Spencer's The Faerie Queene

Book III Canto XII

The maske of Cupid, and th'enchaunted
Chamber are displayd,
Whence Britomart redeemes faire
Amoret, through charmes decayd.

Tho when as chearelesse Night ycouered had
Faire heauen with an vniuersall cloud,
That euery wight dismayd with darknesse sad,
In silence and in sleepe themselues did shroud,
She heard a shrilling Trompet sound aloud,
Signe of nigh battell, or got victory;
Nought therewith daunted was her courage proud,
But rather stird to cruell enmity,
Expecting euer, when some foe she might descry.

With that, an hideous storme of winde arose,
With dreadfull thunder and lightning atwixt,
And an earth-quake, as if it streight would lose
The worlds foundations from his centre fixt;
A direfull stench of smoke and sulphure mixt
Ensewd, whose noyance fild the fearefull sted,
From the fourth houre of night vntill the sixt;
Yet the bold Britonesse was nought ydred,
Though much emmou'd, but stedfast still perseuered.

All suddenly a stormy whirlwind blew
Throughout the house, that clapped euery dore,
With which that yron wicket open flew,
As it with mightie leuers had bene tore:
And forth issewd, as on the ready flore
Of some Theatre, a graue personage,
That in his hand a branch of laurell bore,
With comely haueour and count'nance sage,
Yclad in costly garments, fit for tragicke Stage.

Proceeding to the midst, he still did stand,
As if in mind he somewhat had to say,
And to the vulgar beckning with his hand,
In signe of silence, as to heare a play,
By liuely actions he gan bewray
Some argument of matter passioned;
Which doen, he backe retyred soft away,
And passing by, his name discouered,
Ease, on his robe in golden letters cyphered.

The noble Mayd, still standing all this vewd,
And merueild at his strange intendiment;
With that a ioyous fellowship issewd
Of Minstrals, making goodly meriment,
With wanton Bardes, and Rymers impudent,
All which together sung full chearefully
A lay of loues delight, with sweet consent:
After whom marcht a iolly company,
In manner of a maske, enranged orderly.

The whiles a most delitious harmony,
In full straunge notes was sweetly heard to sound,
That the rare sweetnesse of the melody
The feeble senses wholly did confound,
And the fraile soule in deepe delight nigh dround:
And when it ceast, shrill trompets loud did bray,
That their report did farre away rebound,
And when they ceast, it gan againe to play,
The whiles the maskers marched forth in trim aray.

The first was Fancy, like a louely boy,
Of rare aspect, and beautie without peare;
Matchable either to that ympe of Troy,
Whom Ioue did loue, and chose his cup to beare,
Or that same daintie lad, which was so deare
To great Alcides, that when as he dyde,
He wailed womanlike with many a teare,
And euery wood, and euery valley wyde
He fild with Hylas name; the Nymphes eke Hylas cryde.

His garment neither was of silke nor say,
But painted plumes, in goodly order dight,
Like as the sunburnt Indians do aray
Their tawney bodies, in their proudest plight:
As those same plumes, so seemd he vaine and light,
That by his gate might easily appeare;
For still he far'd as dauncing in delight,
And in his hand a windy fan did beare,
That in the idle aire he mou'd still here and there.

And him beside marcht amorous Desyre,
Who seemd of riper yeares, then th'other Swaine,
Yet was that other swayne this elders syre,
And gaue him being, commune to them twaine:
His garment was disguised very vaine,
And his embrodered Bonet sat awry;
Twixt both his hands few sparkes he close did straine,
Which still he blew, and kindled busily,
That soone they life conceiu'd, & forth in flames did fly.

Next after him went Doubt, who was yclad
In a discolour'd cote, of straunge disguyse,
That at his backe a brode Capuccio had,
And sleeues dependant Albanese-wyse:
He lookt askew with his mistrustfull eyes,
And nicely trode, as thornes lay in his way,
Or that the flore to shrinke he did auyse,
And on a broken reed he still did stay
His feeble steps, which shrunke, when hard theron he lay.

