The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 4

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To sinfull house of Pride, Duessaguides the faithfull knight,Where brothers death to wreak Sansjoydoth chalenge him to fight.

iAnd through long labours huntest after fame,Beware of fraud, beware of ficklenesse,In choice, and change of thy deare loved Dame,Least thou of her beleeve too lightly blame,And rash misweening doe thy hart remove:For unto knight there is no greater shame,Then lightnesse and inconstancie in love;That doth this Redcrosse knights ensample plainly prove.

iiThrough light misdeeming of her loialtie,And false Duessa in her sted had borne,Called Fidess', and so supposd to bee;Long with her traveild, till at last they seeA goodly building, bravely garnished,The house of mightie Prince it seemd to bee:And towards it a broad high way that led,All bare through peoples feet, which thither traveiled.

iiiBoth day and night, of each degree and place,But few returned, having scaped hard,With balefull beggerie, or foule disgrace,Which ever after in most wretched case,Like loathsome lazars, by the hedges lay.Thither Duessa bad him bend his pace:For she is wearie of the toilesome way,And also nigh consumed is the lingring day.

ivWhich cunningly was without morter laid,Whose wals were high, but nothing strong, nor thick,And golden foile all over them displaid,That purest skye with brightnesse they dismaid:High lifted up were many loftie towres,And goodly galleries farre over laid,Full of faire windowes, and delightfull bowres;And on the top a Diall told the timely howres.

vAnd spake the praises of the workmans wit;But full great pittie, that so faire a mouldDid on so weake foundation ever sit:For on a sandie hill, that still did flit,And fall away, it mounted was full hie,That every breath of heaven shaked it:And all the hinder parts, that few could spie,Were ruinous and old, but painted cunningly.

viFor still to all the gates stood open wide,Yet charge of them was to a Porter hightCald Malvenù, who entrance none denide:Thence to the hall, which was on every side,With rich array and costly arras dight:Infinite sorts of people did abideThere waiting long, to win the wished sightOf her, that was the Lady of that Pallace bright.

viiAnd to the Presence mount; whose glorious vewTheir frayle amazed senses did confound:In living Princes court none ever knewSuch endlesse richesse, and so sumptuous shew;Ne Persia selfe, the nourse of pompous prideLike ever saw. And there a noble crewOf Lordes and Ladies stood on every sideWhich with their presence faire, the place much beautifide.

viiiAnd a rich throne, as bright as sunny day,On which there sate most brave embellishedWith royall robes and gorgeous array,A mayden Queene, that shone as Titans ray,In glistring gold, and peerelesse pretious stone:Yet her bright blazing beautie did assayTo dim the brightnesse of her glorious throne,As envying her selfe, that too exceeding shone.

ixThat did presume his fathers firie wayne,And flaming mouthes of steedes unwonted wildeThrough highest heaven with weaker hand to rayne;Proud of such glory and advancement vaine,While flashing beames do daze his feeble eyen,He leaves the welkin way most beaten plaine,And rapt with whirling wheels, inflames the skyen,With fire not made to burne, but fairely for to shyne.

xLooking to heaven; for earth she did disdayne,And sitting high; for lowly she did hate:Lo underneath her scornefull feete, was layneA dreadfull Dragon with an hideous trayne,And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,Wherein her face she often vewed fayne,And in her selfe-lov'd semblance tooke delight;For she was wondrous faire, as any living wight.

xiAnd sad Proserpina the Queene of hell;Yet did she thinke her pearelesse worth to pasThat parentage, with pride so did she swell,And thundring Jove, that high in heaven doth dwell,And wield the world, she claymed for her syre,Or if that any else did Jove excell:For to the highest she did still aspyre,Or if ought higher were then that, did it desyre.

xiiThat made her selfe a Queene, and crownd to be,Yet rightfull kingdome she had none at all,Ne heritage of native soveraintie,But did usurpe with wrong and tyrannieUpon the scepter, which she now did hold:Ne ruld her Realme with lawes, but pollicie,

And strong advizement of six wisards old,That with their counsels bad her kingdome did uphold.

