The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 10

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Her faithfull knight faire Una bringsto house of Holinesse,Where he is taught repentance, andthe way to heavenly blesse.

iAnd vaine assurance of mortality,Which all so soone, as it doth come to fight,Against spirituall foes, yeelds by and by,Or from the field most cowardly doth fly?Ne let the man ascribe it to his skillThat thorough grace hath gained victory.If any strength we have, it is to ill,But all the good is Gods, both power and ek will.

iiThat this her knight was feeble, and too faint;And all his sinews woxen weake and raw,Through long enprisonment, and hard constraint,Which he endured in his late restraint,That yet he was unfit for bloudie fight:Therefore to cherish him with diets daintShe cast to bring him, where he chearen might,Till he recovered had his late decayed plight.

iiiRenowmd throughout the world for sacred lore,And pure unspotted life: so well they sayIt governd was, and guided evermore,Through wisedome of a matrone grave and hore;Whose onely joy was to relieve the needesOf wretched soules, and helpe the helpelesse pore:All night she spent in bidding of her bedes,And all the day in doing good and godly deedes.

ivFrom heaven to come, or thither to arise,The mother of three daughters, well upbroughtIn goodly thewes, and godly exercise:The eldest two most sober, chast, and wise,Fidelia and Speranza virgins were,Though spousd, yet wanting wedlocks solemnize;But faire Charissa to a lovely fereWas lincked, and by him had many pledges dere.

vFor it was warely watched night and day,For feare of many foes: but when they knockt,The Porter opened unto them streight way:He was an aged syre, all hory gray,With lookes full lowly cast, and gate full slow,Wont on a staffe his feeble steps to stay,Hight Humilt{'a}. They passe in stouping low;For streight and narrow was the way, which he did show.

viBut entred in a spacious court they see,Both plaine, and pleasant to be walked in,Where them does meete a francklin faire and free,And entertaines with comely courteous glee,His name was Zele, that him right well became,For in his speeches and behaviour heeDid labour lively to expresse the same,And gladly did them guide, till to the Hall they came.

viiOf milde demeanure, and rare courtesie,Right cleanly clad in comely sad attire;In word and deede that shew'd great modestie,And knew his good to all of each degree,Hight Reverence. He them with speeches meetDoes faire entreat; no courting nicetie,But simple true, and eke unfained sweet,As might become a Squire so great persons to greet.

viiiThat aged Dame, the Ladie of the place:Who all this while was busie at her beades:Which doen, she up arose with seemely grace,And toward them full matronely did pace.Where when that fairest Una she beheld,Whom well she knew to spring from heavenly race,Her hart with joy unwonted inly sweld,As feeling wondrous comfort in her weaker eld.

ixWhereon thy innocent feet doe ever tread,Most vertuous virgin borne of heavenly berth,That to redeeme thy woefull parents head,From tyrans rage, and ever-dying dread,Hast wandred through the world now long a day;Yet ceasest not thy wearie soles to lead,What grace hath thee now hither brought this way?Or doen thy feeble feet unweeting hither stray?

xHere in this place, or any other wight,That hither turnes his steps. So few there bee,That chose the narrow path, or seeke the right:All keepe the broad high way, and take delightWith many rather for to go astray,And be partakers of their evill plight,Then with a few to walke the rightest way;O foolish men, why haste ye to your owne decay?

xiO matrone sage (quoth she) I hither came,And this good knight his way with me addrest,Led with thy prayses and broad-blazed fame,That up to heaven is blowne. The auncient Dame,Him goodly greeted in her modest guise,And entertaynd them both, as best became,With all the court'sies, that she could devise,Ne wanted ought, to shew her bounteous or wise.

xiiLoe two most goodly virgins came in place,Ylinked arme in arme in lovely wise,With countenance demure, and modest grace,They numbred even steps and equall pace:Of which the eldest, that Fidelia hight,Like sunny beames threw from her Christall face,That could have dazd the rash beholders sight,And round about her head did shine like heavens light.

xiiiAnd in her right hand bore a cup of gold,With wine and water fild up to the hight,In which a Serpent did himselfe enfold,That horrour made to all, that did behold;But she no whit did chaunge her constant mood:And in her other hand she fast did hold

A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood,Wherein darke things were writ, hard to be understood.

xivWas clad in blew, that her beseemed well;Not all so chearefull seemed she of sight,As was her sister; whether dread did dwell,Or anguish in her hart, is hard to tell:Upon her arme a silver anchor lay,Whereon she leaned ever, as befell:And ever up to heaven, as she did pray,Her stedfast eyes were bent, ne swarved other way.

