Spencer's The Faerie Queene
The Mutabilitie Cantos
Proud Change (not
pleasd, in mortall things,
beneath the Moone, to raigne)
Pretends, as well of Gods, as Men,
to be the Soueraine.
What man that sees the euer-whirling wheele
Of Change, the which all mortall things doth sway,
But that therby doth find, & plainly feele,
How MVTABILITY in them doth play
Her cruell sports, to many mens decay?
Which that to all may better yet appeare,
I will rehearse that whylome I heard say,
How she at first her selfe began to reare,
Gainst all the Gods, and th'empire sought from them to beare.
But first, here falleth fittest to vnfold
Her antique race and linage ancient,
As I haue found it registred of old,
In Faery Land mongst records permanent:
She was, to weet, a daughter by descent
Of those old Titans, that did whylome striue
VVith Saturnes sonne for heauens regiment.
Whom, though high Ioue of kingdome did depriue,
Yet many of their stemme long after did surviue.
And many of them, afterwards obtain'd
Great power of Ioue, and high authority;
As Hecaté, in whose almighty hand,
He plac't all rule and principality,
To be by her disposed diuersly,
To Gods, and men, as she them list diuide:
And drad Bellona, that doth sound on hie
Warres and allarums vnto Nations wide,
That makes both heauen & earth to tremble at her pride.
So likewise did this Titanesse aspire,
Rule and dominion to her selfe to gaine;
That as a Goddesse, men might her admire,
And heauenly honours yield, as to them twaine.
At first, on earth she sought it to obtaine;
Where she such proofe and sad examples shewed
Of her great power, to many ones great paine,
That not men onely (whom she soone subdewed)
But eke all other creatures, her bad dooings rewed.
For, she the face of earthly things so changed,
That all which Nature had establisht first
In good estate, and in meet order ranged,
She did pervert, and all their statutes burst:
And all the worlds faire frame (which none yet durst
Of Gods or men to alter or misguide)
She alter'd quite, and made them all accurst
That God had blest; and did at first prouide
In that still happy state for euer to abide.
Ne shee the lawes of Nature onely brake,
But eke of Iustice, and of Policie;
And wrong of right, and bad of good did make,
And death for life exchanged foolishlie:
Since which, all liuing wights haue learn'd to die,
And all this world is woxen daily worse.
Of pittious worke of MVTABILITIE!
By which, we all are subiect to that curse,
And death in stead of life haue sucked from our Nurse.
And now, when all the earth she thus had brought
To her behest, and thralled to her might,
She gan to cast in her ambitious thought,
T'attempt the empire of the heauens hight,
And Ioue himselfe to shoulder from his right.
And first, she past the region of the ayre,
And of the fire, whose substance thin and slight,
Made no resistance, ne could her contraire,
But ready passage to her pleasure did prepaire.
Thence, to the Circle of the Moone she clambe,
Where Cynthia raignes in euerlasting glory,
To whose bright shining palace straight she came,
All fairely deckt with heauens goodly story:
Whose siluer gates (by which there sate an hory
Old aged Sire, with hower-glasse in hand,
Hight Tyme) she entred, were he liefe or sory:
Ne staide till she the highest stage had scand,
VVhere Cynthia did sit, that neuer still did stand.
Her sitting on an Iuory throne shee found,
Drawne of two steeds, th'one black, the other white,
Environd with tenne thousand starres around,
That duly her attended day and night;
And by her side, there ran her Page, that hight
Vesper, whom we the Euening-starre intend:
That with his Torche, still twinkling like twylight,
Her lightened all the way where she should wend,
And ioy to weary wandring trauailers did lend:
That when the hardy Titanesse beheld
The goodly building of her Palace bright,
Made of the heauens substance, and vp-held
With thousand Crystall pillors of huge hight,
Shee gan to burne in her ambitious spright,
And t'envie her that in such glorie raigned.
Eftsoones she cast by force and tortious might,
Her to displace; and to her selfe to haue gained
The kingdome of the Night, and waters by her wained.
Boldly she bid the Goddesse downe descend,
And let her selfe into that Ivory throne;
For, shee her selfe more worthy thereof wend,
And better able it to guide alone:
Whether to men, whose fall she did bemone,
Or vnto Gods, whose state she did maligne,
Or to th'infernall Powers, her need giue lone
Of her faire light, and bounty most benigne,
Her selfe of all that rule shee deemed most condigne.
