Spencer's The Faerie Queene
Book V Canto XI
Prince Arthure ouercomes the great
Gerioneo in fight:
Doth slay the Monster, and restore
Belge vnto her right.
It often fals in course of common life,
That right long time is ouerborne of wrong,
Through auarice, or powre, or guile, or strife,
That weakens her, and makes her party strong:
But Iustice, though her dome she doe prolong,
Yet at the last she will her owne cause right.
As by sad Belge seemes, whose wrongs though long
She suffred, yet at length she did requight,
And sent redresse thereof by this braue Briton Knight.
Whereof when newes was to that Tyrant brought,
How that the Lady Belge now had found
A Champion, that had with his Champion fought,
And laid his Seneschall low on the ground,
And eke him selfe did threaten to confound,
He gan to burne in rage, and friese in feare,
Doubting sad end of principle vnsound:
Yet sith he heard but one, that did appeare,
He did him selfe encourage, and take better cheare.
Nathelesse him selfe he armed all in hast,
And forth he far'd with all his many bad,
Ne stayed step, till that he came at last
Vnto the Castle, which they conquerd had.
There with huge terrour, to be more ydrad,
He sternely marcht before the Castle gate,
And with bold vaunts, and ydle threatning bad
Deliuer him his owne, ere yet too late,
To which they had no right, nor any wrongfull state.
The Prince staid not his aunswere to deuize,
But opening streight the Sparre, forth to him came,
Full nobly mounted in right warlike wize;
And asked him, if that he were the same,
Who all that wrong vnto that wofull Dame
So long had done, and from her natiue land
Exiled her, that all the world spake shame.
He boldly aunswerd him, he there did stand
That would his doings iustifie with his owne hand.
With that so furiously at him he flew,
As if he would haue ouerrun him streight,
And with his huge great yron axe gan hew
So hideously vppon his armour bright,
As he to peeces would haue chopt it quight:
That the bold Prince was forced foote to giue
To his first rage, and yeeld to his despight;
The whilest at him so dreadfully he driue,
That seem'd a marble rocke asunder could haue riue.
Thereto a great aduauntage eke he has
Through his three double hands thrise multiplyde,
Besides the double strength, which in them was:
For stil when fit occasion did betyde,
He could his weapon shift from side to syde,
From hand to hand, and with such nimblesse sly
Could wield about, that ere it were espide,
The wicked stroke did wound his enemy,
Behinde, beside, before, as he it list apply.
Which vncouth vse when as the Prince perceiued,
He gan to watch the wielding of his hand,
Least by such slight he were vnwares deceiued;
And euer ere he saw the stroke to land,
He would it meete, and warily withstand.
One time, when he his weapon faynd to shift,
As he was wont, and chang'd from hand to hand,
He met him with a counterstroke so swift,
That quite smit off his arme, as he it vp did lift.
Therewith, all fraught with fury and disdaine,
He brayd aloud for very fell despight;
And sodainely t'auenge him selfe againe,
Gan into one assemble all the might
Of all his hands, and heaued them on hight,
Thinking to pay him with that one for all:
But the sad steele seizd not, where it was hight,
Vppon the childe, but somewhat short did fall,
And lighting on his horses head, him quite did mall.
Downe streight to ground fell his astonisht steed,
And eke to th'earth his burden with him bare:
But he him selfe full lightly from him freed,
And gan him selfe to fight on foote prepare.
Whereof when as the Gyant was aware,
He wox right blyth, as he had got thereby,
And laught so loud, that all his teeth wide bare
One might haue seene enraung'd disorderly,
Like to a rancke of piles, that pitched are awry.
Eftsoones againe his axe he raught on hie,
Ere he were throughly buckled to his geare;
And can let driue at him so dreadfullie,
That had he chaunced not his shield to reare,
Ere that huge stroke arriued on him neare,
He had him surely clouen quite in twaine.
But th'Adamantine shield, which he did beare,
So well was tempred, that for all his maine,
It would no passage yeeld vnto his purpose vaine.
Yet was the stroke so forcibly applide,
That made him stagger with vncertaine sway,
As if he would haue tottered to one side.
