand.


Hugh routs of people did about them band,

Showting for joy, and still before their way

A foggy mist had covered all the land;

And underneath their feet, all scattered lay

Dead sculs and bones of men, whose life had gone astray.



325So forth they marchen in this goodly sort,

To take the solace of the open aire,

And in fresh flowring fields themselves to sport;

Emongst the rest rode that false Lady faire,

The foule Duessa, next unto the chaire


Of proud Lucifera, as one of the traine:

But that good knight would not so nigh repaire,

Him selfe estraunging from their joyaunce vaine,

Whose fellowship seemd far unfit for warlike swaine.



So having solaced themselves a space


With pleasaunce° of the breathing fields yfed,

They backe retourned to the Princely Place;

Whereas an errant knight in armes ycled,

And heathnish shield, wherein with letters red

Was writ Sans joy, they new arrived find:


Enflam’d with fury and fiers hardy-hed

He seemd in hart to harbour thoughts unkind,

And nourish bloudy vengeaunce in his bitter mind.



Who when the shamed shield of slaine Sansfoy

He spide with that same Faery champions page,


Bewraying him, that did of late destroy

His eldest brother, burning all with rage

He to him leapt, and that same envious gage

Of victors glory from him snatcht away:

But th’ Elfin knight, which ought that warlike wage


Disdaind to loose the meed he wonne in fray,

And him rencountring fierce, reskewd the noble pray.



Therewith they gan to hurtlen greedily,

Redoubted battaile ready to darrayne,

And clash their shields, and shake their swords on hy,


That with their sturre they troubled all the traine;

Till that great Queene upon eternall paine

Of high displeasure that ensewen might,

Commaunded them their fury to refraine,

And if that either to that shield had right,

360In equall lists they should the morrow next it fight.


Ah dearest Dame, (quoth then the Paynim bold,)

Pardon the error of enraged wight,

Whom great griefe made forget the raines to hold

Of reasons rule, to see this recreant knight,


No knight, but treachour full of false despight

And shamefull treason, who through guile hath slayn

The prowest knight that ever field did fight,

Even stout Sansfoy (O who can then refrayn?)

Whose shield he beares renverst, the more to heape disdayn.



370And to augment the glorie of his guile,

His dearest love, the faire Fidessa, loe

Is there possessed of the traytour vile,

Who reapes the harvest sowen by his foe,

Sowen in bloudy field, and bought with woe:


That brothers hand shall dearely well requight,

So be, O Queene, you equall favour showe.

Him litle answerd th’ angry Elfin knight;

He never meant with words, but swords to plead his right.



But threw his gauntlet as a sacred pledge,


His cause in combat the next day to try:

So been they parted both, with harts on edge

To be aveng’d each on his enimy.

That night they pas in joy and jollity,

Feasting and courting both in bowre and hall;


For Steward was excessive Gluttonie,

That of his plenty poured forth to all;

Which doen, the Chamberlain Slowth did to rest them call.



Now whenas darkesome night had all displayed

Her coleblacke curtein over brightest skye,


The warlike youthes on dayntie couches layd,

Did chace away sweet sleepe from sluggish eye,

To muse on meanes of hoped victory.

But whenas Morpheus had with leaden mace

Arrested all that courtly company,


Up-rose Duessa from her resting place,

And to the Paynims lodging comes with silent pace.



Whom broad awake she finds, in troublous fit,

Forecasting, how his foe he might annoy,

And him amoves with speaches seeming fit:


Ah deare Sansjoy, next dearest to Sansfoy,

Cause of my new griefe, cause of my new joy,

Joyous, to see his ymage in mine eye,

And greev’d, to thinke how foe did him destroy,

That was the flowre of grace and chevalrye;

405Lo his Fidessa to thy secret faith I flye.



With gentle wordes he can her fairely greet,

And bad say on the secret of her hart.

Then sighing soft, I learne that litle sweet

Oft tempred is (quoth she) with muchell smart:


For since my brest was launcht with lovely dart

Of deare Sans foy, I never joyed howre,

But in eternall woes my weaker hart

Have wasted, loving him with all my powre,

And for his sake have felt full many an heavie stowre.



415At last when perils all I weened past,

And hop’d to reape the crop of all my care,

Into new woes unweeting I was cast,

By this false faytor, who unworthy ware

His worthy shield, whom he with guilefull snare


Entrapped slew, and brought to shamefull grave.

Me silly maid away with him he bare,

And ever since hath kept in darksome cave,

For that I would not yeeld, that to Sans foy I gave.



But since faire Sunne hath sperst that lowring clowd,


And to my loathed life now shewes some light,

Under your beames I will me safely shrowd,

From dreaded storme of his disdainfull spight:

To you th’ inheritance belongs by right

Of brothers prayse, to you eke longs his love.


Let not his love, let not his restlesse spright,

Be unreveng’d, that calles to you above

From wandring Stygian shores, where it doth endlesse move.



Thereto said he, Faire Dame, be nought dismaid

For sorrowes past; their griefe is with them gone:


Ne yet of present perill be affraid;

For needlesse feare did never vantage none

And helplesse hap° it booteth not to mone.

Dead is Sansfoy, his vitall paines are past,

Though greeved ghost for vengeance deepe do grone:


He lives, that shall him pay his dewties last,°

And guiltie Elfin blood shall sacrifice in hast.



O but I feare the fickle freakes (quoth shee)

Of fortune false, and oddes of armes° in field.

Why Dame (quoth he) what oddes can ever bee,


Where both do fight alike, to win or yield?

Yea but (quoth she) he beares a charmed shield,

And eke enchaunted armes, that none can perce,

Ne none can wound the man that does them wield.

Charmd or enchaunted (answerd he then ferce)

450I no whit reck, ne you the like need to reherce.



But faire Fidessa, sithens fortunes guile,

Or enimies powre, hath now captived you,

Returne from whence ye came, and rest a while

Till morrow next, that I the Elfe subdew,


And with Sansfoyes dead dowry you endew.

Ay me, that is a double death (she said)

With proud foes sight my sorrow to renew:

Where ever yet I be, my secret aid

Shall follow you. So passing forth she him obaid.


The faithfull knight in equall field

subdewes his faithlesse foe,

Whom false Duessa saves, and for

his cure to hell does goe.



THE noble hart, that harbours vertuous thought,

And is with child of glorious great intent,

Can never rest, untill it forth have brought

Th’ eternall brood of glorie excellent.


Such restlesse passion did all night torment

The flaming corage of that Faery knight,

Devizing, how that doughtie turnament

With greatest honour he atchieven might;

Still did he wake, and still did watch for dawning light.


10At last the golden Orientall gate,

Of greatest heaven gan to open faire,

And Phoebus fresh, as bridegrome to his mate,

Came dauncing forth, shaking his deawie haire:

And hurls his glistring beams through gloomy aire.


Which when the wakeful Elfe perceiv’d, streightway

He started up, and did him selfe prepaire,

In sunbright armes, and battailous array:

For with that Pagan proud he combat will that day.



And forth he comes into the commune hall,


Where earely waite him many a gazing eye,

To weet what end to straunger knights may fall.

There many Minstrales maken melody,

To drive away the dull melancholy,

And many Bardes, that to the trembling chord


Can tune their timely voyces° cunningly,

And many Chroniclers that can record

Old loves,° and warres for Ladies doen by many a Lord.



Soone after comes the cruell Sarazin,

In woven maile° all armed warily,


And sternly lookes at him, who not a pin

Does care for looke of living creatures eye.

They bring them wines of Greece and Araby,°

And daintie spices fetcht from furthest Ynd,°

To kindle heat of corage privily:


And in the wine a solemne oth they bynd

T’ observe the sacred lawes of armes, that are assynd.



At last forth comes that far renowmed Queene,

With royall pomp and Princely majestie;

She is ybrought unto a paled greene,°


And placed under stately canapee,

The warlike feates of both those knights to see.

On th’ other side in all mens open vew

Duessa placed is, and on a tree

Sans-foy his° shield is hangd with bloody hew:

45Both those° the lawrell girlonds to the victor dew.



A shrilling trompet sownded from on hye,

And unto battaill bad them selves addresse:

Their shining shieldes about their wrestes they tye,

And burning blades about their heads do blesse,


The instruments of wrath and heavinesse:

With greedy force each other doth assayle,

And strike so fiercely, that they do impresse

Deepe dinted furrowes in the battred mayle;

The yron walles to ward their blowes are weak and fraile.



55The Sarazin was stout, and wondrous strong,

And heaped blowes like yron hammers great;

For after bloud and vengeance he did long.

The knight was fiers, and full of youthly heat,

And doubled strokes, like dreaded thunders threat:


For all for prayse and honour he did fight.

Both stricken strike, and beaten both do beat,

That from their shields forth flyeth firie light,

And helmets hewen deepe show marks of eithers might.



So th’ one for wrong, the other strives for right;


As when a Gryfon° seized of his pray,

A Dragon fiers encountreth in his flight,

Through widest ayre making his ydle way,

That would his rightfull ravine rend away;

With hideous horror both together smight,


And souce so sore that they the heavens affray:

The wise Soothsayer seeing so sad sight,

Th’ amazed vulgar tels of warres and mortall fight.



So th’ one for wrong, the other strives for right,

And each to deadly shame would drive his foe:


The cruell steele so greedily doth bight

In tender flesh that streames of bloud down flow,

With which the armes, that earst so bright did show,

Into a pure vermillion now are dyde:

Great ruth in all the gazers harts did grow,


Seeing the gored woundes to gape so wyde,

That victory they dare not wish to either side.



At last the Paynim chaunst to cast his eye,

His suddein eye, flaming with wrathful fyre,

Upon his brothers shield, which hong thereby:


Therewith redoubled was his raging yre,

And said, Ah wretched sonne of wofull syre,

Doest thou sit wayling by blacke Stygian lake,

Whilest here thy shield is hangd for victors hyre,

And sluggish german° doest thy forces slake

90To after-send his foe, that him may overtake?



Goe caytive Elfe, him quickly overtake,

And soone redeeme from his long wandring woe;

Goe guiltie ghost, to him my message make,

That I his shield have quit from dying foe.


Therewith upon his crest he stroke him so,

That twise he reeled, readie twise to fall;

End of the doubtfull battell deemed tho

The lookers on, and lowd to him gan call

The false Duessa, Thine the shield, and I, and all.



100Soone as the Faerie heard his Ladie speake,°

Out of his swowning dreame he gan awake,

And quickning faith, that earst was woxen weake,

The creeping deadly cold away did shake:

Tho mov’d with wrath, and shame, and Ladies sake,


Of all attonce he cast avengd to bee,

And with so’ exceeding furie at him strake,

That forced him to stoupe upon his knee;

Had he not stouped so, he should have cloven bee.



And to him said, Goe now proud Miscreant,


Thy selfe thy message do to german deare;

Alone he wandring thee too long doth want:

Goe say, his foe thy shield with his doth beare.

Therewith his heavie hand he high gan reare,

Him to have slaine; when loe a darkesome clowd°


Upon him fell: he no where doth appeare,

But vanisht is. The Elfe him calls alowd,

But answer none receives: the darkness him does shrowd.



In haste Duessa from her place arose,

And to him running said, O prowest knight,


That ever Ladie to her love did chose,

Let now abate the terror of your might,

And quench the flame of furious despight,

And bloudie vengeance; lo th’ infernall powres,

Covering your foe with cloud of deadly night,


Have borne him hence to Plutoes balefull bowres.

The conquest yours, I yours, the shield, the glory yours.



Not all so satisfide, with greedie eye

He sought all round about, his thristie blade

To bath in bloud of faithlesse enemy;


Who all that while lay hid in secret shade:

He standes amazed, how he thence should fade.

At last the trumpets Triumph sound on hie,

And running Heralds humble homage made,

Greeting him goodly with new victorie,

135And to him brought the shield, the cause of enmitie.



Wherewith he goeth to that soveraine Queene,

And falling her before on lowly knee,

To her makes present of his service seene:

Which she accepts, with thankes, and goodly gree,


Greatly advauncing his gay chevalree.

So marcheth home, and by her takes the knight,

Whom all the people follow with great glee,

Shouting, and clapping all their hands on hight,

That all the aire it fils, and flyes to heaven bright.



145Home is he brought, and laid in sumptuous bed:

Where many skilfull leaches him abide,

To salve his hurts, that yet still freshly bled.

In wine and oyle they wash his woundes wide,

And softly can embalme on every side.


And all the while, most heavenly melody

About the bed sweet musicke did divide,

Him to beguile of griefe and agony:

And all the while Duessa wept full bitterly.



As when a wearie traveller that strayes


By muddy shore of broad seven-mouthed Nile,

Unweeting of the perillous wandring wayes,

Doth meete a cruell craftie Crocodile,

Which in false griefe hyding his harmefull guile,

Doth weepe full sore, and sheddeth tender teares:°


The foolish man, that pitties all this while

His mournefull plight, is swallowed up unawares,

Forgetfull of his owne, that mindes anothers cares.



So wept Duessa untill eventide,

That shyning lampes in Joves high house were light:


Then forth she rose, ne lenger would abide,

But comes unto the place, where th’ Hethen knight

In slombring swownd nigh voyd of vitall spright,

Lay cover’d with inchaunted cloud all day:

Whom when she found, as she him left in plight,


To wayle his woefull case she would not stay,

But to the easterne coast of heaven makes speedy way.



