Edmund Spenser.

The works of Edmund Spenser. With observations on his life and writings online

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" What worlds delight, or iov of living speach,

Can hart, so plungd in sea of sorrowes deep.

And heaped with so huge misfortunes, reach ?

The carefull Cold beginneth for to creep.

And in my heart his yron arrow steep,

Soone as I thinke upon m) bitter bale.

Such helplesse harmes yts better hidden keep,

Then rip up griefe, where it may not availe ;

My last lefl comfort is my woes to weepe and waile."

" Ah lady deare," quoth then the gentle knight,
" ^^'ell may I ween your griefe is wondrous great ;
For Wondrous great griefe groneth in my spright.
Whiles thus I heare you of your sorrowes treat.
But, woefull lady, let me you intrete
For to unfold the anguish of your hart ;
Mishaps are maistred by advice discrete,
And counsell mitigates the greatest smart ;
Foundnever help, who never would his hurts impart."

" Oh ! but," quoth she, " great griefe will not be
And can more easily be thought then said." [tould,
" Right so," quoth he : " but he, that never would.
Could never : will to might gives greatest aid."
" But griefe," quoth she, " does greater grow dis-
If then it find not helpe, and breeds despaire. "[plaid,
" Despair breeds not," quoth he," where faith is staid."
" iS'o faith so fast," quoth she, " hut flesh does paire.'
" Flesh may empaire," quoth he, " but reason caa

His goodly reason, and well-guided speach,
So deepe did settle in her gracious thought,
Thac her perswaded to disclose the breach
Which love and fortune in her hart had wrought ;
And said ; " Faire sir, I hope good hap have brought
You to inquere the secrets of my griefe ;
Or that your wisdome will direct mv thought ;
Or that your prowesse can me yield relief'e ;
Then heare the story sad, wliich I shall tell yon

" The forlorne maiden, whom your eies have seer

The laughing stocke of Fortunes mockeries.

Am th' onely daughter of a king and queene.

Whose parents deare ('whiles equal destinies

Did ronne about, and their felicities

The favourable heavens did not envy,)

Did spred their rule througli all the territories.

Which Phison and Euphrates floweth by.

And Gehons golden waves doe wash continually :

" Till that their cruell cursed enemv,
An huge great dragon, h rrJhle in sight.
Bred in the loathly lakes of Tartarv,
With murdrous ravine, and devouring might,
Tlieir kingdome spoild, and countvfy wasted quight:
Themselves, for feare into his iavves to fall.
He forst to castle strong to take their fliglit ;
Where, fast embard in miglitv brasen wall.
He has tJiem now fowr years besiegd to make them

" Full many knights, adventurous and stout,
Have enterpriz'd, that monster to subdew :
From every coast, that heaven walks about.
Have thither come the noble martial crew,
That famous harde atchievements still pursew ;
Yet never any could that girlond win.
But all still shronke ; and still he greater grew;
All they for want of faith, or guilt of sin.
The pitteous pray of his fiers cruelty have bin.

" At last, vied with far reported praise.
Which flying Fame throughout tlie world had spreCS,
Of doughty knights, whom Fary land did raise,
That noble order hight of Maideuhed,
Forthwith to court of Gloriane I sped.
Of Gloriane, great queene of glory bright,
Whose kingdomes seat Cleopolis is red ;
There to obtaine some such redoubted knight
That parents deare from tyrants puwre deliver migFti



[Book I.

*'Yt was my cliaunce (my civaunce was fairoand good)
Tliere for to find a fresh unproved knight ;
Whose manly hands imhrewd in guilty blood
Had never beene, ne ever by his might
Had throwne to ground the unregarded riglit :
Vet of his prowesse proofe he since has made
jl witnes ara~) in manv a cruell fight ;
The groniug ghosts of many one dismaide
Have felt the bitter dint of his avenging blade.

" And ye, the forlorne reliques of Ins powre,
His biting Sword, and his devouring Speare,
Which have endured many a dreadfull slowre.
Can speake his prowesse, that did earst you beare,
And well could rule ; now he hath left you heare
To be the record of his ruetull losse,
And of my dolefull disaventurous deare :
O heavie record of the good Iledcrosse,
Where have ye left your lord, that could so well
vou tosse ?

" Well hoped I, and faire beginnings had,

That he my captive languor should redeeme :

Till all unweeting an enc haunter bad

His sence abusd, and made him to misdeems

My loyalty, net such as it did seeme,

That rather death desire then such despight.

Be judge, ye heavens, that all things right esteniiie,

How I him lov'd, and love with all my mighi I

So thought I eke of him, and think I thought anght.

" Tlienceforth me desolate he quite forsooke,
To wander, where wikle Fortune would me lead.
And other bywaies he himselfe betooke.
Where never foote of living wight did tread.
That brought not backe the baleful! body dead ;
In wIulIi him chaunced false Duessa meete.
Mine onely foe, mine onely deadly dread ;
Who with Iier witchcraft, and misseeming sweete,
Inveigled him to lollow her desires unmeete.