Wherewith full wroth, he fiercely gan assay,
That curt'sie with like kindnesse to repay;
And smote at him with so importune might,
That two more of his armes did fall away,
Like fruitlesse braunches, which the hatchets slight
Hath pruned from the natiue tree, and cropped quight.
With that all mad and furious he grew,
Like a fell mastiffe through enraging heat,
And curst, and band, and blasphemies forth threw,
Against his Gods, and fire to them did threat,
And hell vnto him selfe with horrour great.
Thenceforth he car'd no more, which way he strooke,
Nor where it light, but gan to chaufe and sweat,
And gnasht his teeth, and his head at him shooke,
And sternely him beheld with grim and ghastly looke.
Nought fear'd the childe his lookes, ne yet his threats,
But onely wexed now the more aware,
To saue him selfe from those his furious heats,
And watch aduauntage, how to worke his care:
The which good Fortune to him offred faire.
For as he in his rage him ouerstrooke,
He ere he could his weapon backe repaire,
His side all bare and naked ouertooke,
And with his mortal steel quite throgh the body strooke.
Through all three bodies he him strooke attonce;
That all the three attonce fell on the plaine:
Else should he thrise haue needed, for the nonce
Them to haue stricken, and thrise to haue slaine.
So now all three one sencelesse lumpe remaine,
Enwallow'd in his owne blacke bloudy gore,
And byting th'earth for very deaths disdaine;
Who with a cloud of night him couering, bore
Downe to the house of dole, his daies there to deplore.
Which when the Lady from the Castle saw,
Where she with her two sonnes did looking stand,
She towards him in hast her selfe did draw,
To greet him the good fortune of his hand:
And all the people both of towne and land,
Which there stood gazing from the Citties wall
Vppon these warriours, greedy t'vnderstand,
To whether should the victory befall,
Now when they saw it falne, they eke him greeted all.
But Belge with her sonnes prostrated low
Before his feete, in all that peoples sight;
Mongst ioyes mixing some tears, mongst wele, some wo,
Him thus bespake; O most redoubted Knight
The which hast me, of all most wretched wight,
That earst was dead, restor'd to life againe,
And these weake impes replanted by thy might;
What guerdon can I giue thee for thy paine,
But euen that which thou sauedst, thine still to remaine?
He tooke her vp forby the lilly hand,
And her recomforted the best he might,
Saying; Deare Lady, deedes ought not be scand
By th'authors manhood, nor the doers might,
But by their trueth and by the causes right:
That same is it, which fought for you this day.
What other meed then need me to requight,
But that which yeeldeth vertues meed alway?
That is the vertue selfe, which her reward doth pay.
She humbly thankt him for that wondrous grace,
And further sayd; Ah Sir, but mote ye please,
Sith ye thus farre haue tendred my poore case,
As from my chiefest foe me to release,
That your victorious arme will not yet cease,
Till ye haue rooted all the relickes out
Of that vilde race, and stablished my peace.
What is there else (sayd he) left of their rout?
Declare it boldly Dame, and doe not stand in dout.
Then wote you, Sir, that in this Church hereby,
There stands an Idole of great note and name,
The which this Gyant reared first on hie,
And of his owne vaine fancies thought did frame:
To whom for endlesse horrour of his shame,
He offred vp for daily sacrifize
My children and my people, burnt in flame;
With all the tortures, that he could deuize,
The more t'aggrate his God with such his blouddy guize.
And vnderneath this Idoll there doth lie
An hideous monster, that doth it defend,
And feedes on all the carkasses, that die
In sacrifize vnto that cursed feend:
Whose vgly shape none euer saw, nor kend,
That euer scap'd: for of a man they say
It has the voice, that speaches forth doth send,
Euen blasphemous words, which she doth bray
Out of her poysnous entrails, fraught with dire decay.
Which when the Prince heard tell, his heart gan earne
For great desire, that Monster to assay,
And prayd the place of her abode to learne.
Which being shew'd, he gan him selfe streight way
Thereto addresse, and his bright shield display.
So to the Church he came, where it was told,
The Monster vnderneath the Altar lay;
There he that Idoll saw of massy gold
Most richly made, but there no Monster did behold.