Where griesly Night,° with visage deadly sad,

That Phœbus chearefull face durst never vew,

And in a foule blacke pitchie mantle clad,


She findes forth comming from her darkesome mew,

Where she all day did hide her hated hew.

Before the dore her yron charet stood,

Alreadie harnessed for journey new;

And coleblacke steedes yborne of hellish brood,

180That on their rustie bits did champ, as they were wood.



Who when she saw Duessa sunny bright,

Adornd with gold and jewels shining cleare,

She greatly grew amazed at the sight,

And th’ unacquainted light began to feare:


For never did such brightnesse there appeare,

And would have backe retyred to her cave,

Until the witches speech she gan to heare,

Saying, Yet, O thou dreaded Dame, I crave

Abide, till I have told the message which I have.



190She stayd, and foorth Duessa gan proceede

O thou most auncient Grandmother of all,

More old then Jove, whom thou at first didst breede,

Or that great house of Gods cælestiall,

Which wast begot in Daemogorgons hall,


And sawst the secrets of the world unmade,

Why suffredst thou thy Nephewes deare to fall

With Elfin sword, most shamefully betrade?

Lo where the stout Sansjoy doth sleepe in deadly shade.



And him before, I saw with bitter eyes


The bold Sansfoy shrinke underneath his speare;

And now the pray of fowles in field he lyes,

Nor wayld of friends, nor layd on groning beare,°

That whylome was to me too dearely deare.

O what of Gods° then boots it to be borne,


If old Aveugles sonnes so evill heare?

Or who shall not great Nightes children scorne,

When two of three her Nephews are so fowle forlorne?



Up then, up dreary Dame, of darknesse Queene,

Go gather up the reliques of thy race,


Or else goe them avenge, and let be seene,

That dreaded Night in brightest day hath place,

And can the children of faire light deface.

Her feeling speeches some compassion moved

In hart, and chaunge in that great mothers face:


Yet pittie in her hart was never proved

Till then: for evermore she hated, never loved.



And said, Deare daughter rightly may I rew

The fall of famous children borne of mee,

And good successes,° which their foes ensew:


But who can turne the streame of destinee,

Or breake the chayne° of strong necessitee,

Which fast is tyde to Joves eternall seat?

The sonnes of Day he favoureth, I see,

And by my ruines thinkes to make them great:

225To make one great by others losse, is bad excheat.°



Yet shall they not escape so freely all;

For some shall pay the price of others guilt:

And he the man that made Sansfoy to fall,

Shall with his owne bloud° price that he has spilt.


But what art thou, that telst of Nephews kilt?

I that do seeme not I, Duessa am,

(Quoth she) how ever now in garments gilt,

And gorgeous gold arrayd I to thee came;

Duessa I, the daughter of Deceipt and Shame.



235Then bowing downe her aged backe, she kist

The wicked witch, saying; In that faire face

The false resemblance of Deceipt I wist

Did closely lurke; yet so true-seeming grace

It carried, that I scarce in darkesome place


Could it discerne, though I the mother bee

Of falshood, and roote of Duessaes race.

O welcome child, whom I have longd to see,

And now have seene unwares. Lo now I go with thee.



Then to her yron wagon she betakes,


And with her beares the fowle welfavourd witch:

Through mirkesome aire her readie way she makes.

Her twyfold Teme, of which two blacke as pitch,

And two were browne, yet each to each unlich,

Did softly swim away, ne ever stampe,


Unlesse she chaunst their stubborne mouths to twitch;

Then foming tarre, their bridles they would champe,

And trampling the fine element would fiercely rampe.



So well they sped, that they be come at length

Unto the place, whereas the Paynim lay,


Devoid of outward sense, and native strength,

Coverd with charmed cloud from vew of day

And sight of men, since his late luckelesse fray.

His cruell wounds with cruddy bloud congeald

They binden up so wisely, as they may,


And handle softly, till they can be healed:

So lay him in her charet close in night concealed.



And all the while she stood upon the ground,

The wakefull dogs did never cease to bay,°

As giving warning of th’ unwonted sound,


With which her yron wheeles did them affray,

And her darke griesly looke them much dismay:

The messenger of death, the ghastly Owle°

With drery shriekes did also her bewray;

And hungry Wolves continually did howle,

270At her abhorred face, so filthy and so fowle.



Thence turning backe in silence soft they stole,

And brought the heavie corse with easie pace

To yawning gulfe of deepe Avernus hole.°

By that same hole an entrance darke and bace


With smoake and sulphure hiding all the place,

Descends to hell: there creature never past,

That backe returned without heavenly grace;

But dreadfull Furies which their chaines have brast,

And damned sprights sent forth to make ill men aghast.



280By that same way the direfull dames doe drive

Their mournefull charet, fild with rusty blood,

And downe to Plutoes house are come bilive:

Which passing through, on every side them stood

The trembling ghosts with sad amazed mood,


Chattring their yron teeth, and staring wide

With stonie eyes; and all the hellish brood

Of feends infernall flockt on every side,

To gaze on earthly wight that with the Night durst ride.



They pas the bitter waves of Acheron,


Where many soules sit wailing woefully,

And come to fiery flood of Phlegeton,

Whereas the damned ghosts in torments fry,

And with sharpe shrilling shriekes doe bootlesse cry,

Cursing high Jove, the which them thither sent.


The house of endlesse paine is built thereby,

In which ten thousand sorts of punishment

The cursed creatures doe eternally torment.



Before the threshold dreadfull Cerberus°

His three deformed heads did lay along,


Curled with thousand adders venemous,

And lilled forth his bloudie flaming tong:

At them he gan to reare his bristles strong,

And felly gnarre, until Dayes enemy

Did him appease; then downe his taile he hong


And suffred them to passen quietly:

For she in hell and heaven had power equally.



There was Ixion turned on a wheele,°

For daring tempt the Queene of heaven to sin;

And Sisyphus an huge round stone did reele


Against an hill, ne might from labour lin;

There thirsty Tantalus hong by the chin;

And Tityus fed a vulture on his maw;

Typhœus joynts were stretched on a gin,

Theseus condemnd to endlesse slouth by law,

315And fifty sisters water in leake vessels draw.



They all beholding worldly wights in place,

Leave off their worke, unmindfull of their smart,

To gaze on them; who forth by them doe pace,

Till they be come unto the furthest part;


Where was a Cave ywrought by wondrous art,

Deepe, darke, uneasie, dolefull, comfortlesse,

In which sad Aesculapius° farre apart

Emprisond was in chaines remedilesse,

For that Hippolytus rent corse he did redresse.



325Hippolytus a jolly huntsman was

That wont in charett chace the foming Bore:

He all his Peeres in beauty did surpas,

But Ladies love as losse of time forbore:

His wanton stepdame loved him the more,


But when she saw her offred sweets refused,

Her love she turnd to hate, and him before

His father fierce of treason false accused,

And with her gealous termes his open eares abused.



Who all in rage his Sea-god syre besought,


Some cursed vengeaunce on his sonne to cast,

From surging gulf two monsters straight were brought,

With dread whereof his chasing steedes aghast,

Both charet swift and huntsman overcast.

His goodly corps on ragged cliffs yrent,


Was quite dismembred, and his members chast

Scattered on every mountaine, as he went,

That of Hippolytus was left no moniment.



His cruell step-dame seeing what was donne,

Her wicked dayes with wretched knife did end,


In death avowing th’ innocence of her sonne,

Which hearing, his rash Syre began to rend

His haire, and hastie tongue that did offend.

Tho gathering up the relicks of his smart,

By Dianes meanes, who was Hippolyts frend,


Them brought to Æsculape, that by his art

Did heale them all againe, and joyned every part.


Such wondrous science in mans wit to raine

When Jove avizd, that could the dead revive,

And fates expired° could renew againe,


Of endlesse life he might him not deprive,

But unto hell did thrust him downe alive,

With flashing thunderbolt ywounded sore:

Where long remaining, he did alwaies strive

Himselfe with salves to health for to restore,

360And slake the heavenly fire, that raged evermore.



There auncient Night arriving, did alight

From her nigh wearie waine, and in her armes

To Æsculapius brought the wounded knight:

Whom having softly disarayd of armes,


Tho gan to him discover all his harmes,

Beseeching him with prayer, and with praise,

If either salves, or oyles, or herbes, or charmes

A fordonne wight from dore of death mote raise,

He would at her request prolong her nephews daies.



370Ah Dame (quoth he) thou temptest me in vaine,

To dare the thing, which daily yet I rew,

And the old cause of my continued paine

With like attempt to like end to renew.

Is not enough, that thrust from heaven dew


Here endlesse penance for one fault I pay,

But that redoubled crime with vengeance new

Thou biddest me to eeke? can Night defray

The wrath of thundring Jove that rules both night and day?



Not so (quoth she) but sith that heavens king


From hope of heaven hath thee excluded quight,

Why fearest thou, that canst not hope for thing;

And fearest not, that more thee hurten might,

Now in the powre of everlasting Night?

Goe to then, O thou farre renowmed sonne


Of great Apollo, shew thy famous might

In medicine, that else hath to thee wonne

Great paines, and greater praise,° both never to be donne.



Her words prevaild: And then the learned leach

His cunning hand gan to his wounds to lay,


And all things else, the which his art did teach:

Which having seene, from thence arose away

The mother of dread darknesse, and let stay

Aveugles sonne there in the leaches cure,

And backe returning tooke her wonted way,


To runne her timely race, whilst Phœbus pure,

In westerne waves his weary wagon did recure.



The false Duessa leaving noyous Night,

Returnd to stately pallace of Dame Pride;

Where when she came, she found the Faery knight


Departed thence, albe his woundes wide

Not throughly heald, unreadie were to ride.

Good cause he had to hasten thence away;

For on a day his wary Dwarfe had spide

Where in a dongeon deepe huge numbers lay

405Of caytive wretched thrals, that wayled night and day.



A ruefull sight, as could be seene with eie;

Of whom he learned had in secret wise

The hidden cause of their captivitie,

How mortgaging their lives to Covetise,


Through wastfull Pride and wanton Riotise,

They were by law of that proud Tyrannesse,

Provokt with Wrath, and Envies false surmise,

Condemned to that Dongeon mercilesse,

Where they should live in woe, and die in wretchednesse.



415There was that great proud king of Babylon,°

That would compell all nations to adore,

And him as onely God to call upon,

Till through celestiall doome throwne out of dore,

Into an Oxe he was transform’d of yore:


There also was king Croesus,° that enhaunst

His hart too high through his great riches store;

And proud Antiochus,° the which advaunst

His cursed hand gainst God and on his altars daunst.



And them long time before, great Nimrod° was,


That first the world with sword and fire warrayd;

And after him old Ninus° farre did pas

In princely pompe, of all the world obayd;

There also was that mightie Monarch° layd

Low under all, yet above all in pride,


That name of native syre did fowle upbrayd,

And would as Ammons sonne be magnifide,

Till scornd of God and man a shamefull death he dide.



All these together in one heape were throwne,

Like carkases of beasts in butchers stall.


And in another corner wide were strowne

The antique ruines of the Romaines fall:

Great Romulus° the Grandsyre of them all,

Proud Tarquin,° and too lordly Lentulus,°

Stout Scipio,° and stubborne Hanniball,°


Ambitious Sylla,° and sterne Marius,°

High Caesar,° great Pompey,° and fierce Antonius.°



Amongst these mightie men were wemen mixt,

Proud wemen, vaine, forgetfull of their yoke:

The bold Semiramis,° whose sides transfixt


With sonnes own blade, her fowle reproches spoke;

Faire Sthenoboea,° that her selfe did choke

With wilfull cord, for wanting of her will;

High minded Cleopatra,° that with stroke

Of Aspes sting her selfe did stoutly kill:

450And thousands moe the like, that did that dongeon fill;



Besides the endlesse routs of wretched thralles,

Which thither were assembled day by day,

From all the world after their wofull falles

Through wicked pride, and wasted wealthes decay.


But most of all, which in the Dongeon lay,

Fell from high Princes courts, or Ladies bowres;

Where they in idle pompe, or wanton play,

Consumed had their goods, and thriftlesse howres,

And lastly throwne themselves into these heavy stowres.



460Whose case when as the carefull Dwarfe had tould,

And made ensample of their mournefull sight

Unto his maister, he no lenger would

There dwell in perill of like painefull plight,

But early rose, and ere that dawning light


Discovered had the world to heaven wyde,

He by a privie Posterne tooke his flight,

That of no envious eyes he mote be spyde:

For doubtlesse death ensewd, if any him descryde.



Scarse could he footing find in that fowle way,


For many corses, like a great Lay-stall,

Of murdred men which therein strowed lay,

Without remorse, or decent funerall:

Which all through that great Princesse pride did fall

And came to shamefull end. And them beside


Forth ryding underneath the castell wall,

A donghill of dead carkases he spide,

The dreadfull spectacle of that sad house of Pride.


From lawlesse lust by wondrous grace

fayre Una is releast:

Whom salvage nation does adore,

and learnes her wise beheast.



AS when a ship, that flyes faire under saile,

An hidden rocke escaped hath unwares,

That lay in waite her wrack for to bewaile,

The Marriner yet halfe amazed stares


At perill past, and yet in doubt ne dares

To joy at his foole-happie oversight:

So doubly is distrest twixt joy and cares

The dreadlesse courage of this Elfin knight,

Having escapt so sad ensamples in his sight.



