The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 11 (1596)

written by

« Reload image

[Fol. K7r; p. 155] Canto 11

The knight with that old Dragon fightstwo dayes incessantly:The third him ouerthrowes, and gaynsmost glorious victory.

iTo thinke of those her captiue Parents deare,And their forwasted kingdome to repaire:Whereto whenas they now approched neare,With hartie words her knight she gan to cheare,And in her modest manner thus bespake;Deare knight, as deare, as euer knight was deare,That all these sorrowes suffer for my sake,High heauen behold the tedious toyle, ye for me take.

iiAnd to the place, where all our perils dwell;Here haunts that feend, and does his dayly spoyle,Therefore henceforth be at your keeping well,And euer ready for your foeman fell.The sparke of noble courage now awake,And striue your excellent selfe to excell;That shall ye euermore renowmed make,Aboue all knights on earth, that batteill vndertake.

iiiThe brasen towre in which my parents deareFor dread of that huge feend emprisond be,Whom I from far, see on the walles appeare[Fol. K7v; p. 156] Whose sight my feeble soule doth greatly cheare:And on the top of all I do espyeThe watchman wayting tydings glad to heare,That ô my parents might I happilyVnto you bring, to ease you of your misery.

ivThat all the ayre with terrour filled wide,And seemd vneath to shake the stedfast ground.Eftsoones that dreadfull Dragon they espide,Where stretch[t] he lay vpon the sunny side,Of a great hill, himselfe like a great hill.But all so soone, as he from far descrideThose glistring armes, that heauen with light did fill,He rousd himselfe full blith, and hastned them vntill.

vAnd to an hill her selfe with draw aside,From whence she might behold that battailles proofAnd eke be safe from daunger far descryde:She him obayd, and turnd a little wyde.Now O thou sacred Muse, most learned Dame,Faire ympe of Phœbus, and his aged bride,The Nourse of time, and euerlasting fame,That warlike hands ennoblest with immortall name;

viCome gently, but not with that mighty rage,Wherewith the martiall troupes thou doest infest,And harts of great Heroës doest enrage,That nought their kindled courage may aswage,Soone as thy dreadfull trompe begins to sownd;The God of warre with his fiers equipageThou doest awake, sleepe neuer he so sownd,And sacred nations doest with horrour sterne astownd.

viiTill I of warres and bloudy Mars do sing,And Briton fields with Sarazin bloud bedyde,Twixt that great faery Queene and Paynim king,That with their horrour heauen and earth did ring,A worke of labour long, and endlesse prayse:But now a while let downe that haughtie string,And to my tunes thy second tenor rayse,That I this man of God his godly armes may blaze.

viiiHalfe flying, and halfe footing in his hast,That with his largenesse measured much land,And made wide shadow vnder his huge wast;As mountaine doth the valley ouercast.Approching nigh, he reared high aforeHis body monstrous, horrible, and wast,Which to increase his wondrous greatnesse more,Was swolne with wrath, & poyson, & with bloudy gore.

ixLike plated coate of steele, so couched neare,That nought mote perce, ne might his corse be harmdWith dint of sword, nor push of pointed speare;Which as an Eagle, seeing pray appeare,His aery plumes doth rouze, full rudely dight,So shaked he, that horrour was to heare,For as the clashing of an Armour bright,Such noyse his rouzed scales did send vnto the knight.

xWere like two sayles, in which the hollow wyndIs gathered full, and worketh speedy way:And eke the pennes, that did his pineons bynd[Fol. K8v; p. 158] Were like mayne-yards, with flying canuas lynd,With which whenas him list the ayre to beat,And there by force vnwonted passage find,The cloudes before him fled for terrour great,And all the heauens stood still amazed with his threat.

xiDoes ouerspred his long bras-scaly backe,Whose wreathed boughts when euer he vnfoldes,And thicke entangled knots adown does slacke.Bespotted all with shields of red and blacke,It sweepeth all the land behind him farre,And of three furlongs does but litle lacke;And at the point two stings in-fixed arre,Both deadly sharpe, that sharpest steele exceeden farre.