But shee that had to her that soueraigne seat
By highest Ioue assign'd, therein to beare
Nights burning lamp, regarded not her threat,
Ne yielded ought for fauour or for feare;
But with sterne countenaunce and disdainfull cheare,
Bending her horned browes, did put her back:
And boldly blaming her for comming there,
Bade her attonce from heauens coast to pack,
Or at her perill bide the wrathfull Thunders wrack.
Yet nathemore the Giantesse forbare:
But boldly preacing-on, raught forth her hand
To pluck her downe perforce from off her chaire;
And there-with lifting vp her golden wand,
Threatned to strike her if she did with-stand.
Whereat the starres, which round about her blazed,
And eke the Moones bright wagon, still did stand,
All beeing with so bold attempt amazed,
And on her vncouth habit and sterne looke still gazed.
Meane-while, the lower World, which nothing knew
Of all that chaunced here, was darkned quite;
And eke the heauens, and all the heauenly crew
Of happy wights, now vnpurvaide of light,
Were much afraid, and wondred at that sight;
Fearing least Chaos broken had his chaine,
And brought againe on them eternall night:
But chiefely Mercury, that next doth raigne,
Ran forth in haste, vnto the king of Gods to plaine.
All ran together with a great out-cry,
To Ioues faire Palace, fixt in heauens hight;
And beating at his gates full earnestly,
Gan call to him aloud with all their might,
To know what meant that suddaine lack of light.
The father of the Gods when this he heard,
Was troubled much at their so strange affright,
Doubting least Typhon were againe vprear'd,
Or other his old foes, that once him sorely fear'd.
Eftsoones the sonne of Maia forth he sent
Downe to the Circle of the Moone, to knowe
The cause of this so strange astonishment,
And why shee did her wonted course forslowe;
And if that any were on earth belowe
That did with charmes or Magick her molest,
Him to attache, and downe to hell to throwe:
But, if from heauen it were, then to arrest
The Author, and him bring before his presence prest.
The wingd-foot God, so fast his plumes did beat,
That soone he came where-as the Titanesse
Was striuing with faire Cynthia for her seat:
At whose strange sight, and haughty hardinesse,
He wondred much, and feared her no lesse.
Yet laying feare aside to doe his charge,
At last, he bade her (with bold stedfastnesse)
Ceasse to molest the Moone to walke at large,
Or come before high Ioue, her dooings to discharge.
And there-with-all, he on her shoulder laid
His snaky-wreathed Mace, whose awfull power
Doth make both Gods and hellish fiends affraid:
Where-at the Titanesse did sternely lower,
And stoutly answer'd, that in euill hower
He from his Ioue such message to her brought,
To bid her leaue faire Cynthias siluer bower;
Sith shee his Ioue and him esteemed nought,
No more then Cynthia's selfe; but all their kingdoms sought.
The Heauens Herald staid not to reply,
But past away, his doings to relate
Vnto his Lord; who now in th'highest sky,
VVas placed in his principall Estate,
VVith all the Gods about him congregate:
To whom when Hermes had his message told,
It did them all exceedingly amate,
Saue Ioue; who, changing nought his count'nance bold,
Did vnto them at length these speeches wise vnfold;
Harken to mee awhile yee heauenly Powers;
Ye may remember since th'Earths cursed seed
Sought to assaile the heauens eternall towers,
And to vs all exceeding feare did breed:
But how we then defeated all their deed,
Yee all doe knowe, and them destroied quite;
Yet not so quite, but that there did succeed
An off-spring of their bloud, which did alite
Vpon the fruitfull earth, which doth vs yet despite.
Of that bad seed is this bold woman bred,
That now with bold presumption doth aspire
To thrust faire Phoebe from her siluer bed,
And eke our selues from heauens high Empire,
If that her might were match to her desire:
Wherefore, it now behoues vs to advise
What way is best to driue her to retire;
Whether by open force, or counsell wise,
Areed ye sonnes of God, as best ye can deuise.
So hauing said, he ceast; and with his brow
(His black eye-brow, whose doomefull dreaded beck
Is wont to wield the world vnto his vow,
And euen the highest Powers of heauen to check)
Made signe to them in their degrees to speake:
Who straight gan cast their counsell graue and wise.
Meane-while, th'Earths daughter, thogh she nought did reck
Of Hermes message; yet gan now advise,
What course were best to take in this hot bold emprize.