10Yet sad he was that his too hastie speede

The faire Duess’ had forst him leave behind;

And yet more sad, that Una his deare dreed

Her truth had staind with treason so unkind;

Yet crime in her could never creature find,


But for his love, and for her owne selfe sake,

She wandred had from one to other Ynd,°

Him for to seeke, ne ever would forsake,

Till her unwares the fiers Sansloy did overtake.



Who, after Archimagoes fowle defeat,


Led her away into a forest wilde,

And turning wrathfull fyre to lustfull heat,

With beastly sin thought her to have defilde,

And made the vassal of his pleasures wilde.

Yet first he cast by treatie, and by traynes,


Her to persuade that stubborne fort to yilde:

For greater conquest of hard love he gaynes,

That workes it to his will, then he that it constraines.



With fawning words he courted her awhile,

And looking lovely, and oft sighing sore,


Her constant hart did tempt with diverse guile,

But wordes and lookes, and sighes she did abhore;

As rocke of Diamond steadfast evermore,

Yet for to feed his fyrie lustfull eye,

He snatcht the vele that hong her face before;


Then gan her beautie shyne, as brightest skye

And burnt his beastly hart t’efforce her chastitye.



So when he saw his flatt’ring artes to fayle,

And subtile engines bett from batteree;

With greedy force he gan the fort assayle,


Whereof he weend possessed soone to bee,

And with rich spoile of ransackt chastitee.

Ah heavens! that do this hideous act behold,

And heavenly virgin thus outraged see,

How can ye vengeance just so long withold

45And hurle not flashing flames upon that Paynim bold?



The pitteous maiden carefull comfortlesse,

Does throw out thrilling shriekes, and shrieking cryes,

The last vaine helpe of womens great distresse,

And with loud plaints importuneth the skyes,


That molten starres do drop like weeping eyes;

And Phœbus flying so most shameful sight,

His blushing face in foggy cloud implyes,

And hides for shame. What wit of mortall wight

Can now devise to quit a thrall from such a plight?



55Eternal providence exceeding thought,

Where none appeares can make herselfe a way:

A wondrous way it for this Lady wrought,

From Lyons clawes to pluck the griped pray.

Her shrill outcryes and shriekes so loud did bray,


That all the woodes and forestes did resownd;

A troupe of Faunes and Satyres° far away

Within the wood were dauncing in a rownd,

Whiles old Sylvanus° slept in shady arber sownd:



Who when they heard that pitteous strained voice,


In haste forsooke their rurall meriment,

And ran towards the far rebownded noyce,

To weet, what wight so loudly did lament.

Unto the place they come incontinent:

Whom when the raging Sarazin espide,


A rude, mishapen, monstrous rablement,

Whose like he never saw, he durst not bide,

But got his ready steed, and fast away gan ride.


The wyld woodgods arrived in the place,

There find the virgin dolefull desolate,


With ruffled rayments, and faire blubbred face,

As her outrageous foe had left her late;

And trembling yet through feare of former hate:

All stand amazed at so uncouth sight,

And gin to pittie her unhappie state;


All stand astonied at her beautie bright,

In their rude eyes unworthy of so wofull plight.



She more amaz’d, in double dread doth dwell;

And every tender part for feare doth shake:

As when a greedie Wolfe, through hunger fell,


A seely Lambe farre from the flocke does take,

Of whom he meanes his bloudie feast to make,

A Lyon spyes fast running towards him,

The innocent pray in hast he does forsake,

Which quit from death yet quakes in every lim

90With chaunge of feare,° to see the Lyon looke so grim.



Such fearefull fit assaid her trembling hart,

Ne word to speake, ne joynt to move she had:

The salvage nation feele her secret smart,

And read her sorrow in her count’nance sad;


Their frowning forheads with rough hornes yclad,

And rustick horror° all a side doe lay;

And gently grenning, show a semblance glad

To comfort her, and feare to put away,

Their backward bent knees° teach her humbly to obay.



100The doubtfull Damzell dare not yet commit

Her single person to their barbarous truth;°

But still twixt feare and hope amazd does sit,

Late learnd° what harme to hasty trust ensu’th:

They in compassion of her tender youth,


And wonder of her beautie soveraine,

Are wonne with pitty and unwonted ruth,

And all prostrate upon the lowly plaine,

Do kisse her feete, and fawne on her with count’nance faine.



Their harts she ghesseth by their humble guise,


And yieldes her to extremitie of time;

So from the ground she fearlesse doth arise,

And walketh forth without suspect of crime:°

They all as glad, as birdes of joyous Prime,

Thence lead her forth, about her dauncing round,


Shouting, and singing all a shepheards ryme,

And with greene braunches strowing all the ground,

Do worship her, as Queene, with olive° girlond cround.



And all the way their merry pipes they sound,

That all the woods with doubled Eccho ring,


And with their horned feet° do weare the ground,

Leaping like wanton kids in pleasant Spring.

So towards old Sylvanus they her bring;

Who with the noyse awaked commeth out

To weet the cause, his weake steps governing,


And aged limbs on Cypresse stadle stout;

And with an yvie twyne his wast is girt about.



Far off he wonders, what them makes so glad,

Or Bacchus merry fruit° they did invent,

Or Cybeles franticke rites° have made them mad,


They drawing nigh, unto their God present

That flowre of faith and beautie excellent.

The God himselfe, vewing that mirrhour rare,°

Stood long amazd, and burnt in his intent;

His owne faire Dryope° now he thinkes not faire,

135And Pholoe fowle when her to this he doth compaire.



The woodborne people fall before her flat,

And worship her as Goddesse of the wood;

And old Sylvanus selfe bethinkes not, what

To thinke of wight so faire, but gazing stood,


In doubt to deeme her borne of earthly brood;

Sometimes Dame Venus selfe he seemes to see,

But Venus never had so sober mood;

Sometimes Diana he her takes to bee,

But misseth bow, and shaftes, and buskins to her knee.



145By vew of her he ginneth to revive

His ancient love, and dearest Cyparisse,°

And calles to mind his pourtraiture alive,

How faire he was, and yet not faire to this,°

And how he slew with glauncing dart amisse


A gentle Hynd, the which the lovely boy

Did love as life, above all worldly blisse;

For griefe whereof the lad n’ould after joy,°

But pynd away in anguish and selfe-wild annoy.°



The wooddy Nymphes, faire Hamadryades,°


Her to behold do thither runne apace,

And all the troupe of light-foot Naiades°

Flocke all about to see her lovely face:

But when they vewed have her heavenly grace,

They envy her in their malitious mind,


And fly away for feare of fowle disgrace:

But all the Satyres scorne their woody kind,°

And henceforth nothing faire but her on earth they find.



Glad of such lucke, the luckelesse° lucky maid,

Did her content to please their feeble eyes,


And long time with that salvage people staid,

To gather breath in many miseries.

During which time her gentle wit she plyes,

To teach them truth, which worshipt her in vaine,

And made her th’ Image of Idolatryes°;


But when their bootlesse zeale she did restraine

From her own worship, they her Asse would worship fayn.



It fortuned a noble warlike knight°

By just occasion° to that forrest came,

To seeke his kindred, and the lignage right,


From whence he tooke his well deserved name:

He had in armes abroad wonne muchell fame,

And fild far lands with glorie of his might,

Plaine, faithfull, true, and enimy of shame,

And ever lov’d to fight for Ladies right:

180But in vaine glorious frayes he litle did delight.



A Satyres sonne yborne in forrest wyld,

By straunge adventure as it did betyde,

And there begotten of a Lady myld,

Faire Thyamis° the daughter of Labryde,


That was in sacred bands of wedlocke tyde

To Therion, a loose unruly swayne;

Who had more joy to raunge the forrest wyde,

And chase the salvage beast with busie payne,

Then serve his Ladies love, and wast in pleasures vayne.



190The forlorne mayd did with loves longing burne

And could not lacke her lovers company,

But to the wood she goes, to serve her turne,

And seeke her spouse that from her still does fly,

And followes other game and venery:


A Satyre chaunst her wandring for to finde,

*          *          *          *          *

And made her person thrall unto his beastly kind.



So long in secret cabin there he held

*          *          *          *          *

Then home he suffred her for to retyre,

For ransome leaving him the late borne childe;


Whom till to ryper yeares he gan aspire,

He noursled up in life and manners wilde,

Emongst wild beasts and woods, from lawes of men exilde.



For all he taught the tender ymp, was but°

To banish cowardize and bastard feare;


His trembling hand he would him force to put

Upon the Lyon and the rugged Beare;

And from the she Beares teats her whelps to teare;

And eke wyld roaring Buls he would him make

To tame, and ryde their backes not made to beare;


And the Robuckes in flight to overtake,

That every beast for feare of him did fly and quake.



Thereby so fearlesse, and so fell he grew,

That his owne sire and maister of his guise°

Did often tremble at his horrid vew,°


And oft for dread of hurt would him advise,

The angry beasts not rashly to despise,

Nor too much to provoke; for he would learne

The Lyon stoup to him in lowly wise,

(A lesson hard) and make the Libbard sterne

220Leave roaring, when in rage he for revenge did earne.



And for to make his powre approved more,

Wyld beasts in yron yokes he would compell;

The spotted Panther, and the tusked Bore,

The Pardale swift, and the tigre cruell,


The Antelope, and Wolfe both fierce and fell;

And them constraine in equall teme to draw.

Such joy he had, their stubborne harts to quell,

And sturdie courage tame with dreadfull aw,

That his beheast they feared, as a tyrans law.



230His loving mother came upon a day

Unto the woods, to see her little sonne;

And chaunst unwares to meet him in the way,

After his sportes, and cruell pastime donne;

When after him a Lyonesse did runne,


That roaring all with rage, did lowd requere

Her children deare, whom he away had wonne:

The Lyon whelpes she saw how he did beare,

And lull in rugged armes, withouten childish feare.



The fearefull Dame all quaked at the sight,


And turning backe, gan fast to fly away,

Untill with love revokt from vaine affright,

She hardly yet perswaded was to stay,

And then to him these womanish words gan say;

Ah Satyrane, my dearling, and my joy,


For love of me leave off this dreadfull play;

To dally thus with death is no fit toy,

Go find some other play-fellowes, mine own sweet boy.



In these and like delights of bloudy game

He trayned was, till ryper yeares he raught;


And there abode, whilst any beast of name

Walkt in that forest, whom he had not taught

To feare his force: and then his courage haught

Desird of forreine foemen to be knowne,

And far abroad for straunge adventures sought;


In which his might was never overthrowne;

But through all Faery lond his famous worth was blown.°



Yet evermore it was his manner faire,

After long labours and adventures spent,

Unto those native woods for to repaire,


To see his sire and offspring auncient.

And now he thither came for like intent;

Where he unwares the fairest Una found,

Straunge Lady, in so straunge habiliment,

Teaching the Satyres, which her sat around,

265Trew sacred lore, which from her sweet lips did redound.



He wondred at her wisedome heavenly rare,

Whose like in womens wit he never knew;

And when her curteous deeds he did compare,

Gan her admire, and her sad sorrowes rew,


Blaming of Fortune, which such troubles threw,

And joyd to make proofe of her crueltie,

On gentle Dame, so hurtlesse, and so trew:

Thenceforth he kept her goodly company,

And learnd her discipline of faith and veritie.



275But she all vowd unto the Redcrosse knight,

His wandring perill closely did lament,

Ne in this new acquaintaunce could delight,

But her deare heart with anguish did torment,

And all her wit in secret counsels spent,


How to escape. At last in privie wise

To Satyrane she shewed her intent;

Who glad to gain such favour, gan devise

How with that pensive Maid he best might thence arise.



So on a day when Satyres all were gone


To do their service to Sylvanus old,

The gentle virgin left behind alone

He led away with courage stout and bold.

Too late it was, to Satyres to be told,

Or ever hope recover her againe:


In vaine he seekes that having cannot hold.

So fast he carried her with carefull paine,

That they the woods are past, and come now to the plaine.



The better part now of the lingring day,

They traveild had, whenas they farre espide


A weary wight forwandring by the way,

And towards him they gan in haste to ride,

To weete of newes, that did abroad betide,

Or tydings of her knight of the Redcrosse.

But he them spying, gan to turne aside,


For feare as seemd, or for some feigned losse;

More greedy they of newes, fast towards him do crosse.



A silly man, in simple weedes forworne,

And soild with dust of the long dried way;

His sandales were with toilsome travell torne,


And face all tand with scorching sunny ray,

As he had traveild many a sommers day,

Through boyling sands of Arabie and Ynde;

And in his hand a Jacobs staffe,° to stay

His wearie limbes upon: and eke behind,

310His scrip did hang, in which his needments he did bind.



The knight approaching nigh, of him inquerd

Tidings of warre, and of adventures new;

But warres, nor new adventures none he herd.

Then Una gan to aske, if ought he knew,


Or heard abroad of that her champion trew,

That in his armour bare a croslet red.

Aye me, Deare dame (quoth he) well may I rew

To tell the sad sight which mine eies have red.

These eies did see that knight both living and eke ded.



320That cruell word her tender hart so thrild,

That suddein cold did runne through every vaine,

And stony horrour all her sences fild

With dying fit, that downe she fell for paine.

The knight her lightly reared up againe,


And comforted with curteous kind reliefe:

Then, wonne from death, she bad him tellen plaine

The further processe of her hidden griefe:

The lesser pangs can beare, who hath endur’d the chiefe.



Then gan the Pilgrim thus, I chaunst this day,


This fatall day, that shall I ever rew,

To see two knights in travell on my way

(A sory sight) arraung’d in battell new,

Both breathing vengeaunce, both of wrathfull hew:

My fearefull flesh did tremble at their strife,


To see their blades so greedily imbrew,

That drunke with bloud, yet thristed after life:

What more? the Redcrosse knight was slaine with Paynim knife.



