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Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Book I
by Edmund Spenser
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XXXIX

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 340 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 345 Washing his bloudy wounds, that through the steele were cleft.

XL

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, 350 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, With fowle reprochfull words he boldly him defide. 355

XLI

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 360 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.

XLII

And drawing nigh him said, Ah misborne Elfe, 365 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, 370 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.

XLIII

Therewith they gan, both furious and fell, To thunder blowes, and fiersly to assaile 375 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; 380 But floods of bloud could not them satisfie: Both hungred after death: both chose to win, or die.

XLIV

So long they fight, and fell revenge pursue, That fainting each, themselves to breathen let, And oft refreshed, battell oft renue: 385 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; 390 Then backe to fight againe, new breathed and entire.

XLV

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, 395 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: Arriv'd, wher they in erth their fruitles bloud had sown. 400

XLVI

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: 405 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.

XLVII

O foolish faeries son, what fury mad 410 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 415 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.

XLVIII

But that false Pilgrim, which that leasing told, Being in deed old Archimage, did stay 420 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,[*] 425 But for to tell her lamentable cace,[*] And eke this battels end, will need another place.

* * * * *

CANTO VII

The Redcrosse knight is captive made by Gyaunt proud opprest, Prince Arthur meets with Una great- ly with those newes distrest.

I

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, 5 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.

II

Who when returning from the drery Night, 10 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 15 To rest him selfe, foreby a fountaine side, Disarmed all of yron-coted Plate, And by his side his steed the grassy forage ate.

III

He feedes upon[*] the cooling shade, and bayes His sweatie forehead in the breathing wind, 20 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 25 Upbrayd, for leaving her in place unmeet, With fowle words tempring faire, soure gall with hony sweet.

IV

Unkindnesse past, they gan of solace treat, And bathe in pleasaunce of the joyous shade, Which shielded them against the boyling heat, 30 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, 35 Was out of Dianes favour, as it then befell.

V

The cause was this: One day, when Phoebe[*] 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: 40 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, And all that drinke thereof do faint and feeble grow.[*] 45

VI

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. 50 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.

VII

Yet goodly court he made still to his Dame, 55 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, 60 And trees did tremble. Th' Elfe therewith astownd, Upstarted lightly from his looser make,[*] And his unready weapons gan in hand to take.

VIII

But ere he could his armour on him dight, Or get his shield, his monstrous enimy 65 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, 70 Ne durst behold: his stature did exceed The hight of three the tallest sonnes of mortall seed.

IX

The greatest Earth his uncouth mother was, And blustering Aeolus his boasted syre, * * * * * Brought forth this monstrous masse of earthly slime 75 Puft up with emptie wind, and fild with sinfull crime.

X

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. 80 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 His mortall mace, wherewith his foeman he dismayde. 85

XI

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, 90 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.

XII

The Geaunt strooke so maynly mercilesse, 95 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: 100 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.

XIII

As when that divelish yron Engin[*] wrought In deepest Hell, and framd by Furies skill, 105 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, 110 Through smouldry cloud of duskish stincking smoke, That th' onely breath[*] him daunts, who hath escapt the stroke.

XIV

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, 115 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, 120 And me, thy worthy meed, unto thy Leman take.

XV

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, 125 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, And in a Dongeon deepe him threw without remorse. 130

XVI

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: 135 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.[*]

XVII

Such one it was, as that renowmed Snake[*] 140 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; 145 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.

XVIII

His tayle was stretched out in wondrous length, That to the house of heavenly gods it raught,[*] 150 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.[*] 155 Upon this dreadfull Beast with sevenfold head He sett the false Duessa, for more aw and dread.

XIX

The wofull Dwarfe, which saw his maisters fall, Whiles he had keeping of his grasing steed, And valiant knight become a caytive thrall, 160 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, 165 And with them all departes, to tell his great distresse.

XX

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

XXI

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, 180 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.

XXII

Ye dreary instruments of dolefull sight, 185 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? 190 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.

XXIII

O lightsome day, the lampe of highest Jove, First made by him, mens wandring wayes to guyde, 195 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. 200 Mine eyes no more on vanitie shall feed, But seeled up with death,[*] shall have their deadly meed.

XXIV

Then downe againe she fell unto the ground; But he her quickly reared up againe: Thrise did she sinke adowne in deadly swownd 205 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, 210 The which these reliques sad present unto mine eie.

XXV

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: 215 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;[*] If lesse then that I feare,[*] more favour I have found. 220

XXVI

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; 225 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.

XXVII

She heard with patience all unto the end, 230 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. 235 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.

XXVIII

At last when fervent sorrow slaked was, She up arose, resolving him to find 240 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, 245 High over hills, and low adowne the dale, She wandred many a wood, and measurd many a vale.

