Spencer's The Faerie Queene
Book II Canto VIII
Sir Guyon laid in swowne is by
Acrates sonnes despoyld,
Whom Arthur soone hath reskewed
And Paynim brethren foyld.
And is there care in heauen? and is there loue
In heauenly spirits to these creatures bace,
That may compassion of their euils moue?
There is: else much more wretched were the cace
Of men, then beasts. But ô th'exceeding grace
Of highest God, that loues his creatures so,
And all his workes with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed Angels, he sends to and fro,
To serue to wicked man, to serue his wicked foe.
How oft do they, their siluer bowers leaue,
To come to succour vs, that succour want?
How oft do they with golden pineons, cleaue
The flitting skyes, like flying Pursuiuant,
Against foule feends to aide vs millitant?
They for vs fight, they watch and dewly ward,
And their bright Squadrons round about vs plant,
And all for loue, and nothing for reward:
O why should heauenly God to man haue such regard?
During the while, that Guyon did abide
In Mammons house, the Palmer, whom whyleare
That wanton Mayd of passage had denide,
By further search had passage found elsewhere,
And being on his way, approched neare,
Where Guyon lay in traunce, when suddenly
He heard a voice, that called loud and cleare,
Come hither, come hither, ô come hastily;
That all the fields resounded with the ruefull cry.
The Palmer lent his eare vnto the noyce,
To weet, who called so importunely:
Againe he heard a more efforced voyce,
That bad him come in haste. He by and by
His feeble feet directed to the cry;
Which to that shadie delue him brought at last,
Where Mammon earst did sunne his threasury:
There the good Guyon he found slumbring fast
In senselesse dreame; which sight at first him sore aghast.
Beside his head there sate a faire young man,
Of wondrous beautie, and of freshest yeares,
Whose tender bud to blossome new began,
And flourish faire aboue his equall peares;
His snowy front curled with golden heares,
Like Phoebus face adornd with sunny rayes,
Diuinely shone, and two sharpe winged sheares,
Decked with diuerse plumes, like painted Iayes,
Were fixed at his backe, to cut his ayerie wayes.
Like as Cupido on Idæan hill,
When hauing laid his cruell bow away,
And mortall arrowes, wherewith he doth fill
The world with murdrous spoiles and bloudie pray,
With his faire mother he him dights to play,
And with his goodly sisters, Graces three;
The Goddesse pleased with his wanton play,
Suffers her selfe through sleepe beguild to bee,
The whiles the other Ladies mind their merry glee.
Whom when the Palmer saw, abasht he was
Through fear and wonder, that he nought could say,
Till him the child bespoke, Long lackt, alas,
Hath bene thy faithfull aide in hard assay,
Whiles deadly fit thy pupill doth dismay;
Behold this heauie sight, thou reuerend Sire,
But dread of death and dolour doe away;
For life ere long shall to her home retire,
And he that breathlesse seemes, shal corage bold respire.
The charge, which God doth vnto me arret,
Of his deare safetie, I to thee commend;
Yet will I not forgoe, ne yet forget
The care thereof my selfe vnto the end,
But euermore him succour, and defend
Against his foe and mine: watch thou I pray;
For euill is at hand him to offend.
So hauing said, eftsoones he gan display
His painted nimble wings, and vanisht quite away.
The Palmer seeing his left empty place,
And his slow eyes beguiled of their sight,
Woxe sore affraid, and standing still a space,
Gaz'd after him, as fowle escapt by flight;
At last him turning to his charge behight,
With trembling hand his troubled pulse gan try;
Where finding life not yet dislodged quight,
He much reioyst, and courd it tenderly,
As chicken newly hatcht, from dreaded destiny.
At last he spide, where towards him did pace
Two Paynim knights, all armd as bright as skie,
And them beside an aged Sire did trace,
And farre before a light-foot Page did flie,
That breathed strife and troublous enmitie;
Those were the two sonnes of Acrates old
Who meeting earst with Archimago slie,
Foreby that idle strond, of him were told,
That he, wich earst them combatted, was Guyon bold.
Which to auenge on him they dearely vowd,
Where euer that on ground they mote him fynd;
False Archimage prouokt their courage prowd,
And stryfull Atin in their stubborne mynd
Coles of contention and whot vengeance tynd.
Now bene they come, whereas the Palmer sate,
Keeping that slombred corse to him assynd;
Well knew they both his person, sith of late
With him in bloudie armes they rashly did debate.