Ah dearest Lord (quoth she) how might that bee,

And he the stoughtest knight, that ever wonne?


Ah dearest dame (quoth he) how might I see

The thing, that might not be, and yet was donne?

Where is (said Satyrane) that Paynims sonne,

That him of life, and us of joy hath reft?

Not far away (quoth he) he hence doth wonne


Foreby a fountaine, where I late him left

Washing his bloudy wounds, that through the steele were cleft.



Therewith the knight thence marched forth in hast,

Whiles Una with huge heavinesse opprest,

Could not for sorrow follow him so fast;


And soone he came, as he the place had ghest,

Whereas that Pagan proud him selfe did rest,

In secret shadow by a fountaine side:

Even he it was, that earst would have supprest

Faire Una: whom when Satyrane espide,

355With fowle reprochfull words he boldly him defide.



And said, Arise thou cursed Miscreaunt,

That hast with knightlesse guile and trecherous train

Faire knighthood fowly shamed, and doest vaunt

That good knight of the Redcrosse to have slain:


Arise, and with like treason now maintain

Thy guilty wrong, or els thee guilty yield.

The Sarazin this hearing, rose amain,

And catching up in hast his three-square shield,

And shining helmet, soone him buckled to the field.



365And drawing nigh him said, Ah misborne Elfe,

In evill houre thy foes thee hither sent,

Anothers wrongs to wreake upon thy selfe:

Yet ill thou blamest me, for having blent

My name with guile and traiterous intent:


That Redcrosse knight, perdie, I never slew,

But had he beene, where earst his arms were lent,°

Th’ enchaunter vaine° his errour should not rew:

But thou his errour shalt,° I hope, now proven trew.



Therewith they gan, both furious and fell,


To thunder blowes, and fiersly to assaile

Each other bent his enimy to quell,

That with their force they perst both plate and maile,

And made wide furrowes in their fleshes fraile,

That it would pitty any living eie.


Large floods of bloud adowne their sides did raile;

But floods of bloud could not them satisfie:

Both hungred after death: both chose to win, or die.



So long they fight, and fell revenge pursue,

That fainting each, themselves to breathen let,


And oft refreshed, battell oft renue:

As when two Bores with rancling malice met,°

Their gory sides fresh bleeding fiercely fret,

Til breathlesse both them selves aside retire,

Where foming wrath, their cruell tuskes they whet,


And trample th’ earth, the whiles they may respire;

Then backe to fight againe, new breathed and entire.



So fiersly, when these knights had breathed once,

They gan to fight returne, increasing more

Their puissant force, and cruell rage attonce.


With heaped strokes more hugely then before,

That with their drerie wounds and bloudy gore

They both deformed, scarsely could be known.

By this, sad Una fraught with anguish sore,

Led with their noise, which through the aire was thrown:

400Arriv’d, wher they in erth their fruitles bloud had sown.



Whom all so soone as that proud Sarazin

Espide, he gan revive the memory

Of his lewd lusts, and late attempted sin,

And left the doubtfull battell hastily,


To catch her, newly offred to his eie:

But Satyrane with strokes him turning, staid,

And sternely bad him other businesse plie,

Then hunt the steps of pure unspotted Maid:

Wherewith he all enrag’d, these bitter speaches said.


410O foolish faeries son, what fury mad

Hath thee incenst, to hast thy doefull fate?

Were it not better I that Lady had,

Then that thou hadst repented it too late?

Most senseless man he, that himselfe doth hate


To love another. Lo then for thine ayd

Here take thy lovers token on thy pate.°

So they two fight; the whiles the royall Mayd

Fledd farre away, of that proud Paynim sore afrayd.



But that false Pilgrim, which that leasing told,


Being in deed old Archimage, did stay

In secret shadow, all this to behold,

And much rejoiced in their bloudy fray:

But when he saw the Damsell passe away,

He left his stond, and her pursewd apace,


In hope to bring her to her last decay,°

But for to tell her lamentable cace,°

And eke this battels end, will need another place.


The Redcrosse knight is captive made

by Gyaunt proud opprest,

Prince Arthur meets with Una great-

ly with those newes distrest.



WHAT man so wise, what earthly wit so ware,

As to discry the crafty cunning traine,

By which deceipt doth maske in visour faire,

And cast her colours dyed deepe in graine,


To seeme like Truth, whose shape she well can faine,

And fitting gestures to her purpose frame;

The guiltlesse man with guile to entertaine?

Great maistresse of her art was that false Dame,

The false Duessa, cloked with Fidessaes name.



10Who when returning from the drery Night,

She fownd not in that perilous house of Pryde,

Where she had left, the noble Redcrosse knight,

Her hoped pray; she would no lenger bide,

But forth she went, to seeke him far and wide.


Ere long she fownd, whereas he wearie sate

To rest him selfe, foreby a fountaine side,

Disarmed all of yron-coted Plate,

And by his side his steed the grassy forage ate.



He feedes upon° the cooling shade, and bayes


His sweatie forehead in the breathing wind,

Which through the trembling leaves full gently playes,

Wherein the cherefull birds of sundry kind

Do chaunt sweet musick, to delight his mind:

The Witch approaching gan him fairely greet,


And with reproch of carelesnesse unkind

Upbrayd, for leaving her in place unmeet,

With fowle words tempring faire, soure gall with hony sweet.



Unkindnesse past, they gan of solace treat,

And bathe in pleasaunce of the joyous shade,


Which shielded them against the boyling heat,

And with greene boughes decking a gloomy glade,

About the fountaine like a girlond made;

Whose bubbling wave did ever freshly well,

Ne ever would through fervent sommer fade:


The sacred Nymph, which therein wont to dwell,

Was out of Dianes favour, as it then befell.



The cause was this: One day, when Phœbe° fayre

With all her band was following the chace,

This Nymph, quite tyr’d with heat of scorching ayre,


Sat downe to rest in middest of the race:

The goddesse wroth gan fowly her disgrace,

And bad the waters, which from her did flow,

Be such as she her selfe was then in place.

Thenceforth her waters waxed dull and slow,

45And all that drinke thereof do faint and feeble grow.°



Hereof this gentle knight unweeting was,

And lying downe upon the sandie graile,

Drunke of the streame, as cleare as cristall glas:

Eftsoones his manly forces gan to faile,


And mightie strong was turned to feeble fraile.

His chaunged powres at first them selves not felt,

Till crudled cold his corage gan assaile,

And cheareful bloud in faintnesse chill did melt,

Which like a fever fit through all his body swelt.



55Yet goodly court he made still to his Dame,

Pourd° out in loosnesse on the grassy grownd,

Both carelesse of his health, and of his fame:

Till at the last he heard a dreadfull sownd,

Which through the wood loud bellowing did rebownd,


That all the earth for terrour seemd to shake,

And trees did tremble. Th’ Elfe therewith astownd,

Upstarted lightly from his looser make,°

And his unready weapons gan in hand to take.



But ere he could his armour on him dight,


Or get his shield, his monstrous enimy

With sturdie steps came stalking in his sight,

An hideous Geant,° horrible and hye,

That with his tallnesse seemd to threat the skye,

The ground eke groned under him for dreed;


His living like saw never living eye,

Ne durst behold: his stature did exceed

The hight of three the tallest sonnes of mortall seed.



The greatest Earth his uncouth mother was,

And blustering Æolus his boasted syre,

*          *          *          *          *


Brought forth this monstrous masse of earthly slime

Puft up with emptie wind, and fild with sinfull crime.



So growen great through arrogant delight

Of th’ high descent, whereof he was yborne,

And through presumption of his matchlesse might,


All other powres and knighthood he did scorne.

Such now he marcheth to this man forlorne,

And left to losse: his stalking steps are stayde

Upon a snaggy Oke, which he had torne

Out of his mothers bowelles, and it made

85His mortall mace, wherewith his foeman he dismayde.



That when the knight he spide, he gan advance

With huge force and insupportable mayne,

And towardes him with dreadfull fury praunce;

Who haplesse, and eke hopelesse, all in vaine


Did to him pace, sad battaile to darrayne,

Disarmd, disgrast, and inwardly dismayde,

And eke so faint in every joynt and vaine,

Through that fraile fountaine, which him feeble made,

That scarsely could he weeld his bootlesse single blade.



95The Geaunt strooke so maynly mercilesse,

That could have overthrowne a stony towre,

And were not heavenly grace, that did him blesse,

He had beene pouldred all, as thin as flowre:

But he was wary of that deadly stowre,


And lightly lept from underneath the blow:

Yet so exceeding was the villeins powre,

That with the wind it did him overthrow,

And all his sences stound, that still he lay full low.



As when that divelish yron Engin° wrought


In deepest Hell, and framd by Furies skill,

With windy Nitre and quick Sulphur fraught,

And ramd with bullet round, ordaind to kill,

Conceiveth fire, the heavens it doth fill

With thundring noyse, and all the ayre doth choke,


That none can breath, nor see, nor heare at will,

Through smouldry cloud of duskish stincking smoke,

That th’ onely breath° him daunts, who hath escapt the stroke.



So daunted when the Geaunt saw the knight,

His heavie hand he heaved up on hye,


And him to dust thought to have battred quight,

Untill Duessa loud to him gan crye;

O great Orgoglio, greatest under skye,

O hold thy mortall hand for Ladies sake,

Hold for my sake, and do him not to dye,°


But vanquisht thine eternall bondslave make,

And me, thy worthy meed, unto thy Leman take.



He hearkned, and did stay from further harmes,

To gayne so goodly guerdon, as she spake:

So willingly she came into his armes,


Who her as willingly to grace did take,

And was possessed of his new found make.

Then up he tooke the slombred sencelesse corse,

And ere he could out of his swowne awake,

Him to his castle brought with hastie forse,

130And in a Dongeon deepe him threw without remorse.



From that day forth Duessa was his deare,

And highly honourd in his haughtie eye,

He gave her gold and purple pall to weare,

And triple crowne set on her head full hye,


And her endowd with royall majestye:

Then for to make her dreaded more of men,

And peoples harts with awfull terrour tye,

A monstrous beast° ybred in filthy fen

He chose, which he had kept long time in darksome den.°



140Such one it was, as that renowmed Snake°

Which great Alcides in Stremona slew,

Long fostred in the filth of Lerna lake,

Whose many heads out budding ever new

Did breed him endlesse labour to subdew:


But this same Monster much more ugly was;

For seven great heads out of his body grew,

An yron brest, and back of scaly bras,°

And all embrewd in bloud, his eyes did shine as glas.



His tayle was stretched out in wondrous length,


That to the house of heavenly gods it raught,°

And with extorted powre, and borrow’d strength,

The ever-burning lamps from thence it braught,

And prowdly threw to ground, as things of naught;

And underneath his filthy feet did tread


The sacred things, and holy heasts foretaught.°

Upon this dreadfull Beast with sevenfold head

He sett the false Duessa, for more aw and dread.



The wofull Dwarfe, which saw his maisters fall,

Whiles he had keeping of his grasing steed,


And valiant knight become a caytive thrall,

When all was past, tooke up his forlorne weed,°

His mightie armour, missing most at need;

His silver shield, now idle maisterlesse;

His poynant speare, that many made to bleed,


The rueful moniments° of heavinesse,

And with them all departes, to tell his great distresse.



He had not travaild long, when on the way

He wofull Ladie, wofull Una met,

Fast flying from that Paynims greedy pray,


Whilest Satyrane him from pursuit did let:

Who when her eyes she on the Dwarfe had set,

And saw the signes, that deadly tydings spake,

She fell to ground for sorrowfull regret,

And lively breath her sad brest did forsake,

175Yet might her pitteous hart be seene to pant and quake.



The messenger of so unhappie newes,

Would faine have dyde: dead was his hart within,

Yet outwardly some little comfort shewes:

At last recovering hart, he does begin


To rub her temples, and to chaufe her chin,

And everie tender part does tosse and turne.

So hardly° he the flitted life does win,

Unto her native prison to retourne:

Then gins her grieved ghost thus to lament and mourne.



185Ye dreary instruments of dolefull sight,

That doe this deadly spectacle behold,

Why do ye lenger feed on loathed light,

Or liking find to gaze on earthly mould,

Sith cruell fates the carefull threeds unfould,


The which my life and love together tyde?

Now let the stony dart of senselesse cold

Perce to my hart, and pas through every side,

And let eternall night so sad sight fro me hide.



O lightsome day, the lampe of highest Jove,


First made by him, mens wandring wayes to guyde,

When darkenesse he in deepest dongeon drove,

Henceforth thy hated face for ever hyde,

And shut up heavens windowes shyning wyde:

For earthly sight can nought but sorrow breed,


And late repentance, which shall long abyde.

Mine eyes no more on vanitie shall feed,

But seeled up with death,° shall have their deadly meed.



Then downe againe she fell unto the ground;

But he her quickly reared up againe:


Thrise did she sinke adowne in deadly swownd

And thrise he her reviv’d with busie paine,

At last when life recover’d had the raine,

And over-wrestled his strong enemie,

With foltring tong, and trembling every vaine,


Tell on (quoth she) the wofull Tragedie,

The which these reliques sad present unto mine eie.



Tempestuous fortune hath spent all her spight,

And thrilling sorrow throwne his utmost dart;

Thy sad tongue cannot tell more heavy plight,


Then that I feele, and harbour in mine hart:

Who hath endur’d the whole, can beare each part.