XXIX

At last she chaunced by good hap to meet A goodly knight,[*] faire marching by the way Together with his Squire, arrayed meet: 250 His glitterand armour shined farre away, Like glauncing light of Phoebus 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, 255 That shynd, like twinkling stars, with stons most pretious rare.

XXX

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

XXXI

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 270 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.

XXXII

Upon the top of all his loftie crest, 275 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, 280 With blossoms brave bedecked daintily; Whose tender locks do tremble every one At every little breath that under heaven is blowne.

XXXIII

His warlike shield[*] all closely cover'd was, Ne might of mortall eye be ever seene; 285 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, 290 That point of speare it never percen could, Ne dint of direfull sword divide the substance would.

XXXIV

The same to wight he never wont disclose, But when as monsters huge he would dismay, Or daunt unequall armies of his foes, 295 Or when the flying heavens he would affray; For so exceeding shone his glistring ray, That Phoebus golden face it did attaint, As when a cloud his beames doth over-lay; And silver Cynthia[*] wexed pale and faint, 300 As when her face is staynd with magicke arts constraint.

XXXV

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

XXXVI

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: 315 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.

XXXVII

A gentle youth, his dearely loved Squire, 320 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, 325 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.

XXXVIII

When as this knight nigh to the Ladie drew, With lovely court he gan her entertaine; 330 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, 335 To tempt the cause it selfe for to bewray; Wherewith emmov'd, these bleeding words she gan to say.

XXXIX

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? 340 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, 345 My last left comfort is, my woes to weepe and waile.

XL

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. 350 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; Found[*] never helpe who never would his hurts impart. 355

XLI

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, 360 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.

XLII

His goodly reason, and well guided speach, 365 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, 370 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.

XLIII

The forlorne Maiden, whom your eyes have seene The laughing stocke of fortunes mockeries, 375 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, 380 Which Phison[*] and Euphrates floweth by, And Gehons golden waves doe wash continually.

XLIV

Till that their cruell cursed enemy, An huge great Dragon horrible in sight, Bred in the loathly lakes of Tartary,[*] 385 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, 390 He has them now foure yeres besiegd to make them thrall.[*]

XLV

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, 395 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, The pitteous pray of his fierce crueltie have bin. 400

XLVI

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 405 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.

XLVII

It was my chance (my chance was faire and good) 410 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 415 (I witnesse am) in many a cruell fight; The groning ghosts of many one dismaide Have felt the bitter dint of his avenging blade.

XLVIII

And ye the forlorne reliques of his powre, His byting sword, and his devouring speare, 420 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:[*] 425 O heavie record of the good Redcrosse, Where have you left your Lord, that could so well you tosse?

XLIX

Well hoped I, and faire beginnings had, That he my captive languor[*] should redeeme, Till all unweeting, an Enchaunter bad 430 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, 435 So thought I eke of him, and thinke I thought aright.

L

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, 440 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, Inveigled him to follow her desires unmeete. 445

LI

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, 450 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.

LII

Ere she had ended all, she gan to faint: 455 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, 460 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.

* * * * *

CANTO VIII

Faire virgin, to redeeme her deare brings Arthur to the fight: Who slayes that Gyant, woundes the beast, and strips Duessa quight.

I

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, 5 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.

II

They sadly traveild thus, until they came 10 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. 15 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.

III

So with the Squire, th' admirer of his might, He marched forth towards that castle wall; 20 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 25 Of that same hornes great vertues weren told, Which had approved bene in uses manifold.

IV

Was never wight that heard that shrilling sownd, But trembling feare did feel in every vaine; Three miles it might be easie heard around, 30 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, 35 But with that percing noise flew open quite, or brast.

V

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

VI

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.[*] 50 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.

VII

Therewith the Gyant buckled him to fight, 55 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, 60 And lightly leaping from so monstrous maine, Did faire avoide the violence him nere; It booted nought to thinke such thunderbolts to beare.

VIII

Ne shame he thought to shunne so hideous might: The idle stroke, enforcing furious way, 65 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, 70 Did grone full grievous underneath the blow, And trembling with strange feare, did like an earthquake show.

IX

As when almightie Jove, in wrathfull mood,[*] To wreake the guilt of mortall sins is bent, Hurles forth his thundring dart with deadly food, 75 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, 80 And shooting in the earth, casts up a mount of clay.

X

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

XI

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[*] 95 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.

XII

That when his deare Duessa heard, and saw 100 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.[*] 105 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.

XIII

The proud Duessa, full of wrathfull spight, And fierce disdaine, to be affronted so, 110 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, 115 But with outrageous strokes did him restraine, And with his bodie bard the way atwixt them twaine.