Eftsoones she thus resolv'd; that whil'st the Gods
(After returne of Hermes Embassie)
Were troubled, and amongst themselues at ods,
Before they could new counsels re-allie,
To set vpon them in that extasie;
And take what fortune time and place would lend:
So, forth she rose, and through the purest sky
To Ioues high Palace straight cast to ascend,
To prosecute her plot: Good on-set boads good end.
Shee there arriuing, boldly in did pass;
Where all the Gods she found in counsell close,
All quite vnarm'd, as then their manner was.
At sight of her they suddaine all arose,
In great amaze, ne wist what way to chose.
But Ioue, all fearelesse, forc't them to aby;
And in his soueraine throne, gan straight dispose
Himselfe more full of grace and Maiestie,
That mote encheare his friends, & foes mote terrifie.
That, when the haughty Titanesse beheld,
All were she fraught with pride and impudence,
Yet with the sight thereof was almost queld;
And inly quaking, seem'd as reft of sense,
And voyd of speech in that drad audience;
Vntill that Ioue himselfe, her selfe bespake:
Speake thou fraile woman, speake with confidence,
Whence art thou, and what doost thou here now make?
What idle errand hast thou, earths mansion to forsake?
Shee, halfe confused with his great commaund,
Yet gathering spirit of her natures pride,
Him boldly answer'd thus to his demaund:
I am a daughter, by the mothers side,
Of her that is Grand-mother magnifide
Of all the Gods, great Earth, great Chaos child:
But by the fathers (be it not envide)
I greater am in bloud (whereon I build)
Then all the Gods, though wrongfully from heauen exil'd.
For, Titan (as ye all acknowledge must)
Was Saturnes elder brother by birth-right;
Both, sonnes of Vranus: but by vniust
And guilefull meanes, through Corybantes slight,
The younger thrust the elder from his right:
Since which, thou Ioue, iniuriously hast held
The Heauens rule from Titans sonnes by might;
And them to hellish dungeons downe hast feld:
Witnesse ye Heauens the truth of all that I haue teld.
Whil'st she thus spake, the Gods that gaue good eare
To her bold words, and marked well her grace,
Beeing of stature tall as any there
Of all the Gods, and beautifull of face,
As any of the Goddesses in place,
Stood all astonied, like a sort of Steeres;
Mongst whom, some beast of strange & forraine race,
Vnwares is chaunc't, far straying from his peeres:
So did their ghastly gaze bewray their hidden feares.
Till hauing pauz'd awhile, Ioue thus bespake;
VVill neuer mortall thoughts ceasse to aspire,
In this bold sort, to Heauen claime to make,
And touch celestiall seates with earthly mire?
I would haue thought, that bold Procrustes hire,
Or Typhons fall, or proud Ixions paine,
Or great Prometheus, tasting of our ire,
Would haue suffiz'd, the rest for to restraine;
And warn'd all men by their example to refraine:
But now, this off-scum of that cursed fry,
Dare to renew the like bold enterprize,
And chalenge th'heritage of this our skie;
Whom what should hinder, but that we likewise
Should handle as the rest of her allies,
And thunder-driue to hell? With that, he shooke
His Nectar-deawed locks, with which the skyes
And all the world beneath for terror quooke,
And eft his burning levin-brond in hand he tooke.
But, when he looked on her louely face,
In which, faire beames of beauty did appeare,
That could the greatest wrath soone turne to grace
(Such sway doth beauty euen in Heauen beare)
He staide his hand: and hauing chang'd his cheare,
He thus againe in milder wise began;
But ah! if Gods should striue with flesh yfere,
Then shortly should the progeny of Man
Be rooted out, if Ioue should doe still what he can:
But thee faire Titans child, I rather weene,
Through some vaine errour or inducement light,
To see that mortall eyes haue neuer seene;
Or through ensample of thy sisters might,
Bellona; whose great glory thou doost spight,
Since thou hast seene her dreadfull power belowe,
Mongst wretched men (dismaide with her affright)
To bandie Crownes, and Kingdomes to bestowe:
And sure thy worth, no lesse then hers doth seem to showe.
But wote thou this, thou hardy Titanesse,
That not the worth of any liuing wight
May challenge ought in Heauens interesse;
Much lesse the Title of old Titans Right:
For, we by Conquest of our soueraine might,
And by eternall doome of Fates decree,
Haue wonne the Empire of the Heauens bright;
Which to our selues we hold, and to whom wee
Shall worthy deeme partakers of our blisse to bee.