If death it be, it is not the first wound,

That launched hath my brest with bleeding smart.

Begin, and end the bitter balefull stound;°

220If lesse then that I feare,° more favour I have found.



Then gan the Dwarfe the whole discourse declare,

The subtill traines of Archimago old;

The wanton loves of false Fidessa faire,

Bought with the blood of vanquisht Paynim bold;


The wretched payre transformed to treen mould;

The house of Pride, and perils round about;

The combat, which he with Sansjoy did hould;

The lucklesse conflict with the Gyant stout,

Wherein captiv’d, of life or death he stood in doubt.



230She heard with patience all unto the end,

And strove to maister sorrowfull assay,°

Which greater grew, the more she did contend,

And almost rent her tender hart in tway;

And love fresh coles unto her fire did lay:


For greater love, the greater is the losse.

Was never Lady° loved dearer day,

Then she did love the knight of the Redcrosse;

For whose deare sake so many troubles her did tosse.



At last when fervent sorrow slaked was,


She up arose, resolving him to find

Alive or dead: and forward forth doth pas,

All as the Dwarfe the way to her assynd:

And evermore, in constant carefull mind,

She fed her wound with fresh renewed bale;


Long tost with stormes, and bet with bitter wind,

High over hills, and low adowne the dale,

She wandred many a wood, and measurd many a vale.



At last she chaunced by good hap to meet

A goodly knight,° faire marching by the way


Together with his Squire, arrayed meet:

His glitterand armour shined farre away,

Like glauncing light of Phœbus brightest ray;

From top to toe no place appeared bare,

That deadly dint of steele endanger may:


Athwart his brest a bauldrick brave he ware,

That shynd, like twinkling stars, with stons most pretious rare.



And in the midst thereof one pretious stone

Of wondrous worth, and eke of wondrous mights,

Shapt like a Ladies head,° exceeding shone,


Like Hesperus° emongst the lesser lights,

And strove for to amaze the weaker sights:

Thereby his mortall blade full comely hong

In yvory sheath, ycarv’d with curious slights;

Whose hilts were burnisht gold, and handle strong

265Of mother pearle, and buckled with a golden tong.



His haughtie helmet, horrid all with gold,

Both glorious brightnesse, and great terrour bred;

For all the crest a Dragon° did enfold

With greedie pawes, and over all did spred


His golden wings: his dreadfull hideous hed

Close couched on the bever, seem’d to throw

From flaming mouth bright sparkles fierie red,

That suddeine horror to faint harts did show,

And scaly tayle was stretcht adowne his backe full low.



275Upon the top of all his loftie crest,

A bunch of haires discolourd diversly,

With sprincled pearle, and gold full richly drest,

Did shake, and seemd to daunce for jollity,

Like to an Almond tree ymounted hye


On top of greene Selinis° all alone,

With blossoms brave bedecked daintily;

Whose tender locks do tremble every one

At every little breath that under heaven is blowne.



His warlike shield° all closely cover’d was,


Ne might of mortall eye be ever seene;

Not made of steele, nor of enduring bras,

Such earthly mettals soone consumed beene;

But all of Diamond perfect pure and cleene

It framed was, one massie entire mould,


Hewen out of Adamant rocke with engines keene,

That point of speare it never percen could,

Ne dint of direfull sword divide the substance would.



The same to wight he never wont disclose,

But when as monsters huge he would dismay,


Or daunt unequall armies of his foes,

Or when the flying heavens he would affray;

For so exceeding shone his glistring ray,

That Phœbus golden face it did attaint,

As when a cloud his beames doth over-lay;


And silver Cynthia° wexed pale and faint,

As when her face is staynd with magicke arts constraint.



No magicke arts hereof had any might,

Nor bloudie wordes of bold Enchaunters call;

But all that was not such as seemd in sight,°


Before that shield did fade, and suddeine fall;

And, when him list° the raskall routes appall,

Men into stones therewith he could transmew,

And stones to dust, and dust to nought at all;

And when him list the prouder lookes subdew,

310He would them gazing blind, or turne to other hew.



Ne let it seeme, that credence this exceedes,

For he that made the same, was knowne right well

To have done much more admirable deedes.

It Merlin° was, which whylome did excell


All living wightes in might of magicke spell:

Both shield, and sword, and armour all he wrought

For this young Prince, when first to armes he fell;

But when he dyde, the Faerie Queene it brought

To Faerie lond, where yet it may be seene, if sought.



320A gentle youth, his dearely loved Squire,

His speare of heben wood behind him bare,

Whose harmefull head, thrice heated in the fire,

Had riven many a brest with pikehead square:

A goodly person, and could menage faire


His stubborne steed with curbed canon bit,

Who under him did trample° as the aire,

And chauft, that any on his backe should sit;

The yron rowels into frothy fome he bit.



When as this knight nigh to the Ladie drew,


With lovely court he gan her entertaine;

But when he heard her answeres loth, he knew

Some secret sorrow did her heart distraine:

Which to allay, and calme her storming paine,

Faire feeling words he wisely gan display,


And for her humour° fitting purpose faine,

To tempt the cause it selfe for to bewray;

Wherewith emmov’d, these bleeding words she gan to say.



What worlds delight, or joy of living speach

Can heart, so plung’d in sea of sorrowes deep,


And heaped with so huge misfortunes, reach?

The carefull cold beginneth for to creepe,

And in my heart his yron arrow steepe,

Soone as I thinke upon my bitter bale:

Such helplesse harmes yts better hidden keepe,


Then rip up griefe, where it may not availe,

My last left comfort is, my woes to weepe and waile.



Ah Ladie deare, quoth then the gentle knight,

Well may I weene your griefe is wondrous great;

For wondrous great griefe groneth in my spright,


Whiles thus I heare you of your sorrowes treat.

But wofull Ladie, let me you intrete

For to unfold the anguish of your hart:

Mishaps are maistred by advice discrete,

And counsell mittigates the greatest smart;

355Found° never helpe who never would his hurts impart.



O but (quoth she) great griefe will not be tould,°

And can more easily be thought then said.

Right so (quoth he), but he that never would,

Could never: will to might gives greatest aid.


But griefe (quoth she) does greater grow displaid,

If then it find not helpe, and breedes despaire.

Despaire breedes not (quoth he) where faith is staid.

No faith° so fast (quoth she) but flesh does paire.

Flesh may empaire (quoth he) but reason can repaire.



365His goodly reason, and well guided speach,

So deepe did settle in her gracious thought,

That her perswaded to disclose the breach,

Which love and fortune in her heart had wrought,

And said; Faire Sir, I hope good hap hath brought


You to inquire the secrets of my griefe,

Or that your wisedome will direct my thought,

Or that your prowesse can me yield reliefe:

Then heare the storie sad, which I shall tell you briefe.



The forlorne Maiden, whom your eyes have seene


The laughing stocke of fortunes mockeries,

Am th’ only daughter° of a King and Queene,

Whose parents deare, whilest equal destinies°

Did runne about, and their felicities

The favourable heavens did not envy,


Did spread their rule through all the territories,

Which Phison° and Euphrates floweth by,

And Gehons golden waves doe wash continually.



Till that their cruell cursed enemy,

An huge great Dragon horrible in sight,


Bred in the loathly lakes of Tartary,°

With murdrous ravine, and devouring might

Their kingdome spoild, and countrey wasted quight:

Themselves, for feare into his jawes to fall,

He forst to castle strong to take their flight,


Where fast embard in mighty brasen wall,

He has them now foure yeres besiegd to make them thrall.°



Full many knights adventurous and stout

Have enterpriz’d that Monster to subdew;

From every coast that heaven walks about,°


Have thither come the noble Martiall crew,

That famous hard atchievements still pursew;

Yet never any could that girlond win,

But all still shronke, and still he greater grew:

All they for want of faith, or guilt of sin,

400The pitteous pray of his fierce crueltie have bin.



At last yledd with farre reported praise,

Which flying fame throughout the world had spred,

Of doughty knights, whom Faery land did raise,

That noble order° hight of Maidenhed,


Forthwith to court of Gloriane° I sped

Of Gloriane great Queene of glory bright,

Whose Kingdomes seat Cleopolis° is red,

There to obtaine some such redoubted knight,

The Parents deare from tyrants powre deliver might.



410It was my chance (my chance was faire and good)

There for to find a fresh unproved knight,

Whose manly hands imbrew’d in guiltie blood

Had never bene, ne ever by his might

Had throwne to ground the unregarded right:


Yet of his prowesse proofe he since hath made

(I witnesse am) in many a cruell fight;

The groning ghosts of many one dismaide

Have felt the bitter dint of his avenging blade.



And ye the forlorne reliques of his powre,


His byting sword, and his devouring speare,

Which have endured many a dreadfull stowre,

Can speake his prowesse, that did earst you beare,

And well could rule: now he hath left you heare

To be the record of his ruefull losse,


And of my dolefull disaventurous deare:°

O heavie record of the good Redcrosse,

Where have you left your Lord, that could so well you tosse?



Well hoped I, and faire beginnings had,

That he my captive languor° should redeeme,


Till all unweeting, an Enchaunter bad

His sence abusd, and made him to misdeeme

My loyalty,° not such as it did seeme;

That rather death desire, then such despight.

Be judge ye heavens, that all things right esteeme,


How I him lov’d, and love with all my might,

So thought I eke of him, and thinke I thought aright.



Thenceforth me desolate he quite forsooke,

To wander, where wilde fortune would me lead,

And other bywaies he himselfe betooke,


Where never foot of living wight did tread,

That brought° not backe the balefull body dead;

In which him chaunced false Duessa meete,

Mine onely foe, mine onely deadly dread,

Who with her witchcraft, and misseeming sweete,

445Inveigled him to follow her desires unmeete.



At last by subtill sleights she him betraid

Unto his foe, a Gyant huge and tall,

Who him disarmed, dissolute, dismaid,

Unwares surprised, and with mighty mall


The monster mercilesse him made to fall,

Whose fall did never foe before behold;

And now in darkesome dungeon, wretched thrall,

Remedilesse, for aie he doth him hold;

This is my cause of griefe, more great then may be told.



455Ere she had ended all, she gan to faint:

But he her comforted and faire bespake,

Certes, Madame, ye have great cause of plaint,

The stoutest heart, I weene, could cause to quake.

But be of cheare, and comfort to you take:


For till I have acquit your captive knight,

Assure your selfe, I will you not forsake.

His chearefull wordes reviv’d her chearelesse spright,

So forth they went, the Dwarfe them guiding ever right.


Faire virgin, to redeeme her deare

brings Arthur to the fight:

Who slayes that Gyant, woundes the beast,

and strips Duessa quight.



AY me, how many perils doe enfold

The righteous man, to make him daily fall,

Were not that heavenly grace doth him uphold,

And stedfast truth acquite him out of all.


Her love is firme, her care continuall,

So oft as he through his owne foolish pride,

Or weaknesse is to sinfull bands made thrall:

Else should this Redcrosse knight in bands have dydd

For whose deliverance she this Prince doth thither guide.



10They sadly traveild thus, until they came

Nigh to a castle builded strong and hie:

Then cryde the Dwarfe, Lo yonder is the same,

In which my Lord my liege doth lucklesse lie,

Thrall to that Gyants hateful tyrannie:


Therefore, deare Sir, your mightie powres assay.

The noble knight alighted by and by

From loftie steede, and bad the Ladie stay,

To see what end of fight should him befall that day.



So with the Squire, th’ admirer of his might,


He marched forth towards that castle wall;

Whose gates he found fast shut, ne living wight

To ward the same, nor answere commers call.

Then tooke that Squire an horne° of bugle small.

Which hong adowne his side in twisted gold


And tassels gay. Wyde wonders over all

Of that same hornes great vertues weren told,

Which had approved bene in uses manifold.



Was never wight that heard that shrilling sownd,

But trembling feare did feel in every vaine;


Three miles it might be easie heard around,

And Ecchoes three answerd it selfe againe:

No false enchauntment, nor deceiptfull traine,

Might once abide the terror of that blast,

But presently was voide and wholly vaine:


No gate so strong, no locke so firme and fast,

But with that percing noise flew open quite, or brast.



The same before the Geants gate he blew,

That all the castle quaked from the ground,

And every dore of freewill open flew.


The Gyant selfe dismaied with that sownd,

Where he with his Duessa dalliance fownd,

In hast came rushing forth from inner bowre,

With staring countenance sterne, as one astownd,

And staggering steps, to weet, what suddein stowre,

45Had wrought that horror strange, and dar’d his dreaded powre.



And after him the proud Duessa came

High mounted on her many-headed beast;

And every head with fyrie tongue did flame,

And every head was crowned on his creast,


And bloody mouthed with late cruell feast.°

That when the knight beheld, his mightie shild

Upon his manly arme he soone addrest,

And at him fiercely flew, with courage fild,

And eger greedinesse through every member thrild.



55Therewith the Gyant buckled him to fight,

Inflam’d with scornefull wrath and high disdaine,

And lifting up his dreadfull club on hight,

All arm’d with ragged snubbes and knottie graine,

Him thought at first encounter to have slaine.


But wise and wary was that noble Pere,

And lightly leaping from so monstrous maine,

Did faire avoide the violence him nere;

It booted nought to thinke such thunderbolts to beare.