xiiThe sharpnesse of his cruell rending clawes;Dead was it sure, as sure as death in deed,What euer thing does touch his rauenous pawes,Or what within his reach he euer drawes.But his most hideous head my toung to tell,Does tremble: for his deepe deuouring iawesWide gaped, like the griesly mouth of hell,Through which into his darke abisse all rauin fell.

xiiiThree ranckes of yron teeth enraunged were,In which yet trickling bloud and gobbets rawOf late deuoured bodies did appeare,That sight thereof bred cold congealed feare:Which to increase, and all atonce to kill,A cloud of smoothering smoke and sulphur seareOut of his stinking gorge forth steemed still,That all the ayre about with smoke and stench did fill.

xivDid burne with wrath, and sparkled liuing fyre;As two broad Beacons, set in open fields,Send forth their flames farre off to euery shyre,And warning giue, that enemies conspyre,With fire and sword the region to inuade;So flam'd his eyne with rage and rancorous yre:But farre within, as in a hollow glade,Those glaring lampes were set, that made a dreadfull shade.

xvForelifting vp aloft his speckled brest,And often bounding on the brused gras,As for great ioyance of his newcome guest.Eftsoones he gan aduance his haughtie crest,As chauffed Bore his bristles doth vpreare,And shoke his scales to battell readie drest;That made the Redcrosse knight nigh quake for feare,As bidding bold defiance to his foeman neare.

xviAnd fiercely ran at him with rigorous might:The pointed steele arriuing rudely theare,His harder hide would neither perce, nor bight,But glauncing by forth passed forward right;Yet sore amoued with so puissant push,The wrathfull beast about him turned light,And him so rudely passing by, did brushWith his long tayle, that horse and man to ground did rush.

xviiAnd fresh encounter towards him addrest:But th'idle stroke yet backe recoyld in vaine,And found no place his deadly point to rest.[Fol. L1v; p. 160] Exceeding rage enflam'd the furious beast,To be auenged of so great despight;For neuer felt his imperceable brestSo wondrous force, from hand of liuing wight;Yet had he prou'd the powre of many a puissant knight.

xviiiHimselfe vp high he lifted from the ground,And with strong flight did forcibly diuideThe yielding aire, which nigh too feeble foundHer flitting partes, and element [[[vnfound]]] [vnsound],To beare so great a weight: he cutting wayWith his broad sayles, about him soared round:At last low stouping with vnweldie sway,Snatcht vp both horse & man, to beare them quite away.

xixSo farre as Ewghen bow a shaft may send,Till struggling strong did him at last constraine,To let them downe before his flightes end:As hagard hauke presuming to contendWith hardie fowle, aboue his hable might,His wearie pounces all in vaine doth spend,To trusse the pray too heauie for his flight;Which comming downe to ground, does free it selfe by fight.

xxThe knight his thrillant speare againe assaydIn his bras-plated body to embosse,And three mens strength vnto the stroke he layd;Wherewith the stiffe beame quaked, as affrayd,And glauncing from his scaly necke, did glydeClose vnder his left wing, then broad displayd.The percing steele there wrought a wound full wyde,That with the vncouth smart the Monster lowdly cryde.

xxiWhen wintry storme his wrathfull wreck does threat,The rolling billowes beat the ragged shore,As they the earth would shoulder from her seat,And greedie gulfe does gape, as he would eatHis neighbour element in his reuenge:Then gin the blustring brethren boldly threat,To moue the world from off his stedfast henge,And boystrous battell make, each other to auenge.

xxiiTill with his cruell clawes he snatcht the wood,And quite a sunder broke. Forth flowed freshA gushing riuer of blacke goarie blood,That drowned all the land, whereon he stood;The streame thereof would driue a water-mill.Trebly augmented was his furious moodWith bitter sense of his deepe rooted ill,That flames of fire he threw forth from his large nosethrill.