Then ceasse thy idle claime thou foolish gerle,
And seeke by grace and goodnesse to obtaine
That place from which by folly Titan fell;
There-to thou maist perhaps, if so thou faine
Haue Ioue thy gratious Lord and Soueraigne.
So, hauing said, she thus to him replide;
Ceasse Saturnes sonne, to seeke by proffers vaine
Of idle hopes t'allure mee to thy side,
For to betray my Right, before I haue it tride.
But thee, ô Ioue, no equall Iudge I deeme
Of my desert, or of my dewfull Right;
That in thine owne behalfe maist partiall seeme:
But to the highest him, that is behight
Father of Gods and men by equall might;
To weet, the God of Nature, I appeale.
There-at Ioue wexed wroth, and in his spright
Did inly grudge, yet did it well conceale;
And bade Dan Phoebus Scribe her Appellation seale.
Eftsoones the time and place appointed were,
Where all, both heauenly Powers, & earthly wights,
Before great Natures presence should appeare,
For triall of their Titles and best Rights:
That was, to weet, vpon the highest hights
Of Arlo-hill (Who knowes not Arlo-hill?)
That is the highest head (in all mens sights)
Of my old father Mole, whom Shepheards quill
Renowmed hath with hymnes fit for a rurall skill.
And, were it not ill fitting for this file,
To sing of hilles & woods, mongst warres & Knights,
I would abate the sternenesse of my stile,
Mongst these sterne stounds to mingle soft delights;
And tell how Arlo through Dianaes spights
(Beeing of old the best and fairest Hill
That was in all this holy-Islands hights)
Was made the most vnpleasant, and most ill.
Meane while, ô Clio, lend Calliope thy quill.
Whylome, when IRELAND florished in fame
Of wealths and goodnesse, far aboue the rest
Of all that beare the British Islands name,
The Gods then vs'd (for pleasure and for rest)
Oft to resort there-to, when seem'd them best:
But none of all there-in more pleasure found,
Then Cynthia; that is soueraine Queene profest
Of woods and forrests, which therein abound,
Sprinkled with wholsom waters, more the most on ground.
But mongst them all, as fittest for her game,
Either for chace of beasts with hound or boawe,
Or for to shroude in shade from Phoebus flame,
Or bathe in fountaines that doe freshly flowe,
Or from high hilles, or from the dales belowe,
She chose this Arlo; where shee did resort
With all her Nymphes enranged on a rowe,
With whom the woody Gods did oft consort:
For, with the Nymphes, the Satyres loue to play & sport.
Amongst the which, there was a Nymph that hight
Molanna; daughter of old father Mole,
And sister vnto Mulla, faire and bright:
Vnto whose bed false Bregog whylome stole,
That Shepheard Colin dearely did condole,
And made her lucklesse loues well knowne to be.
But this Molanna, were she not so shole,
Were no lesse faire and beautifull then shee:
Yet as she is, a fairer flood may no man see.
For, first, she springs out of two marble Rocks,
On which, a groue of Oakes high mounted growes,
That as a girlond seemes to deck the locks
Of som faire Bride, brought forth with pompous showes
Out of her bowre, that many flowers strowes:
So, through the flowry Dales she tumbling downe,
Through many woods, and shady coverts flowes
(That on each side her siluer channell crowne)
Till to the Plaine she come, whose Valleyes shee doth drowne.
In her sweet streames, Diana vsed oft
(After her sweatie chace and toilesome play)
To bathe her selfe; and after, on the soft
And downy grasse, her dainty limbes to lay
In couert shade, where none behold her may:
For, much she hated sight of liuing eye.
Foolish God Faunus, though full many a day
He saw her clad, yet longed foolishly
To see her naked mongst her Nymphes in priuity.
No way he found to compasse his desire,
But to corrupt Molanna, this her maid,
Her to discouer for some secret hire:
So, her with flattering words he first assaid;
And after, pleasing gifts for her purvaid,
Queene-apples, and red Cherries from the tree,
VVith which he her allured and betraid,
To tell what time he might her Lady see
When she her selfe did bathe, that he might secret bee.
There-to hee promist, if shee would him pleasure
With this small boone, to quit her with a better;
To weet, that where-as shee had out of measure
Long lov'd the Fanchin, who by nought did set her,
That he would vndertake, for this to get her
To be his Loue, and of him liked well:
Besides all which, he vow'd to be her debter
For many moe good turnes then he would tell;
The least of which, this little pleasure should excell.