Vpon the Image with his naked blade
Three times, as in defiance, there he strooke;
And the third time out of an hidden shade,
There forth issewd, from vnder th'Altars smooke,
A dreadfull feend, with fowle deformed looke,
That stretcht it selfe, as it had long lyen still;
And her long taile and fethers strongly shooke,
That all the Temple did with terrour fill;
Yet him nought terrifide, that feared nothing ill.
An huge great Beast it was, when it in length
Was stretched forth, that nigh fild all the place,
And seem'd to be of infinite great strength;
Horrible, hideous, and of hellish race,
Borne of the brooding of Echidna base,
Or other like infernall furies kinde:
For of a Mayd she had the outward face,
To hide the horrour, which did lurke behinde,
The better to beguile, whom she so fond did finde.
Thereto the body of a dog she had,
Full of fell rauin and fierce greedinesse;
A Lions clawes, with powre and rigour clad,
To rend and teare, what so she can oppresse;
A Dragons taile, whose sting without redresse
Full deadly wounds, where so it is empight;
And Eagles wings, for scope and speedinesse,
That nothing may escape her reaching might,
Whereto she euer list to make her hardy flight.
Much like in foulnesse and deformity
Vnto that Monster, whom the Theban Knight,
The father of that fatall progeny,
Made kill her selfe for very hearts despight,
That he had red her Riddle, which no wight
Could euer loose, but suffred deadly doole.
So also did this Monster vse like slight
To many a one, which came vnto her schoole,
Whom she did put to death, deceiued like a foole.
She comming forth, when as she first beheld
The armed Prince, with shield so blazing bright,
Her ready to assaile, was greatly queld,
And much dismayd with that dismayfull sight,
That backe she would haue turnd for great affright.
But he gan her with courage fierce assay,
That forst her turne againe in her despight,
To saue her selfe, least that he did her slay:
And sure he had her slaine, had she not turnd her way.
Tho when she saw, that she was forst to fight,
She flew at him, like to an hellish feend,
And on his shield tooke hold with all her might,
As if that it she would in peeces rend,
Or reaue out of the hand, that did it hend.
Strongly he stroue out of her greedy gripe
To loose his shield, and long while did contend:
But when he could not quite it, with one stripe
Her Lions clawes he from her feete away did wipe.
With that aloude she gan to bray and yell,
And fowle blasphemous speaches forth did cast,
And bitter curses, horrible to tell,
That euen the Temple, wherein she was plast,
Did quake to heare, and nigh asunder brast.
Tho with her huge long taile she at him strooke,
That made him stagger, and stand halfe agast
With trembling ioynts, as he for terrour shooke;
Who nought was terrifide, but greater courage tooke.
As when the Mast of some well timbred hulke
Is with the blast of some outragious storme
Blowne downe, it shakes the bottome of the bulke,
And makes her ribs to cracke, as they were torne,
Whilest still she stands as stonisht and forlorne:
So was he stound with stroke of her huge taile.
But ere that it she backe againe had borne,
He with his sword it strooke, that without faile
He ioynted it, and mard the swinging of her flaile.
Then gan she cry much louder then afore,
That all the people there without it heard,
And Belge selfe was therewith stonied sore,
As if the onely sound thereof she feard.
But then the feend her selfe more fiercely reard
Vppon her wide great wings, and strongly flew
With all her body at his head and beard;
That had he not foreseene with heedfull vew,
And thrown his shield atween, she had him done to rew.
But as she prest on him with heauy sway,
Vnder her wombe his fatall sword he thrust,
And for her entrailes made an open way,
To issue forth; the which once being brust,
Like to a great Mill damb forth fiercely gusht,
And powred out of her infernall sinke
Most vgly filth, and poyson therewith rusht,
That him nigh choked with the deadly stinke:
Such loathly matter were small lust to speake, or thinke.
Then downe to ground fell that deformed Masse,
Breathing out clouds of sulphure fowle and blacke,
In which a puddle of contagion was,
More loathd then Lerna, or then Stygian lake,
That any man would nigh awhaped make.
Whom when he saw on ground, he was full glad,
And streight went forth his gladnesse to partake
With Belge, who watcht all this while full sad,
Wayting what end would be of that same daunger drad.