xvWho them encounters with like courtesie;Many kind speeches they betwene them spend,And greatly joy each other well to see:Then to the knight with shamefast modestieThey turne themselves, at Unaes meeke request,And him salute with well beseeming glee;Who faire them quites, as him beseemed best,And goodly gan discourse of many a noble gest.

xviThe deare Charissa where is she become?Or wants she health, or busie is elsewhere?Ah no, said they, but forth she may not come:For she of late is lightned of her wombe,And hath encreast the world with one sonne more,That her to see should be but troublesome.Indeede (quoth she) that should her trouble sore,But thankt be God, and her encrease so evermore.

xviiAnd you good Sir, I wote that of your toyle,And labours long, through which ye hither came,Ye both forwearied be: therefore a whyleI read you rest, and to your bowres recoyle.Then called she a Groome, that forth him ledInto a goodly lodge, and gan despoileOf puissant armes, and laid in easie bed;His name was meeke Obedience rightfully ared.

xviiiAnd bodies were refresht with due repast,Faire Una gan Fidelia faire request,To have her knight into her schoolehouse plaste,That of her heavenly learning he might taste,And heare the wisedome of her words divine.She graunted, and that knight so much agraste,That she him taught celestiall discipline,And opened his dull eyes, that light mote in them shine.

xixThat none could read, except she did them teach,She unto him disclosed every whit,And heavenly documents thereout did preach,That weaker wit of man could never reach,Of God, of grace, of justice, of free will,That wonder was to heare her goodly speach:For she was able, with her words to kill,And raise againe to life the hart, that she did thrill.

xxShe would commaund the hastie Sunne to stay,Or backward turne his course from heavens hight;Sometimes great hostes of men she could dismay;Dry-shod to passe, she parts the flouds in tway;And eke huge mountaines from their native seatShe would commaund, themselves to beare away,And throw in raging sea with roaring threat.Almightie God her gave such powre, and puissance great.

xxiBy hearing her, and by her sisters lore,To such perfection of all heavenly grace,That wretched world he gan for to abhore,And mortall life gan loath, as thing forlore,Greev'd with remembrance of his wicked wayes,And prickt with anguish of his sinnes so sore,That he desirde to end his wretched dayes:So much the dart of sinfull guilt the soule dismayes.

xxiiAnd taught him how to take assured holdUpon her silver anchor, as was meet;Else had his sinnes so great, and manifoldMade him forget all that Fidelia told.In this distressed doubtfull agonie,When him his dearest Una did behold,Disdeining life, desiring leave to die,She found her selfe assayld with great perplexitie.

xxiiiWho well acquainted with that commune plight,Which sinfull horror workes in wounded hart,Her wisely comforted all that she might,With goodly counsell and advisement right;And streightway sent with carefull diligence,To fetch a Leach, the which had great insightIn that disease of grieved conscience,And well could cure the same; His name was Patience.

xxivCould hardly him intreat, to tell his griefe:Which knowne, and all that noyd his heavie sprightWell searcht, eftsoones he gan apply reliefeOf salves and med'cines, which had passing priefe,And thereto added words of wondrous might:By which to ease he him recured briefe,And much asswag'd the passion of his plight,That he his paine endur'd, as seeming now more light.

xxvInward corruption, and infected sin,Not purg'd nor heald, behind remained still,And festring sore did rankle yet within,Close creeping twixt the marrow and the skin.Which to extirpe, he laid him privilyDowne in a darkesome lowly place farre in,Whereas he meant his corrosives to apply,And with streight diet tame his stubborne malady.

xxviHis daintie corse, proud humors to abate,And dieted with fasting every day,The swelling of his wounds to mitigate,And made him pray both earely and eke late:And ever as superfluous flesh did rotAmendment readie still at hand did wayt,To pluck it out with pincers firie whot,That soone in him was left no one corrupted jot.

xxviiWas wont him once to disple every day:And sharpe Remorse his hart did pricke and nip,That drops of bloud thence like a well did play;And sad Repentance used to embay,His bodie in salt water smarting sore,The filthy blots of sinne to wash away.So in short space they did to health restoreThe man that would not live, but earst lay at deathes dore.