The simple maid did yield to him anone;
And eft him placed where he close might view
That neuer any saw, saue onely one;
VVho, for his hire to so foole-hardy dew,
Was of his hounds devour'd in Hunters hew.
Tho, as her manner was on sunny day,
Diana, with her Nymphes about her, drew
To this sweet spring; where, doffing her array,
She bath'd her louely limbes, for Ioue a likely pray.
There Faunus saw that pleased much his eye,
And made his hart to tickle in his brest,
That for great ioy of some-what he did spy,
He could him not containe in silent rest;
But breaking forth in laughter, loud profest
His foolish thought. O foolish Faune indeed,
That couldst not hold thy selfe so hidden blest,
But wouldest needs thine owne conceit areed.
Babblers vnworthy been of so diuine a meed.
The Goddesse, all abashed with that noise,
In haste forth started from the guilty brooke;
And running straight where-as she heard his voice,
Enclos'd the bush about, and there him tooke,
Like darred Larke; not daring vp to looke
On her whose sight before so much he sought.
Thence, forth they drew him by the hornes, & shooke
Nigh all to peeces, that they left him nought;
And then into the open light they forth him brought.
Like as an huswife, that with busie care
Thinks of her Dairie to make wondrous gaine,
Finding where-as some wicked beast vnware
That breakes into her Dayr'house, there doth draine
Her creaming pannes, and frustrate all her paine;
Hath in some snare or gin set close behind,
Entrapped him, and caught into her traine,
Then thinkes what punishment were best assign'd,
And thousand deathes deuiseth in her vengefull mind:
So did Diana and her maydens all
Vse silly Faunus, now within their baile:
They mocke and scorne him, and him foule miscall;
Some by the nose him pluckt, some by the taile,
And by his goatish beard some did him haile:
Yet he (poore soule) with patience all did beare;
For, nought against their wils might countervaile:
Ne ought he said what euer he did heare;
But hanging downe his head, did like a Mome appeare.
At length, when they had flouted him their fill,
They gan to cast what penaunce him to giue.
Some would haue gelt him, but that same would spill
The Wood-gods breed, which must for euer liue:
Others would through the riuer him haue driue,
And ducked deepe: but that seem'd penaunce light;
But most agreed and did this sentence giue,
Him in Deares skin to clad; & in that plight,
To hunt him with their hounds, him selfe saue how hee might.
But Cynthia's selfe, more angry then the rest,
Thought not enough, to punish him in sport,
And of her shame to make a gamesome iest;
But gan examine him in straighter sort,
Which of her Nymphes, or other close consort,
Him thither brought, and her to him betraid?
He, much affeard, to her confessed short,
That 'twas Molanna which her so bewraid.
Then all attonce their hands vpon Molanna laid.
But him (according as they had decreed)
With a Deeres-skin they couered, and then chast
With all their hounds that after him did speed;
But he more speedy, from them fled more fast
Then any Deere: so sore him dread aghast.
They after follow'd all with shrill out-cry,
Shouting as they the heauens would haue brast:
That all the woods and dales where he did flie,
Did ring againe, and loud reeccho to the skie.
So they him follow'd till they weary were;
When, back returning to Molann' againe,
They, by commaund'ment of Diana, there
Her whelm'd with stones. Yet Faunus (for her paine)
Of her beloued Fanchin did obtaine,
That her he would receiue vnto his bed.
So now her waues passe through a pleasant Plaine,
Till with the Fanchin she her selfe doe wed,
And (both combin'd) themselues in one faire riuer spred.
Nath'lesse, Diana, full of indignation,
Thence-forth abandond her delicious brooke;
In whose sweet streame, before that bad occasion,
So much delight to bathe her limbes she tooke:
Ne onely her, but also quite forsooke
All those faire forrests about Arlo hid,
And all that Mountaine, which doth over-looke
The richest champian that may else be rid,
And the faire Shure, in which are thousand Salmons bred.
Them all, and all that she so deare did way,
Thence-forth she left; and parting from the place,
There-on an heauy haplesse curse did lay,
To weet, that Wolues, where she was wont to space,
Should harbour'd be, and all those Woods deface,
And Thieues should rob and spoile that Coast around.
Since which, those Woods, and all that goodly Chase,
Doth to this day with Wolues and Thieues abound:
Which too-too true that lands in-dwellers since haue foũd.
On to Canto VII
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