The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 10 (1596)

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[Fol. I5r; p. 135] Canto 10

Her faithfull knight faire Vna bringsto house of Holinesse,Where he is taught repentance, andthe way to heauenly 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 skill,That thorough grace hath gained victory.If any strength we haue, it is to ill,But all the good is Gods, both power and eke 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 vnfit for bloudie fight:Therefore to cherish him with diets daint,She cast to bring him, where he chearen might,Till he recouered had his late decayed plight.

iiiRenowmd throughout the world for sacred lore,And pure vnspotted life: so well they sayIt gouernd was, and guided euermore,[Fol. I5v; p. 136] Through wisedome of a matrone graue and hore;Whose onely ioy was to relieue 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 heauen to come, or thither to arise,The mother of three daughters, well vpbroughtIn 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 louely 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 vnto 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 Humiltá. They passe in stouping low;For streight & 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 behauiour heeDid labour liuely 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 Reuerence. He them with speeches meetDoes faire entreat; no courting nicetie,But simple true, and eke vnfained 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 vp arose with seemely grace,And toward them full matronely did pace.Where when that fairest Vna she beheld,Whom well she knew to spring from heauenly race,Her hart with ioy vnwonted inly sweld,As feeling wondrous comfort in her weaker eld.

ixWhereon thy innocent feet doe euer tread,Most vertuous virgin borne of heauenly berth,That to redeeme thy woefull parents head,From tyrans rage, and euer-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 vnweeting 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:[Fol. I6v; p. 138] All keepe the broad high way, and take delightWith many rather for to go astray,And be partakers of their euill 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 vp to heauen is blowne. The auncient DameHim goodly greeted in her modest guise,And entertaynd them both, as best became,With all the court'sies, that she could deuise,Ne wanted ought, to shew her bounteous or wise.

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

xiiiAnd in her right hand bore a cup of gold,With wine and water fild vp 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 holdA booke, that was both signd and seald with blood,Wherein darke things were writ, hard to be vnderstood.

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:Vpon her arme a siluer anchor lay,Whereon she leaned euer, as befell:And euer vp to heauen, as she did pray,Her stedfast eyes were bent, ne swarued other way.

xvWho them encounters with like courtesie;Many kind speeches they betwene them spend,And greatly ioy each other well to see:Then to the knight with shamefast modestieThey turne themselues, at Vnaes 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 euermore.

xviiAnd you good Sir, I wote that of your toyle,And labours long, through which ye hither came,Ye both forwearied be: therefore a whyle[Fol. I7v; p. 140] I 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 Vna gan Fidelia faire request,To haue her knight into her schoolehouse plaste,That of her heauenly learning he might taste,And heare the wisedome of her words diuine.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 vnto him disclosed euery whit,And heauenly documents thereout did preach,That weaker wit of man could neuer reach,Of God, of grace, of iustice, 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 heauens 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 natiue seatShe would commaund, themselues to beare away,And throw in raging sea with roaring threat.Almightie God her gaue such powre, and puissance great.

xxiBy hearing her, and by her sisters lore,To such perfection of all heauenly grace,That wretched world he gan for to abhore,And mortall life gan loath, as thing forlore,Greeu'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 holdVpon her siluer 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 Vna did behold,Disdeining life, desiring leaue 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 aduisement right;And streightway sent with carefull diligence,To fetch a Leach, the which had great insightIn that disease of grieued 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 heauie spright,Well searcht, eftsoones he gan apply reliefe.[Fol. I8v; p. 142] Of salues 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 priuilyDowne in a darkesome lowly place farre in,Whereas he meant his corrosiues to apply,And with streight diet tame his stubborne malady.

xxviHis daintie corse, proud humors to abate,And dieted with fasting euery day,The swelling of his wounds to mitigate,And made him pray both earely and eke late:And euer 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 iot.

xxviiWas wont him once to disple euery day:And sharpe Remorse his hart did pricke and nip,That drops of bloud thence like a well did play;And sad Repentance vsed 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 liue, 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 Vna hearing euermoreHis 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 neuer cleare.

xxixAnd trew Repentance they to Vna brought:Who ioyous 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 Vna brought this vnacquainted 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 loue, but Cupids wanton snareAs hell she hated, chast in worke and will;Her necke and breasts were euer open bare,That ay thereof her babes might sucke their fill;The rest was all in yellow robes arayed still.

xxxiPlaying their sports, that ioyd her to behold,Whom still she fed, whiles they were weake & young,But thrust them forth still, as they wexed old:[Fol. K1v; p. 144] And on her head she wore a tyre of gold,Adornd with gemmes and owches wondrous faire,Whose passing price vneath was to be told;And by her side there sate a gentle paireOf turtle doues, she sitting in an yuorie chaire.

xxxiiAnd bid her ioy of that her happie brood;Who them requites with court'sies seeming meet,And entertaines with friendly chearefull mood.Then Vna 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 euery good behest,Of loue, 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 heauen 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 ouer all,To be both gratious, and eke liberall:To whom the carefull charge of him she gaue,To lead aright, that he should neuer fallIn all his wayes through this wide worldes waue,That Mercy in the end his righteous soule might saue.