xxiiiAnd therewith all enwrapt the nimble thyesOf his froth-fomy steed, whose courage stoutStriuing to loose the knot, that fast him tyes,Himselfe in streighter bandes too rash implyes,That to the ground he is perforce constrayndTo throw his rider : who can quickly ryseFrom off the earth, with durty bloud distaynd,For that reprochfull fall right fowly he disdaynd.

xxivWith which he stroke so furious and so fell,That nothing seemd the puissance could withstand:Vpon his crest the hardned yron fell,[Fol. L2v; p. 162] But his more hardned crest was armd so well,That deeper dint therein it would not make;Yet so extremely did the buffe him quell,That from thenceforth he shund the like to take,But when he saw them come, he did them still forsake.

xxvAnd smote againe with more outrageous might;But backe againe the sparckling steele recoyld,And left not any marke, where it did light;As if in Adamant rocke it had bene pight.The beast impatient of his smarting wound,And of so fierce and forcible despight,Thought with his wings to stye aboue the ground;But his late wounded wing vnseruiceable found.

xxviHe lowdly brayd, that like was neuer heard,And from his wide deuouring ouen sentA flake of fire, that flashing in his beard,Him all amazd, and almost made affeard:The scorching flame sore swinged all his face,And through his armour all his bodie seard,That he could not endure so cruell cace,But thought his armes to leaue, and helmet to vnlace.

xxviiWhom famous Poetes verse so much doth vaunt,And hath for twelue huge labours high extold,So many furies and sharpe fits did haunt,When him the poysoned garment did enchauntWith Centaures bloud, and bloudie verses charm'd,As did this knight twelue thousand dolours daunt,Whom fyrie steele now burnt, that earst him arm'd,That erst him goodly arm'd, now most of all him harm'd.

xxviiiWith heat, toyle, wounds, armes, smart, & inward fireThat neuer man such mischiefes did torment;Death better were, death did he oft desire,But death will neuer come, when needes require.Whom so dismayd when that his foe beheld,He cast to suffer him no more respire,But gan his sturdie sterne about to weld,And him so strongly stroke, that to the ground him feld.

xxixBehind his backe vnweeting, where he stood,Of auncient time there was a springing well,From which fast trickled forth a siluer flood,Full of great vertues, and for med'cine good.Whylome, before that cursed Dragon gotThat happie land, and all with innocent bloodDefyld those sacred waues, it rightly hotThe well of life, ne yet his vertues had forgot.

xxxAnd guilt of sinfull crimes cleane wash away,Those that with sicknesse were infected sore,It could recure, and aged long decayRenew, as one were borne that very day.Both Silo this, and Iordan did excell,And th'English Bath, and eke the german Spau,Ne can Cephise, nor Hebrus match this well:Into the same the knight backe ouerthrowen, fell.

xxxiHis fierie face in billowes of the west,And his faint steedes watred in Ocean deepe,Whiles from their iournall labours they did rest,[Fol. L3v; p. 164] When that infernall Monster, hauing kestHis wearie foe into that liuing well,Can high aduance his broad discoloured brest,Aboue his wonted pitch, with countenance fell,And clapt his yron wings, as victor he did dwell.

xxxiiGreat woe and sorrow did her soule assay,As weening that the sad end of the warre,And gan to highest God entirely pray,That feared chance from her to turne away;With folded hands and knees full lowly bentAll night she watcht, ne once adowne would layHer daintie limbs in her sad dreriment,But praying still did wake, and waking did lament.

xxxiiiThat Titan rose to runne his daily race;But early ere the morrow next gan reareOut of the sea faire Titans deawy face,Vp rose the gentle virgin from her place,And looked all about, if she might spyHer loued knight to moue his manly pace:For she had great doubt of his safety,Since late she saw him fall before his enemy.

