The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 9

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His loves and lignage Arthur tells:The knights knit friendly bands:Sir Trevisan flies from Despayre,Whom Redcrosse knight withstands.

iThe vertues linked are in lovely wize:And noble minds of yore allyed were,In brave poursuit of chevalrous emprize,That none did others safety despize,Nor aid envy to him, in need that stands,But friendly each did others prayse devize,How to advaunce with favourable hands,As this good Prince redeemd the Redcrosse knight from bands.

iiWith dew repast they had recured well,And that weake captive wight now wexed strong,From which I sprong, from me are hidden yit.For all so soone as life did me admitInto this world, and shewed heavens light,From mothers pap I taken was unfit:And streight delivered to a Faery knight,To be upbrought in gentle thewes and martiall might.

iiiOld Timon, who in youthly yeares hath beeneIn warlike feates th'expertest man alive,And is the wisest now on earth I weene;His dwelling is low in a valley greene,Under the foot of Rauran mossy hore,From whence the river Dee as silver cleeneHis tombling billowes rolls with gentle rore:There all my dayes he traind me up in vertuous lore.

ivAs was his use, ofttimes to visit me:For he had charge my discipline to frame,And Tutours nouriture to oversee.Him oft and oft I askt in privitie,Of what loines and what lignage I did spring:Whose aunswere bad me still assured bee,That I was sonne and heire unto a king,As time in her just terme the truth to light should bring.

vAnd Pupill fit for such a Tutours hand.But what adventure, or what high intentHath brought you hither into Faery land,Aread Prince Arthur, crowne of Martiall band?Full hard it is (quoth he) to read arightThe course of heavenly cause, or understandThe secret meaning of th'eternall might,That rules mens wayes, and rules the thoughts of living wight.

viMe hither sent, for cause to me unghest,Or that fresh bleeding wound, which day and nightWhilome doth rancle in my riven brest,With forced fury following his behest,Me hither brought by wayes yet never found,You to have helpt I hold my selfe yet blest.Ah curteous knight (quoth she) what secret woundCould ever find, to grieve the gentlest hart on ground?

viiWhich troubled once, into huge flames will grow,Ne ever will their fervent fury slake,Till living moysture into smoke do flow,And wasted life do lye in ashes low.Yet sithens silence lesseneth not my fire,But told it flames, and hidden it does glow,I will revele, what ye so much desire:Ah Love, lay downe thy bow, the whiles I may respire.

viiiWhen courage first does creepe in manly chest,Then first the coale of kindly heat appearesTo kindle love in every living brest;But me had warnd old Timons wise behest,Those creeping flames by reason to subdew,Before their rage grew to so great unrest,As miserable lovers use to rew,Which still wex old in woe, whiles woe still wexeth new.

ixAs losse of time, and vertues enimyI ever scornd, and joyd to stirre up strife,In middest of their mournfull Tragedy,Ay wont to laugh, when them I heard to cry,And blow the fire, which them to ashes brent:Their God himselfe, griev'd at my libertie,Shot many a dart at me with fiers intent,But I them warded all with wary government.

xNe fleshly brest can armed be so sound,But will at last be wonne with battrie long,Or unawares at disavantage found;Nothing is sure, that growes on earthly ground:And who most trustes in arme of fleshly might,And boasts, in beauties chaine not to be bound,Doth soonest fall in disaventrous fight,And yeeldes his caytive neck to victours most despight.

xiAnd of my selfe now mated, as ye see;Whose prouder vaunt that proud avenging boyDid soone pluck downe, and curbed my libertie.For on a day prickt forth with jollitieOf looser life, and heat of hardiment,Raunging the forest wide on courser free,The fields, the floods, the heavens with one consentDid seeme to laugh on me, and favour mine intent.

xiiFrom loftie steed, and downe to sleepe me layd;The verdant gras my couch did goodly dight,And pillow was my helmet faire displayd:Whiles every sence the humour sweet embayd,And slombring soft my hart did steale away,Me seemed, by my side a royall MaydHer daintie limbes full softly down did lay:So faire a creature yet saw never sunny day.

xiiiShe to me made, and bad me love her deare,For dearely sure her love was to me bent,As when just time expired should appeare.But whether dreames delude, or true it were,Was never hart so ravisht with delight,Ne living man like words did ever heare,As she to me delivered all that night;And at her parting said, She Queene of Faeries hight.