XIV

Then tooke the angrie witch her golden cup,[*] Which still she bore, replete with magick artes; Death and despeyre did many thereof sup, 120 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, 125 And all his senses were with suddeine dread dismayd.

XV

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. 130 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, To see his loved Squire into such thraldome brought. 135

XVI

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: 140 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.

XVII

Thereat he roared for exceeding paine, 145 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, 150 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.

XVIII

The force which wont in two to be disperst, In one alone left hand[*] he now unites, 155 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, 160 That to the ground it doubleth him full low: What mortall wight could ever beare so monstrous blow?

XIX

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, 165 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 170 For to have slaine the man, that on the ground did lye.

XX

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

XXI

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 185 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.

XXII

Whom when the Prince, to battell new addrest, 190 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, 195 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.

XXIII

Or as a Castle reared high and round, By subtile engins and malitious slight 200 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; 205 Such was this Gyants fall, that seemd to shake The stedfast globe of earth, as it for feare did quake.

XXIV

The knight then lightly leaping to the pray, With mortall steele him smot againe so sore, That headlesse his unweldy bodie lay, 210 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 215 Was nothing left, but like an emptie bladder was.

XXV

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

XXVI

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, 230 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?

XXVII

And you fresh budd of vertue springing fast, 235 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 240 With equall eyes, their merites to restore, Behold what ye this day have done for mee, And what I cannot quite, requite with usuree.

XXVIII

But sith the heavens, and your faire handeling Have made you master of the field this day, 245 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, 250 Where he his better dayes hath wasted all. O heare, how piteous he to you for ayd does call.

XXIX

Forthwith he gave in charge unto his Squire, That scarlot whore to keepen carefully; Whiles he himselfe with greedie great desire 255 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, 260 Nor voice was heard, nor wight was seene in bowre or hall.

XXX

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

XXXI

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, 275 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.

XXXII

His reverend haires and holy gravitie 280 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, 285 Whom great Orgoglio with his puissance fell Had made his caytive thrall, againe he sayde, He could not tell: ne ever other answere made.

XXXIII

Then asked he, which way he in might pas: He could not tell, againe he answered. 290 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 295 With natures pen,[*] in ages grave degree, Aread in graver wise, what I demaund of thee.

XXXIV

His answere likewise was, he could not tell. Whose sencelesse speach, and doted ignorance When as the noble Prince had marked well, 300 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; 305 There was no barre to stop, nor foe him to empeach.

XXXV

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. 310 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, And sacred ashes over it was strowed new.[*] 315

XXXVI

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: 320 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.

XXXVII

Through every rowme he sought, and every bowr, 325 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, 330 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.

XXXVIII

Therewith an hollow, dreary, murmuring voyce These pitteous plaints and dolours did resound; 335 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, 340 Since I the heavens chearfull face did vew, O welcome thou, that doest of death bring tydings trew.

XXXIX

Which when that Champion heard, with percing point Of pitty deare his hart was thrilled sore, And trembling horrour ran through every joynt 345 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, 350 That breathed ever forth a filthie banefull smell.

XL

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, 355 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. A ruefull spectacle of death and ghastly drere. 360

XLI

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; 365 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.

XLII

Whom when his Lady saw, to him she ran 370 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[*] 375 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?

XLIII

But welcome now my Lord, in wele or woe, Whose presence I have lackt too long a day; 380 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, 385 Had no delight to treaten of his griefe; His long endured famine needed more reliefe.

XLIV

Faire Lady, then said that victorious knight, The things, that grievous were to do, or beare, Them to renew, I wote, breeds no delight; 390 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, 395 That blisse may not abide in state of mortall men.

XLV

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

XLVI

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, 410 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.

* * * * *

XLIX

Which when the knights beheld, amazd they were, 415 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. 420 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.

L

She flying fast from heavens hated face, And from the world that her discovered wide, 425 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, 430 To rest them selves, and weary powres repaire, Where store they found of all that dainty was and rare.

* * * * *

CANTO IX

His loves and lignage Arthur tells: the Knights knit friendly hands: Sir Trevisan flies from Despayre, whom Redcrosse Knight withstands.

I

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, 5 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.

II

Who when their powres empaird through labour long, 10 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 15 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.

III

Faire virgin (said the Prince) ye me require A thing without the compas of my wit: 20 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: 25 And streight deliver'd to a Faery knight,[*] To be upbrought in gentle thewes and martiall might.

IV

Unto old Timon he me brought bylive, Old Timon, who in youthly yeares hath beene In warlike feates th'expertest man alive, 30 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: 35 There all my dayes he traind me up in vertuous lore.

V

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. 40 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, As time in her just terme[*] the truth to light should bring. 45

VI

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? 50 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.

