Spencer's The Faerie Queene
Book I Canto III
Forsaken Truth long seekes her loue,
And makes the Lyon mylde,
Marres blind Deuotions mart, and fals
In hand of leachour vylde.
Nought there vnder heau'ns wilde hollownesse,
That moues more deare compassion of mind,
Then beautie brought t'vnworthy wretchednesse
Through enuies snares or fortunes freakes vnkind:
I, whether lately through her brightnesse blind,
Or through alleageance and fast fealtie,
Which I do owe vnto all woman kind,
Feele my heart perst with so great agonie,
When such I see, that all for pittie I could die.
And now it is empassioned so deepe,
For fairest Vnaes sake, of whom I sing,
That my fraile eyes these lines with teares do steepe,
To thinke how she through guilefull handeling,
Though true as touch, though daughter of a king,
Though faire as euer liuing wight was faire,
Though nor in word nor deede ill meriting,
Is from her knight diuorced in despaire
And her due loues deriu'd to that vile witches share.
Yet she most faithfull Ladie all this while
Forsaken, wofull, solitarie mayd
Farre from all peoples prease, as in exile,
In wildernesse and wastfull deserts strayd,
To seeke her knight; who subtilly betrayd
Through that late vision, which th'Enchaunter wrought,
Had her abandond. She of nought affrayd,
Through woods and wastnesse wide him daily sought;
Yet wished tydings none of him vnto her brought.
One day nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,
From her vnhastie beast she did alight,
And on the grasse her daintie limbes did lay
In secret shadow, farre from all mens sight:
From her faire head her fillet she vndight,
And laid her stole aside. Her angels face
As the great eye of heauen shyned bright,
And made a sunshine in the shadie place;
Did neuer mortall eye behold such heauenly grace.
It fortuned out of the thickest wood
A ramping Lyon rushed suddainly,
Hunting full greedie after saluage blood;
Soone as the royall virgin he did spy,
With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
To haue attonce deuour'd her tender corse:
But to the pray when as he drew more ny,
His bloudie rage asswaged with remorse,
And with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse.
In stead thereof he kist her wearie feet,
And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong,
As he her wronged innocence did weet.
O how can beautie maister the most strong,
And simple truth subdue auenging wrong?
Whose yeelded pride and proud submission,
Still dreading death, when she had marked long,
Her hart gan melt in great compassion,
And drizling teares did shed for pure affection.
The Lyon Lord of euerie beast in field,
Quoth she, his princely puissance doth abate,
And mightie proud to humble weake does yield,
Forgetfull of the hungry rage, which late
Him prickt, in pittie of my sad estate:
But he my Lyon, and my noble Lord,
How does he find in cruell hart to hate
Her that him lou'd, and euer most adord,
As the God of my life? why hath he me abhord?
Redounding teares did choke th'end of her plaint,
Which softly ecchoed from the neighbour wood;
And sad to see her sorrowfull constraint
The kingly beast vpon her gazing stood;
With pittie calmd, downe fell his angry mood.
At last in close hart shutting vp her paine,
Arose the virgin borne of heauenly brood,
And to her snowy Palfrey got againe,
To seeke her strayed Champion, if she might attaine.
The Lyon would not leaue her desolate,
But with her went along, as a strong gard
Of her chast person, and a faithfull mate
Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard:
Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward,
And when she wakt, he waited diligent,
With humble seruice to her will prepard:
From her faire eyes he tooke commaundement,
And euer by her lookes conceiued her intent.
Long she thus traueiled through deserts wyde,
By which she thought her wandring knight shold pas,
Yet neuer shew of liuing wight espyde;
Till that at length she found the troden gras,
In which the tract of peoples footing was,
Vnder the steepe foot of a mountaine hore;
The same she followes, till at last she has
A damzell spyde slow footing her before,
That on her shoulders sad a pot of water bore.
To whom approching she to her gan call,
To weet, if dwelling place were nigh at hand;
But the rude wench her answer'd nought at all,
She could not heare, nor speake, nor vnderstand;
Till seeing by her side the Lyon stand,
With suddaine feare her pitcher downe she threw,
And fled away: for neuer in that land
Face of faire Ladie she before did vew,
And that dread Lyons looke her cast in deadly hew.