xxxivOut of the well, wherein he drenched lay;As Eagle fresh out of the Ocean waue,Where he hath left his plumes all hoary gray,And deckt himselfe with feathers youthly gay,Like Eyas hauke vp mounts vnto the skies,His newly budded pineons to assay,And marueiles at himselfe, still as he flies:So new this new-borne knight to battell new did rise.

xxxvNo wonder if he wondred at the sight,And doubted, whether his late enemyIt were, or other new supplied knight.He, now to proue his late renewed might,High brandishing his bright deaw-burning blade,Vpon his crested scalpe so sore did smite,That to the scull a yawning wound it made:The deadly dint his dulled senses all dismaid.

xxxviWere hardned with that holy water dew,Wherein he fell, or sharper edge did feele,Or his baptized hands now greater grew;Or other secret vertue did ensew:Else neuer could the force of fleshly arme,Ne molten mettall in his bloud embrew:For till that stownd could neuer wight him harme,By subtilty, nor slight, nor might, nor mighty charme.

xxxviiThat loud he yelded for exceeding paine;As hundred ramping Lyons seem'd to rore,Whom rauenous hunger did thereto constraine:Then gan he tosse aloft his stretched traine,And therewith scourge the buxome aire so sore,That to his force to yeelden it was faine;Ne ought his sturdie strokes might stand afore,That high trees ouerthrew, and rocks in peeces tore.

xxxviiiWith sharpe intended sting so rude him smot,That to the earth him droue, as stricken dead,Ne liuing wight would haue him life behot:[Fol. L4v; p. 166] The mortall sting his angry needle shotQuite through his shield, and in his shoulder seasd,Where fast it stucke, ne would there out be got:The griefe thereof him wondrous sore diseasd,Ne might his ranckling paine with patience be appeasd.

xxxixThen of the grieuous smart, which him did wring,From loathed soile he can him lightly reare,And stroue to loose the farre infixed sting:Which when in vaine he tryde with struggeling,Inflam'd with wrath, his raging blade he heft,And strooke so strongly, that the knotty [[[sting]]] [string]Of his huge taile he quite a sunder cleft,Fiue ioynts thereof he hewd, and but the stump him left.

xlWith foule enfouldred smoake and flashing fire,The hell-bred beast threw forth vnto the skyes,That all was couered with darknesse dire:Then fraught with rancour, and engorged ire,He cast at once him to auenge for all,And gathering vp himselfe out of the mire,With his vneuen wings did fiercely fall,Vpon his sunne-bright shield, and gript it fast withall.

xliIn feare to lose his weapon in his paw,Ne wist yet, how his talants to vnfold;Nor harder was from Cerberus greedie iawTo plucke a bone, then from his cruell clawTo reaue by strength, the griped gage away:Thrise he assayd it from his foot to draw,And thrise in vaine to draw it did assay,It booted nought to thinke, to robbe him of his pray.

xliiHis trustie sword he cald to his last aid,Wherewith he fiercely did his foe assaile,And double blowes about him stoutly laid,That glauncing fire out of the yron plaid;As sparckles from the Anduile vse to fly,When heauie hammers on the wedge are swaid;Therewith at last he forst him to vntyOne of his grasping feete, him to defend thereby.

xliiiWhenas no strength, nor stroks mote him constraineTo loose, ne yet the warlike pledge to yield,He smot thereat with all his might and maine,That nought so wondrous puissance might sustaine;Vpon the ioynt the lucky steele did light,And made such way, that hewd it quite in twaine;The paw yet missed not his minisht might,But hong still on the shield, as it at first was pight.

xlivFrom his infernall fournace forth he threwHuge flames, that dimmed all the heauens light,Enrold in duskish smoke and brimstone blew;As burning Aetna from his boyling stewDoth belch out flames, and rockes in peeces broke,And ragged ribs of mountaines molten new,Enwrapt in coleblacke clouds and filthy smoke,That all the land with stench, and heauen with horror choke.