VII

For whether he through fatall deepe foresight 55 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; 60 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?

VIII

Deare dame (quoth he) you sleeping sparkes awake,[*] Which troubled once, into huge flames will grow, 65 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; 70 I will revele what ye so much desire: Ah Love, lay down thy bow, the whiles I may respire.

IX

It was in freshest flowre of youthly yeares, When courage first does creepe in manly chest, Then first the coale of kindly heat appeares 75 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, 80 Which still wex old in woe, whiles woe still wexeth new.

X

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, 85 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, But I them warded all with wary government. 90

XI

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: 95 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.

XII

Ensample make[*] of him your haplesse joy, 100 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, 105 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.

XIII

For-wearied with my sports, I did alight From loftie steed, and downe to sleepe me layd; 110 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 115 Her daintie limbes full softly down did lay: So faire a creature yet saw never sunny day.

XIV

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, 120 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; 125 And at her parting said, She Queene of Faeries hight.

XV

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

XVI

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; 140 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.

XVII

Thine, O then, said the gentle Recrosse knight, 145 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, 150 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.

XVIII

So diversly discoursing of their loves, The golden Sunne his glistring head gan shew, 155 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, 160 Gave goodly gifts, the signes of gratefull mynd, And eke the pledges firme, right hands together joynd.

XIX

Prince Arthur gave a boxe of Diamond sure, Embowd with gold and gorgeous ornament, Wherein were closd few drops of liquor pure, 165 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; 170 A worke of wondrous grace, and able soules to save.

XX

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

XXI

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, 185 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.

XXII

Nigh as he drew, they might perceive his head 190 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, 195 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.

XXIII

The Redcrosse knight toward him crossed fast, To weet, what mister wight was so dismayd: 200 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, 205 And eke from whom make ye this hasty flight: For never knight I saw in such misseeming plight.

XXIV

He answerd nought at all, but adding new Feare to his first amazment, staring wide With stony eyes, and hartlesse hollow hew, 210 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, 215 And foltring tongue at last these words seemd forth to shake.

XXV

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

XXVI

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. 230 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.

XXVII

I lately chaunst (would I had never chaunst) 235 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, 240 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.

XXVIII

From whom returning sad and comfortlesse, As on the way together we did fare, 245 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: 250 So creeping close, as Snake in hidden weedes, Inquireth of our states, and of our knightly deedes.

XXIX

Which when he knew, and felt our feeble harts Embost with bale, and bitter byting griefe, Which love had launched with his deadly darts, 255 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: 260 To me he lent this rope, to him a rustie knife.

XXX

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, 265 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: But God[*] you never let his charmed speeches heare. 270

XXXI

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[*] 275 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.

XXXII

Certes (said he) hence shall I never rest, 280 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: 285 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.

XXXIII

Ere long they come, where that same wicked wight His dwelling has, low in an hollow cave, 290 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 295 Far from that haunt all other chearefull fowle; And all about it wandring ghostes did waile and howle.

XXXIV

And all about old stockes and stubs of trees, Whereon nor fruit nor leafe was ever seene, Did hang upon the ragged rocky knees; 300 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, 305 But th' other forst him stay, and comforted in feare.

XXXV

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, 310 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, Were shronke into his jawes, as[*] he did never dine. 315

XXXVI

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, 320 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.

XXXVII

Which piteous spectacle, approving trew 325 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, 330 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.

XXXVIII

What franticke fit (quoth he) hath thus distraught Thee, foolish man, so rash a doome to give? 335 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? 340 Or let him die, that loatheth living breath? Or let him die at ease, that liveth here uneath?

XXXIX

Who travels by the wearie wandring way,[*] To come unto his wished home in haste, And meetes a flood, that doth his passage stay, 345 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 350 Upon the banke, yet wilt thy selfe not passe the flood?

XL

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

XLI

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. 365 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.

XLII

Is not his deed, what ever thing is donne 370 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, 375 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.

XLIII

The lenger life, I wote the greater sin, The greater sin, the greater punishment: 380 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? 385 For he that once hath missed the right way, The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray.

XLIV

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. 390 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, 395 All which, and thousands mo do make a loathsome life.

XLV

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: 400 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, Into the which hereafter thou maiest happen fall. 405

XLVI

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? 410 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?

XLVII

Is not he just, that all this doth behold 415 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, 420 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.

XLVIII

The knight was much enmoved with his speach, That as a swords point through his hart did perse, 425 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, 430 As he were charmed[*] with inchaunted rimes, That oftentimes he quakt, and fainted oftentimes.

XLIX

In which amazement, when the Miscreant Perceived him to waver weake and fraile, Whiles trembling horror did his conscience dant, 435 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 440 With fire and brimstone, which for ever shall remaine.