Full fast she fled, ne euer lookt behynd,
As if her life vpon the wager lay,
And home she came, whereas her mother blynd
Sate in eternall night: nought could she say,
But suddaine catching hold, did her dismay
With quaking hands, and other signs of feare:
Who full of ghastly fright and cold affray,
Gan shut the dore. By this arriued there
Dame Vna, wearie Dame, and entrance did requere.
Which when none yeelded, her vnruly Page
With his rude clawes the wicket open rent,
And let her in; where of his cruell rage
Nigh dead with feare, and faint astonishment,
She found them both in darkesome corner pent;
Where that old woman day and night did pray
Vpon her beades deuoutly penitent;
Nine hundred Pater nosters euery day,
And thrise nine hundred Aues she was wont to say.
And to augment her painefull pennance more,
Thrise euery weeke in ashes she did sit,
And next her wrinkled skin rough sackcloth wore,
And thrise three times did fast from any bit:
But now for feare her beads she did forget.
Whose needlesse dread for to remoue away,
Faire Vna framed words and count'nance fit:
Which hardly doen, at length she gan them pray,
That in their cotage small, that night she rest her may.
The day is spent, and commeth drowsie night,
When euery creature shrowded is in sleepe;
Sad Vna downe her laies in wearie plight,
And at her feet the Lyon watch doth keepe:
In stead of rest, she does lament, and weepe
For the late losse of her deare loued knight,
And sighes, and grones, and euermore does steepe
Her tender brest in bitter teares all night,
All night she thinks too long, and often lookes for light.
Now when Aldeboran was mounted hie
Aboue the shynie Cassiopeias chaire,
And all in deadly sleepe did drowned lie,
One knocked at the dore, and in would fare;
He knocked fast, and often curst, and sware,
That readie entrance was not at his call:
For on his backe a heauy load he bare
Of nightly stelths and pillage seuerall,
Which he had got abroad by purchase criminall.
He was to weete a stout and sturdie thiefe,
Wont to robbe Churches of their ornaments,
And poore mens boxes of their due reliefe,
Which giuen was to them for good intents;
The holy Saints of their rich vestiments
He did disrobe, when all men carelesse slept,
And spoild the Priests of their habiliments,
Whiles none the holy things in safety kept;
Then he by cunning sleights in at the window crept.
And all that he by right or wrong could find,
Vnto this house he brought, and did bestow
Vpon the daughter of this woman blind,
Abessa daughter of Corceca slow,
With whom he whoredome vsd, that few did know,
And fed her fat with feast of offerings,
And plentie, which in all the land did grow;
Ne spared he to giue her gold and rings:
And now he to her brought part of his stolen things.
Thus long the dore with rage and threats he bet,
Yet of those fearefull women none durst rize,
The Lyon frayed them, him in to let:
He would no longer stay him to aduize,
But open breakes the dore in furious wize,
And entring is; when that disdainfull beast
Encountring fierce, him suddaine doth surprize,
And seizing cruell clawes on trembling brest,
Vnder his Lordly foot him proudly hath supprest.
Him booteth not resist, nor succour call,
His bleeding hart is in the vengers hand,
Who streight him rent in thousand peeces small,
And quite dismembred hath: the thirstie land
Drunke vp his life; his corse left on the strand.
His fearefull friends weare out the wofull night,
Ne dare to weepe, nor seeme to vnderstand
The heauie hap, which on them is alight,
Affraid, least to themselues the like mishappen might.
Now when broad day the world discouered has,
Vp Vna rose, vp rose the Lyon eke,
And on their former iourney forward pas,
In wayes vnknowne, her wandring knight to seeke,
With paines farre passing that long wandring Greeke,
That for his loue refused deitie;
Such were the labours of this Lady meeke,
Still seeking him, that from her still did flie,
Then furthest from her hope, when most she weened nie.
Soone as she parted thence, the fearefull twaine,
That blind old woman and her daughter deare
Came forth, and finding Kirkrapine there slaine,
For anguish great they gan to rend their heare,
And beat their brests, and naked flesh to teare.
And when they both had wept and wayld their fill,
Then forth they ranne like two amazed deare,
Halfe mad through malice, and reuenging will,
To follow her, that was the causer of their ill.