Whom when Pyrrochles saw, inflam'd with rage,
That sire he foule bespake, Thou dotard vile,
That with thy brutenesse shendst thy comely age,
Abandone soone, I read, the caitiue spoile
Of that same outcast carkasse, that erewhile
Made it selfe famous through false trechery,
And crownd his coward crest with knightly stile;
Loe where he now inglorious doth lye,
To proue he liued ill, that did thus foully dye.
To whom the Palmer fearelesse answered;
Certes, Sir knight, ye bene too much to blame,
Thus for to blot the honour of the dead,
And with foule cowardize his carkasse shame,
Whose liuing hands immortalizd his name.
Vile is the vengeance on the ashes cold,
And enuie base, to barke at sleeping fame:
Was neuer wight, that treason of him told;
Your selfe his prowesse prou'd & found him fiers & bold.
Then said Cymochles; Palmer, thou doest dote,
Ne canst of prowesse, ne of knighthood deeme,
Saue as thou seest or hearst. But well I wote,
That of his puissance tryall made extreeme;
Yet gold all is not, that doth golden seeme,
Ne all good knights, that shake well speare and shield:
The worth of all men by their end esteeme,
And then due praise, or due reproch them yield;
Bad therefore I him deeme, that thus lies dead on field.
Good or bad (gan his brother fierce reply)
What doe I recke, sith that he dyde entire?
Or what doth his bad death now satisfy
The greedy hunger of reuenging ire,
Sith wrathfull hand wrought not her owne desire?
Yet since no way is left to wreake my spight,
I will him reaue of armes, the victors hire,
And of that shield, more worthy of good knight;
For why should a dead dog be deckt in armour bright?
Faire Sir, said then the Palmer suppliaunt,
For knighthoods loue, do not so foule a deed,
Ne blame your honour with so shamefull vaunt
Of vile reuenge. To spoile the dead of weed
Is sacrilege, and doth all sinnes exceed;
But leaue these relicks of his liuing might,
To decke his herce, and trap his tomb-blacke steed.
What herce or steed (said he) should he haue dight,
But be entombed in the rauen or the kight?
With that, rude hand vpon his shield he laid,
And th'other brother gan his helme vnlace,
Both fiercely bent to haue him disaraid;
Till that they spide, where towards them did pace
An armed knight, of bold and bounteous grace,
Whose squire bore after him an heben launce,
And couerd shield. Well kend him so farre space
Th'enchaunter by his armes and amenaunce,
When vnder him he saw his Lybian steed to praunce.
And to those brethren said, Rise rise by liue,
And vnto battell doe your selues addresse;
For yonder comes the prowest knight aliue,
Prince Arthur, flowre of grace and nobilesse,
That hath to Paynim knights wrought great distresse,
And thousand Sar'zins foully donne to dye.
That word so deepe did in their harts impresse,
That both eftsoones vpstarted furiously,
And gan themselues prepare to battell greedily.
But fierce Pyrrochles, lacking his owne sword,
The want thereof now greatly gan to plaine,
And Archimage besought, him that afford,
Which he had brought for Braggadocchio vaine.
So would I (said th'enchaunter) glad and faine
Beteeme to you this sword, you to defend,
Or ought that else your honour might maintaine,
But that this weapons powre I well haue kend,
To be contrarie to the worke, which ye intend.
For that same knights owne sword this is of yore,
Which Merlin made by his almightie art
For that his noursling, when he knighthood swore,
Therewith to doen his foes eternall smart.
The metall first he mixt with Medæwart,
That no enchauntment from his dint might saue;
That it in flames of Aetna wrought apart,
And seuen times dipped in the bitter waue
Of hellish Styx, which hidden vertue to it gaue.
The vertue is, that neither steele, nor stone
The stroke thereof from entrance may defend;
Ne euer may be vsed by his fone,
Ne forst his rightfull owner to offend,
Ne euer will it breake, ne euer bend.
Wherefore Morddure it rightfully is hight.
In vaine therefore, Pyrrochles, should I lend
The same to thee, against his lord to fight,
For sure it would deceiue thy labour, and thy might.
Foolish old man, said then the Pagan wroth,
That weenest words or charmes may force withstond:
Soone shalt thou see, and then beleeue for troth,
That I can carue with this inchaunted brond
His Lords owne flesh. Therewith out of his hond
That vertuous steele he rudely snatcht away,
And Guyons shield about his wrest he bond;
So readie dight, fierce battaile to assay,
And match his brother proud in battailous array.