Whom when she saw so ioyously come forth,
She gan reioyce, and shew triumphant chere,
Lauding and praysing his renowmed worth,
By all the names that honorable were.
Then in he brought her, and her shewed there
The present of his paines, that Monsters spoyle,
And eke that Idoll deem'd so costly dere;
Whom he did all to peeces breake and foyle
In filthy durt, and left so in the loathely soyle.
Then all the people, which beheld that day,
Gan shout aloud, that vnto heauen it rong;
And all the damzels of that towne in ray,
Came dauncing forth, and ioyous carrols song:
So him they led through all their streetes along,
Crowned with girlonds of immortall baies,
And all the vulgar did about them throng,
To see the man, whose euerlasting praise
They all were bound to all posterities to raise.
There he with Belge did a while remaine,
Making great feast and ioyous merriment,
Vntill he had her settled in her raine,
With safe assuraunce and establishment.
Then to his first emprize his mind he lent,
Full loath to Belge, and to all the rest:
Of whom yet taking leaue, thenceforth he went
And to his former iourney him addrest,
On which long way he rode, ne euer day did rest.
But turne we now to noble Artegall;
Who hauing left Mercilla, streight way went
On his first quest, the which him forth did call,
To weet to worke Irenaes franchisement,
And eke Grantortoes worthy punishment.
So forth he fared as his manner was,
With onely Talus wayting diligent,
Through many perils and much way did pas,
Till nigh vnto the place at length approcht he has.
There as he traueld by the way, he met
An aged wight, wayfaring all alone,
Who through his yeares long since aside had set
The vse of armes, and battell quite forgone:
To whom as he approcht, he knew anone,
That it was he which whilome did attend
On faire Irene in her affliction,
When first to Faery court he saw her wend,
Vnto his soueraine Queene her suite for to commend.
Whom by his name saluting, thus he gan;
Haile good Sir Sergis, truest Knight aliue,
Well tride in all thy Ladies troubles than,
When her that Tyrant did of Crowne depriue;
What new ocasion doth thee hither driue,
Whiles she alone is left, and thou here found?
Or is she thrall, or doth she not suruiue?
To whom he thus; She liueth sure and sound;
But by that Tyrant is in wretched thraldome bound.
For she presuming on th'appointed tyde,
In which ye promist, as ye were a Knight,
To meete her at the saluage Ilands syde,
And then and there for triall of her right
With her vnrighteous enemy to fight,
Did thither come, where she afrayd of nought,
By guilefull treason and by subtill slight
Surprized was, and to Grantorto brought,
Who her imprisond hath, and her life often sought.
And now he hath to her prefixt a day,
By which if that no champion doe appeare,
Which will her cause in battailous array
Against him iustifie, and proue her cleare
Of all those crimes, that he gainst her doth reare,
She death shall by. Those tidings sad
Did much abash Sir Artegall to heare,
And grieued sore, that through his fault she had
Fallen into that Tyrants hand and vsage bad.
Then thus replide; Now sure and by my life,
Too much am I to blame for that faire Maide,
That haue her drawne to all this troublous strife,
Through promise to afford her timely aide,
Which by default I haue not yet defraide.
But witnesse vnto me, ye heauens, that know
How cleare I am from blame of this vpbraide:
For ye into like thraldome me did throw,
And kept from complishing the faith, which I did owe.
But now aread, Sir Sergis, how long space,
Hath he her lent, a Champion to prouide?
Ten daies (quoth he) he graunted hath of grace,
For that he weeneth well, before that tide
None can haue tidings to assist her side.
For all the shores, which to the sea accoste,
He day and night doth ward both far and wide,
That none can there arriue without an hoste:
So her he deemes already but a damned ghoste.
Now turne againe (Sir Artegall then sayd)
For if I liue till those ten daies haue end,
Assure your selfe, Sir Knight, she shall haue ayd,
Though I this dearest life for her doe spend;
So backeward he attone with him did wend.
Tho as they rode together on their way,
A rout of people they before them kend,
Flocking together in confusde array,
As if that there were some tumultuous affray.
