The Faerie Queene, Book III, Canto 6

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The birth of faire Belphoebe and Of Amoret is told.The Gardins of Adonis fraught With pleasures manifold.

iYe wonder, how this noble DamozellSo great perfections did in her compile,Sith that in salvage forests she did dwell,So farre from court and royall Citadell,The great schoolmistresse of all curtesy:Seemeth that such wild woods should far expellAll civill usage and gentility,And gentle sprite deforme with rude rusticity.

iiThe heavens so favourable were and free,Looking with myld aspect upon the earth,In th'Horoscope of her nativitee,That all the gifts of grace and chastiteeOn her they poured forth of plenteous horne;Jove laught on Venus from his soveraigne see,And Phoebus with faire beames did her adorne,And all the Graces rockt her cradle being borne.

iiiAnd her conception of the joyous Prime,And all her whole creation did her shewPure and unspotted from all loathly crime,That is ingenerate in fleshly slime.So was this virgin borne, so was she bred,So was she trayned up from time to time,In all chast vertue, and true bounti-hedTill to her dew perfection she was ripened.

ivThe daughter of Amphisa, who by raceA Faerie was, yborne of high degree,She bore Belphoebe, she bore in like caceFaire Amoretta in the second place:These two were twinnes, and twixt them two did shareThe heritage of all celestiall grace.That all the rest it seem'd they robbed bareOf bountie, and of beautie, and all vertues rare.

vBy what straunge accident faire ChrysogoneConceiv'd these infants, and how them she bare,In this wild forrest wandring all alone,After she had nine moneths fulfild and gone:For not as other wemens commune brood,They were enwombed in the sacred throneOf her chaste bodie, nor with commune food,As other wemens babes, they sucked vitall blood.

viThrough influence of th'heavens fruitfull ray,As it in antique bookes is mentioned.It was upon a Sommers shynie day,When Titan faire his beames did display,In a fresh fountaine, farre from all mens vew,She bath'd her brest, the boyling heat t'allay;She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew,And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

viiUpon the grassie ground her selfe she laydTo sleepe, the whiles a gentle slombring swowneUpon her fell all naked bare displayd;The sunne-beames bright upon her body playd,Being through former bathing mollifide,And pierst into her wombe, where they embaydWith so sweet sence and secret power unspide,That in her pregnant flesh they shortly fructifide.

viiiSo straunge ensample of conception;But reason teacheth that the fruitfull seadesOf all things living, through impressionOf the sunbeames in moyst complexion,Doe life conceive and quickned are by kynd:So after Nilus inundation,Infinite shapes of creatures men do fynd,Informed in the mud, on which the Sunne hath shynd.

ixIs rightly cald, th'author of life and light;And his faire sister for creationMinistreth matter fit, which tempred rightWith heate and humour, breedes the living wight.So sprong these twinnes in wombe of Chrysogone,Yet wist she nought thereof, but sore affright,Wondred to see her belly so upblone,Which still increast, till she her terme had full outgone.

xAlbe her guiltlesse conscience her cleard,She fled into the wildernesse a space,Till that unweeldy burden she had reard,And shund dishonor, which as death she feard:Where wearie of long travell, downe to restHer selfe she set, and comfortably cheard;There a sad cloud of sleepe her overkest,And seized every sense with sorrow sore opprest.

xiHer little sonne, the winged god of love,Who for some light displeasure, which him crost,Was from her fled, as flit as ayerie Dove,And left her blisfull bowre of joy above,(So from her often he had fled away,When she for ought him sharpely did reprove,And wandred in the world in strange aray,Disguiz'd in thousand shapes, that none might him bewray.)

xiiThe house of goodly formes and faire aspects,Whence all the world derives the gloriousFeatures of beautie, and all shapes select,With which high God his workmanship hath deckt;And searched every way, through which his wingsHad borne him, or his tract she mote detect:She promist kisses sweet, and sweeter thingsUnto the man, that of him tydings to her brings.

xiiiWhylome to haunt, but there she found him not;But many there she found, which sore accusedHis falsehood, and with foule infamous blotHis cruell deedes and wicked wyles did spot:Ladies and Lords she every where mote heareComplayning, how with his empoysned shotTheir wofull harts he wounded had whyleare,And so had left them languishing twixt hopt and feare.

xivAnd every one did aske, did he him see;And every one her answerd, that too lateHe had him seene, and felt the crueltieOf his sharpe darts and whot artillerie;And every one threw forth reproches rifeOf his mischievous deedes, and said, That heeWas the disturber of all civill life,The enimy of peace, and author of all strife.

xvAnd in the rurall cottages inquired,Where also many plaints to her were brought,How he their heedlesse harts with love had fyred,And his false venim through their veines inspyred;And eke the gentle shepheard swaynes, which satKeeping their fleecie flockes, as they were hyred,She sweetly heard complaine, both how and whatHer sonne had to them doen; yet she did smile thereat.

xviShe gan avize, where else he mote him hyde:At last she her bethought, that she had notYet sought the salvage woods and forrests wyde,In which full many lovely Nymphes abyde,Mongst whom might be, that he did closely lye,Or that the love of some of them him tyde:For thy she thither cast her course t'apply,To search the secret haunts of Dianes company.