With him went Daunger, cloth'd in ragged weed,
Made of Beares skin, that him more dreadfull made,
Yet his owne face was dreadfull, ne did need
Straunge horrour, to deforme his griesly shade;
A net in th'one hand, and a rustie blade
In th'other was, this Mischiefe, that Mishap;
With th'one his foes he threatned to inuade,
With th'other he his friends ment to enwrap:
For whom he could not kill, he practizd to entrap.

Next him was Feare, all arm'd from top to toe,
Yet thought himselfe not safe enough thereby,
But feard each shadow mouing to and fro,
And his owne armes when glittering he did spy,
Or clashing heard, he fast away did fly,
As ashes pale of hew, and wingyheeld;
And euermore on daunger fixt his eye,
Gainst whom he alwaies bent a brasen shield,
Which his right hand vnarmed fearefully did wield.

With him went Hope in rancke, a handsome Mayd,
Of chearefull looke and louely to behold;
In silken samite she was light arayd,
And her faire lockes were wouen vp in gold;
She alway smyld, and in her hand did hold
An holy water Sprinckle, dipt in deowe,
With which she sprinckled fauours manifold,
On whom she list, and did great liking sheowe,
Great liking vnto many, but true loue to feowe.

And after them Dissemblance, and Suspect
Marcht in one rancke, yet an vnequall paire:
For she was gentle, and of milde aspect,
Courteous to all, and seeming debonaire,
Goodly adorned, and exceeding faire:
Yet was that all but painted, and purloynd,
And her bright browes were deckt with borrowed haire:
Her deedes were forged, and her words false coynd,
And alwaies in her hand two clewes of silke she twynd.

But he was foule, ill fauoured, and grim,
Vnder his eyebrowes looking still askaunce;
And euer as Dissemblance laught on him,
He lowrd on her with daungerous eyeglaunce;
Shewing his nature in his countenance;
His rolling eyes did neuer rest in place,
But walkt each where, for feare of hid mischaunce,
Holding a lattice still before his face,
Through which he still did peepe, as forward he did pace.

Next him went Griefe, and Fury matcht yfere;
Griefe all in sable sorrowfully clad,
Downe hanging his dull head, with heauy chere,
Yet inly being more, then seeming sad:
A paire of Pincers in his hand he had,
With which he pinched people to the hart,
That from thenceforth a wretched life they lad,
In wilfull languor and consuming smart,
Dying each day with inward wounds of dolours dart.

But Fury was full ill appareiled
In rags, that naked nigh she did appeare,
With ghastly lookes and dreadfull drerihed;
For from her backe her garments she did teare,
And from her head oft rent her snarled heare:
In her right hand a firebrand she did tosse
About her head, still roming here and there;
As a dismayed Deare in chace embost,
Forgetfull of his safety, hath his right way lost.

After them went Displeasure and Pleasance,
He looking lompish and full sullein sad,
And hanging downe his heauy countenance;
She chearefull fresh and full of ioyance glad,
As if no sorrow she ne felt ne drad;
That euill matched paire they seemd to bee:
An angry Waspe th'one in a viall had
Th'other in hers an hony-lady Bee;
Thus marched these sixe couples forth in faire degree.

After all these there marcht a most faire Dame,
Led of two grysie villeins, th'one Despight,
The other cleped Cruelty by name:
She dolefull Lady, like a dreary Spright,
Cald by strong charmes out of eternall night,
Had deathes owne image figurd in her face,
Full of sad signes, fearefull to liuing sight;
Yet in that horror shewd a seemely grace,
And with her feeble feet did moue a comely pace.

Her brest all naked, as net iuory,
Without adorne of gold or siluer bright,
Wherewith the Craftesman wonts it beautify,
Of her dew honour was despoyled quight,
And a wide wound therein (O ruefull sight)
Entrenched deepe with knife accursed keene,
Yet freshly bleeding forth her fainting spright,
(The worke of cruell hand) was to be seene,
That dyde in sanguine red her skin all snowy cleene.