Ne shame he thought to shunne so hideous might:


The idle stroke, enforcing furious way,

Missing the marke of his misaymed sight

Did fall to ground, and with his heavie sway

So deepely dinted in the driven clay,

That three yardes deepe a furrow up did throw:


The sad earth wounded with so sore assay,

Did grone full grievous underneath the blow,

And trembling with strange feare, did like an earthquake show.



As when almightie Jove, in wrathfull mood,°

To wreake the guilt of mortall sins is bent,


Hurles forth his thundring dart with deadly food,

Enrold in flames, and smouldring dreriment,

Through riven cloudes and molten firmament;

The fierce threeforked engin making way

Both loftie towres and highest trees hath rent,


And all that might his angry passage stay,

And shooting in the earth, casts up a mount of clay.



His boystrous club, so buried in the ground,

He could not rearen up againe so light,

But that the knight him at avantage found,


And whiles he strove his combred clubbe to quight

Out of the earth, with blade all burning bright

He smote off his left arme, which like a blocke

Did fall to ground, depriv’d of native might;

Large streames of bloud out of the truncked stocke

90Forth gushed, like fresh water streame from riven rocke.



Dismayed with so desperate deadly wound,

And eke impatient of unwonted paine,

He lowdly brayd with beastly yelling sound,

That all the fields rebellowed againe;


As great a noyse, as when in Cymbrian plaine°

An heard of Bulles, whom kindly rage° doth sting,

Do for the milkie mothers want complaine,

And fill the fields with troublous bellowing,

The neighbour woods around with hollow murmur ring.



100That when his deare Duessa heard, and saw

The evil stownd, that daungerd her estate,

Unto his aide she hastily did draw

Her dreadfull beast, who swolne with blood of late

Came ramping forth with proud presumpteous gate,


And threatned all his heads like flaming brands.°

But him the Squire made quickly to retrate,

Encountring fierce with single sword in hand,

And twixt him and his Lord did like a bulwarke stand.



The proud Duessa, full of wrathfull spight,


And fierce disdaine, to be affronted so,

Enforst her purple beast with all her might

That stop out of the way to overthroe,

Scorning the let of so unequall foe:

But nathemore would that courageous swayne


To her yeeld passage, gainst his Lord to goe,

But with outrageous strokes did him restraine,

And with his bodie bard the way atwixt them twaine.



Then tooke the angrie witch her golden cup,°

Which still she bore, replete with magick artes;


Death and despeyre did many thereof sup,

And secret poyson through their inner parts,

Th’ eternall bale of heavie wounded harts;

Which after charmes and some enchauntments said

She lightly sprinkled on his weaker parts;


Therewith his sturdie courage soone was quayd,

And all his senses were with suddeine dread dismayd.



So downe he fell before the cruell beast,

Who on his neck his bloody clawes did seize,

That life nigh crusht out of his panting brest:


No powre he had to stirre, nor will to rize.

That when the carefull knight gan well avise,

He lightly left the foe, with whom he fought,

And to the beast gan turne his enterprise;

For wondrous anguish in his hart it wrought,

135To see his loved Squire into such thraldome brought.



And high advauncing his blood-thirstie blade,

Stroke one of those deformed heads so sore,

That of his puissance proud ensample made;

His monstrous scalpe downe to his teeth it tore,


And that misformed shape mis-shaped more:

A sea of blood gusht from the gaping wound,

That her gay garments staynd with filthy gore,

And overflowed all the field around;

That over shoes in bloud he waded on the ground.



145Thereat he roared for exceeding paine,

That to have heard great horror would have bred,

And scourging th’ emptie ayre with his long traine,

Through great impatience° of his grieved hed

His gorgeous ryder from her loftie sted


Would have cast downe, and trod in durtie myre,

Had not the Gyant soone her succoured;

Who all enrag’d with smart and franticke yre,

Came hurtling in full fierce, and forst the knight retyre.



The force which wont in two to be disperst,


In one alone left hand° he now unites,

Which is through rage more strong than both were erst;

With which his hideous club aloft he dites,

And at his foe with furious rigour smites,

That strongest Oake might seeme to overthrow:


The stroke upon his shield so heavie lites,

That to the ground it doubleth him full low:

What mortall wight could ever beare so monstrous blow?



And in his fall his shield,° that covered was,

Did loose his vele by chaunce, and open flew:


The light whereof, that heavens light did pas,

Such blazing brightnesse through the aier threw,

That eye mote not the same endure to vew.

Which when the Gyaunt spyde with staring eye,

He downe let fall his arme, and soft withdrew


His weapon huge, that heaved was on hye

For to have slaine the man, that on the ground did lye.



And eke the fruitfull-headed beast, amazd

At flashing beames of that sunshiny shield,

Became starke blind, and all his sences daz’d,


That downe he tumbled on the durtie field,

And seem’d himselfe as conquered to yield.

Whom when his maistresse proud perceiv’d to fall,

Whiles yet his feeble feet for faintnesse reeld,

Unto the Gyant loudly she gan call,

180O helpe Orgoglio, helpe, or else we perish all.



At her so pitteous cry was much amoov’d

Her champion stout, and for to ayde his frend,

Againe his wonted angry weapon proov’d:

But all in vaine: for he has read his end


In that bright shield, and all their forces spend

Themselves in vaine: for since that glauncing sight,

He had no powre to hurt, nor to defend;

As where th’ Almighties lightning brond does light,

It dimmes the dazed eyen, and daunts the senses quight.



190Whom when the Prince, to battell new addrest,

And threatning high his dreadfull stroke did see,

His sparkling blade about his head he blest,

And smote off quite his right leg by the knee,

That downe he tombled; as an aged tree,


High growing on the top of rocky clift,

Whose hartstrings with keene steele nigh hewen be,

The mightie trunck halfe rent, with ragged rift

Doth roll adowne the rocks, and fall with fearefull drift.



Or as a Castle reared high and round,


By subtile engins and malitious slight

Is undermined from the lowest ground,

And her foundation forst, and feebled quight,

At last downe falles, and with her heaped hight

Her hastie ruine does more heavie make,


And yields it selfe unto the victours might;

Such was this Gyants fall, that seemd to shake

The stedfast globe of earth, as it for feare did quake.



The knight then lightly leaping to the pray,

With mortall steele him smot againe so sore,


That headlesse his unweldy bodie lay,

All wallowd in his owne fowle bloudy gore,

Which flowed from his wounds in wondrous store.

But soone as breath out of his breast did pas,

That huge great body, which the Gyaunt bore,


Was vanisht quite, and of that monstrous mas

Was nothing left, but like an emptie bladder was.



Whose grievous fall, when false Duessa spide,

Her golden cup she cast unto the ground,

And crowned mitre rudely threw aside;


Such percing griefe her stubborne hart did wound,

That she could not endure that dolefull stound,

But leaving all behind her, fled away;

The light-foot Squire her quickly turnd around,

And by hard meanes enforcing her to stay,

225So brought unto his Lord, as his deserved pray.



The royall Virgin which beheld from farre,

In pensive plight, and sad perplexitie,

The whole atchievement of this doubtfull warre,

Came running fast to greet his victorie,


With sober gladnesse, and myld modestie,

And with sweet joyous cheare him thus bespake:

Faire braunch of noblesse, flowre of chevalrie,

That with your worth the world amazed make,

How shall I quite the paines ye suffer for my sake?



235And you fresh budd of vertue springing fast,

Whom these sad eyes saw nigh unto deaths dore,

What hath poore Virgin for such perill past

Wherewith you to reward? Accept therefore

My simple selfe, and service evermore;


And he that high does sit, and all things see

With equall eyes, their merites to restore,

Behold what ye this day have done for mee,

And what I cannot quite, requite with usuree.



But sith the heavens, and your faire handeling


Have made you master of the field this day,

Your fortune maister° eke with governing,

And well begun end all so well, I pray.

Ne let that wicked woman scape away;

For she it is, that did my Lord bethrall,


My dearest Lord, and deepe in dongeon lay,

Where he his better dayes hath wasted all.

O heare, how piteous he to you for ayd does call.



Forthwith he gave in charge unto his Squire,

That scarlot whore to keepen carefully;


Whiles he himselfe with greedie great desire

Into the Castle entred forcibly,

Where living creature none he did espye;

Then gan he lowdly through the house to call:

But no man car’d to answere to his crye.


There raignd a solemne silence over all,

Nor voice was heard, nor wight was seene in bowre or hall.



At last with creeping crooked pace forth came

An old old man, with beard as white as snow,

That on a staffe his feeble steps did frame,


And guide his wearie gate both to and fro:

For his eye sight him failed long ygo,

And on his arme a bounch of keyes he bore,

The which unused rust° did overgrow:

Those were the keyes of every inner dore,

270But he could not them use, but kept them still in store.



But very uncouth sight was to behold,

How he did fashion his untoward pace,

For as he forward moov’d his footing old,

So backward still was turnd his wrincled face,


Unlike to men, who ever as they trace,

Both feet and face one way are wont to lead.

This was the auncient keeper of that place,

And foster father of the Gyant dead;

His name Ignaro did his nature right aread.



280His reverend haires and holy gravitie

The knight much honord, as beseemed well,

And gently askt, where all the people bee,

Which in that stately building wont to dwell.

Who answerd him full soft, he could not tell.


Again he askt, where that same knight was layd,

Whom great Orgoglio with his puissance fell

Had made his caytive thrall, againe he sayde,

He could not tell: ne ever other answere made.



Then asked he, which way he in might pas:


He could not tell, againe he answered.

Thereat the curteous knight displeased was,

And said, Old sire, it seemes thou hast not red

How ill it sits with that same silver hed,

In vaine to mocke, or mockt in vaine to bee:


But if thou be, as thou art pourtrahed

With natures pen,° in ages grave degree,

Aread in graver wise, what I demaund of thee.



His answere likewise was, he could not tell.

Whose sencelesse speach, and doted ignorance


When as the noble Prince had marked well,

He ghest his nature by his countenance,

And calmd his wrath with goodly temperance.

Then to him stepping, from his arme did reach

Those keyes, and made himselfe free enterance.


Each dore he opened without any breach;

There was no barre to stop, nor foe him to empeach.



There all within full rich arrayd he found,

With royall arras and resplendent gold.

And did with store of every thing abound,


That greatest Princes° presence might behold.

But all the floore (too filthy to be told)

With bloud of guiltlesse babes, and innocents trew,°

Which there were slaine, as sheepe out of the fold,

Defiled was, that dreadfull was to vew,

315And sacred ashes over it was strowed new.°



And there beside of marble stone was built

An Altare,° carv’d with cunning ymagery,

On which true Christians bloud was often spilt,

And holy Martyrs often doen to dye,


With cruell malice and strong tyranny:

Whose blessed sprites from underneath the stone

To God for vengeance cryde continually,

And with great griefe were often heard to grone,

That hardest heart would bleede, to hear their piteous mone.



325Through every rowme he sought, and every bowr,

But no where could he find that woful thrall:

At last he came unto an yron doore,

That fast was lockt, but key found not at all

Emongst that bounch, to open it withall;


But in the same a little grate was pight,

Through which he sent his voyce, and lowd did call

With all his powre, to weet, if living wight

Were housed there within, whom he enlargen might.



Therewith an hollow, dreary, murmuring voyce


These pitteous plaints and dolours did resound;

O who is that, which brings me happy choyce

Of death, that here lye dying every stound,

Yet live perforce in balefull darkenesse bound?

For now three Moones have changed thrice their hew,


And have been thrice hid underneath the ground,

Since I the heavens chearfull face did vew,

O welcome thou, that doest of death bring tydings trew.



Which when that Champion heard, with percing point

Of pitty deare his hart was thrilled sore,


And trembling horrour ran through every joynt

For ruth of gentle knight so fowle forlore:

Which shaking off, he rent that yron dore,

With furious force, and indignation fell;

Where entred in, his foot could find no flore,


But all a deepe descent, as darke as hell,

That breathed ever forth a filthie banefull smell.



But neither darkenesse fowle, nor filthy bands,

Nor noyous smell his purpose could withhold,

(Entire affection hateth nicer hands)


But that with constant zeale, and courage bold,

After long paines and labours manifold,

He found the meanes that Prisoner up to reare;

Whose feeble thighes, unhable to uphold

His pined corse, him scarse to light could beare.

360A ruefull spectacle of death and ghastly drere.



His sad dull eyes deepe sunck in hollow pits,

Could not endure th’ unwonted sunne to view;

His bare thin cheekes for want of better bits,

And empty sides deceived of their dew,


Could make a stony hart his hap to rew;

His rawbone armes, whose mighty brawned bowrs°

Were wont to rive steele plates, and helmets hew,

Were cleane consum’d, and all his vitall powres

Decayd, and all his flesh shronk up like withered flowres.



370Whom when his Lady saw, to him she ran

With hasty joy: to see him made her glad,

And sad to view his visage pale and wan,

Who earst in flowres of freshest youth was clad.

Tho when her well of teares she wasted had,


She said, Ah dearest Lord, what evill starre°

On you hath fround, and pourd his influence bad,

That of your selfe ye thus berobbed arre,

And this misseeming hew your manly looks doth marre?



But welcome now my Lord, in wele or woe,


Whose presence I have lackt too long a day;

And fie on Fortune mine avowed foe,°

Whose wrathful wreakes them selves doe now alay.

And for these wrongs shall treble penaunce pay

Of treble good: good growes of evils priefe.°


The chearelesse man, whom sorrow did dismay,

Had no delight to treaten of his griefe;

His long endured famine needed more reliefe.