To which as they approcht, the cause to know,
They saw a Knight in daungerous distresse
Of a rude rout him chasing to and fro,
That sought with lawlesse powre him to oppresse,
And bring in bondage of their brutishnesse:
And farre away, amid their rakehell bands,
They spide a Lady left all succourlesse,
Crying, and holding vp her wretched hands
To him for aide, who long in vaine their rage withstands.
Yet still he striues, ne any perill spares,
To reskue her from their rude violence,
And like a Lion wood amongst them fares,
Dealing his dreadfull blowes with large dispence,
Gainst which the pallid death findes no defence.
But all in vaine, their numbers are so great,
That naught may boot to banishe them from thence:
For soone as he their outrage backe doth beat,
They turne afresh, and oft renew their former threat.
And now they doe so sharpely him assay,
That they his shield in peeces battred haue,
And forced him to throw it quite away,
Fro dangers dread his doubtfull life to saue;
Albe that it most safety to him gaue,
And much did magnifie his noble name.
For from the day that he thus did it leaue,
Amongst all Knights he blotted was with blame,
And counted but a recreant Knight, with endles shame.
Whom when they thus distressed did behold,
They drew vnto his aide; but that rude rout
Them also gan assaile with outrage bold,
And forced them, how euer strong and stout
They were, as well approu'd in many a doubt,
Backe to recule; vntill that yron man
With his huge flaile began to lay about;
From whose sterne presence they diffused ran,
Like scattred chaffe, the which the wind away doth fan.
So when that Knight from perill cleare was freed,
He drawing neare, began to greete them faire,
And yeeld great thankes for their so goodly deed,
In sauing him from daungerous despaire
Of those, which sought his life for to empaire.
Of whom Sir Artegall gan then enquire
The whole occasion of his late misfare,
And who he was, and what those villaines were,
The which with mortall malice him pursu'd so nere.
To whom he thus; My name is Burbon hight,
Well knowne, and far renowmed heretofore,
Vntill late mischiefe did vppon me light,
That all my former praise hath blemisht sore;
And that faire Lady, which in that vprore
Ye with those caytiues saw, Flourdelis hight,
Is mine owne loue, though me she haue forlore,
Whether withheld from me by wrongfull might,
Or with her owne good will, I cannot read aright.
But sure to me her faith she first did plight,
To be my loue, and take me for her Lord,
Till that a Tyrant, which Grandtorto hight,
With golden giftes and many a guilefull word
Entyced her, to him for to accord.
O who may not with gifts and words be tempted?
Sith which she hath me euer since abhord,
And to my foe hath guilefully consented:
Ay me, that euer guyle in wemen was inuented.
And now he hath this troupe of villains sent,
By open force to fetch her quite away:
Gainst whom my selfe I long in vaine haue bent,
To rescue her, and daily meanes assay,
Yet rescue her thence by no meanes I may:
For they doe me with multitude oppresse,
And with vnequall might doe ouerlay,
That oft I driuen am to great distresse,
And forced to forgoe th'attempt remedilesse.
But why haue ye (said Artegall) forborne
Your owne good shield in daungerous dismay?
That is the greatest shame and foulest scorne,
Which vnto any knight behappen may
To loose the badge, that should his deedes display.
To whom Sir Burbon, blushing halfe for shame,
That shall I vnto you (quoth he) bewray;
Least ye therefore mote happily me blame,
And deeme it doen of will, that through inforcement came.
True is, that I at first was dubbed knight
By a good knight, the knight of the Redcrosse;
Who when he gaue me armes, in field to fight,
Gaue me a shield, in which he did endosse
His deare Redeemers badge vpon the bosse:
The same longwhile I bore, and therewithall
Fought many battels without wound or losse;
Therewith Grandtorto selfe I did appall,
And made him oftentimes in field before me fall.
But for that many did that shield enuie,
And cruell enemies increased more;
To stint all strife and troublous enmitie,
That bloudie scutchin being battered sore,
I layd aside, and haue of late forbore,
Hoping thereby to haue my loue obtayned:
Yet can I not my loue haue nathemore;
For she by force is still fro me detayned,
And with corruptfull brybes is to vntruth mis-trayned.
To whom thus Artegall; Certes Sir knight,
Hard is the case, the which ye doe complaine;
Yet not so hard (for nought so hard may light,
That it to such a streight mote you constraine)
As to abandon, that which doth containe
Your honours stile, that is your warlike shield.