xivAnd nought but pressed gras, where she had lyen,I sorrowed all so much, as earst I joyd,And washed all her place with watry eyen.From that day forth I lov'd that face divine;From that day forth I cast in carefull mind,To seeke her out with labour, and long tyne,And never vow to rest, till her I find,Nine monethes I seeke in vaine yet ni'll that vow unbind.

xvAnd chaunge of hew great passion did bewray;Yet still he strove to cloke his inward bale,And hide the smoke, that did his fire display,Till gentle Una thus to him gan say;O happy Queene of Faeries, that hast foundMongst many, one that with his prowesse mayDefend thine honour, and thy foes confound:True Loves are often sown, but seldom grow on ground.

xviNext to that Ladies love, shalbe the place,O fairest virgin, full of heavenly light,Whose wondrous faith, exceeding earthly race,Was firmest fixt in mine extremest case.And you, my Lord, the Patrone of my life,Of that great Queene may well gaine worthy grace:For onely worthy you through prowes priefeYf living man mote worthy be, to be her liefe.

xviiThe golden Sunne his glistring head gan shew,And sad remembraunce now the Prince amoves,With fresh desire his voyage to pursew:Als Una earnd her traveill to renew.Then those two knights, fast friendship for to bynd,And love establish each to other trew,Gave goodly gifts, the signes of gratefull mynd,And eke as pledges firme, right hands together joynd.

xviiiEmbowd with gold and gorgeous ornament,Wherein were closd few drops of liquor pure,Of wondrous worth, and vertue excellent,That any wound could heale incontinent:Which to requite, the Redcrosse knight him gaveA booke, wherein his Saveours testamentWas writ with golden letters rich and brave;A worke of wondrous grace, and able soules to save.

xixTo seeke his love, and th'other for to fightWith Unaes foe, that all her realme did pray.But she now weighing the decayed plight,And shrunken synewes of her chosen knight,Would not a while her forward course pursew,Ne bring him forth in face of dreadfull fight,Till he recovered had his former hew:For him to be yet weake and wearie well she knew.

xxAn armed knight towards them gallop fast,That seemed from some feared foe to fly,Or other griesly thing, that him agast.Still as he fled, his eye was backward cast,As if his feare still followed him behind;Als flew his steed, as he his bands had brast,And with his winged heeles did tread the wind,As he had been a fole of Pegasus his kind.

xxiTo be unarmed, and curld uncombed hearesUpstarting stiffe, dismayd with uncouth dread;Nor drop of bloud in all his face appearesNor life in limbe: and to increase his feares,In fowle reproch of knighthoods faire degree,About his neck an hempen rope he weares,That with his glistring armes does ill agree;But he of rope or armes has now no memoree.

xxiiTo weet, what mister wight was so dismayd:There him he finds all sencelesse and aghast,That of him selfe he seemd to be afrayd;Whom hardly he from flying forward stayd,Till he these wordes to him deliver might;Sir knight, aread who hath ye thus arayd,And eke from whom make ye this hasty flight:For never knight I saw in such misseeming plight.

xxiiiFeare to his first amazment, staring wideWith stony eyes, and hartlesse hollow hew,Astonisht stood, as one that had aspideInfernall furies, with their chaines untide.Him yet againe, and yet againe bespakeThe gentle knight; who nought to him replide,But trembling every joynt did inly quake,And foltring tongue at last these words seemd forth to shake.

xxivFor loe he comes, he comes fast after mee.Eft looking backe would faine have runne away;But he him forst to stay, and tellen freeThe secret cause of his perplexitie:Yet nathemore by his bold hartie speach,Could his bloud-frosen hart emboldned bee,But through his boldnesse rather feare did reach,Yet forst, at last he made through silence suddein breach.

xxvFrom him, that would have forced me to dye?And is the point of death now turnd fro mee,That I may tell this haplesse history?Feare nought: (quoth he) no daunger now is nye.Then shall I you recount a ruefull cace,(Said he) the which with this unlucky eyeI late beheld, and had not greater graceMe reft from it, had bene partaker of the place.

xxviWith a faire knight to keepen companee,Sir Terwin hight, that well himselfe advaunstIn all affaires, and was both bold and free,But not so happie as mote happie bee:He lov'd, as was his lot, a Ladie gent,That him againe lov'd in the least degree:For she was proud, and of too high intent,And joyd to see her lover languish and lament.

xxviiAs on the way together we did fare,We met that villen (God from him me blesse)That cursed wight, from whom I scapt whyleare,A man of hell, that cals himselfe Despaire:Who first us greets, and after faire areedesOf tydings strange, and of adventures rare:So creeping close, as Snake in hidden weedes,Inquireth of our states, and of our knightly deedes.