At that wide orifice her trembling hart
Was drawne forth, and in siluer basin layd,
Quite through transfixed with a deadly dart,
And in her bloud yet steeming fresh embayd:
And those two villeins, which her steps vpstayd,
When her weake feete could scarcely her sustaine,
And fading vitall powers gan to fade,
Her forward still with torture did constraine,
And euermore encreased her consuming paine.

Next after her the winged God himselfe
Came riding on a Lion rauenous,
Taught to obay the menage of that Elfe,
That man and beast with powre imperious
Subdeweth to his kingdome tyrannous:
His blindfold eyes he bad a while vnbind,
That his proud spoyle of that same dolorous
Faire Dame he might behold in perfect kind;
Which seene, he much reioyced in his cruell mind.

Of which full proud, himselfe vp rearing hye,
He looked round about with sterne disdaine;
And did suruay his goodly company:
And marshalling the euill ordered traine,
With that the darts which his right hand did straine,
Full dreadfully he shooke that all did quake,
And clapt on hie his coulourd winges twaine,
That all his many it affraide did make:
Tho blinding him againe, his way he forth did take.

Behinde him was Reproch, Repentance, Shame;
Reproch the first, Shame next, Repent behind:
Repentance feeble, sorrowfull, and lame:
Reproch despightfull, carelesse, and vnkind;
Shame most ill fauourd, bestiall, and blind:
Shame lowrd, Repentance sigh'd, Reproch did scould;
Reproch sharpe stings, Repentance whips entwind,
Shame burning brond-yrons in her hand did hold:
All three to each vnlike, yet all made in one mould.

And after them a rude confused rout
Of persons flockt, whose names is hard to read:
Emongst them was sterne Strife, and Anger stout,
Vnquiet Care, and fond Vnthriftihead,
Lewd Losse of Time, and Sorrow seeming dead,
Inconstant Chaunge, and false Disloyaltie,
Consuming Riotise, and guilty Dread
Of heauenly vengeance, faint Infirmitie,
Vile Pouertie, and lastly Death with infamie.

There were full many moe like maladies,
Whose names and natures I note readen well;
So many moe, as there be phantasies
In wauering wemens wit, that none can tell,
Or paines in loue, or punishments in hell;
All which disguized marcht in masking wise,
About the chamber with that Damozell,
And then returned, hauing marched thrise,
Into the inner roome, from whence they first did rise.

So soone as they were in, the dore streight way
Fast locked, driuen with that stormy blast,
Which first it opened; and bore all away.
Then the braue Maid, which all this while was plast,
In secret shade, and saw both first and last,
Issewed forth, and went vnto the dore,
To enter in, but found it locked fast:
It vaine she thought with rigorous vprore
For to efforce, when charmes had closed it afore.

Where force might not auaile, their sleights and art
She cast to vse, both fit for hard emprize;
For thy, from that same roome not to depart
Till morrow next, she did her selfe auize,
When that same Maske againe should forth arize.
The morrow next appeard with ioyous cheare,
Calling men to their daily exercize,
Then she, as morrow fresh, her selfe did reare
Out of her secret stand, that day for to out weare.

All that day she outwore in wandering,
And gazing on that Chambers ornament,
Till that againe the second euening
Her couered with her sable vestiment,
Wherewith the worlds faire beautie she hath blent:
Then when the second watch was almost past,
That brasen dore flew open, and in went
Bold Britomart, as she had late forecast,
Neither of idle shewes, nor of false charmes aghast.

So soone as she was entred, round about
She cast her eies, to see what was become
Of all those persons, which she saw without:
But lo, they streight were vanisht all and some,
Ne liuing wight she saw in all that roome,
Saue that same woefull Ladie, both whose hands
Were bounden fast, that did her ill become,
And her small wast girt round with yron bands,
Vnto a brasen pillour, by the which she stands.