xiiiAnd false Duessa seeming Lady faire,A gentle Husher, Vanitie by nameMade rowme, and passage for them did prepaire:So goodly brought them to the lowest stairOf her high throne, where they on humble kneeMaking obeyssance, did the cause declare,Why they were come, her royall state to see,To prove the wide report of her great Majestee.

xivShe thanked them in her disdainefull wise,Ne other grace vouchsafed them to showOf Princesse worthy, scarse them bad arise.Her Lordes and Ladies all this while deviseThemselves to setten forth to straungers sight:Some frounce their curled haire in courtly guise,Some prancke their ruffes, and others trimly dightTheir gay attire: each others greater pride does spight.

xvRight glad with him to have increast their crew:But to Duess' each one himselfe did paineAll kindnesse and faire courtesie to shew;For in that court whylome her well they knew:Yet the stout Faerie mongst the middest crowdThought all their glorie vaine in knightly vew,And that great Princesse too exceeding prowd,That to strange knight no better countenance allowd.

xviThe royall Dame, and for her coche doth call:All hurtlen forth, and she with Princely pace,As faire Aurora in her purple pall,Out of the East the dawning day doth call:So forth she comes: her brightnesse brode doth blaze;The heapes of people thronging in the hall,Do ride each other, upon her to gaze:Her glorious glitterand light doth all mens eyes amaze.

xviiAdorned all with gold, and girlonds gay,That seemd as fresh as Flora in her prime,And strove to match, in royall rich array,Great Junoes golden chaire, the which they sayThe Gods stand gazing on, when she does rideTo Joves high house through heavens bras-paved wayDrawne of faire Pecocks, that excell in pride,And full of Argus eyes their tailes dispredden wide.

xviiiOn which her six sage Counsellours did ryde,Taught to obay thelr bestiall beheasts,With like conditions to their kinds applyde:Of which the first, that all the rest did guyde,Was sluggish Idlenesse the nourse of sin;Upon a slouthfull Asse he chose to ryde,Arayd in habit blacke, and amis thin,Like to an holy Monck, the service to begin.

xixThat much was worne, but therein little red,For of devotion he had little care,Still drownd in sleepe, and most of his dayes ded;Scarse could he once uphold his heavie hed,To looken, whether it were night or day:May seeme the wayne was very evill led,When such an one had guiding of the way,That knew not, whether right he went, or else astray.

xxAnd greatly shunned manly exercise,From every worke he chalenged essoyne.For contemplation sake: yet otherwise,His life he led in lawlesse riotise;By which he grew to grievous malady;For in his lustlesse limbs through evill guiseA shaking fever raignd continually:Such one was Idlenesse, first of this company.

xxiDeformed creature, on a filthie swyne,His belly was up-blowne with luxury,And eke with fatnesse swollen were his eyne,And like a Crane his necke was long and fyne,With which he swallowd up excessive feast,For want whereof poore people oft did pyne;And all the way, most like a brutish beast,He spued up his gorge, that all did him deteast.

xxiiFor other clothes he could not weare for heat,And on his head an yvie girland had,From under which fast trickled downe the sweat:Still as he rode, he somewhat still did eat,And in his hand did beare a bouzing can,Of which he supt so oft, that on his seatHis dronken corse he scarse upholden can,In shape and life more like a monster, than man.

xxiiiAnd eke unhable once to stirre or go,Not meet to be of counsell to a king,Whose mind in meat and drinke was drowned so,That from his friend he seldome knew his fo:Full of diseases was his carcas blew,And a dry dropsie through his flesh did flow,Which by misdiet daily greater grew:Such one was Gluttony, the second of that crew.

xxivUpon a bearded Goat, whose rugged haire,And whally eyes (the signe of gelosy,)Was like the person selfe, whom he did beare:Who rough, and blacke, and filthy did appeare,Unseemely man to please faire Ladies eye;Yet he of Ladies oft was loved deare,When fairer faces were bid standen by:O who does know the bent of womens fantasy?