xxviiiEmbost with bale, and bitter byting griefe,Which love had launched with his deadly darts,260 With wounding words and termes of foule repriefe,He pluckt from us all hope of due reliefe,That earst us held in love of lingring life;Then hopelesse hartlesse, gan the cunning thiefePerswade us die, to stint all further strife:To me he lent this rope, to him a rustie knife.

xxixThat wofull lover, loathing lenger light,A wide way made to let forth living breathBut I more fearefull, or more luckie wight,Dismayd with that deformed dismall sight,Fled fast away, halfe dead with dying feare:Ne yet assur'd of life by you, Sir knight,Whose like infirmitie like chaunce may beare:But God you never let his charmed speeches heare.

xxxBe wonne, to spoyle the Castle of his health?I wote (quoth he) whom triall late did teach,That like would not for all this worldes wealth:His subtill tongue, like dropping honny, mealt'hInto the hart, and searcheth every vaine,That ere one be aware, by secret stealthHis powre is reft, and weaknesse doth remaine.O never Sir desire to try his guilefull traine.

xxxiTill I that treachours art have heard and tride;And you Sir knight, whose name mote I request,Of grace do me unto his cabin guide.I that hight Trevisan (quoth he) will rideAgainst my liking backe, to doe you grace:But nor for gold nor glee will I abideBy you, when ye arrive in that same place;For lever had I die, then see his deadly face.

xxxiiHis dwelling has, low in an hollow cave,Farre underneath a craggie clift ypight,Darke, dolefull, drearie, like a greedie grave,That still for carrion carcases doth crave:On top whereof aye dwelt the ghastly OwleShrieking his balefull note, which ever draveFarre from that haunt all other chearefull fowle;And all about it wandring ghostes did waile and howle.

xxxiiiWhereon nor fruit, nor leafe was ever seene,Did hang upon the ragged rocky knees;On which had many wretches hanged beene,Whose carcases were scattered on the greene,And throwne about the cliffs. Arrived there,That bare-head knight for dread and dolefull teene,Would faine have fled, ne durst approchen neare,But th'other forst him stay, and comforted in feare.

xxxivThat cursed man, low sitting on the ground,Musing full sadly in his sullein mind;His griesie lockes, long growen, and unbound,Disordred hong about his shoulders round,And hid his face; through which his hollow eyne,Lookt deadly dull, and stared as astound;His raw-bone cheekes through penurie and pineWere shronke into his jawes, as he did never dine.

xxxvWith thornes together pind and patched was,The which his naked sides he wrapt abouts;And him beside there lay upon the grasA drearie corse, whose life away did pas,All wallowd in his owne yet luke-warme blood,That from his wound yet welled fresh alas;In which a rustie knife fast fixed stood,And made an open passage for the gushing flood.

xxxviThe wofull tale that Trevisan had told,When as the gentle Redcrosse knight did vew,With firie zeale he burnt in courage bold,Him to avenge, before his bloud were cold,And to the villein said, Thou damned wight,The author of this fact, we here behold,What justice can but judge against thee right,With thine owne bloud to price his bloud, here shed in sight.

xxxviiThee, foolish man, so rash a doome to give?What justice ever other judgement taught,But he should die, who merites not to live?None else to death this man despayring drive,But his owne guiltie mind deserving death.Is then unjust to each his due to give?Or let him die, that loatheth living breath?Or let him die at ease, that liveth here uneath?

xxxviiiTo come unto his wished home in haste,And meetes a flood, that doth his passage stay,Is not great grace to helpe him over past,Or free his feet, that in the myre sticke fast?Most envious man, that grieves at neighbours good,And fond, that joyest in the woe thou hast,Why wilt not let him passe, that long hath stoodUpon the banke, yet wilt thy selfe not passe the flood?

xxxixAnd happie ease, which thou doest want and crave,And further from it daily wanderest:What if some litle paine the passage have,That makes fraile flesh to feare the bitter wave?Is not short paine well borne, that brings long ease,And layes the soule to sleepe in quiet grave?Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas,Ease after warre, death after life does greatly please.

xlAnd said, The terme of life is limited,Ne may a man prolong, nor shorten it;The souldier may not move from watchfull sted,Nor leave his stand, untill his Captaine bed.Who life did limit by almightie doome,(Quoth he) knowes best the termes established;And he, that points the Centonell his roome,Doth license him depart at sound of morning droome.