And her before the vile Enchaunter sate,
Figuring straunge characters of his art,
With liuing bloud he those characters wrate,
Dreadfully dropping from her dying hart,
Seeming transfixed with a cruell dart,
And all perforce to make her him to loue.
Ah who can loue the worker of her smart?
A thousand charmes he formerly did proue;
Yet thousand charmes could not her stedfast heart remoue.

Soone as that virgin knight he saw in place,
His wicked bookes in hast he ouerthrew,
Not caring his long labours to deface,
And fiercely ronning to that Lady trew,
A murdrous knife out of his pocket drew,
The which he thought, for villeinous despight,
In her tormented bodie to embrew:
But the stout Damzell to him leaping light,
His cursed hand withheld, and maistered his might.

From her, to whom his fury first he ment,
The wicked weapon rashly he did wrest,
And turning to her selfe his fell intent,
Vnwares it strooke into her snowie chest,
That little drops empurpled her faire brest.
Exceeding wroth therewith the virgin grew,
Albe the wound were nothing deepe imprest,
And fiercely forth her mortall blade she drew,
To giue him the reward for such vile outrage dew.

So mightily she smote him, that to ground
He fell halfe dead; next stroke him should haue slaine,
Had not the Lady, which by him stood bound,
Dernely vnto her called to abstaine,
From doing him to dy. For else her paine
Should be remedilesse, sith none but hee,
Which wrought it, could the same recure againe.
Therewith she stayd her hand, loth stayd to bee;
For life she him enuyde, and long'd reuenge to see.

And to him said, Thou wicked man, whose meed
For so huge mischiefe, and vile villany
Is death, or if that ought do death exceed,
Be sure, that nought may saue thee from to dy,
But if that thou this Dame doe presently
Restore vnto her health, and former state;
This doe and liue, else die vndoubtedly.
He glad of life, that lookt for death but late,
Did yield himselfe right willing to prolong his date.

And rising vp, gan streight to ouerlooke,
Those cursed leaues, his charmes backe to reuerse;
Full dreadfull things out of that balefull booke
He red, and measur'd many a sad verse,
That horror gan the virgins hart to perse,
And her faire locks vp stared stiffe on end,
Hearing him those same bloudy lines reherse;
And all the while he red, she did extend
Her sword high ouer him, if ought he did offend.

Anon she gan perceiue the house to quake,
And all the dores to rattle round about;
Yet all that did not her dismaied make,
Nor slacke her threatfull hand for daungers dout,
But still with stedfast eye and courage stout
Abode, to weet what end would come of all.
At last that mightie chaine, which round about
Her tender waste was wound, adowne gan fall,
And that great brasen pillour broke in peeces small.

The cruell steele, which thrild her dying hart,
Fell softly forth, as of his owne accord,
And the wyde wound, which lately did dispart
Her bleeding brest, and riuen bowels gor'd,
Was closed vp, as it had not bene bor'd,
And euery part to safety full sound,
As she were neuer hurt, was soone restor'd:
Tho when she felt her selfe to be vnbound,
And perfect hole, prostrate she fell vnto the ground.

Before faire Britomart, she fell prostrate,
Saying, Ah noble knight, what worthy meed
Can wretched Lady, quit from wofull state,
Yield you in liew of this your gratious deed?
Your vertue selfe her owne reward shall breed,
Euen immortall praise, and glory wyde,
Which I your vassall, by your prowesse freed,
Shall through the world make to be notifyde,
And goodly well aduance, that goodly well was tryde.

But Britomart vprearing her from ground,
Said, Gentle Dame, reward enough I weene
For many labours more, then I haue found,
This, that in safety now I haue you seene,
And meane of your deliuerance haue beene:
Henceforth faire Lady comfort to you take,
And put away remembrance of late teene;
In stead thereof know, that your louing Make,
Hath no lesse griefe endured for your gentle sake.