By this that straunger knight in presence came,
And goodly salued them; who nought againe
Him answered, as courtesie became,
But with sterne lookes, and stomachous disdaine,
Gaue signes of grudge and discontentment vaine:
Then turning to the Palmer, he gan spy
Where at his feete, with sorrowfull demaine
And deadly hew, an armed corse did lye,
In whose dead face he red great magnanimity.
Said he then to the Palmer, Reuerend syre,
What great misfortune hath betidd this knight?
Or did his life her fatall date expyre,
Or did he fall by treason, or by fight?
How euer, sure I rew his pitteous plight.
Not one, nor other, (said the Palmer graue)
Hath him befalne, but cloudes of deadly night
A while his heauie eylids couer'd haue,
And all his senses drowned in deepe senselesse waue.
Which, those his cruell foes, that stand hereby,
Making aduantage, to reuenge their spight,
Would him disarme, and treaten shamefully,
Vnworthy vsage of redoubted knight.
But you, faire Sir, whose honorable sight
Doth promise hope of helpe, and timely grace,
Mote I beseech to succour his sad plight,
And by your powre protect his feeble cace.
First praise of knighthood is, foule outrage to deface.
Palmer, (said he) no knight so rude, I weene,
As to doen outrage to a sleeping ghost:
Ne was there euer noble courage seene,
That in aduauntage would his puissance bost:
Honour is least, where oddes appeareth most.
May be, that better reason will asswage
The rash reuengers heat. Words well dispost
Haue secret powre, t'appease inflamed rage:
If not, leaue vnto me thy knights last patronage.
Tho turning to those brethren, thus bespoke,
Ye warlike payre, whose valorous great might
It seemes, iust wrongs to vengeance doe prouoke,
To wreake your wrath on this dead seeming knight,
Mote ought allay the storme of your despight,
And settle patience in so furious heat?
Not to debate the chalenge of your right,
But for this carkasse pardon I entreat,
Whom fortune hath alreadie laid in lowest seat.
To whom Cymochles said; For what art thou,
That mak'st thy selfe his dayes-man, to prolong
The vengeance prest? Or who shall let me now,
On this vile bodie from to wreake my wrong,
And make his carkasse as the outcast dong?
Why should not that dead carrion satisfie
The guilt, which if he liued had thus long,
His life for due reuenge should deare abie?
The trespasse still doth liue, albe the person die.
Indeed (then said the Prince) the euill donne
Dyes not, when breath the bodie first doth leaue,
But from the grandsyre to the Nephewes sonne,
And all his seed the curse doth often cleaue,
Till vengeance vtterly the guilt bereaue:
So streightly God doth iudge. But gentle knight,
That doth against the dead his hand vpreare,
His honour staines with rancour and despight,
And great disparagment makes to his former might.
Pyrrochles gan reply the second time,
And to him said, Now felon sure I read,
How that thou art partaker of his crime:
Therefore by Termagaunt thou shalt be dead.
With that his hand, more sad then lomp of lead,
Vplifting high, he weened with Morddure,
His owne good sword Morddure, to cleaue his head.
The faithfull steele such treason no'uld endure,
But swaruing from the marke, his Lords life did assure.
Yet was the force so furious and so fell,
That horse and man it made to reele aside;
Nath'lesse the Prince would not forsake his sell:
For well of yore he learned had to ride,
But full of anger fiercely to him cride;
False traitour miscreant, thou broken hast
The law of armes, to strike foe vndefide.
But thou thy treasons fruit, I hope, shalt taste
Right sowre, & feele the law, the which thou hast defast.
With that his balefull speare, he fiercely bent
Against the Pagans brest, and therewith thought
His cursed life out of her lodge haue rent:
But ere the point arriued, where it ought,
That seuen-fold shield, which he from Guyon brought
He cast betwene to ward the bitter stound:
Through all those foldes the steelehead passage wrought
And through his shoulder pierst; wherwith to groũd
He groueling fell, all gored in his gushing wound.
Which when his brother saw, fraught with great griefe
And wrath, he to him leaped furiously,
And fowly said, By Mahoune, cursed thiefe,
That direfull stroke thou dearely shalt aby.
Then hurling vp his harmefull blade on hye,
Smote him so hugely on his haughtie crest,
That from his saddle forced him to fly:
Else mote it needes downe to his manly brest
Haue cleft his head in twaine, and life thence dispossest.
Now was the Prince in daungerous distresse,
Wanting his sword, when he on foot should fight:
His single speare could doe him small redresse,
Against two foes of so exceeding might,
The least of which was match for any knight.