xliIn heaven and earth? did not he all createTo die againe? all ends that was begonne.Their times in his eternall booke of fateAre written sure, and have their certaine date.Who then can strive with strong necessitie,That holds the world in his still chaunging state,Or shunne the death ordaynd by destinie?When houre of death is come, let none aske whence, nor why.

xliiThe greater sin, the greater punishment:All those great battels, which thou boasts to win,Through strife, and bloud-shed, and avengement,Now praysd, hereafter deare thou shalt repent:For life must life, and bloud must bloud repay.Is not enough thy evill life forespent?For he, that once hath missed the right way,The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray.

xliiiBut here lie downe, and to thy rest betake,Th'ill to prevent, that life ensewen may.For what hath life, that may it loved make,And gives not rather cause it to forsake?Feare, sicknesse, age, losse, labour, sorrow, strife,Paine, hunger, cold, that makes the hart to quake;And ever fickle fortune rageth rife,All which, and thousands mo do make a loathsome life.

xlivIf in true ballance thou wilt weigh thy state:For never knight, that dared warlike deede,More lucklesse disaventures did amate:Witnesse the dongeon deepe, wherein of lateThy life shut up, for death so oft did call;And though good lucke prolonged hath thy date,Yet death then, would the like mishaps forestall,Into the which hereafter thou maiest happen fall.

xlvTo draw thy dayes forth to their last degree?Is not the measure of thy sinfull hireHigh heaped up with huge iniquitie,Against the day of wrath, to burden thee?Is not enough, that to this Ladie mildeThou falsed hast thy faith with perjurie,And sold thy selfe to serve Duessa vilde,With whom in all abuse thou hast thy selfe defilde?

xlviFrom highest heaven, and beares an equall eye?Shall he thy sins up in his knowledge fold,And guiltie be of thine impietie?Is not his law, Let every sinner die:Die shall all flesh? what then must needs be donne,Is it not better to doe willinglie,Then linger, till the glasse be all out ronne?Death is the end of woes: die soone, O faeries sonne.

xlviiThat as a swords point through his hart did perse,And in his conscience made a secret breach,Well knowing true all, that he did reherse,And to his fresh remembrance did reverseThe ugly vew of his deformed crimes,That all his manly powres it did disperse,As he were charmed with inchaunted rimes,That oftentimes he quakt, and fainted oftentimes.

xlviiiPerceived him to waver weake and fraile,Whiles trembling horror did his conscience dant,And hellish anguish did his soule assaile,To drive him to despaire, and quite to quaile,He shew'd him painted in a table plaine,The damned ghosts, that doe in torments waile,And thousand feends that doe them endlesse paineWith fire and brimstone, which for ever shall remaine.

xlixThat nought but death before his eyes he saw,And ever burning wrath before him laid,By righteous sentence of th'Almighties law:Then gan the villein him to overcraw,And brought unto him swords, ropes, poison, fire,And all that might him to perdition draw;And bad him choose, what death he would desire:For death was due to him, that had provokt Gods ire.

lHe to him raught a dagger sharpe and keene,And gave it him in hand: his hand did quake,And tremble like a leafe of Aspin greene,And troubled bloud through his pale face was seeneTo come, and goe with tydings from the hart,As it a running messenger had beene.At last resolv'd to worke his finall smart,He lifted up his hand, that backe againe did start.

liThe crudled cold ran to her well of life,As in a swowne: but soone reliv'd againe,Out of his hand she snatcht the cursed knife,And threw it to the ground, enraged rife,And to him said, Fie, fie, faint harted knight,What meanest thou by this reprochfull strife?Is this the battell, which thou vauntst to fightWith that fire-mouthed Dragon, horrible and bright?

liiNe let vaine words bewitch thy manly hart,Ne divelish thoughts dismay thy constant spright.In heavenly mercies hast thou not a part?Why shouldst thou then despeire, that chosen art?Where justice growes, there grows eke greater grace,The which doth quench the brond of hellish smart,And that accurst hand-writing doth deface.Arise, Sir knight arise, and leave this cursed place.

liiiWhich when the carle beheld, and saw his guestWould safe depart, for all his subtill sleight,He chose an halter from among the rest,And with it hung himselfe, unbid unblest.But death he could not worke himselfe thereby;For thousand times he so himselfe had drest,Yet nathelesse it could not doe him die,Till he should die his last, that is eternally.

© Edmund Spenser