Whom ouertaking, they gan loudly bray,
With hollow howling, and lamenting cry,
Shamefully at her rayling all the way,
And her accusing of dishonesty,
That was the flowre of faith and chastity;
And still amidst her rayling, she did pray,
That plagues, and mischiefs, and long misery
Might fall on her, and follow all the way,
And that in endlesse error she might euer stray.
But when she saw her prayers nought preuaile,
She backe returned with some labour lost;
And in the way as she did weepe and waile,
A knight her met in mighty armes embost,
Yet knight was not for all his bragging bost,
But subtill Archimag, that Vna sought
By traynes into new troubles to haue tost:
Of that old woman tydings he besought,
If that of such a Ladie she could tellen ought.
Therewith she gan her passion to renew,
And cry, and curse, and raile, and rend her heare,
Saying, that harlot she too lately knew,
That causd her shed so many a bitter teare,
And so forth told the story of her feare:
Much seemed he to mone her haplesse chaunce,
And after for that Ladie did inquere;
Which being taught, he forward gan aduaunce
His fair enchaunted steed, and eke his charmed launce.
Ere long he came, where Vna traueild slow,
And that wilde Champion wayting her besyde:
Whom seeing such, for dread he durst not show
Himselfe too nigh at hand, but turned wyde
Vnto an hill; from whence when she him spyde,
By his like seeming shield, her knight by name
She weend it was, and towards him gan ryde:
Approching nigh, she wist it was the same,
And with faire fearefull humblesse towards him shee came.
And weeping said, Ah my long lacked Lord,
Where haue ye bene thus long out of my sight?
Much feared I to haue bene quite abhord,
Or ought haue done, that ye displeasen might,
That should as death vnto my deare hart light:
For since mine eye your ioyous sight did mis,
My chearefull day is turnd to chearelesse night,
And eke my night of death the shadow is;
But welcome now my light, and shining lampe of blis.
He thereto meeting said, My dearest Dame,
Farre be it from your thought, and fro my will,
To thinke that knighthood I so much should shame,
As you to leaue, that haue me loued still,
And chose in Faery court of meere goodwill,
Where noblest knights were to be found on earth:
The earth shall sooner leaue her kindly skill
To bring forth fruit, and make eternall derth,
Then I leaue you, my liefe, yborne of heauenly berth.
And sooth to say, why I left you so long,
Was for to seeke aduenture in strange place,
Where Archimago said a felon strong
To many knights did daily worke disgrace;
But knight he now shall neuer more deface:
Good cause of mine excuse; that mote ye please
Well to accept, and euermore embrace
My faithfull seruice, that by land and seas
Haue vowd you to defend. Now then your plaint appease.
His louely words her seemd due recompence
Of all her passed paines: one louing howre
For many yeares of sorrow can dispence:
A dram of sweet is worth a pound of sowre:
She has forgot, how many a wofull stowre
For him she late endur'd; she speakes no more
Of past: true is, that true loue hath no powre
To looken backe; his eyes be fixt before.
Before her stands her knight, for whom she toyld so sore.
Much like, as when the beaten marinere,
That long hath wandred in the Ocean wide,
Oft soust in swelling Tethys saltish teare,
And long time hauing tand his tawney hide
With blustring breath of heauen, that none can bide,
And scorching flames of fierce Orions hound,
Soone as the port from farre he has espide,
His chearefull whistle merrily doth sound,
And Nereus crownes with cups; his mates him pledg around.
Such ioy made Vna, when her knight she found;
And eke th'enchaunter ioyous seemd no lesse,
Then the glad marchant, that does vew from ground
His ship farre come from watrie wildernesse,
He hurles out vowes, and Neptune oft doth blesse:
So forth they past, and all the way they spent
Discoursing of her dreadfull late distresse,
In which he askt her, what the Lyon ment:
Who told her all that fell in iourney as she went.
They had not ridden farre, when they might see
One pricking towards them with hastie heat,
Full strongly armd, and on a courser free,
That through his fiercenesse fomed all with sweat,
And the sharpe yron did for anger eat,
When his hot ryder spurd his chauffed side;
His looke was sterne, and seemed still to threat
Cruell reuenge, which he in hart did hyde,
And on his shield Sans loy in bloudie lines was dyde.
When nigh he drew vnto this gentle payre
And saw the Red-crosse, which the knight did beare,
He burnt in fire, and gan eftsoones prepare
Himselfe to battell with his couched speare.
