The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 12 (1596)

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[Fol. L7r; p. 171] Canto 12

Faire Vna to the Redcrosse knightbetrouthed is with ioy:Though false Duessa it to barreher false sleights doe imploy.

iiVere the maine shete, and beare vp with the land,The which afore is fairely to be kend,And seemeth safe from stormes, that may offend;There this faire virgin wearie of her wayMust landed be, now at her iourneyes end:There eke my feeble barke a while may stay,Till merry wind and weather call her thence away.

iiiYet harnessed his firie-footed teeme,Ne reard aboue the earth his flaming creast,When the last deadly smoke aloft did steeme,That signe of last outbreathed life did seeme,Vnto the watchman on the castle wall;Who thereby dead that balefull Beast did deeme,And to his Lord and Ladie lowd gan call,To tell, how he had seene the Dragons fatall fall,

ivThat aged Sire, the Lord of all that land,And looked forth, to weet, if true indeedeThose tydings were, as he did vnderstand,[Fol. L7v; p. 172] Which whenas true by tryall he out found,He bad to open wyde his brazen gate,Which long time had bene shut, and out of hondProclaymed ioy and peace through all his state;For dead now was their foe, which them forrayed late.

vThat sent to heauen the ecchoed reportOf their new ioy, and happie victorieGainst him, that had them long opprest with tort,And fast imprisoned in sieged fort.Then all the people, as in solemne feast,To him assembled with one full consort,Reioycing at the fall of that great beast,From whose eternall bondage now they were releast.

viArayd in antique robes downe to the ground,And sad habiliments right well beseene;A noble crew about them waited roundOf sage and sober Peres, all grauely gownd;Whom farre before did march a goodly bandOf tall young men, all hable armes to sownd,But now they laurell braunches bore in hand;Glad signe of victorie and peace in all their land.

viiAnd him before themselues prostrating low,Their Lord and Patrone loud did him proclame,And at his feet their laurell boughes did throw.Soone after them all dauncing on a rowThe comely virgins came, with girlands dight,As fresh as flowres in medow greene do grow,When morning deaw vpon their leaues doth light:And in their hands sweet Timbrels all vpheld on hight.

viiiTheir wanton sports and childish mirth did play,And to the Maydens sounding tymbrels sungIn well attuned notes, a ioyous lay,And made delightfull musicke all the way,Vntill they came, where that faire virgin stood;As faire Diana in fresh sommers day,Beholds her Nymphes, enraung'd in shadie wood,Some wrestle, some do run, some bathe in christall flood.

ixWith chearefull vew; who when to her they came,Themselues to ground with gratious humblesse bent,And her ador'd by honorable name,Lifting to heauen her euerlasting fame:Then on her head they set a girland greene,And crowned her twixt earnest and twixt game;Who in her selfe-resemblance well beseene,Did seeme such, as she was, a goodly maiden Queene.

xHeaped together in rude rablement,To see the face of that victorious man:Whom all admired, as from heauen sent,And gazd vpon with gaping wonderment.But when they came, where that dead Dragon lay,Stretcht on the ground in [[[monstrons]]] [monstrous] large extent,The sight with idle feare did them dismay,Ne durst approch him nigh, to touch, or once assay.

xiOne that would wiser seeme, then all the rest,Warnd him not touch, for yet perhaps remayndSome lingring life within his hollow brest,[Fol. L8v; p. 174] Or in his wombe might lurke some hidden nestOf many Dragonets, his fruitfull seed;Another said, that in his eyes did restYet sparckling fire, and bad thereof take heed;Another said, he saw him moue his eyes indeed.

xiiDid come too neare, and with his talants play,Halfe dead through feare, her litle babe reuyld,And to her gossips gan in counsell say;How can I tell, but that his talents mayYet scratch my sonne, or rend his tender hand?So diuersly themselues in vaine they fray;Whiles some more bold, to measure him nigh stand,To proue how many acres he did spread of land.

xiiiThe whiles that hoarie king, with all his traine,Being arriued, where that champion stoutAfter his foes defeasance did remaine,Him goodly greetes, and faire does entertaine,With princely gifts of yuorie and gold,And thousand thankes him yeelds for all his paine.Then when his daughter deare he does behold,Her dearely doth imbrace, and kisseth manifold.

xivWith shaumes, & trompets, & with Clarions sweet;And all the way the ioyous people sings,And with their garments strowes the paued street:Whence mounting vp, they find purueyance meetOf all, that royall Princes court became,And all the floore was vnderneath their feetBespred with costly scarlot of great name,On which they lowly sit, and fitting purpose frame.

xvIn which was nothing riotous nor vaine?What needs of daintie dishes to deuize,Of comely seruices, or courtly trayne?My narrow leaues cannot in them containeThe large discourse of royall Princes state.Yet was their manner then but bare and plaine:For th'antique world excesse and pride did hate;Such proud luxurious pompe is swollen vp but late.