All perill ought be lesse, and lesse all paine
Then losse of fame in disauentrous field;
Dye rather, then doe ought, that mote dishonour yield.
Not so; (quoth he) for yet when time doth serue,
My former shield I may resume againe:
To temporize is not from truth to swerue,
Ne for aduantage terme to entertaine,
When as necessitie doth it constraine.
Fie on such forgerie (said Artegall)
Vnder one hood to shadow faces twaine.
Knights ought be true, and truth is one in all:
Of all things to dissemble fouly may befall.
Yet let me you of courtesie request,
(Said Burbon) to assist me now at need
Against these pesants, which haue me opprest,
And forced me to so infamous deed,
That yet my loue may from their hands be freed.
Sir Artegall, albe he earst did wyte
His wauering mind, yet to his aide agreed,
And buckling him eftsoones vnto the fight,
Did set vpon those troupes with all his powre and might.
Who flocking round about them, as a swarme
Of flyes vpon a birchen bough doth cluster,
Did them assault with terrible allarme,
And ouer all the fields themselues did muster,
With bils and glayues making a dreadfull luster;
That forst at first those knights backe to retyre:
As when the wrathfull Boreas doth bluster,
Nought may abide the tempest of his yre,
Both man and beast doe fly, and succour doe inquyre.
But when as ouerblowen was that brunt,
Those knights began a fresh them to assayle,
And all about the fields like Squirrels hunt;
But chiefly Talus with his yron flayle,
Gainst which no flight nor rescue mote auayle,
Made cruell hauocke of the baser crew,
And chaced them both ouer hill and dale:
The raskall manie soone they ouerthrew,
But the two knights themselues their captains did subdew.
At last they came whereas that Ladie bode,
Whom now her keepers had forsaken quight,
To saue themselues, and scattered were abrode:
Her halfe dismayd they found in doubtfull plight,
As neither glad nor sorie for their sight;
Yet wondrous faire she was, and richly clad
In roiall robes, and many Iewels dight,
But that those villens through their vsage bad
Them fouly rent, and shamefully defaced had.
But Burbon streight dismounting from his steed,
Vnto her ran with greedie great desyre,
And catching her fast by her ragged weed,
Would haue embraced her with hart entyre.
But she backstarting with disdainefull yre,
Bad him auaunt, ne would vnto his lore
Allured be, for prayer nor for meed.
Whom when those knights so froward and forlore
Beheld, they her rebuked and vpbrayded sore.
Sayd Artegall; What foule disgrace is this,
To so faire Ladie, as ye seeme in sight,
To blot your beautie, that vnblemisht is,
With so foule blame, as breach of faith once plight,
Or change of loue for any worlds delight?
Is ought on earth so pretious or deare,
As prayse and honour? Or is ought so bright
And beautifull, as glories beames appeare,
Whose goodly light then Phebus lampe doth shine more cleare?
Why then will ye, fond Dame, attempted bee
Vnto a strangers loue so lightly placed,
For guiftes of gold, or any worldly glee,
To leaue the loue, that ye before embraced,
And let your fame with falshood be defaced?
Fie on the pelfe, for which good name is sold,
And honour with indignitie debased:
Dearer is loue then life, and fame then gold;
But dearer then the both, your faith once plighted hold.
Much was the Ladie in her gentle mind
Abasht at his rebuke, that bit her neare,
Ne ought to answere thereunto did find;
But hanging downe her head with heauie cheare,
Stood long amaz'd, as she amated weare.
Which Burbon seeing, her againe assayd,
And clasping twixt his armes, her vp did reare
Vpon his steede, whiles she no whit gainesayd,
So bore her quite away, nor well nor ill apayd.
Nathlesse the yron man did still pursew
That raskall many with vnpittied spoyle;
Ne ceassed not, till all their scattred crew
Into the sea he droue quite from that soyle,
The which they troubled had with great turmoyle.
But Artegall seeing his cruell deed,
Commaunded him from slaughter to recoyle,
And to his voyage gan againe proceed:
For that the terme approching fast, required speed.
On to Canto XII
Back to Canto X
Back to Book V Index