L

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

LI

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 455 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.

LII

Which whenas Una saw, through every vaine 460 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, 465 What meanest thou by this reprochfull strife? Is this the battell, which thou vauntst to fight With that fire-mouthed Dragon,[*] horrible and bright?

LIII

Come, come away, fraile, seely, fleshly wight, Ne let vaine words bewitch thy manly hart, 470 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, 475 And that accurst hand-writing[*] doth deface. Arise, Sir knight, arise, and leave this cursed place.

LIV

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, 480 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, 485 Till he should die his last, that is, eternally.

* * * * *

CANTO X

Her faithfull knight faire Una brings to house of Holinesse, Where he is taught repentance, and the way to heavenly blesse.

I

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? 5 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.

II

But that, which lately hapned, Una saw, 10 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: 15 Therefore to cherish him with diets daint, She cast to bring him, where he chearen might. Till he recovered had his late decayed plight.

III

There was an auntient house[*] not farre away, Renowmd throughout the world for sacred lore, 20 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: 25 All night she spent in bidding of her bedes, And all the day in doing good and godly deedes.

IV

Dame Coelia[*] men did her call, as thought From heaven to come, or thither to arise, The mother of three daughters, well upbrought 30 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 35 Was lincked, and by him had many pledges dere.

V

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: 40 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 Humilta.[*] They passe in stouping low; For streight and narrow was the way which he did show. 45

VI

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, 50 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.

VII

There fairely them receives a gentle Squire, 55 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 60 Does faire entreat; no courting nicetie, But simple true, and eke unfained sweet, As might become a Squire so great persons to greet.

VIII

And afterwards them to his Dame he leades, That aged Dame, the Ladie of the place: 65 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, 70 Her hart with joy unwonted inly sweld, As feeling wondrous comfort in her weaker eld.

IX

And her embracing said, O happie earth, Whereon thy innocent feet doe ever tread, Most vertuous virgin borne of heavenly berth, 75 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? 80 Or doen thy feeble feet unweeting hither stray?

X

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

XI

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 95 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.

XII

Thus as they gan of sundry things devise, 100 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, 105 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.

XIII

She was araied all in lilly white,[*] And in her right hand bore a cup of gold, 110 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 115 A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood: Wherin darke things were writ, hard to be understood.

XIV

Her younger sister, that Speranza hight, Was clad in blew, that her beseemed well; Not all so chearefull seemed she of sight, 120 As was her sister; whether dread did dwell, Or anguish in her hart, is hard to tell: Upon her arme a silver anchor lay, Whereon she leaned ever, as befell: And ever up to heaven, as she did pray, 125 Her stedfast eyes were bent, ne swarved other way.

XV

They seeing Una, towards her gan wend, Who them encounters with like courtesie; Many kind speeches they betwene them spend, And greatly joy each other well to see: 130 Then to the knight with shamefast modestie They turne themselves, at Unaes meeke request, And him salute with well beseeming glee; Who faire them quites, as him beseemed best, And goodly gan discourse of many a noble gest. 135

XVI

Then Una thus; But she your sister deare, The deare Charissa where is she become? Or wants she health, or busie is elsewhere? Ah no, said they, but forth she may not come: For she of late is lightned of her wombe, 140 And hath encreast the world with one sonne more, That her to see should be but troublesome. Indeed (quoth she) that should be trouble sore; But thankt be God, and her encrease[*] so evermore.

XVII

Then said the aged Coelia, Deare dame, 145 And you good Sir, I wote that of youre toyle, And labours long, through which ye hither came, Ye both forwearied be: therefore a whyle I read you rest, and to your bowres recoyle. Then called she a Groome, that forth him led 150 Into a goodly lodge, and gan despoile Of puissant armes, and laid in easie bed; His name was meeke Obedience rightfully ared.

XVIII

Now when their wearie limbes with kindly rest, And bodies were refresht with due repast, 155 Faire Una gan Fidelia faire request, To have her knight into her schoolehouse plaste, That of her heavenly learning he might taste, And heare the wisedom of her words divine. She graunted, and that knight so much agraste, 160 That she him taught celestiall discipline, And opened his dull eyes, that light mote in them shine.

XIX

And that her sacred Booke, with blood ywrit, That none could read, except she did them teach, She unto him disclosed every whit, 165 And heavenly documents thereout did preach, That weaker wit of man could never reach, Of God, of grace, of justice, of free will, That wonder was to heare her goodly speach: For she was able with her words to kill, 170 And raise againe to life the hart that she did thrill.

