The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 2

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The guilefull great Enchaunter parts The Redcrosse Knight from Truth; Into whose stead faire falshood steps, And workes him wofull ruth.

iHis sevenfold teme behind the stedfast starre,That was in Ocean waves yet never wet,But firme is fixt, and sendeth light from farreTo all, that in the wide deepe wandring arre:And chearefull Chaunticlere with his note shrillHad warned once, that Phoebus fiery carreIn hast was climbing up the Easterne hill,Full envious that night so long his roome did fill.

iiThat feigning dreame, and that faire-forged SprightCame to their wicked maister, and gan tellTheir bootelesse paines, and ill succeeding night:Who all in rage to see his skilfull mightDeluded so, gan threaten hellish paineAnd sad Proserpines wrath, them to affright.But when he saw his threatning was but vaine,He cast about, and searcht his balefull bookes againe.

iiiAnd that false other Spright, on whom he spredA seeming body of the subtile aire,Like a young Squire, in loves and lusty-hedHis wanton dayes that ever loosely led,Without regard of armes and dreaded fight:Those two he tooke, and in a secret bed,30 Covered with darknesse and misdeeming night,Them both together laid, to joy in vaine delight.

ivUnto his guest, who after troublous sightsAnd dreames, gan now to take more sound repast,Whom suddenly he wakes with fearefull frights,As one aghast with feends or damned sprights,And to him cals, Rise rise unhappy Swaine,That here wex old in sleepe, whiles wicked wightsHave knit themselves in Venus shamefull chaine;Come see, where your false Lady doth her honour staine.

vWith sword in hand, and with the old man went;Who soone him brought into a secret part,44 Where that false couple were full closely mentIn wanton lust and lewd embracement:Which when he saw, he burnt with gealous fire,The eye of reason was with rage yblent,And would have slaine them in his furious ire,But hardly was restreined of that aged sire.

viAnd bitter anguish of his guiltie sight,He could not rest, but did his stout heart eat,And wast his inward gall with deepe despight,Yrkesome of life, and too long lingring night.At last faire Hesperus in highest skieHad spent his lampe, and brought forth dawning light,Then up he rose, and clad him hastily;The Dwarfe him brought his steed: so both away do fly.

viiWeary of aged Tithones saffron bed,Had spred her purple robe through deawy aire,And the high hils Titan discovered,The royall virgin shooke off drowsy-hed,And rising forth out of her baser bowre,Lookt for her knight, who far away was fled,And for her Dwarfe, that wont to wait each houre;Then gan she waile and weepe, to see that woefull stowre.

viiiAs her slow beast could make; but all in vaine:For him so far had borne his light-foot steede,Pricked with wrath and fiery fierce disdaine,That him to follow was but fruitlesse paine;Yet she her weary limbes would never rest,But every hill and dale, each wood and plaineDid search, sore grieved in her gentle brest,He so ungently left her, whom she loved best

ixHe saw divided into double parts,And Una wandring in woods and forrests,Th'end of his drift, he praisd his divelish arts,That had such might over true meaning harts;Yet rests not so, but other meanes doth make,How he may worke unto her further smarts:For her he hated as the hissing snake,And in her many troubles did most pleasure take.

xFor by his mightie science he could takeAs many formes and shapes in seeming wise,As ever Proteus to himselfe could make:Sometime a fowle, sometime a fish in lake,Now like a foxe, now like a dragon fell,That of himselfe he oft for feare would quake,And oft would flie away. O who can tellThe hidden power of herbes, and might of Magicke spell?

xiOf that good knight, his late beguiled guest:In mighty armes he was yclad anon,And silver shield: upon his coward brestA bloudy crosse, and on his craven crestA bounch of haires discolourd diversly:Full jolly knight he seemde, and well addrest,And when he sate upon his courser free,Saint George himself ye would have deemed him to be.

xiiThe true Saint George was wandred far away,Still flying from his thoughts and gealous feare;Will was his guide, and griefe led him astray.At last him chaunst to meete upon the wayA faithlesse Sarazin all arm'd to point,In whose great shield was writ with letters gay

Sans foy: full large of limbe and every jointHe was, and cared not for God or man a point.

xiiiA goodly Lady clad in scarlet red,Purfled with gold and pearle of rich assay,And like a Persian mitre on her hedShe wore, with crownes and owches garnished,The which her lavish lovers to her gave;Her wanton palfrey all was overspredWith tinsell trappings, woven like a wave,Whose bridle rung with golden bels and bosses brave.

xivShe intertainde her lover all the way:But when she saw the knight his speare advaunce,She soone left off her mirth and wanton play,And bad her knight addresse him to the fray:His foe was nigh at hand. He prickt with prideAnd hope to winne his Ladies heart that day,Forth spurred fast: adowne his coursers sideThe red bloud trickling staind the way, as he did ride.

xvSpurring so hote with rage dispiteous,Gan fairely couch his speare, and towards ride:Soone meete they both, both fell and furious,That daunted with their forces hideous,Their steeds do stagger, and amazed stand,And eke themselves too rudely rigorous,Astonied with the stroke of their owne hand,Do backe rebut, and each to other yeeldeth land.