Loth was that other, and did faint through feare,
To taste th'vntryed dint of deadly steele;
But yet his Lady did so well him cheare,
That hope of new good hap he gan to feele;
So bent his speare, and spurnd his horse with yron heele.
But that proud Paynim forward came so fierce,
And full of wrath, that with his sharp-head speare
Through vainely crossed shield he quite did pierce,
And had his staggering steede not shrunke for feare,
Through shield and bodie eke he should him beare:
Yet so great was the puissance of his push,
That from his saddle quite he did him beare:
He tombling rudely downe to ground did rush,
And from his gored wound a well of bloud did gush.
Dismounting lightly from his loftie steed,
He to him lept, in mind to reaue his life,
And proudly said, Lo there the worthie meed
Of him, that slew Sansfoy with bloudie knife;
Henceforth his ghost freed from repining strife,
In peace may passen ouer Lethe lake,
When morning altars purgd with enemies life,
The blacke infernall Furies doen aslake:
Life from Sansfoy thou tookst, Sansloy shall frõ thee take.
Therewith in haste his helmet gan vnlace,
Till Vna cride, O hold that heauie hand,
Deare Sir, what euer that thou be in place:
Enough is, that thy foe doth vanquisht stand
Now at thy mercy: Mercie not withstand:
For he is one the truest knight aliue,
Though conquered now he lie on lowly land,
And whilest him fortune fauourd, faire did thriue
In bloudie field: therefore of life him not depriue.
Her piteous words might not abate his rage,
But rudely rending vp his helmet, would
Haue slaine him straight: but when he sees his age,
And hoarie head of Archimago old,
His hastie hand he doth amazed hold,
And halfe ashamed, wondred at the sight:
For the old man well knew he, though vntold,
In charmes and magicke to haue wondrous might,
Ne euer wont in field, ne in round lists to fight.
And said, Why Archimago, lucklesse syre,
What doe I see? what hard mishap is this,
That hath thee hither brought to taste mine yre?
Or thine the fault, or mine the error is,
In stead of foe to wound my friend amis?
He answered nought, but in a traunce still lay,
And on those guilefull dazed eyes of his
The cloud of death did sit. Which doen away,
He left him lying so, ne would no lenger stay.
But to the virgin comes, who all this while
Amased stands, her selfe so mockt to see
By him, who has the guerdon of his guile,
For so misfeigning her true knight to bee:
Yet is she now in more perplexitie,
Left in the hand of that same Paynim bold,
From whom her booteth not at all to flie;
Who by her cleanly garment catching hold,
Her from her Palfrey pluckt, her visage to behold.
But her fierce seruant full of kingly awe
And high disdaine, whenas his soueraine Dame
So rudely handled by her foe he sawe,
With gaping iawes full greedy at him came,
And ramping on his shield, did weene the same
Haue reft away with his sharpe rending clawes:
But he was stout, and lust did now inflame
His corage more, that frõ his griping pawes
He hath his shield redeem'd, and foorth his sword he drawes.
O then too weake and feeble was the forse
Of saluage beast, his puissance to withstand:
For he was strong, and of so mightie corse,
As euer wielded speare in warlike hand,
And feates of armes did wisely vnderstand.
Eftsoones he perced through his chaufed chest
With thrilling point of deadly yron brand,
And launcht his Lordly hart: with death opprest
He roar'd aloud, whiles life forsooke his stubborne brest.
Who now is left to keepe the forlorne maid
From raging spoile of lawlesse victors will?
Her faithfull gard remou'd, her hope dismaid,
Her selfe a yeelded pray to saue or spill.
He now Lord of the field, his pride to fill,
With foule reproches, and disdainfull spight
Her vildly entertaines, and will or nill,
Beares her away vpon his courser light:
Her prayers nought preuaile, his rage is more of might.
And all the way, with great lamenting paine,
And piteous plaints she filleth his dull eares,
That stony hart could riuen haue in twaine,
And all the way she wets with flowing teares:
But he enrag'd with rancor, nothing heares.
Her seruile beast yet would not leaue her so,
But followes her farre off, ne ought he feares,
To be partaker of her wandring woe,
More mild in beastly kind, then that her beastly foe.
On to Canto IV
Back to Canto II
Back to Book I Index