xlvSo sore him noyd, that forst him to retireA little backward for his best defence,To saue his bodie from the scorching fire,[Fol. L5v; p. 168] Which he from hellish entrailes did expire.It chaunst (eternall God that chaunce did guide)As he recoyled backward, in the mireHis nigh forwearied feeble feet did slide,And downe he fell, with dread of shame sore terrifide.

xlviLoaden with fruit and apples rosie red,As they in pure vermilion had beene dide,Whereof great vertues ouer all were red:For happie life to all, which thereon fed,And life eke euerlasting did befall:Great God it planted in that blessed stedWith his almightie hand, and did it callThe tree of life, the crime of our first fathers fall.

xlviiSaue in that soile, where all good things did grow,And freely sprong out of the fruitfull ground,As incorrupted Nature did them sow,Till that dread Dragon all did ouerthrow.Another like faire tree eke grew thereby,Whereof who so did eat, eftsoones did knowBoth good and ill: O mornefull memory:That tree through one mans fault hath doen vs all to dy.

xlviiiA trickling streame of Balme, most soueraineAnd daintie deare, which on the ground still fell,And ouerflowed all the fertill plaine,As it had deawed bene with timely raine:Life and long health that gratious ointment gaue,And deadly woundes could heale and reare againeThe senselesse corse appointed for the graue.Into that same he fell: which did from death him saue.

xlixDurst not approch, for he was deadly made,And all that life preserued, did detest:Yet he it oft aduentur'd to inuade.By this the drouping day-light gan to fade,And yeeld his roome to sad succeeding night,Who with her sable mantle gan to shadeThe face of earth, and wayes of liuing wight,And high her burning torch set vp in heauen bright.

lOf her deare knight, who wearie of long fight,And faint through losse of bloud, mou'd not at all,But lay as in a dreame of deepe delight,Besmeard with pretious Balme, whose vertuous mightDid heale his wounds, and scorching heat alay,Againe she stricken was with sore affright,And for his safetie gan deuoutly pray;And watch the noyous night, and wait for ioyous day.

liAnd faire Aurora from her deawy bedOf aged Tithone gan her selfe to reare,With rosie cheekes, for shame as blushing red;Her golden lockes for haste were loosely shedAbout her eares, when Vna her did markeClymbe to her charet, all with flowers spred;From heauen high to chase the chearelesse darke,With merry note her loud salutes the mounting larke.

liiAll healed of his hurts and woundes wide,And did himselfe to battell readie dight;Whose early foe awaiting him beside[Fol. L6v; p. 170] To haue deuourd, so soone as day he spyde,When now he saw himselfe so freshly reare,As if late fight had nought him damnifyde,He woxe dismayd, and gan his fate to feare;Nathlesse with wonted rage he him aduaunced neare.

liiiHe thought attonce him to haue swallowd quight,And rusht vpon him with outragious pride;Who him r'encountring fierce, as hauke in flight,Perforce rebutted backe. The weapon brightTaking aduantage of his open iaw,Ran through his mouth with so importune might,That deepe emperst his darksome hollow maw,And back retyrd, his life bloud forth with all did draw.

livThat vanisht into smoke and cloudes swift;So downe he fell, that th'earth him vnderneathDid grone, as feeble so great load to lift;So downe he fell, as an huge rockie clift,Whose false foundation waues haue washt away,With dreadfull poyse is from the mayneland rift,And rolling downe, great Neptune doth dismay;So downe he fell, and like an heaped mountaine lay.

lvSo huge and horrible a masse it seem'd;And his deare Ladie, that beheld it all,Durst not approch for dread, which she misdeem'd,But yet at last, when as the direfull feendShe saw not stirre, off-shaking vaine affright,She nigher drew, and saw that ioyous end:Then God she praysd, and thankt her faithfull knight,That had atchieu'd so great a conquest by his might.

© Edmund Spenser