xviTheir feruent appetites they quenched had,That auncient Lord gan fit occasion finde,Of straunge aduentures, and of perils sad,Which in his trauell him befallen had,For to demaund of his renowmed guest:Who then with vtt'rance graue, and count'nance sad,From point to point, as is before exprest,Discourst his voyage long, according his request.

xviiThat godly King and Queene did passionate,Whiles they his pittifull aduentures heard,That oft they did lament his lucklesse state,And often blame the too importune fate,That heapd on him so many wrathfull wreakes:For neuer gentle knight, as he of late,So tossed was in fortunes cruell freakes;And all the while salt teares bedeawd the hearers cheaks.

xviiiDeare Sonne, great beene the euils, which ye boreFrom first to last in your late enterprise,That I note, whether prayse, or pitty more:[Fol. M1v; p. 176] For neuer liuing man, I weene, so soreIn sea of deadly daungers was distrest;But since now safe ye seised haue the shore,And well arriued are, (high God be blest)Let vs deuize of ease and euerlasting rest.

xixOf ease or rest I may not yet deuize;For by the faith, which I to armes haue plight,I bounden am streight after this emprize,As that your daughter can ye well aduize,Backe to returne to that great Faerie Queene,And her to serue six yeares in warlike wize,Gainst that proud P[a]ynim king, that workes her teene:Therefore I ought craue pardon, till I there haue beene.

xx(Quoth he) the troubler of my happie peace,And vowed foe of my felicitie;Ne I against the same can iustly preace:But since that band ye cannot now release,Nor doen vndo; (for vowes may not be vaine)Soone as the terme of those six yeares shall cease,Ye then shall hither backe returne againe,The marriage to accomplish vowd betwixt you twain.

xxiIn sort as through the world I did proclame,That who so kild that monster most deforme,And him in hardy battaile ouercame,Should haue mine onely daughter to his Dame,And of my kingdome heire apparaunt bee:Therefore since now to thee perteines the same,By dew desert of noble cheualree,Both daughter and eke kingdome, lo I yield to thee.

xxiiThe fairest Vn' his onely daughter deare,His onely daughter, and his onely heyre;Who forth proceeding with sad sober cheare,As bright as doth the morning starre appeareOut of the East, with flaming lockes bedight,To tell the dawning day is [[[dawning]]] [drawing] neare,And to the world does bring long wished light;So faire and fresh that Lady shewd her selfe in sight.

xxiiiFor she had layd her mournefull stole aside,And widow-like sad wimple throwne away,Wherewith her [[[heaunnly]]] [heauenly] beautie she did hide,Whiles on her wearie iourney she did ride;And on her now a garment she did weare,All lilly white, withoutten spot, or pride,That seemd like silke and siluer wouen neare,But neither silke nor siluer therein did appeare.

xxivAnd glorious light of her sunshyny faceTo tell, were as to striue against the streame.My ragged rimes are all too rude and bace,Her heauenly lineaments for to enchace.Ne wonder; for her owne deare loued knight,All were she dayly with himselfe in place,Did wonder much at her celestiall sight:Oft had he seene her faire, but neuer so faire dight.

xxvShe to her Sire made humble reuerence,And bowed low, that her right well became,And added grace vnto her excellence:[Fol. M2v; p. 178] Who with great wisedome, and graue eloquenceThus gan to say. But eare he thus had said,With flying speede, and seeming great pretence,Came running in, much like a man dismaid,A Messenger with letters, which his message said.

xxviAt suddeinnesse of that vnwarie sight,And wondred at his breathlesse hastie mood.But he for nought would stay his passage right,Till fast before the king he did alight;Where falling flat, great humblesse he did make,And kist the ground, whereon his foot was pight;Then to his hands that writ he did betake,Which he disclosing, red thus, as the paper spake.

xxviiHer greeting sends in these sad lines addrest,The wofull daughter, and forsaken heireOf that great Emperour of all the West;And bids thee be aduized for the best,Ere thou thy daughter linck in holy bandOf wedlocke to that new vnknowen guest:For he already plighted his right handVnto another loue, and to another land.

xxviiiHe was affiaunced long time before,And sacred pledges he both gaue, and had,False erraunt knight, infamous, and forswore:Witnesse the burning Altars, which he swore,And guiltie heauens of his bold periury,Which though he hath polluted oft of yore,Yet I to them for iudgement iust do fly,And them coniure t'auenge this shamefull iniury.

xxixOr false or trew, or liuing or else dead,Withhold, O soueraine Prince, your hasty hondFrom knitting league with him, I you aread;Ne weene my right with strength adowne to tread,Through weakenesse of my widowhed, or woe:For truth is strong, her rightfull cause to plead,And shall find friends, if need requireth soe,So bids thee well to fare, Thy neither friend, nor foe, Fidessa.