Faire Lady, then said that victorious knight,

The things, that grievous were to do, or beare,


Them to renew, I wote, breeds no delight;

Best musicke breeds delight° in loathing eare:

But th’ onely good, that growes of passed feare,

Is to be wise, and ware of like agein.

This dayes ensample hath this lesson deare


Deepe written in my heart with yron pen,

That blisse may not abide in state of mortall men.



Henceforth sir knight, take to you wonted strength,

And maister these mishaps with patient might;

Loe where your foe lyes stretcht in monstrous length,


And loe that wicked woman in your sight,

The roote of all your care, and wretched plight,

Now in your powre, to let her live, or dye.

To do her dye (quoth Una) were despight,

And shame t’avenge so weake an enimy;

405But spoile her of her scarlot robe, and let her fly.



So as she bad, that witch they disaraid,°

And robd of royall robes, and purple pall,

And ornaments that richly were displaid;

Ne spared they to strip her naked all.


Then when they had despoiled her tire and call,

Such as she was, their eyes might her behold,

That her misshaped parts did them appall,

A loathly, wrinckled hag, ill favoured, old,

Whose secret filth good manners biddeth not be told.

         *          *          *          *          *



415Which when the knights beheld, amazd they were,

And wondred at so fowle deformed wight.

Such then (said Una) as she seemeth here,

Such is the face of falshood, such the sight

Of fowle Duessa, when her borrowed light


Is laid away, and counterfesaunce knowne.

Thus when they had the witch disrobed quight,

And all her filthy feature open showne,

They let her goe at will, and wander wayes unknowne.



She flying fast from heavens hated face,


And from the world that her discovered wide,

Fled to the wastfull wildernesse apace,

From living eyes her open shame to hide,

And lurkt in rocks and caves long unespide.

But that faire crew of knights, and Una faire


Did in that castle afterwards abide,

To rest them selves, and weary powres repaire,

Where store they found of all that dainty was and rare.


His loves and lignage Arthur tells:

the Knights knit friendly hands:

Sir Trevisan flies from Despayre,

whom Redcrosse Knight withstands.



O GOODLY golden chaine,° wherewith yfere

The vertues linked are in lovely wize:

And noble mindes of yore allyed were,

In brave poursuit of chevalrous emprize,


That none did others safety despize,

Nor aid envy to him, in need that stands,

But friendly each did others prayse devize,

How to advaunce with favourable hands,

As this good Prince redeemd the Redcrosse knight from bands.



10Who when their powres empaird through labour long,

With dew repast they had recured well,

And that weake captive wight now wexed strong,

Them list no lenger there at leasure dwell,

But forward fare, as their adventures fell,


But ere they parted, Una faire besought

That straunger knight his name and nation tell;

Least so great good, as he for her had wrought,

Should die unknown, and buried be in thanklesse° thought.



Faire virgin (said the Prince) ye me require


A thing without the compas of my wit:

For both the lignage and the certain Sire,

From which I sprong, from me are hidden yit.

For all so soone as life did me admit

Into this world, and shewed heavens light,


From mothers pap I taken was unfit:

And streight deliver’d to a Faery knight,°

To be upbrought in gentle thewes and martiall might.



Unto old Timon he me brought bylive,

Old Timon, who in youthly yeares hath beene


In warlike feates th’expertest man alive,

And is the wisest now on earth I weene;

His dwelling is low in a valley greene,

Under the foot of Rauran mossy hore,°

From whence the river Dee° as silver cleene,


His tombling billowes roll with gentle rore:

There all my dayes he traind me up in vertuous lore.



Thither the great magicien Merlin came,

As was his use, ofttimes to visit me:

For he had charge my discipline to frame,°


And Tutours nouriture to oversee.

Him oft and oft I askt in privitie,

Of what loines and what lignage I did spring:

Whose aunswere bad me still assured bee,

That I was sonne and heire unto a king,

45As time in her just terme° the truth to light should bring.



Well worthy impe, said then the Lady gent,

And pupill fit for such a Tutours hand.

But what adventure, or what high intent

Hath brought you hither into Faery land,


Aread Prince Arthur, crowne of Martiall band?

Full hard it is (quoth he) to read aright

The course of heavenly cause, or understand

The secret meaning of th’ eternall might,

That rules mens wayes, and rules the thoughts of living wight.



55For whether he through fatall deepe foresight

Me hither sent, for cause to me unghest,

Or that fresh bleeding wound,° which day and night

Whilome doth rancle in my riven brest,

With forced fury° following his behest,


Me hither brought by wayes yet never found;

You to have helpt I hold myself yet blest.

Ah curteous knight (quoth she) what secret wound

Could ever find,° to grieve the gentlest hart on ground?



Deare dame (quoth he) you sleeping sparkes awake,°


Which troubled once, into huge flames will grow,

Ne ever will their fervent fury slake,

Till living moysture into smoke do flow,

And wasted life do lye in ashes low.

Yet sithens silence lesseneth not my fire,


But told° it flames, and hidden it does glow;

I will revele what ye so much desire:

Ah Love, lay down thy bow, the whiles I may respire.



It was in freshest flowre of youthly yeares,

When courage first does creepe in manly chest,


Then first the coale of kindly heat appeares

To kindle love in every living brest;

But me had warnd old Timons wise behest,

Those creeping flames by reason to subdew,

Before their rage grew to so great unrest,


As miserable lovers use to rew,

Which still wex old in woe, whiles woe still wexeth new.



That idle name of love, and lovers life,

As losse of time, and vertues enimy,

I ever scornd, and joyd to stirre up strife,


In middest of their mournfull Tragedy,

Ay wont to laugh, when them I heard to cry,

And blow the fire, which them to ashes brent:

Their God himselfe, griev’d at my libertie,

Shot many a dart at me with fiers intent,

90But I them warded all with wary government.



But all in vaine: no fort can be so strong,

Ne fleshly brest can armed be so sound,

But will at last be wonne with battrie long,

Or unawares at disadvantage found:


Nothing is sure, that growes on earthly ground:

And who most trustes in arme of fleshly might,

And boasts in beauties chaine not to be bound,

Doth soonest fall in disaventrous fight,

And yeeldes his caytive neck to victours most despight.



100Ensample make° of him your haplesse joy,

And of my selfe now mated, as ye see;

Whose prouder vaunt that proud avenging boy

Did soone pluck downe and curbd my libertie.

For on a day, prickt forth with jollitie


Of looser life, and heat of hardiment,

Raunging the forest wide on courser free,

The fields, the floods, the heavens with one consent

Did seeme to laugh on me, and favour mine intent.



For-wearied with my sports, I did alight


From loftie steed, and downe to sleepe me layd;

The verdant gras my couch did goodly dight,

And pillow was my helmet faire displayd:

Whiles every sence° the humour sweet embayd,

And slombring soft my hart did steale away,


Me seemed, by my side a royall Mayd

Her daintie limbes full softly down did lay:

So faire a creature yet saw never sunny day.



Most goodly glee and lovely blandishment

She to me made, and bad me love her deare;


For dearely sure her love was to me bent,

As when just time expired should appeare.

But whether dreames delude, or true it were,

Was never hart so ravisht with delight,

Ne living man like words did ever heare,


As she to me delivered all that night;

And at her parting said, She Queene of Faeries hight.



When I awoke, and found her place devoyd,

And nought but pressed gras, where she had lyen,

I sorrowed all so much as earst I joyd,


And washed all her place with watry eyen.

From that day forth I lov’d that face divine;

From that day forth I cast in carefull mind

To seeke her out with labour, and long tyne,

And never vowd to rest till her I find,

135Nine monethes I seeke in vain, yet ni’ll that vow unbind.



Thus as he spake, his visage wexed pale,

And chaunge of hew great passion did bewray;

Yet still he strove to cloke his inward bale,

And hide the smoke that did his fire display,


Till gentle Una thus to him gan say;

O happy Queene of Faeries, that has found

Mongst many, one that with his prowesse may

Defend thine honour, and thy foes confound:

True Loves are often sown, but seldom grow on ground.



145Thine, O then, said the gentle Recrosse knight,

Next to that Ladies love,° shal be the place,

O fairest virgin, full of heavenly light,

Whose wondrous faith exceeding earthly race,

Was firmest fixt° in mine extremest case.


And you, my Lord, the Patrone of my life,

Of that great Queene may well gaine worthy grace:

For onely worthy you through prowes priefe,

Yf living man mote worthie be, to be her liefe.



So diversly discoursing of their loves,


The golden Sunne his glistring head gan shew,

And sad remembraunce now the Prince amoves

With fresh desire his voyage to pursew;

Als Una earnd her traveill to renew.

Then those two knights, fast friendship for to bynd,


And love establish each to other trew,

Gave goodly gifts, the signes of gratefull mynd,

And eke the pledges firme, right hands together joynd.



Prince Arthur gave a boxe of Diamond sure,

Embowd with gold and gorgeous ornament,


Wherein were closd few drops of liquor pure,

Of wondrous worth, and vertue excellent,

That any wound could heale incontinent:

Which to requite, the Redcrosse knight him gave

A booke,° wherein his Saveours testament


Was writ with golden letters rich and brave;

A worke of wondrous grace, and able soules to save.



Thus beene they parted, Arthur on his way

To seeke his love, and th’ other for to fight

With Unaes foe, that all her realme did pray.


But she now weighing the decayed plight,

And shrunken synewes of her chosen knight,

Would not a while her forward course pursew,

Ne bring him forth in face of dreadfull fight,

Till he recovered had his former hew:

180For him to be yet weake and wearie well she knew.



So as they traveild, lo they gan espy

An armed knight° towards them gallop fast,

That seemed from some feared foe to fly,

Or other griesly thing, that him aghast.


Still as he fled, his eye was backward cast,

As if his feare still followed him behind;

Als flew his steed, as he his bands had brast,

And with his winged heeles did tread the wind,

As he had beene a fole of Pegasus° his kind.



190Nigh as he drew, they might perceive his head

To be unarmd, and curld uncombed heares

Upstaring stiffe, dismayd with uncouth dread;

Nor drop of bloud in all his face appeares

Nor life in limbe: and to increase his feares


In fowle reproch of knighthoods faire degree,

About his neck an hempen rope he weares,

That with his glistring armes does ill agree;

But he of rope or armes has now no memoree.



The Redcrosse knight toward him crossed fast,


To weet, what mister wight was so dismayd:

There him he finds all sencelesse and aghast,

That of him selfe he seemd to be afrayd;

Whom hardly he from flying forward stayd,

Till he these wordes to him deliver might;


Sir knight, aread who hath ye thus arayd,

And eke from whom make ye this hasty flight:

For never knight I saw in such misseeming plight.



He answerd nought at all, but adding new

Feare to his first amazment, staring wide


With stony eyes, and hartlesse hollow hew,

Astonisht stood, as one that had aspide

Infernall furies, with their chaines untide.

Him yet againe, and yet againe bespake

The gentle knight; who nought to him replide,


But trembling every joint did inly quake,

And foltring tongue at last these words seemd forth to shake.



For Gods deare love, Sir knight, do me not stay;

For loe he comes, he comes fast after mee.

Eft looking back would faine have runne away;


But he him forst to stay, and tellen free

The secret cause of his perplexitie:

Yet nathemore by his bold hartie speach

Could his bloud-frosen hart emboldned bee,

But through his boldnesse rather feare did reach,

225Yet forst, at last he made through silence suddein breach.



And am I now in safetie sure (quoth he)

From him, that would have forced me to dye?

And is the point of death now turnd fro mee,

That I may tell this haplesse history?


Feare nought: (quoth he) no daunger now is nye.

Then shall I you recount a ruefull cace,

(Said he) the which with this unlucky eye

I late beheld, and had not greater grace°

Me reft from it, had bene partaker of the place.



235I lately chaunst (would I had never chaunst)

With a faire knight to keepen companee,

Sir Terwin hight, that well himselfe advaunst

In all affaires, and was both bold and free,

But not so happy as mote happy bee:


He lov’d, as was his lot, a Ladie gent,

That him againe lov’d in the least degree:

For she was proud, and of too high intent,

And joyd to see her lover languish and lament.



From whom returning sad and comfortlesse,


As on the way together we did fare,

We met that villen (God from him me blesse)

That cursed wight, from whom I scapt whyleare,

A man of hell, that cals himselfe Despaire:

Who first us greets, and after faire areedes°


Of tydings strange, and of adventures rare:

So creeping close, as Snake in hidden weedes,

Inquireth of our states, and of our knightly deedes.



Which when he knew, and felt our feeble harts

Embost with bale, and bitter byting griefe,


Which love had launched with his deadly darts,

With wounding words and termes of foule repriefe,

He pluckt from us all hope of due reliefe,

That earst us held in love of lingring life;

Then hopelesse hartlesse, gan the cunning thiefe


Perswade us die, to stint all further strife:

To me he lent this rope, to him a rustie knife.



With which sad instrument of hasty death,

That wofull lover, loathing lenger light,

A wide way made to let forth living breath.


But I more fearfull, or more luckie wight,

Dismayd with that deformed dismall sight,

Fled fast away, halfe dead with dying feare:°

Ne yet assur’d of life by you, Sir knight,

Whose like infirmitie° like chaunce may beare:

270But God° you never let his charmed speeches heare.



How may a man (said he) with idle speach

Be wonne, to spoyle the Castle of his health?°

I wote° (quoth he) whom triall late did teach,

That like would not for all this worldes wealth:


His subtill tongue, like dropping honny, mealt’h°

Into the hart, and searcheth every vaine;

That ere one be aware, by secret stealth

His powre is reft, and weaknesse doth remaine.