xviiWhereas she found the Goddesse with her crew,After late chace of their embrewed game,Sitting beside a fountaine in a rew,Some of them washing with the liquid dewFrom offtheir dainty limbes the dustie sweat,And soyle which did deforme their lively hew;Others lay shaded from the scorching heat;The rest upon her person gave attendance great.

xviiiHer bow and painted quiver, had unlasteHer silver buskins from her nimble thigh,And her lancke loynes ungirt, and brests unbraste,After her heat the breathing cold to taste;Her golden lockes, that late in tresses brightEmbreaded were for hindring of her haste,Now loose about her shoulders hong undight,And were with sweet Ambrosia all besprinckled light.

xixShe was asham'd to be so loose surprized,And woxe halfe wroth against her damzels slacke,That had not her thereof before avized,But suffred her so carelesly disguizedBe overtaken. Soone her garments looseUpgath'ring, in her bosome she comprized,Well as she might, and to the Goddesse rose,Whiles all her Nymphes did like a girlond her enclose.

xxAnd shortly asked her, what cause her broughtInto that wildernesse for her unmeet,From her sweete bowres, and beds with pleasures fraught:That suddein change she strange adventure thought.To whom halfe weeping, she thus answered,That she her dearest sonne Cupido sought,Who in his frowardnesse from her was fled;That she repented sore, to have him angered.

xxiOf her vaine plaint, and to her scoffmg sayd;Great pittie sure, that ye be so forlorneOf your gay sonne, that gives ye so good aydTo your disports: ill mote ye bene apayd.But she was more engrieved, and replide;Faire sister, ill beseemes it to upbraydA dolefull heart with so disdainfull pride;The like that mine, may be your paine another tide.

xxiiYour glory set, to chace the salvage beasts,So my delight is all in joyfulnesse,In beds, in bowres, in banckets, and in feasts:And ill becomes you with your loftie creasts,To scorne the joy, that Jove is glad to seeke;We both are bound to follow heavens beheasts,And tend our charges with obeisance meeke:Spare, gentle sister, with reproch my paine to eeke.

xxiiiTo lurk emongst your Nymphes in secret wize;Or keepe their cabins: much I am affeard,Lest he like one of them him selfe disguize,And turne his arrowes to their exercize:So may he long himselfe full easie hide:For he is faire and fresh in face and guize,As any Nymph (let not it be envyde.)So saying every Nymph full narrowly she eyde.

xxivAnd sharply said; Goe Dame, goe seeke your boy,Where you him lately left, in Mars his bed;He comes not here, we scorne his foolish joy,Ne lend we leisure to his idle toy:But if I catch him in this company,By Stygian lake I vow, whose sad annoyThe Gods doe dread, he dearely shall abye:Ile clip his wanton wings, that he no more shall fly.

xxvShe inly sory was, and gan relent,What she had said: so her she soone appeased,With sugred words and gentle blandishment,Which as a fountaine from her sweet lips went,And welled goodly forth, that in short spaceShe was well pleasd, and forth her damzels sent,Through all the woods, to search from place to place,If any tract of him or tydings they mote trace.

xxviThroughout the wandring forrest every where:But after them her selfe eke with her wentTo seeke the fugitive, both farre and nere.So long they sought, till they arrived wereIn that same shadie covert, whereas layFaire Crysogone in slombry traunce whilere:Who in her sleepe (a wondrous thing to say)Unwares had borne two babes, as faire as springing day.

xxviiShe bore withouten paine, that she conceivedWithouten pleasure: ne her need imploreLucinaes aide: which when they both perceived,They were through wonder nigh of sense bereaved,And gazing each on other, nought bespake:At last they both agreed, her seeming grievedOut of her heavy swowne not to awake,But from her loving side the tender babes to take.

xxviiiAnd with them carried, to be fostered;Dame Phoebe to a Nymph her babe betooke,To be upbrought in perfect Maydenhed,And of her selfe her name Belphoebe red:But Venus hers thence farre away convayd,To be upbrought in goodly womanhed,And in her litle loves stead, which was strayd,Her Amoretta cald, to comfort her dismayd.

xxixWhere most she wonnes, when she on earth does dwel.So faire a place, as Nature can devize:Whether in Paphos, or Cytheron hill,Or it in Gnidus be, I wote not well;But well I wote by tryall, that this sameAll other pleasant places doth excell,And called is by her lost lovers name,The Gardin of Adonis, farre renowmd by fame.

xxxWherewith dame Nature doth her beautifie,And decks the girlonds of her paramoures,Are fetcht: there is the first seminarieOf all things, that are borne to live and die,According to their kindes. Long worke it were,Here to account the endlesse progenieOf all the weedes, that bud and blossome there;But so much as doth need, must needs be counted here.

xxxiAnd girt in with two walles on either side;The one of yron, the other of bright gold,That none might thorough breake, nor over-stride:And double gates it had, which opened wide,By which both in and out men moten pas;Th'one faire and fresh, the other old and dride:Old Genius the porter of them was,Old Genius, the which a double nature has.