xxviiiThat like a Lyon he would cry and rore,And rend his flesh, and his owne synewes eat.His owne deare Una hearing evermoreHis ruefull shriekes and gronings, often toreHer guiltlesse garments, and her golden heare,For pitty of his paine and anguish sore;Yet all with patience wisely she did beare;For well she wist, his crime could else be never cleare.

xxixAnd trew Repentance they to Una brought:Who joyous of his cured conscience,Him dearely kist, and fairely eke besoughtHimselfe to chearish, and consuming thoughtTo put away out of his carefull brest.By this Charissa, late in child-bed brought,Was woxen strong, and left her fruitfull nest;To her faire Una brought this unacquainted guest.

xxxOf wondrous beauty, and of bountie rare,With goodly grace and comely personage,That was on earth not easie to compare;Full of great love, but Cupids wanton snareAs hell she hated, chast in worke and will;Her necke and breasts were ever open bare,That ay thereof her babes might sucke their fill;The rest was all in yellow robes arayed still.

xxxiPlaying their sports, that joyd her to behold,Whom still she fed, whiles they were weake and young,But thrust them forth still, as they wexed old:And on her head she wore a tyre of gold,Adornd with gemmes and owches wondrous faire,Whose passing price uneath was to be told;And by her side there sate a gentle paireOf turtle doves, she sitting in an yvorie chaire.

xxxiiAnd bid her joy of that her happie brood;Who them requites with court'sies seeming meetAnd entertaines with friendly chearefull mood.Then Una her besought, to be so good,As in her vertuous rules to schoole her knight,Now after all his torment well withstood,In that sad house of Penaunce, where his sprightHad past the paines of hell, and long enduring night.

xxxiiiAnd taking by the hand that Faeries sonne,Gan him instruct in every good behest,Of love, and righteousnesse, and well to donne,And wrath, and hatred warely to shonne,That drew on men Gods hatred, and his wrath,And many soules in dolours had fordonne:In which when him she well instructed hath,From thence to heaven she teacheth him the ready path.

xxxivAn auncient matrone she to her does call,Whose sober lookes her wisedome well descride:Her name was Mercie, well knowne over all,To be both gratious, and eke liberall:To whom the carefull charge of him she gave,To lead aright, that he should never fallIn all his wayes through this wide worldes wave,That Mercy in the end his righteous soule might save.

xxxvForth from her presence, by a narrow way,Scattred with bushy thornes, and ragged breares,Which still before him she remov'd away,That nothing might his ready passage stay:And ever when his feet encombred were,Or gan to shrinke, or from the right to stray,She held him fast, and firmely did upbeare,As carefull Nourse her child from falling oft does reare.

xxxviThat was fore by the way, she did him bring,In which seven Bead-men that had vowed allTheir life to service of high heavens kingDid spend their dayes in doing godly thing:Their gates to all were open evermore,That by the wearie way were traveiling,And one sate wayting ever them before,To call in commers-by, that needy were and pore.

xxxviiOf all the house had charge and governement,As Guardian and Steward of the rest:His office was to give entertainementAnd lodging, unto all that came, and went:Not unto such, as could him feast againe,And double quite, for that he on them spent,But such, as want of harbour did constraine:Those for Gods sake his dewty was to entertaine.

xxxviiiHis office was, the hungry for to feed,And thirsty give to drinke, a worke of grace:He feard not once him selfe to be in need,Ne car'd to hoord for those, whom he did breede:The grace of God he layd up still in store,Which as a stocke he left unto his seede;He had enough, what need him care for more?And had he lesse, yet some he would give to the pore.

xxxixIn which were not rich tyres, nor garments gay,The plumes of pride, and wings of vanitie,But clothes meet to keepe keene could away,And naked nature seemely to aray;With which bare wretched wights he dayly clad,The images of God in earthly clay;And if that no spare cloths to give he had,His owne coate he would cut, and it distribute glad.

xlPoore prisoners to relieve with gratious ayd,And captives to redeeme with price of bras,From Turkes and Sarazins, which them had stayd;And though they faultie were, yet well he wayd,That God to us forgiveth every howreMuch more then that, why they in bands were layd,And he that harrowd hell with heavie stowre,The faultie soules from thence brought to his heavenly bowre.

xliAnd comfort those, in point of death which lay;For them most needeth comfort in the end,When sin, and hell, and death do most dismayThe feeble soule departing hence away.All is but lost, that living we bestow,If not well ended at our dying day.O man have mind of that last bitter throw;For as the tree does fall, so lyes it ever low.