xxxThe tydings straunge did him abashed make,That still he sate long time astonishedAs in great muse, ne word to creature spake.At last his solemne silence thus he brake,With doubtfull eyes fast fixed on his guest;Redoubted knight, that for mine onely sakeThy life and honour late aduenturest,Let nought be hid from me, that ought to be exprest.

xxxiThrowne out from womanish impatient mind?What heauens? what altars? what enraged heatesHere heaped vp with termes of loue vnkind,My conscience cleare with guilty bands would bind?High God be witnesse, that I guiltlesse ame.But if your selfe, Sir knight, ye faultie find,Or wrapped be in loues of former Dame,With crime do not it couer, but disclose the same.

xxxiiMy Lord, my King, be nought hereat dismayd,Till well ye wote by graue intendiment,What woman, and wherefore doth me vpbrayd[Fol. M3v; p. 180] With breach of loue, and loyalty betrayd.It was in my mishaps, as hitherwardI lately traueild, that vnwares I straydOut of my way, through perils straunge and hard;That day should faile me, ere I had them all declard.

xxxiiiOf this false woman, that Fidessa hight,Fidessa hight the falsest Dame on ground,Most false Duessa, royall richly dight,That easie was t'inuegle weaker sight:Who by her wicked arts, and wylie skill,Too false and strong for earthly skill or might,Vnwares me wrought vnto her wicked will,And to my foe betrayd, when least I feared ill.

xxxivAnd on the ground her selfe prostrating low,With sober countenaunce thus to him sayd;O pardon me, my soueraigne Lord, to showThe secret treasons, which of late I knowTo haue bene wroght by that false sorceresse.She onely she it is, that earst did throwThis gentle knight into so great distresse,That death him did awaite in dayly wretchednesse.

xxxvThis craftie messenger with letters vaine,To worke new woe and improuided scath,By breaking of the band betwixt vs twaine;Wherein she vsed hath the practicke paineOf this false footman, clokt with simplenesse,Whom if ye please for to discouer plaine,Ye shall him Archimago find, I ghesse,The falsest man aliue; who tries shall find no lesse.

xxxviAnd all with suddein indignation fraight,Bad on that Messenger rude hands to reach.Eftsoones the Gard, which on his state did wait,Attacht that faitor false, and bound him strait:Who seeming sorely chauffed at his band,As chained Beare, whom cruell dogs do bait,With idle force did faine them to withstand,And often semblaunce made to scape out of their hand.

xxxviiAnd bound him hand and foote with yron chains.And with continuall watch did warely keepe;Who then would thinke, that by his subtile trainsHe could escape fowle death or deadly paines?Thus when that Princes wrath was pacifide,He gan renew the late forbidden banes,And to the knight his daughter deare he tyde,With sacred rites and vowes for euer to abyde.

xxxviiiThat none but death for euer can deuide;His owne two hands, for such a turne most fit,The housling fire did kindle and prouide,And holy water thereon sprinckled wide;At which the bushy Teade a groome did light,And sacred lampe in secret chamber hide,Where it should not be quenched day nor night,For feare of euill fates, but burnen euer bright.

xxxixAnd made great feast to solemnize that day;They all perfumde with frankincense diuine,And precious odours fetcht from far away,[Fol. M4v; p. 182] That all the house did sweat with great aray:And all the while sweete Musicke did applyHer curious skill, the warbling notes to play,To driue away the dull Melancholy;The whiles one sung a song of loue and iollity.

xlHeard sound through all the Pallace pleasantly,Like as it had bene many an Angels voice,Singing before th'eternall maiesty,In their trinall triplicities on hye;Yet wist no creature, whence that heauenly sweetProceeded, yet eachone felt secretlyHimselfe thereby reft of his sences meet,And rauished with rare impression in his sprite.

xliAnd solemne feast proclaimd throughout the land,That their exceeding merth may not be told:Suffice it heare by signes to vnderstandThe vsuall ioyes at knitting of loues band.Thrise happy man the knight himselfe did hold,Possessed of his Ladies hart and hand,And euer, when his eye did her behold,His heart did seeme to melt in pleasures manifold.

xliiIn full content he there did long enioy,Ne wicked enuie, ne vile gealosyHis deare delights were able to annoy:Yet swimming in that sea of blisfull ioy,He nought forgot, how he whilome had sworne,In case he could that monstrous beast destroy,Vnto his Farie Queene backe to returne:The which he shortly did, and Vna left to mourne.

xliiiFor we be come vnto a quiet rode,Where we must land some of our passengers,And light this wearie vessell of her lode.Here she a while may make her safe abode,Till she repaired haue her tackles spent,And wants supplide. And then againe abroadOn the long voyage whereto she is bent:Well may she speede and fairely finish her intent. FINIS LIB. I.

© Edmund Spenser