She much was cheard to heare him mentiond,
Whom of all liuing wights she loued best.
Then laid the noble Championesse strong hond
Vpon th'enchaunter, which had her distrest
So sore, and with foule outrages opprest:
With that great chaine, wherewith not long ygo
He bound that pitteous Lady prisoner, now relest,
Himselfe she bound, more worthy to be so,
And captiue with her led to wretchednesse and wo.

Returning backe, those goodly roomes, which erst
She saw so rich and royally arayd,
Now vanisht vtterly, and cleane subuerst
She found, and all their glory quite decayd,
That sight of such a chaunge her much dismayd.
Thence forth descending to that perlous Porch,
Those dreadfull flames she also found delayd,
And quenched quite, like a consumed torch,
That erst all entrers wont so cruelly to scorch.

More easie issew now, then entrance late
She found: for now that fained dreadfull flame,
Which chokt the porch of that enchaunted gate,
And passage bard to all, that thither came,
Was vanisht quite, as it were not the same,
And gaue her leaue at pleasure forth to passe.
Th'Enchaunter selfe, which all that fraud did frame,
To haue efforst the loue of that faire lasse,
Seeing his worke now wasted deepe engrieued was.

But when the victoresse arriued there,
Where late she left the pensife Scudamore,
With her owne trusty Squire, both full of feare,
Neither of them she found where she them lore:
Thereat her noble hart was stonisht sore;
But most faire Amoret, whose gentle spright
Now gan to feede on hope, which she before
Conceiued had, to see her owne dear knight,
Being thereof beguyld was fild with new affright.

But he sad man, when he had long in drede
Awayted there for Britomarts returne,
Yet saw her not nor signe of her good speed,
His expectation to despaire did turne,
Misdeeming sure that her those flames did burne;
And therefore gan aduize with her old Squire,
Who her deare nourslings losse no lesse did mourne,
Thence to depart for further aide t'enquire:
Where let them wend at will, whilest here I doe respire.

STANZAS IN 1590 REPLACED IN 1596 WITH OTHERS.

At last she came vnto the place, where late
She left Sir Scudamour in great distresse,
Twixt dolour and despight halfe desperate,
Of his loues succour, of his owne redresse,
And of the hardie Britomarts successe:
There on the cold earth him now thrown she found,
In wilfull anguish, and dead heauinesse,
And to him cald; whose voices knowen sound
Soone as he heard, himself he reared light from ground.

There did he see, that most on earth him ioyd,
His dearest loue, the comfort of his dayes,
Whose too long absence him had sore annoyd,
And wearied his life with dull delayes:
Straight he vpstarted from the loathed layes,
And to her ran with hasty egernesse,
Like as a Deare, that greedily embayes
In the coole soile, after long thirstinesse,
Which he in chace endured hath, now nigh breathlesse.

Lightly he clipt her twixt his armes twaine,
And streightly did embrace her body bright,
Her body, late the prison of sad paine,
Now the sweet lodge of loue and deare delight:
But she faire Lady ouercommen quight
Of huge affection, did in pleasure melt,
And in sweete rauishment pourd out her spright:
No word they spake, nor earthly thing they felt,
But like two senceles stocks in long embracemet dwelt.

Had ye them seene, ye would haue surely thought,
That they had beene that faire Hermaphrodite,
Which that rich Romane of white marble wrought,
And in his costly Bath causd to bee site:
So seemd those two, as growne together quite,
That Britomart halfe enuying their b[l]esse,
Was much empassiond in her gentle sprite,
And to her selfe oft wisht like happinesse,
In vaine she wisht, that fate n'ould let her yet possesse.

Thus doe those louers with sweet counteruayle,
Each other of loues bitter fruit despoile.
But now my teme begins to faint and fayle,
All woxen weary of their iournall toyle:
Therefore I will their sweatie yokes assoyle,
At this same furrowes end, till a new day:
And ye faire swayns, after your long turmoyle,
Now cease your worke, and at your pleasure play:
Now cease your worke; to morrow is an holy day.

On to Book IV

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