xliiIn seemely sort their corses to engrave,And deck with dainty flowres their bridall bed,That to their heavenly spouse both sweet and braveThey might appeare, when he their soules shall save.The wondrous workemanship of Gods owne mould,Whose face he made, all beasts to feare, and gaveAll in his hand, even dead we honour should.Ah dearest God me graunt, I dead be not defould.

xliiiHad charge the tender Orphans of the deadAnd widowes ayd, least they should be undone:In face of judgement he their right would plead,Ne ought the powre of mighty men did dreadIn their defence, nor would for gold or feeBe wonne their rightfull causes downe to tread:And when they stood in most necessitee,He did supply their want, and gave them ever free.

xlivThe first and chiefest of the seven, whose careWas guests to welcome, towardes him did pas:Where seeing Mercie, that his steps up bare,And alwayes led, to her with reverence rareHe humbly louted in meeke lowlinesse,And seemely welcome for her did prepare:For of their order she was Patronesse,Albe Charissa were their chiefest founderesse.

xlvThat to the rest more able he might bee:During which time, in every good behestAnd godly worke of Almes and chariteeShe him instructed with great industree;Shortly therein so perfect he became,That from the first unto the last degree,His mortall life he learned had to frameIn holy righteousnesse, without rebuke or blame.

xlviForth to an hill, that was both steepe and hy;On top whereof a sacred chappell was,And eke a little Hermitage thereby,Wherein an aged holy man did lye,That day and night said his devotion,No other worldly busines did apply;His name was heavenly Contemplation;Of God and goodnesse was his meditation.

xlviiFor God he often saw from heavens hight,All were his earthly eyen both blunt and bad,And through great age had lost their kindly sight,Yet wondrous quick and persant was his spright,As Eagles eye, that can behold the Sunne:That hill they scale with all their powre and might,That his frayle thighes nigh wearie and fordonneGan faile, but by her helpe the top at last he wonne.

xlviiiWith snowy lockes adowne his shoulders shed,As hoarie frost with spangles doth attireThe mossy braunches of an Oke halfe ded.Each bone might through his body well be red,And every sinew seene through his long fast:For nought he car'd his carcas long unfed;His mind was full of spirituall repast,And pyn'd his flesh, to keepe his body low and chast.

xlixAt their first presence grew agrieved sore,That forst him lay his heavenly thoughts aside;And had he not that Dame respected more,Whom highly he did reverence and adore,He would not once have moved for the knight.They him saluted standing far afore;Who well them greeting, humbly did requight,And asked, to what end they clomb that tedious height.

lBut that same end, which every living wightShould make his marke, high heaven to attaine?Is not from hence the way, that leadeth rightTo that most glorious house, that glistreth brightWith burning starres, and everliving fire,Whereof the keyes are to thy hand behightBy wise Fidelia? she doth thee require,To shew it to this knight, according his desire.

liWhose staggering steps thy steady hand doth lead,And shewes the way, his sinfull soule to save.Who better can the way to heaven aread,Then thou thy selfe, that was both borne and bredIn heavenly throne, where thousand Angels shine?Thou doest the prayers of the righteous seadPresent before the majestie divine,And his avenging wrath to clemencie inclint

liiThen come thou man of earth, and see the way,That never yet was seene of Faeries sonne,That never leads the traveiler astray,But after labours long, and sad delay,Brings them to joyous rest and endlesse blis.But first thou must a season fast and pray,Till from her bands the spright assoiled is,And have her strength recur'd from fraile infirmitis.

liiiSuch one, as that same mighty man of God,That bloud-red billowes like a walled frontOn either side disparted with his rod,Till that his army dry-foot through them yod,Dwelt fortie dayes upon; where writ in stoneWith bloudy letters by the hand of God,The bitter doome of death and balefull moneHe did receive, whiles flashing fire about him shone.

livAdornd with fruitfull Olives all arownd,Is, as it were for endlesse memoryOf that deare Lord, who oft thereon was fownd,For ever with a flowring girlond crownd:Or like that pleasaunt Mount, that is for ayThrough famous Poets verse each where renownd,On which the thrise three learned Ladies playTheir heavenly notes, and make full many a lovely lay.

lvA litle path, that was both steepe and long,Which to a goodly Citie led his vew;Whose wals and towres were builded high and strongOf perle and precious stone, that earthly tongCannot describe, nor wit of man can tell;Too high a ditty for my simple song;The Citie of the great king hight it well,Wherein eternall peace and happinesse doth dwell.