" At last, by subtile sleights she him betraid
Unto his foe, a gyaunt huge and tall ;
Who him disarmed, dissolute, dismaid,
llnwares surprised, and with mighty mall
The monster mercilesse him made to fall,
Wliose fall did never foe before behold :
And now in darkesome dungeon, wretched thrall,
Ilemcdiiesse, for aie he doth him hold :
This is my cause of griefe, more great then mav be

Ere she had ended all, slie gan to faint :
But he her comforted, and faire bespake ;
" Certes, madame, ye have great cause of plaint.
That stoutest heart, I weene, could cause to quake.
But be of cheare, and comfort to you take ;
For, till I have acquit your captive knight.
Assure your selfe, I will you not forsake."
His chearefuU words reviv'd herchearelesse spright
So forth they went, the dwai-fe them guiding ever


Faire virgin, to redeeme lier deare,

Brings Arthure to the fight ;
Who slayes the gyaunt, wounds the beast.

And strips Duessa quight.

Ay me, how many perils doe enfold
The rigliteous man, to make him dailv fall,
W^ere not that heavenly grace doth liim ii])hoId,
And stedfast Trutli acquite him out of all !
Her love is firme, her care continual!,
So oft as he, througli liis own foolish jiride
Or weaknes, is to sinful! hands made thrall :
Els should this Redcrosse knight in hands have dvde,
For wliose deliverance she this pnnce doth tliether


They sadly Iraveild thus, until! they came,

Nigh to a castle bnil(h>d strong and hye :

Tlien cryde the dwarfe, " Lo ! yonder is the same.

In whicli my lord, my liege, doth lucklesse ly,

Thrall to that gyaunts lialefull tyranny :

Therefore, deaie sir, your mighty powres assay."

Tlie noble knight aliglited by and by

From loftie steed, and had tlie ladie stay.

To see wliat end of fight should him befall that day.

So with his squire, th' admirer of his might.
He marclied forth towardes thit castle wall ;
Whose gates lie fownd fast shutt, ne living wight
To Avarde the same, nor answere commers call.
Tlicn tooke that squire an home of bugle small,
Which hong adowne liis side in twisted gold
And tasselle.s gay : wyde wonders over all
Of tliat same Iiornes groat vertues weren told
Whicli had approved bene in uses manifold.

Was never wight that lieard tliat slirilling sownd.

But trembling feare did fiel in every vaine :

Three miles it might be easy lieard arownd.

And ecclioes tliree answer'd it selfe agavne:

No faulse enchauntment, nor deceitful! traine.

Might once abide the terror of that blast.

But presently was voide and wlioUy vaine :

No gate so strong, no locke so firme and fast,

But with that piercing noise flew open quite, or brast



The s:une be'bre tlin ii^enuuts g-ate lie blew.
That all the ciis'le i|Uiiked from the growiid,
And evi^rv d"re of Cree-will open flew.
'I'lie i;yauiit selfe disinaied with that sownd,
Where he with his Duessa dalliaunce fbwiid,
In hast c:nne rushinjj,- forth iroin inner bowre.
With stariiiij countenance sterna, as one astowiid
And stai^gering stt'ps, to weet what suddein stovvre
Had wrought tliat horror strange, and dar'd his
dreaded powre.

And after him the proud Duessa came,

High mounted on her many-headed beas-t ;

And every head with fyrie tongue did flame.

And everv head was crowned on his creast.

And bloodv mouthed with late cruell feast.

That when the knight beheld, his miglitie shild

Upon his manlv arnie he soone addrest.

And at him fiersly flew, with corage fild.

And eger greedinesse through every member thrild.

Therewith the gyaunt buckled him to fight,

Inflamii with scornefull wrath and high disdaine,

And lilting up his dreadfull club on higbt.

All armd with ragged snubbes and knottie graine,

Him tliought at first encnunter to liave slaine.

But wise .ind warv was that noble pere ;

And, lightly leajjing from so monstrous maine,

Did favre avoide the violence him nere ;

Itbooted nought to thinke such thunderbolts to beare:

Ne shame he thought to shonne so hideous might :
The vdle stroke, enforcing furious w-.iv.
Missing tlie marke of his misavmed sight,
Did nil to ground, and wiih liis heavie sway
So deejilv dinted in the driven clay,
That three yardes dee'pe a furrow up did throw :
'J he sad earth, wounded with so sore assay,
Did gro-.H full grievous underneath thi' blow ;
And, trembling with strange feare, did like an ertli-
quake show.

As when almightie love, in wrathfull mood.
To wreake the nnilt of mortall sins is bent,
llurles forth his thundring dart with deadly food,
Knrold in flamt-s, and smouldring dreriment.
Through rivt-n cloudes and molten firmament;
1 lie fiers tlreeforked engin, making way,
Both loftie towres and highest trees hath rent.
And all tliat might his angry passage stay ;
And, shooting in the earth, castes up a mount of


His bovstrous club, so buried in the grownd.
He could not rearen uj) againe so light,
15ut that the knight liim at advantage fownd ;
And, whiles h- strove his couibred clubbe to ijuight
Out of the eirth, witii blade all burning bright
lie smott off his lel't arnie. which like a block
Did full to ground dejiriv'd of native might;

Online LibraryEdmund SpenserThe works of Edmund Spenser. With observations on his life and writings → online text (page 10 of 112)