XX

And when she list[*] poure out her larger spright, She would commaund the hastie Sunne to stay, Or backward turne his course from heavens hight; Sometimes great hostes of men she could dismay; 175 [Dry-shod to passe she parts the flouds in tway;[*]] And eke huge mountaines from their native seat She would commaund, themselves to beare away, And throw in raging sea with roaring threat. Almightie God her gave such powre, and puissaunce great. 180

XXI

The faithfull knight now grew in litle space, By hearing her, and by her sisters lore, To such perfection of all heavenly grace, That wretched world he gan for to abhore, And mortall life gan loath, as thing forlore, 185 Greevd with remembrance of his wicked wayes, And prickt with anguish of his sinnes so sore, That he desirde to end his wretched dayes: So much the dart of sinfull guilt the soule dismayes.

XXII

But wise Speranza gave him comfort sweet, 190 And taught him how to take assured hold Upon her silver anchor, as was meet; Else had his sinnes so great and manifold Made him forget all that Fidelia told. In this distressed doubtfull agonie, 195 When him his dearest Una did behold, Disdeining life, desiring leave to die, She found her selfe assayld with great perplexitie.

XXIII

And came to Coelia to declare her smart, Who well acquainted with that commune plight, 200 Which sinfull horror workes in wounded hart, Her wisely comforted all that she might, With goodly counsell and advisement right; And streightway sent with carefull diligence, To fetch a Leach, the which had great insight 205 In that disease of grieved conscience, And well could cure the same; his name was Patience.

XXIV

Who comming to that soule-diseased knight, Could hardly him intreat[*] to tell his griefe: Which knowne, and all that noyd his heavie spright 210 Well searcht, eftsoones he gan apply relief Of salves and med'cines, which had passing priefe, And thereto added words of wondrous might;[*] By which to ease he him recured briefe, And much aswag'd the passion of his plight,[*] 215 That he his paine endur'd, as seeming now more light.

XXV

But yet the cause and root of all his ill, Inward corruption and infected sin, Not purg'd nor heald, behind remained still, And festring sore did rankle yet within, 220 Close creeping twixt the marrow and the skin. Which to extirpe, he laid him privily Downe in a darkesome lowly place farre in, Whereas he meant his corrosives to apply, And with streight diet tame his stubborne malady. 225

XXVI

In ashes and sackcloth he did array His daintie corse, proud humors to abate, And dieted with fasting every day, The swelling of his wounds to mitigate, And made him pray both earely and eke late: 230 And ever as superfluous flesh did rot Amendment readie still at hand did wayt, To pluck it out with pincers firie whot, That soone in him was left no one corrupted jot.

XXVII

And bitter Penance with an yron whip, 235 Was wont him once to disple every day: And sharpe Remorse his hart did pricke and nip, That drops of blood thence like a well did play: And sad Repentance used to embay His bodie in salt water smarting sore, 240 The filthy blots of sinne to wash away. So in short space they did to health restore The man that would not live, but earst lay at deathes dore.

XXVIII

In which his torment often was so great, That like a Lyon he would cry and rore, 245 And rend his flesh, and his owne synewes eat. His owne deare Una hearing evermore His ruefull shriekes and gronings, often tore Her guiltlesse garments, and her golden heare, For pitty of his paine and anguish sore; 250 Yet all with patience wisely she did beare; For well she wist his crime could else be never cleare.

XXIX

Whom thus recover'd by wise Patience And trew Repentaunce they to Una brought: Who joyous of his cured conscience, 255 Him dearely kist, and fairely eke besought Himselfe to chearish, and consuming thought To put away out of his carefull brest. By this Charissa, late in child-bed brought, Was woxen strong, and left her fruitfull nest; 260 To her faire Una brought this unacquainted guest.

XXX

She was a woman in her freshest age,[*] Of wondrous beauty, and of bountie rare, With goodly grace and comely personage, That was on earth not easie to compare; 265 Full of great love, but Cupid's wanton snare As hell she hated, chast in worke and will; Her necke and breasts were ever open bare, That ay thereof her babes might sucke their fill; The rest was all in yellow robes arayed still. 270

XXXI

A multitude of babes about her hong, Playing their sports, that joyd her to behold, Whom still she fed, whiles they were weake and young, But thrust them forth still as they wexed old: And on her head she wore a tyre of gold, 275 Adornd with gemmes and owches wondrous faire, Whose passing price[*] uneath was to be told: And by her side there sate a gentle paire Of turtle doves, she sitting in an yvorie chaire.

XXXII

The knight and Una entring faire her greet, 280 And bid her joy of that her happie brood; Who them requites with court'sies seeming meet, And entertaines with friendly chearefull mood. Then Una her besought, to be so good As in her vertuous rules to schoole her knight, 285 Now after all his torment well withstood, In that sad house of Penaunce, where his spright Had past the paines of hell, and long enduring night.