lviThe blessed Angels to and fro descendFrom highest heaven, in gladsome companee,And with great joy into that Citie wend,As commonly as friend does with his frend.Whereat he wondred much, and gan enquere,What stately building durst so high extendHer loftie towres unto the starry sphere,And what unknowen nation there empeopled were.

lviiThe new Hierusalem, that God has builtFor those to dwell in, that are chosen his,His chosen people purg'd from sinfull guilt,With pretious bloud, which cruelly was spiltOn cursed tree, of that unspotted lam,That for the sinnes of all the world was kilt:Now are they Saints all in that Citie sam,More deare unto their God, then younglings to their dam.

lviiiThat great Cleopolis, where I have beene,In which that fairest Faerie Oueene doth dwell,The fairest Citie was, that might be seene;And that bright towre all built of christall cleene,Panthea, seemd the brightest thing, that was:But now by proofe all otherwise I weene;For this great Citie that does far surpas,And this bright Angels towre quite dims that towre of glas.

lixYet is Cleopolis for earthly frame,The fairest peece, that eye beholden can:And well beseemes all knights of noble name,That covet in th'immortall booke of fameTo be eternized, that same to haunt,And doen their service to that soveraigne Dame,That glorie does to them for guerdon graunt:For she is heavenly borne, and heaven may justly vaunt.

lxHow ever now accompted Elfins sonne,Well worthy doest thy service for her grace,To aide a virgin desolate fordonne.But when thou famous victorie hast wonne,And high emongst all knights hast hong thy shield,Thenceforth the suit of earthly conquest shonne,And wash thy hands from guilt of bloudy field:For bloud can nought but sin, and wars but sorrowes yield.

lxiWhich after all to heaven shall thee send;Then peaceably thy painefull pilgrimageTo yonder same Hierusalem do bendWhere is for thee ordaind a blessed end:For thou emongst those Saints, whom thou doest see,Shalt be a Saint, and thine owne nations frendAnd Patrone: thou Saint George shalt called bee,Saint George of mery England, the signe of victoree.

lxiiHow dare I thinke such glory to attaine?These that have it attaind, were in like cace(Quoth he) as wretched, and liv'd in like paine.But deeds of armes must I at last be faine,And Ladies love to leave so dearely bought?What need of armes, where peace doth ay remaine,(Said he) and battailes none are to be fought?As for loose loves are vaine, and vanish into nought.

lxiiiBack to the world, whose joyes so fruitlesse are;But let me here for aye in peace remain,Or streight way on that last long voyage fare,That nothing may my present hope empare.That may not be (said he) ne maist thou yitForgo that royall maides bequeathed care,Who did her cause into thy hand commit,Till from her cursed foe thou have her freely quit.

lxivAbet that virgins cause disconsolate,And shortly backe returne unto this place,To walke this way in Pilgrims poore estate.But now aread, old father, why of lateDidst thou behight me borne of English blood,Whom all a Faeries sonne doen nominate?That word shall I (said he) avouchen good,Sith to thee is unknowne the cradle of thy brood.

lxvOf Saxon kings, that have with mightie handAnd many bloudie battailes fought in placeHigh reard their royall throne in Britane land,And vanquisht them, unable to withstand:From thence a Faerie thee unweeting reft,There as thou slepst in tender swadling band,And her base Elfin brood there for thee left.Such men do Chaungelings call, so chaungd by Faeries theft.

lxviAnd in an heaped furrow did thee hyde,Where thee a Ploughman all unweeting fond,As he his toylesome teme that way did guyde,And brought thee up in ploughmans state to byde,Whereof Georgos he thee gave to name;Till prickt with courage, and thy forces pryde,To Faery court thou cam'st to seeke for fame,And prove thy puissaunt armes, as seemes thee best became.

lxviiThe many favours I with thee have found,That hast my name and nation red aright,And taught the way that does to heaven bound?This said, adowne he looked to the ground,To have returnd, but dazed were his eyne,Through passing brightnesse, which did quite confoundHis feeble sence, and too exceeding shyne.So darke are earthly things compard to things divine.

lxviiiTo Una back he cast him to retire;Who him awaited still with pensive mind.Great thankes and goodly meed to that good syre,He thence departing gave for his paines hyre.So came to Una, who him joyd to see,And after litle rest, gan him desire,Of her adventure mindfull for to bee.So leave they take of Coelia, and her daughters three.

© Edmund Spenser