xviFight for the rule of the rich fleeced flocke,Their horned fronts so fierce on either sideDo meete, that with the terrour of the shockeAstonied both, stand sencelesse as a blocke,Forgetfull of the hanging victory:So stood these twaine, unmoved as a rocke,Both staring fierce, and holding idelyThe broken reliques of their former cruelty.

xviiSnatcheth his sword, and fiercely to him flies;Who well it wards, and quyteth cuff with cuff:Each others equall puissaunce envies,And through their iron sides with cruell spiesDoes seeke to perce: repining courage yieldsNo foote to foe. The flashing fier fliesAs from a forge out of their burning shields,And streames of purple bloud new dies the verdant fields.

xviiiThat keepes thy body from the bitter fit;Dead long ygoe I wote thou haddest bin,Had not that charme from thee forwarned it:But yet I warne thee now assured sitt,And hide thy head. Therewith upon his crestWith rigour so outrageous he smitt,That a large share it hewd out of the rest,And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely blest.

xixOf native vertue gan eftsoones revive,And at his haughtie helmet making mark,So hugely stroke, that it the steele did rive,And cleft his head. He tumbling downe alive,With bloudy mouth his mother earth did kis,Greeting his grave: his grudging ghost did striveWith the fraile flesh; at last it flitted is,Whither the soules do fly of men, that live amis.

xxLike the old ruines of a broken towre,Staid not to waile his woefull funerall,But from him fled away with all her powre;Who after her as hastily gan scowre,Bidding the Dwarfe with him to bring awayThe Sarazins shield, signe of the conqueroure.Her soone he overtooke, and bad to stay,For present cause was none of dread her to dismay.

xxiCride, Mercy mercy Sir vouchsafe to showOn silly Dame, subject to hard mischaunce,And to your mighty will. Her humblesse lowIn so ritch weedes and seeming glorious show,Did much emmove his stout heroicke heart,And said, Deare dame, your suddein overthrowMuch rueth me; but now put feare apart,And tell, both who ye be, and who that tooke your part.

xxiiThe wretched woman, whom unhappy howreHath now made thrall to your commandement,Before that angry heavens list to lowre,And fortune false betraide me to your powre,Was, (O what now availeth that I was!)Borne the sole daughter of an Emperour,He that the wide West under his rule has,And high hath set his throne, where Tiberis doth pas.

xxiiiBetrothed me unto the onely haireOf a most mighty king, most rich and sage;Was never Prince so faithfull and so faire,Was never Prince so meeke and debonaire;But ere my hoped day of spousall shone,My dearest Lord fell from high honours staire,Into the hands of his accursed fone,And cruelly was slaine, that shall I ever mone.

xxivWas afterward, I know not how, convaidAnd fro me hid: of whose most innocent deathWhen tidings came to me unhappy maid,O how great sorrow my sad soule assaid.Then forth I went his woefull corse to find,And many yeares throughout the world I straid,A virgin widow, whose deepe wounded mindWith love, long time did languish as the striken hind.

xxvTo meete me wandring, who perforce me ledWith him away, but yet could never winThe Fort, that Ladies hold in soveraigne dread.There lies he now with foule dishonour dead,Who whiles he liv'de, was called proud Sans foy,The eldest of three brethren, all three bredOf one bad sire, whose youngest is Sans joy,And twixt them both was borne the bloudy bold Sans loy.

xxviNow miserable I Fidessa dwell,Craving of you in pitty of my state,To do none ill, if please ye not do well.He in great passion all this while did dwell,More busying his quicke eyes, her face to view,Then his dull eares, to heare what she did tell;And said, Faire Lady hart of flint would rewThe undeserved woes and sorrowes, which ye shew.

xxviiHaving both found a new friend you to aid,And lost an old foe, that did you molest:Better new friend then an old foe is said.With chaunge of cheare the seeming simple maidLet fall her eyen, as shamefast to the earth,And yeelding soft, in that she nought gain-said,So forth they rode, he feining seemely merth,And she coy lookes: so dainty they say maketh derth.

xxviiiTill weary of their way, they came at last,Where grew two goodly trees, that faire did spredTheir armes abroad, with gray mosse overcast,And their greene leaves trembling with every blast,Made a calme shadow far in compasse round:The fearefull Shepheard often there aghastUnder them never sat, ne wont there soundHis mery oaten pipe, but shund th'unlucky ground.

xxixFor the coole shade him thither hastly got:For golden Phoebus now ymounted hie,From fiery wheeles of his faire chariotHurled his beame so scorching cruell hot,That living creature mote it not abide;And his new Lady it endured not.There they alight, in hope themselves to hidFrom the fierce heat, and rest their weary limbs a tide.

xxxWith goodly purposes there as they sit:And in his falsed fancy he her takesTo be the fairest wight, that lived yit;Which to expresse, he bends his gentle wit,And thinking of those braunches greene to frameA girlond for her dainty forehead fit,He pluckt a bough; out of whose rift there cameSmall drops of gory bloud, that trickled downe the same.