xxvWhich underneath did hide his filthinesse,And in his hand a burning hart he bare,Full of vaine follies, and new fanglenesse:For he was false, and fraught with ficklenesse,And learned had to love with secret lookes,And well could daunce, and sing with ruefulnesse,And fortunes tell, and read in loving bookes,And thousand other wayes, to bait his fleshly hookes.

xxviAnd lusted after all, that he did love,Ne would his looser life be tide to law,But joyd weake wemens hearts to tempt, and proveIf from their loyall loves he might them move;Which lewdnesse fild him with reprochfull paineOf that fowle evill, which all men reprove,That rots the marrow, and consumes the braine:Such one was Lecherie, the third of all this traine.

xxviiUpon a Camell loaden all with gold;Two iron coffers hong on either side,With precious mettall full, as they might hold,And in his lap an heape of coine he told;For of his wicked pelfe his God he made,And unto hell him selfe for money sold;Accursed usurie was all his trade,And right and wrong ylike in equall ballaunce waide.

xxviiiAnd thred-bare cote, and cobled shoes he ware,Ne scarse good morsell all his life did tast,But both from backe and belly still did spare,To fill his bags, and richesse to compare;Yet chylde ne kinsman living had he noneTo leave them to; but thorough daily careTo get, and nightly feare to lose his owne,He led a wretched life unto him selfe unknowne.

xxixWhose greedy lust did lacke in greatest store,Whose need had end, but no end covetise,Whose wealth was want, whose plenty made him pore,Who had enough, yet wished ever more;A vile disease, and eke in foote and handA grievous gout tormented him full sore,That well he could not touch, nor go, nor stand:Such one was Avarice, the fourth of this faire band.

xxxUpon a ravenous wolfe, and still did chawBetweene his cankred teeth a venemous tode,That all the poison ran about his chaw;But inwardly he chawed his owne mawAt neighbours wealth, that made him ever sad;For death it was, when any good he saw,And wept, that cause of weeping none he had,But when he heard of harme, he wexed wondrous glad.

xxxiHe clothed was, ypainted full of eyes;And in his bosome secretly there layAn hatefull Snake, the which his taile uptyesIn many folds, and mortall sting implyes.Still as he rode, he gnasht his teeth, to seeThose heapes of gold with griple Covetyse,And grudged at the great felicitieOf proud Lucifera, and his owne companie.

xxxiiAnd him no lesse, that any like did use,And who with gracious bread the hungry feeds,His almes for want of faith he doth accuse;So every good to bad he doth abuse:And eke the verse of famous Poets wittHe doth backebite, and spightfull poison spuesFrom leprous mouth on all, that ever writt:Such one vile Envie was, that fifte in row did sitt.

xxxiiiUpon a Lion, loth for to be led;And in his hand a burning brond he hath,The which he brandisheth about his hed;His eyes did hurle forth sparkles fiery red,And stared sterne on all, that him beheld,As ashes pale of hew and seeming ded;And on his dagger still his hand he held,Trembling through hasty rage, when choler in him sweld.

xxxivWhich he had spilt, and all to rags yrent,Through unadvized rashnesse woxen wood;For of his hands he had no governement,Ne car'd for bloud in his avengement:But when the furious fit was overpast,His cruell facts he often would repent;Yet wilfull man he never would forecast,How many mischieves should ensue his heedlesse hast.

xxxvAbhorred bloudshed, and tumultuous strife,Unmanly murder, and unthrifty scath,Bitter despight, with rancours rusty knife,And fretting griefe the enemy of life;All these, and many evils moe haunt ire,The swelling Splene, and Frenzy raging rife,The shaking Palsey, and Saint Fraunces fire:Such one was Wrath, the last of this ungodly tire.

xxxviRode Sathan, with a smarting whip in hand,With which he forward lasht the laesie teme,So oft as Slowth still in the mire did stand.Huge routs of people did about them band,Showting for joy, and still before their wayA foggy mist had covered all the land;And underneath their feet, all scattered layDead sculs and bones of men, whose life had gone astray.

© Edmund Spenser