And now the other, whom he earst did daunt,
Had reard himselfe againe to cruell fight,
Three times more furious, and more puissaunt,
Vnmindfull of his wound, of his fate ignoraunt.
So both attonce him charge on either side,
With hideous strokes, and importable powre,
That forced him his ground to trauerse wide,
And wisely watch to ward that deadly stowre:
For in his shield, as thicke as stormie showre,
Their strokes did raine, yet did he neuer quaile,
Ne backward shrinke, but as a stedfast towre,
Whom foe with double battry doth assaile,
Them on her bulwarke beares, and bids them nought auaile.
So stoutly he withstood their strong assay,
Till that at last, when he aduantage spyde,
His poinant speare he thrust with puissant sway
At proud Cymochles, whiles his shield was wyde,
That through his thigh the mortall steele did gryde:
He swaruing with the force, within his flesh
Did breake the launce, and let the head abyde:
Out of the wound the red bloud flowed fresh,
That vnderneath his feet soone made a purple plesh.
Horribly then he gan to rage, and rayle,
Cursing his Gods, and himselfe damning deepe:
Als when his brother saw the red bloud rayle
Adowne so fast, and all his armour steepe,
For very felnesse lowd he gan to weepe,
And said, Caytiue, cursse on thy cruell hond,
That twise hath sped; yet shall it not thee keepe
From the third brunt of this my fatall brond:
Loe where the dreadfull Death behind thy backe doth stond.
With that he strooke, and th'other strooke withall,
That nothing seem'd mote beare so monstrous might:
The one vpon his couered shield did fall,
And glauncing downe would not his owner byte:
But th'other did vpon his troncheon smyte,
Which hewing quite a sunder, further way
It made, and on his hacqueton did lyte,
The which diuiding with importune sway,
It seizd in his right side, and there the dint did stay.
Wyde was the wound, and a large lukewarme flood,
Red as the Rose, thence gushed grieuously;
That when the Paynim spyde the streaming blood,
Gaue him great hart, and hope of victory.
On th'other side, in huge perplexity,
The Prince now stood, hauing his weapon broke;
Nought could he hurt, but still at ward did ly:
Yet with his troncheon he so rudely stroke
Cymochles twise, that twise him forst his foot reuoke.
Whom when the Palmer saw in such distresse,
Sir Guyons sword he lightly to him raught,
And said; Faire Son, great God thy right hand blesse,
To vse that sword so wisely as it ought.
Glad was the knight, & with fresh courage fraught,
When as againe he armed felt his hond;
Then like a Lion, which hath long time saught
His robbed whelpes, and at the last them fond
Emongst the shepheard swaynes, then wexeth wood & yond.
So fierce he laid about him, and dealt blowes
On either side, that neither mayle could hold,
Ne shield defend the thunder of his throwes:
Now to Pyrrochles many strokes he told;
Eft to Cymochles twise so many fold:
Then backe againe turning his busie hond,
Them both attonce compeld with courage bold,
To yield wide way to his hart-thrilling brond;
And though they both stood stiffe, yet could not both withstond.
As saluage Bull, whom two fierce mastiues bayt,
When rancour doth with rage him once engore,
Forgets with warie ward them to awayt,
But with his dreadfull hornes them driues afore,
Or flings aloft, or treads downe in the flore,
Breathing out wrath, and bellowing disdaine,
That all the forrest quakes to heare him rore:
So rag'd Prince Arthur twixt his foemen twaine,
That neither could his mightie puissance sustaine.
But euer at Pyrrochles when he smit,
Who Guyons shield cast euer him before,
Whereon the Faery Queenes pourtract was writ,
His hand relented, and the stroke forbore,
And his deare hart the picture gan adore,
Which oft the Paynim sau'd from deadly stowre.
But him henceforth the same can saue no more;
For now arriued is his fatall howre,
That no'te auoyded be by earthly skill or powre.
For when Cymochles saw the fowle reproch,
Which them appeached, prickt with guilty shame,
And inward griefe, he fiercely gan approch,
Resolu'd to put away that loathly blame,
Or dye with honour and desert of fame;
And on the hauberk stroke the Prince so sore,
That quite disparted all the linked frame,
And pierced to the skin, but bit no more,
Yet made him twise to reele, that neuer moou'd afore.
Whereat renfierst with wrath and sharpe regret,
He stroke so hugely with his borrowd blade,
That it empierst the Pagans burganet,
And cleauing the hard steele, did deepe inuade
Into his head, and cruell passage made
Quite through his braine. He tombling downe on ground,
Breathd out his ghost, which to th'infernall shade
Fast flying, there eternall torment found,
For all the sinnes, wherewith his lewd life did abound.