xxxiCrying, O spare with guilty hands to teareMy tender sides in this rough rynd embard,But fly, ah fly far hence away, for feareLeast to you hap, that happened to me heare,And to this wretched Lady, my deare love,O too deare love, love bought with death too deare.Astond he stood, and up his haire did hove,And with that suddein horror could no member move.

xxxiiWas overpast, and manhood well awake,Yet musing at the straunge occasion,And doubting much his sence, he thus bespake;What voyce of damned Ghost from Limbo lake,Or guilefull spright wandring in empty aire,Both which fraile men do oftentimes mistake,Sends to my doubtfull eares these speaches rare,And rueful plaints, me bidding guiltlesse bloud to spare?

xxxiiiNor guilefull sprite to thee these wordes doth speake,But once a man Fradubio, now a tree,Wretched man, wretched tree; whose nature weake,A cruell witch her cursed will to wreake,Hath thus transformd, and plast in open plaines,299 Where Boreas doth blow full bitter bleake,And scorching Sunne does dry my secret vaines:For though a tree I seeme, yet cold and heat me paines.

xxxivQuoth then the knight, by whose mischievous artsArt thou misshaped thus, as now I see?He oft finds med'cine, who his griefe imparts;But double griefs afflict concealing harts,As raging flames who striveth to suppresse.The author then (said he) of all my smarts,Is one Duessa a false sorceresse,That many errant knights hath brought to wretchednesse.

xxxvThe fire of love and joy of chevalreeFirst kindled in my brest, it was my lotTo love this gentle Lady, whom ye see,Now not a Lady, but a seeming tree;With whom as once I rode accompanyde,Me chaunced of a knight encountred bee,That had a like faire Lady by his syde,Like a faire Lady, but did fowle Duessa hyde.

xxxviAll other Dames to have exceeded farre;I in defence of mine did likewise stand,Mine, that did then shine as the Morning starre:So both to battell fierce arraunged arre,In which his harder fortune was to fallUnder my speare: such is the dye of warre:His Lady left as a prise martiall,Did yield her comely person, to be at my call.

xxxviiTh'one seeming such, the other such indeede,One day in doubt I cast for to compare,Whether in beauties glorie did exceede;A Rosy girlond was the victors meede:Both seemde to win, and both seemde won to bee,So hard the discord was to be agreede.Fraelissa was as faire, as faire mote bee,And ever false Duessa seemde as faire as shee.

xxxviiiThe doubtfull ballaunce equally to sway,What not by right, she cast to win by guile,And by her hellish science raisd streight wayA foggy mist, that overcast the day,And a dull blast, that breathing on her face,Dimmed her former beauties shining ray,And with foule ugly forme did her disgrace:Then was she faire alone, when none was faire in place.

xxxixWhose borrowed beautie now appeareth plaineTo have before bewitched all mens sight;O leave her soone, or let her soone be slaine.Her loathly visage viewing with disdaine,Eftsoones I thought her such, as she me told,And would have kild her; but with faigned paine,The false witch did my wrathfull hand with-hold;So left her, where she now is turnd to treen mould.

xlAnd in the witch unweeting joyd long time,Ne ever wist, but that she was the same,Till on a day (that day is every Prime,When Witches wont do penance for their crime)I chaunst to see her in her proper hew,Bathing her selfe in origane and thyme:A filthy foule old woman I did vew,That ever to have toucht her, I did deadly rew.

xliWere hidd in water, that I could not see,But they did seeme more foule and hideous,Then womans shape man would beleeve to bee.Thens forth from her most beastly companieI gan refraine, in minde to slip away,Soone as appeard safe oportunitie:For danger great, if not assur'd decayI saw before mine eyes, if I were knowne to stray.

xliiPerceiv'd my thought, and drownd in sleepie night,With wicked herbes and ointments did besmeareMy bodie all, through charmes and magicke might,That all my senses were bereaved quight:Then brought she me into this desert waste,And by my wretched lovers side me pight,Where now enclosd in wooden wals full faste,Banisht from living wights, our wearie dayes we waste.

xliiiAre you in this misformed house to dwell?We may not chaunge (quoth he) this evil plight,Till we be bathed in a living well;That is the terme prescribed by the spell.O how, said he, mote I that well out find,That may restore you to your wonted well?Time and suffised fates to former kyndShall us restore, none else from hence may us unbynd.

xlivHeard how in vaine Fradubio did lament,And knew well all was true. But the good knightFull of sad feare and ghastly dreriment,When all this speech the living tree had spent,The bleeding bough did thrust into the ground,That from the bloud he might be innocent,And with fresh clay did close the wooden wound:Then turning to his Lady, dead with feare her found.

xlvAs all unweeting of that well she knew,And paynd himselfe with busie care to reareHer out of carelesse swowne. Her eylids blewAnd dimmed sight with pale and deadly hewAt last she up gan lift: with trembling cheareHer up he tooke, too simple and too trew,And oft her kist. At length all passed feare,He set her on her steede, and forward forth did beare.

© Edmund Spenser