XXXIII

She was right joyous of her just request, And taking by the hand that Faeries sonne, 290 Gan him instruct in every good behest, Of love, and righteousnesse, and well to donne,[*] And wrath, and hatred warely to shonne, That drew on men Gods hatred and his wrath, And many soules in dolours had fordonne: 295 In which when him she well instructed hath, From thence to heaven she teacheth him the ready path.

XXXIV

Wherein his weaker wandring steps to guide, An auncient matrone she to her does call, Whose sober lookes her wisedome well descride: 300 Her name was Mercie, well knowne over all, To be both gratious, and eke liberall: To whom the carefull charge of him she gave, To lead aright, that he should never fall In all his wayes through this wide worldes wave, 305 That Mercy in the end his righteous soule might save.

XXXV

The godly Matrone by the hand him beares Forth from her presence, by a narrow way, Scattred with bushy thornes, and ragged breares, Which still before him she remov'd away, 310 That nothing might his ready passage stay: And ever when his feet encombred were, Or gan to shrinke, or from the right to stray, She held him fast, and firmely did upbeare, As carefull Nourse her child from falling oft does reare. 315

XXXVI

Eftsoones unto an holy Hospitall, That was fore by the way, she did him bring, In which seven Bead-men[*] that had vowed all Their life to service of high heavens king, Did spend their dayes in doing godly thing: 320 Their gates to all were open evermore, That by the wearie way were traveiling, And one sate wayting ever them before, To call in commers by, that needy were and pore.

XXXVII

The first of them that eldest was, and best, 325 Of all the house had charge and governement, As Guardian and Steward of the rest: His office was to give entertainement And lodging, unto all that came, and went: Not unto such, as could him feast againe, 330 And double quite, for that he on them spent, But such, as want of harbour did constraine: Those for Gods sake his dewty was to entertaine.

XXXVIII

The second was as Almner of the place, His office was, the hungry for to feed, 335 And thristy give to drinke, a worke of grace: He feard not once him selfe to be in need, Ne car'd to hoord for those whom he did breede: The grace of God he layd up still in store, Which as a stocke he left unto his seede; 340 He had enough, what need him care for more? And had he lesse, yet some he would give to the pore.

XXXIX

The third had of their wardrobe custodie, In which were not rich tyres, nor garments gay, The plumes of pride, and wings of vanitie, 345 But clothes meet to keepe keene could away, And naked nature seemely to aray; With which bare wretched wights he dayly clad, The images of God in earthly clay; And if that no spare cloths to give he had, 350 His owne coate he would cut, and it distribute glad.

XL

The fourth appointed by his office was, Poore prisoners to relieve with gratious ayd, And captives to redeeme with price of bras,[*] From Turkes[*] and Sarazins, which them had stayd, 355 And though they faultie were, yet well he wayd, That God to us forgiveth every howre Much more then that why they in bands were layd, And he that harrowd[*] hell with heavie stowre, The faultie soules from thence brought to his heavenly bowre. 360

XLI

The fift had charge sicke persons to attend, And comfort those, in point of death which lay; For them most needeth comfort in the end, When sin, and hell, and death do most dismay The feeble soule departing hence away. 365 All is but lost, that living we bestow, If not well ended at our dying day. O man have mind of that last bitter throw For as the tree does fall, so lyes it ever low.

XLII

The sixt had charge of them now being dead, 370 In seemely sort their corses to engrave, And deck with dainty flowres their bridall bed, That to their heavenly spouse both sweet and brave They might appeare, when he their soules shall save.[*] The wondrous workmanship of Gods owne mould, 375 Whose face he made all beasts to feare, and gave All in his hand, even dead we honour should. Ah dearest God me graunt, I dead be not defould.[*]

XLIII

The seventh, now after death and buriall done, Had charge the tender orphans of the dead 380 And widowes ayd,[*] least they should be undone: In face of judgement[*] he their right would plead, Ne ought the powre of mighty men did dread In their defence, nor would for gold or fee Be wonne their rightfull causes downe to tread: 385 And, when they stood in most necessitee, He did supply their want, and gave them ever free.

XLIV

There when the Elfin knight arrived was, The first and chiefest of the seven, whose care Was guests to welcome, towardes him did pas: 390 Where seeing Mercie, that his steps upbare, And alwayes led, to her with reverence rare He humbly louted in meeke lowlinesse, And seemely welcome for her did prepare: For of their order she was Patronesse, 395 Albe Charissa were their chiefest founderesse.