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

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

xxxviiOf all the house had charge and gouernement,As Guardian and Steward of the rest:His office was to giue entertainementAnd lodging, vnto all that came, and went:Not vnto 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 thristy giue to drinke, a worke of grace:He feard not once him selfe to be in need,[Fol. K2v; p. 146] Ne car'd to hoord for those, whom he did breede:The grace of God he layd vp still in store,Which as a stocke he left vnto his seede;He had enough, what need him care for more?And had he lesse, yet some he would giue 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 giue he had,His owne coate he would cut, and it distribute glad.

xlPoore prisoners to relieue with gratious ayd,And captiues 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 vs forgiueth euery howreMuch more then that, why they in bands were layd,And he that harrowd hell with heauie stowre,The faultie soules from thence brought to his heauenly 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 liuing we bestow,If not well ended at our dying day.O man haue mind of that last bitter throw;For as the tree does fall, so lyes it euer low.

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

xliiiHad charge the tender Orphans of the dead,And widowes ayd, least they should be vndone:In face of iudgement 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 gaue them euer free.

xlivThe first and chiefest of the seuen, whose careWas guests to welcome, towardes him did pas:Where seeing Mercie, that his steps vp bare,And alwayes led, to her with reuerence 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 euery good behestAnd godly worke of Almes and charitee[Fol. K3v; p. 148] She him instructed with great industree;Shortly therein so perfect he became,That from the first vnto 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 litle Hermitage thereby,Wherein an aged holy man did lye,That day and night said his deuotion,Ne other worldly busines did apply;His name was heauenly Contemplation;Of God and goodnesse was his meditation.

xlviiFor God he often saw from heauens 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 euery sinew seene through his long fast:For nought he car'd his carcas long vnfed;His mind was full of spirituall repast,And pyn'd his flesh, to keepe his body low and chast.

xlixAt their first presence grew agrieued sore,That forst him lay his heauenly thoughts aside;And had he not that Dame respected more,Whom highly he did reuerence and adore,He would not once haue moued 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 euery liuing wightShould make his marke, high heauen to attaine?Is not from hence the way, that leadeth rightTo that most glorious house, that glistreth brightWith burning starres, and euerliuing 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 saue.Who better can the way to heauen aread,Then thou thy selfe, that was both borne and bredIn heauenly throne, where thousand Angels shine?Thou doest the prayers of the righteous seadPresent before the maiestie diuine,And his auenging wrath to clemencie incline.

liiThen come thou man of earth, and see the way,That neuer yet was seene of Faeries sonne,That neuer leads the traueiler astray,[Fol. K4v; p. 150] But after labours long, and sad delay,Bring them to ioyous rest and endlesse blis.But first thou must a season fast and pray,Till from her bands the spright assoiled is,And haue 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 vpon ; where writ in stoneWith bloudy letters by the hand of God,The bitter doome of death and balefull moneHe did receiue, whiles flashing fire about him shone.

livAdornd with fruitfull Oliues all arownd,Is, as it were for endlesse memoryOf that deare Lord, who oft thereon was fownd,For euer 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 heauenly notes, and make full many a louely 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 heauen, in gladsome companee,And with great ioy 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 vnto the starry sphere,And what vnknowen 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 piteous bloud, which cruelly was spiltOn cursed tree, of that vnspotted lam,That for the sinnes of all the world was kilt:Now are they Saints all in that Citie sam,More deare vnto their God, then younglings to their dam.

lviiiThat great Cleopolis, where I haue beene,In which that fairest Faerie Queene doth dwellThe 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 fame,The fairest peece, that eye beholden can :And well beseemes all knights of noble name,[Fol. K5v; p. 152] That couet in th'immortall booke of fameTo be eternized, that same to haunt,And doen their seruice to that soueraigne Dame,That glorie does to them for guerdon graunt :For she is heauenly borne, and heauen may iustly vaunt.

lxHow euer now accompted Elfins sonne,Well worthy doest thy seruice for her grace,To aide a virgin desolate foredonne.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, & wars but sorrowes yield.

lxiWhich after all to heauen shall thee send ;Then peaceably to thy painefull pilgrimageTo yonder same Hierusalem do bend,Where 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 haue it attaind, were in like cace(Quoth he) as wretched, and liu'd in like paine.But deeds of armes must I at last be faine,And Ladies loue to leaue so dearely bought?What need of armes, where peace doth ay remaine,(Said he) and battailes none are to be fought?As for loose loues are vaine, and vanish into nought.

lxiiiBacke to the world, whose ioyes so fruitlesse are ;But let me here for aye in peace remaine,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 haue her freely quit.

lxivAbet that virgins cause disconsolate,And shortly backe returne vnto 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 then nominate?That word shall I (said he) auouchen good,Sith to thee is vnknowne the cradle of thy brood.

lxvOf Saxon kings, that haue with mightie handAnd many bloudie battailes fought in placeHigh reard their royall throne in Britane land,And vanquisht them, vnable to withstand :From thence a Faerie thee vnweeting 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 vnweeting fond,As he his toylesome teme that way did guyde,[Fol. K6v; p. 154] And brought thee vp in ploughmans state to byde,Whereof Georgos he thee gaue to name;Till prickt with courage, and thy forces pryde,To Faery court thou cam'st to seeke for fame,And proue thy puissaunt armes, as seemes thee best became.

lxviiThe many fauours I with thee haue found,That hast my name and nation red aright,And taught the way that does to heauen bound?This said, adowne he looked to the ground,To haue 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 diuine.

lxviiiTo Vna back he cast him to retire;Who him awaited still with pensiue mind.Great thankes and goodly meed to that good syre,He thence departing gaue for his paines hyre.So came to Vna, who him ioyd to see,And after litle rest, gan him desire,Of her aduenture mindfull for to bee.So leaue they take of Cœlia, and her daughters three.

© Edmund Spenser