O never Sir desire to try his guilefull traine.



280Certes (said he) hence shall I never rest,

Till I that treacherours art have heard and tride;

And you Sir knight, whose name mote I request,

Of grace do me unto his cabin guide.

I that hight Trevisan (quoth he) will ride,


Against my liking backe, to do you grace:

But not for gold nor glee° will I abide

By you, when ye arrive in that same place

For lever had I die, then see his deadly face.



Ere long they come, where that same wicked wight


His dwelling has, low in an hollow cave,

Farre underneath a craggie clift ypight,

Darke, dolefull, drearie, like a greedy grave,

That still for carrion carcases doth crave:

On top whereof aye dwelt the ghastly Owle,°


Shrieking his balefull note, which ever drave

Far from that haunt all other chearefull fowle;

And all about it wandring ghostes did waile and howle.



And all about old stockes and stubs of trees,

Whereon nor fruit nor leafe was ever seene,


Did hang upon the ragged rocky knees;

On which had many wretches hanged beene,

Whose carcases were scattered on the greene,

And throwne about the clifts. Arrived there,

That bare-head knight for dread and dolefull teene,


Would faine have fled, ne durst approchen neare,

But th’ other forst him stay, and comforted in feare.



That darkesome cave they enter, where they find

That cursed man, low sitting on the ground,

Musing full sadly in his sullein mind;


His griesie lockes, long growen, and unbound,

Disordred hong about his shoulders round,

And hid his face; through which his hollow eyne

Lookt deadly dull, and stared as astound;

His raw-bone cheekes, through penurie and pine,

315Were shronke into his jawes, as° he did never dine.



His garment nought but many ragged clouts,

With thornes together pind and patched was,

The which his naked sides he wrapt abouts;

And him beside there lay upon the gras


A drearie corse,° whose life away did pas,

All wallowed in his owne yet luke-warme blood,

That from his wound yet welled fresh alas;

In which a rustie knife fast fixed stood,

And made an open passage for the gushing flood.



325Which piteous spectacle, approving trew

The wofull tale that Trevisan had told,

When as the gentle Redcrosse knight did vew,

With firie zeale he burnt in courage bold,

Him to avenge, before his bloud were cold,


And to the villein said, Thou damned wight,

The author of this fact we here behold,

What justice can but judge against thee right,°

With thine owne bloud to price° his bloud, here shed in sight.



What franticke fit (quoth he) hath thus distraught


Thee, foolish man, so rash a doome to give?

What justice° ever other judgement taught,

But he should die, who merites not to live?

None else to death this man despayring drive,

But his owne guiltie mind deserving death.


Is then unjust° to each his due to give?

Or let him die, that loatheth living breath?

Or let him die at ease, that liveth here uneath?



Who travels by the wearie wandring way,°

To come unto his wished home in haste,


And meetes a flood, that doth his passage stay,

Is not great grace to helpe him over past,

Or free his feet that in the myre sticke fast?

Most envious man, that grieves at neighbours good,

And fond, that joyest in the woe thou hast,


Why wilt not let him passe, that long hath stood

Upon the banke, yet wilt thy selfe not passe the flood?



He there does now enjoy eternall rest

And happy ease, which thou dost want and crave,

And further from it daily wanderest:


What if some little paine the passage have,

That makes fraile flesh to feare the bitter wave?

Is not short paine well borne, that brings long ease,

And layes the soule to sleepe in quiet grave?

Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas,

360Ease after warre, death after life does greatly please.



The knight much wondred at his suddeine wit,°

And said, The terme of life is limited,

Ne may a man prolong, nor shorten it;

The souldier may not move from watchfull sted,


Nor leave his stand, untill his Captaine bed.

Who life did limit by almightie doome

(Quoth he)° knowes best the termes established;

And he, that points the Centonell his roome,

Doth license him depart at sound of morning droome.



370Is not his deed, what ever thing is donne

In heaven and earth? did not he all create

To die againe? all ends that was begonne.

Their times in his eternall booke of fate

Are written sure, and have their certaine date.


Who then can strive with strong necessitie,

That holds the world in his still chaunging state,

Or shunne the death ordaynd by destinie?

When houre of death is come, let none aske whence, nor why.



The lenger life, I wote the greater sin,


The greater sin, the greater punishment:

All those great battels, which thou boasts to win,

Through strife, and blood-shed, and avengement,

Now praysd, hereafter deare thou shalt repent:

For life must life, and blood must blood repay.


Is not enough thy evill life forespent?

For he that once hath missed the right way,

The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray.



Then do no further goe, no further stray,

But here lie downe, and to thy rest betake,


Th’ ill to prevent, that life ensewen may.

For what hath life, that may it loved make,

And gives not rather cause it to forsake?

Feare, sicknesse, age, losse, labour, sorrow, strife,

Paine, hunger, cold, that makes the hart to quake;


And ever fickle fortune rageth rife,

All which, and thousands mo do make a loathsome life.



Thou wretched man, of death hast greatest need,

If in true ballance thou wilt weigh thy state:

For never knight, that dared warlike deede,


More lucklesse disaventures did amate:

Witnesse the dungeon deepe, wherein of late

Thy life shut up, for death so oft did call;

And though good lucke prolonged hath thy date,°

Yet death then would the like mishaps forestall,

405Into the which hereafter thou maiest happen fall.



Why then doest thou, O man of sin, desire

To draw thy dayes forth to their last degree?

Is not the measure of thy sinfull hire°

High heaped up with huge iniquitie,


Against the day of wrath, to burden thee?

Is not enough, that to this Ladie milde

Thou falsed hast thy faith with perjurie,

And sold thy selfe to serve Duessa vilde,

With whom in all abuse thou hast thy selfe defilde?



415Is not he just, that all this doth behold

From highest heaven, and beares an equall eye?

Shall he thy sins up in his knowledge fold,

And guilty be of thine impietie?

Is not his law, Let every sinner die:


Die shall all flesh? what then must needs be donne,

Is it not better to doe willinglie,

Then linger, till the glasse be all out ronne?

Death is the end of woes: die soone, O faeries sonne.



The knight was much enmoved with his speach,


That as a swords point through his hart did perse,

And in his conscience made a secret breach,

Well knowing true all that he did reherse,

And to his fresh remembraunce did reverse

The ugly vew of his deformed crimes,


That all his manly powres it did disperse,

As he were charmed° with inchaunted rimes,

That oftentimes he quakt, and fainted oftentimes.



In which amazement, when the Miscreant

Perceived him to waver weake and fraile,


Whiles trembling horror did his conscience dant,

And hellish anguish did his soule assaile,

To drive him to despaire, and quite to quaile,

He shew’d him painted in a table° plaine,

The damned ghosts, that doe in torments waile,


And thousand feends that doe them endlesse paine

With fire and brimstone, which for ever shall remaine.



The sight whereof so throughly him dismaid,

That nought but death before his eyes he saw,

And ever burning wrath before him laid,


By righteous sentence of th’ Almighties law.

Then gan the villein him to overcraw,

And brought unto him swords, ropes, poison, fire,

And all that might him to perdition draw;

And bad him choose, what death he would desire:

450For death was due to him, that had provokt Gods ire.



But when as none of them he saw him take,

He to him raught a dagger sharpe and keene,

And gave it him in hand: his hand did quake,

And tremble like a leafe of Aspin greene,


And troubled bloud through his pale face was seene

To come, and goe with tidings from the heart,

As it a running messenger had beene.

At last resolv’d to worke his finall smart,

He lifted up his hand, that backe againe did start.



460Which whenas Una saw, through every vaine

The crudled cold ran to her well of life,

As in a swowne: but soone reliv’d againe,

Out of his hand she snatcht the cursed knife,

And threw it to the ground, enraged rife,


And to him said, Fie, fie, faint harted knight,

What meanest thou by this reprochfull strife?

Is this the battell, which thou vauntst to fight

With that fire-mouthed Dragon,° horrible and bright?



Come, come away, fraile, seely, fleshly wight,


Ne let vaine words bewitch thy manly hart,

Ne divelish thoughts dismay thy constant spright.

In heavenly mercies hast thou not a part?

Why shouldst thou then despeire, that chosen art?°

Where justice growes, there grows eke greater grace,


The which doth quench the brond of hellish smart,

And that accurst hand-writing° doth deface.

Arise, Sir knight, arise, and leave this cursed place.



So up he rose, and thence amounted streight.

Which when the carle beheld, and saw his guest


Would safe depart for all his subtill sleight,

He chose an halter from among the rest,

And with it hung himselfe, unbid unblest.

But death he could not worke himselfe thereby;

For thousand times he so himselfe had drest,


Yet nathelesse it could not doe him die,

Till he should die his last, that is, eternally.


Her faithfull knight faire Una brings

to house of Holinesse,

Where he is taught repentance, and

the way to heavenly blesse.



WHAT man is he, that boasts of fleshly might

And vaine assurance of mortality,

Which all so soone as it doth come to fight

Against spirituall foes, yeelds by and by,


Or from the field most cowardly doth fly?

Ne let the man ascribe it to his skill,

That thorough grace hath gained victory.

If any strength we have, it is to ill,

But all the good is Gods, both power and eke will.



10But that, which lately hapned, Una saw,

That this her knight was feeble, and too faint;

And all his sinews woxen weake and raw,

Through long enprisonment, and hard constraint,

Which he endured in his late restraint,


That yet he was unfit for bloudy fight:

Therefore to cherish him with diets daint,

She cast to bring him, where he chearen might.

Till he recovered had his late decayed plight.



There was an auntient house° not farre away,


Renowmd throughout the world for sacred lore,

And pure unspotted life: so well they say

It governd was, and guided evermore,

Through wisedome of a matrone grave and hore

Whose onely joy was to relieve the needes


Of wretched soules, and helpe the helpelesse pore:

All night she spent in bidding of her bedes,

And all the day in doing good and godly deedes.



Dame Cœlia° men did her call, as thought

From heaven to come, or thither to arise,


The mother of three daughters, well upbrought

In goodly thewes, and godly exercise:

The eldest two, most sober, chast, and wise,

Fidelia° and Speranza virgins were,

Though spousd, yet wanting wedlocks solemnize:


But faire Charissa° to a lovely fere

Was lincked, and by him had many pledges dere.



Arrived there, the dore they find fast lockt;

For it was warely watched night and day,

For feare of many foes: but when they knockt,


The Porter opened unto them streight way:

He was an aged syre, all hory gray,

With lookes full lowly cast, and gate full slow,

Wont on a staffe his feeble steps to stay,

Hight Humiltà.° They passe in stouping low;

45For streight and narrow was the way which he did show.



Each goodly thing is hardest to begin,

But entred in a spacious court they see,

Both plaine, and pleasant to be walked in,

Where them does meete a francklin faire and free,


And entertaines with comely courteous glee,

His name was Zele, that him right well became,

For in his speeches and behaviour hee

Did labour lively to expresse the same,

And gladly did them guide, till to the Hall they came.



55There fairely them receives a gentle Squire,

Of milde demeanure, and rare courtesie,

Right cleanly clad in comely sad attire;

In word and deede that shew’d great modestie,

And knew his good° to all of each degree,


Hight Reverence. He them with speeches meet

Does faire entreat; no courting nicetie,

But simple true, and eke unfained sweet,

As might become a Squire so great persons to greet.



And afterwards them to his Dame he leades,


That aged Dame, the Ladie of the place:

Who all this while was busy at her beades:

Which doen, she up arose with seemely grace,

And toward them full matronely did pace.

Where when that fairest Una she beheld,


Whom well she knew to spring from heavenly race,

Her hart with joy unwonted inly sweld,

As feeling wondrous comfort in her weaker eld.



And her embracing said, O happie earth,

Whereon thy innocent feet doe ever tread,


Most vertuous virgin borne of heavenly berth,

That, to redeeme thy woefull parents head,

From tyrans rage, and ever dying dread,°

Hast wandred through the world now long a day;°

Yet ceasest not thy weary soles to lead,°


What grace hath thee now hither brought this way?

Or doen thy feeble feet unweeting hither stray?



Strange thing it is an errant knight to see

Here in this place, or any other wight,

That hither turnes his steps. So few there bee


That chose the narrow path, or seeke the right:

All keepe the broad high way, and take delight

With many rather for to go astray,

And be partakers of their evill plight,

Then with a few to walke the rightest way;

90O foolish men, why haste ye to your owne decay?



Thy selfe to see, and tyred limbes to rest,

O matrone sage (quoth she) I hither came;

And this good knight his way with me addrest,

Led with thy prayses and broad-blazed fame,


That up to heaven is blowne. The auncient Dame

Him goodly greeted in her modest guise,

And entertaynd them both, as best became,

With all the court’sies that she could devise,

Ne wanted ought, to shew her bounteous or wise.



100Thus as they gan of sundry things devise,

Loe two most goodly virgins came in place,

Ylinked arme in arme in lovely wise,

With countenance demure, and modest grace,

They numbred even steps and equall pace:


Of which the eldest, that Fidelia hight,

Like sunny beames threw from her christall face,

That could have dazd the rash beholders sight,

And round about her head did shine like heavens light.



She was araied all in lilly white,°


And in her right hand bore a cup of gold,

With wine and water fild up to the hight,

In which a Serpent did himselfe enfold,

That horrour made to all that did behold;

But she no whit did chaunge her constant mood:


And in her other hand she fast did hold

A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood:

Wherin darke things were writ, hard to be understood.