XLV

There she awhile him stayes, him selfe to rest, That to the rest more able he might bee: During which time, in every good behest And godly worke of almes and charitee, 400 She him instructed with great industree; Shortly therein so perfect he became, That from the first unto the last degree, His mortall life he learned had to frame In holy righteousnesse, without rebuke or blame. 405

XLVI

Thence forward by that painfull way they pas, Forth to an hill, that was both steepe and hy; On top whereof a sacred chappell was, And eke a little Hermitage thereby, Wherein an aged holy man did lye, 410 That day and night said his devotion, Ne other worldly busines did apply; His name was heavenly Contemplation; Of God and goodnesse was his meditation.

XLVII

Great grace that old man to him given had; 415 For God he often saw from heavens hight, All were his earthly eyen both blunt and bad, And through great age had lost their kindly sight, Yet wondrous quick and persant was his spright, As Eagles eye, that can behold the Sunne: 420 That hill they scale with all their powre and might, That his[*] fraile thighes nigh weary and fordonne Gan faile, but by her[*] helpe the top at last he wonne.

XLVIII

There they do finde that godly aged Sire, With snowy lockes adowne his shoulders shed, 425 As hoarie frost with spangles doth attire The mossy braunches of an Oke halfe ded. Each bone might through his body well be red, And every sinew seene through his long fast: For nought he car'd[*] his carcas long unfed; 430 His mind was full of spirituall repast, And pyn'd his flesh, to keepe his body low and chast.

XLIX

Who when these two approaching he aspide, At their first presence grew agrieved sore, That forst him lay his heavenly thoughts aside; 435 And had he not that Dame respected more, Whom highly he did reverence and adore, He would not once have moved for the knight. They him saluted, standing far afore; Who well them greeting, humbly did requight, 440 And asked, to what end they clomb that tedious height.

L

What end (quoth she) should cause us take such paine, But that same end which every living wight Should make his marke, high heaven to attaine? Is not from hence the way, that leadeth right 445 To that most glorious house that glistreth bright With burning starres and everliving fire, Whereof the keyes are to thy hand behight By wise Fidelia? She doth thee require, To show it to his knight, according his desire. 450

LI

Thrise happy man, said then the father grave, Whose staggering steps thy steady hand doth lead, And shewes the way, his sinfull soule to save. Who better can the way to heaven aread, Then thou thy selfe, that was both borne and bred 455 In heavenly throne, where thousand Angels shine? Thou doest the prayers of the righteous sead Present before the majestie divine, And his avenging wrath to clemencie incline.

LII

Yet since thou bidst, thy pleasure shal be donne. 460 Then come thou man of earth, and see the way, That never yet was seene of Faeries sonne, That never leads the traveiler astray, But after labors long, and sad delay, Brings them to joyous rest and endlesse blis. 465 But first thou must a season fast and pray, Till from her bands the spright assoiled is, And have her strength recur'd from fraile infirmitis.

LIII

That donne, he leads him to the highest Mount; Such one as that same mighty man[*] of God, 470 That blood-red billowes[*] like a walled front On either side disparted with his rod, Till that his army dry-foot through them yod, Dwelt forty dayes upon; where writ in stone With bloudy letters by the hand of God, 475 The bitter doome of death and balefull mone He did receive, whiles flashing fire about him shone.

LIV

Or like that sacred hill,[*] whose head full hie, Adornd with fruitfull Olives all arownd, Is, as it were for endlesse memory 480 Of that deare Lord who oft thereon was fownd, For ever with a flowring girlond crownd: Or like that pleasaunt Mount,[*] that is for ay Through famous Poets verse each where renownd, On which the thrise three learned Ladies play 485 Their heavenly notes, and make full many a lovely lay.

LV

From thence, far off he unto him did shew A litle path, that was both steepe and long, Which to a goodly Citie[*] led his vew; Whose wals and towres were builded high and strong 490 Of perle and precious stone, that earthly tong Cannot describe, nor wit of man can tell; Too high a ditty for my simple song; The Citie of the great king hight it well, Wherein eternall peace and happinesse doth dwell. 495

LVI

As he thereon stood gazing, he might see The blessed Angels to and fro descend From highest heaven in gladsome companee, And with great joy into that Citie wend, As commonly as friend does with his frend. 500 Whereat he wondred much, and gan enquere, What stately building durst so high extend Her loftie towres unto the starry sphere, And what unknowen nation there empeopled were.

LVII

Faire knight (quoth he) Hierusalem that is, 505 The new Hierusalem, that God has built For those to dwell in, that are chosen his, His chosen people purg'd from sinfull guilt With pretious blood, which cruelly was spilt On cursed tree, of that unspotted lam, 510 That for the sinnes of al the world was kilt: Now are they Saints all in that Citie sam, More dear unto their God then younglings to their dam.

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