Which when his german saw, the stony feare
Ran to his hart, and all his sence dismayd,
Ne thenceforth life ne courage did appeare,
But as a man, whom hellish feends haue frayd,
Long trembling still he stood: at last thus sayd;
Traytour what hast thou doen? how euer may
Thy cursed hand so cruelly haue swayd
Against that knight: Harrow and well away,
After so wicked deed why liu'st thou lenger day?
With that all desperate as loathing light,
And with reuenge desiring soone to dye,
Assembling all his force and vtmost might,
With his owne sword he fierce at him did flye,
And strooke, and foynd, and lasht outrageously,
Withouten reason or regard. Well knew
The Prince, with patience and sufferaunce sly
So hasty heat soone cooled to subdew:
Tho when this breathlesse woxe, that batteil gan renew.
As when a windy tempest bloweth hye,
That nothing may withstand his stormy stowre,
The cloudes, as things affrayd, before him flye;
But all so soone as his outrageous powre
Is layd, they fiercely then begin to shoure,
And as in scorne of his spent stormy spight,
Now all attonce their malice forth do poure;
So did Sir Guyon[Prince Arthur] beare himselfe in fight,
And suffred rash Pyrrochles wast his idle might.
At last when as the Sarazin perceiu'd,
How that straunge sword refusd, to serue his need,
But when he stroke most strong, the dint deceiu'd,
He flong it from him, and deuoyd of dreed,
Vpon him lightly leaping without heed,
Twixt his two mighty armes engrasped fast,
Thinking to ouerthrow and downe him tred:
But him in strength and skill the Prince surpast,
And through his nimble sleight did vnder him down cast.
Nought booted it the Paynim then to striue;
For as a Bittur in the Eagles claw,
That may not hope by flight to scape aliue,
Still waites for death with dread and trembling aw;
So he now subiect to the victours law,
Did not once moue, nor vpward cast his eye,
For vile disdaine and rancour, which did gnaw
His hart in twaine with sad melancholy,
As one that loathed life, and yet despisd to dye.
But full of Princely bounty and great mind,
The Conquerour nought cared him to slay,
But casting wrongs and all reuenge behind,
More glory thought to giue life, then decay,
And said, Paynim, this is thy dismall day;
Yet if thou wilt renounce thy miscreaunce,
And my trew liegeman yield thy selfe for ay,
Life will I graunt thee for thy valiaunce,
And all thy wrongs will wipe out of my souenaunce.
Foole (said the Pagan) I thy gift defye,
But vse thy fortune, as it doth befall,
And say, that I not ouercome do dye,
But in despight of life, for death do call.
Wroth was the Prince, and sory yet withall,
That he so wilfully refused grace;
Yet sith his fate so cruelly did fall,
His shining Helmet he gan soone vnlace,
And left his headlesse body bleeding all the place.
By this Sir Guyon from his traunce awakt,
Life hauing maistered her sencelesse foe;
And looking vp, when as his shield he lakt,
And sword saw not, he wexed wondrous woe:
But when the Palmer, whom he long ygoe
Had lost, he by him spide, right glad he grew,
And said, Deare sir, whom wandring to and fro
I long haue lackt, I ioy thy face to vew;
Firme is thy faith, whom daunger neuer fro me drew.
But read what wicked hand hath robbed mee
Of my good sword and shield? The Palmer glad,
With so fresh hew vprising him to see,
Him answered; Faire sonne, be no whit sad
For want of weapons, they shall soone be had.
So gan he to discourse the whole debate,
Which that straunge knight for him sustained had,
And those two Sarazins confounded late,
Whose carcases on ground were horribly prostrate.
Which when he heard, and saw the tokens trew,
His hart with great affection was embayd,
And to the Prince bowing with reuerence dew,
As to the Patrone of his life, thus sayd;
My Lord, my liege, by whose most gratious ayd
I liue this day, and see my foes subdewd,
What may suffise, to be for meede repayd
Of so great graces, as ye haue me shewd,
But to be euer bound
To whom the Infant thus, Faire Sir, what need
Good turnes be counted, as a seruile bond,
To bind their doers, to receiue their meede?
Are not all knights by oath bound, to withstond
Oppressours powre by armes and puissant hond?
Suffise, that I haue done my dew in place.
So goodly purpose they together fond,
Of kindnesse and of curteous aggrace;
The whiles false Archimarge and Atin fled apace.
On to Canto IX
Back to Canto VII
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