xxxiiAll that to come into the world desire;A thousand thousand naked babes attendAbout him day and night, which doe require,That he with fleshly weedes would them attire:Such as him list, such as eternall fateOrdained hath, he clothes with sinfull mire,And sendeth forth to live in mortall state,Till they againe returne backe by the hinder gate.

xxxiiiThey in that Gardin planted be againe;And grow afresh, as they had never seeneFleshly corruption, nor mortall paine.Some thousand yeares so doen they there remaine;And then of him are clad with other hew,Or sent into the chaungefull world againe,Till thither they returne, where first they grew:So like a wheele around they runne from old to new.

xxxivTo plant or prune: for of their owne accordAll things, as they created were, doe grow,And yet remember well the mightie word,Which first was spoken by th'Almightie lord,That bad them to increase and multiply:Ne doe they need with water of the ford,Or of the clouds to moysten their roots dry;For in themselves eternall moisture they imply.

xxxvAnd uncouth formes, which none yet ever knew,And every sort is in a sundry bedSet by it selfe, and ranckt in comely rew:Some fit for reasonable soules t'indew,Some made for beasts, some made for birds to weare,And all the fruitfull spawne of fishes hewIn endlesse rancks along enraunged were,That seem'd the Ocean could not containe them there.

xxxviInto the world, it to replenish more;Yet is the stocke not lessened, nor spent,But still remaines in everlasting store,As it at first created was of yore.For in the wide wombe of the world there lyes,In hatefull darkenesse and in deepe horrore,An huge eternall Chaos, which supplyesThe substances of natures fruitfull progenyes.

xxxviiAnd borrow matter, whereof they are made,Which when as forme and feature it does ketch,Becomes a bodie, and doth then invadeThe state of life, out of the griesly shade.That substance is eterne, and bideth so,Ne when the life decayes, and forme does fade,Doth it consume, and into nothing go,But chaunged is, and often altred to and fro.

xxxviiiBut th'only forme and outward fashion;For every substance is conditionedTo change her hew, and sundry formes to don,Meet for her temper and complexion:For formes are variable and decay,By course of kind, and by occasion;And that faire flowre of beautie fades away,As doth the lilly fresh before the sunny ray.

xxxixThat in the Gardin of Adonis springs,Is wicked Time, who with his scyth addrest,Does mow the flowring herbes and goodly things,And all their glory to the ground downe flings,Where they doe wither, and are fowly mard:He flyes about, and with his flaggy wingsBeates downe both leaves and buds without regard,Ne ever pittie may relent his malice hard.

xlTo see so faire things mard, and spoyled quight:And their great mother Venus did lamentThe losse of her deare brood, her deare delight;Her hart was pierst with pittie at the sight,When walking through the Gardin, them she saw,Yet no'te she find redresse for such despight.For all that lives, is subject to that law:All things decay in time, and to their end do draw.

xliAll that in this delightfull Gardin growes,Should happie be, and have immortall blis:For here all plentie, and all pleasure flowes,And sweet love gentle fits emongst them throwes,Without fell rancor, or fond gealosie;Franckly each paramour his leman knowes,Each bird his mate, ne any does envieTheir goodly meriment, and gay felicitie.

xliiContinuall, both meeting at one time:For both the boughes doe laughing blossomes beare,And with fresh colours decke the wanton Prime,And eke attonce the heavy trees they clime,Which seeme to labour under their fruits lode:The whiles the joyous birdes make their pastimeEmongst the shadie leaves, their sweet abode,And their true loves without suspition tell abrode.

xliiiThere stood a stately Mount, on whose round topA gloomy grove of mirtle trees did rise,Whose shadie boughes sharpe steele did never lop,Nor wicked beasts their tender buds did crop,But like a girlond compassed the hight,And from their fruitfull sides sweet gum did drop,That all the ground with precious deaw bedight,Threw forth most dainty odours, and most sweet delight.

xlivThere was a pleasant arbour, not by art,But of the trees owne inclination made,Which knitting their rancke braunches part to part,With wanton yvie twyne entrayld athwart,And Eglantine, and Caprifole emong,Fashiond above within their inmost part,That neither Phoebus beams could through them throng,Nor Aeolus sharp blast could worke them any wrong.

xlvTo which sad lovers were transformd of yore;Fresh Hyacinthus, Phoebus paramoure,And dearest love,Foolish Narcisse, that likes the watry shore,Sad Amaranthus, made a flowre but late,Sad Amaranthus, in whose purple goreMe seemes I see Amintas wretched fate,To whom sweet Poets verse hath given endlesse date.

xlviHer deare Adonis joyous company,And reape sweet pleasure of the wanton boy;There yet, some say, in secret he does ly,Lapped in flowres and pretious spycery,By her hid from the world, and from the skillOf Stygian Gods, which doe her love envy;But she her selfe, when ever that she will,Possesseth him, and of his sweetnesse takes her fill.

xlviiFor ever die, and ever buried beeIn balefull night, where all things are forgot;All be he subject to mortalitie,Yet is eterne in mutabilitie,And by succession made perpetuall,Transformed oft, and chaunged diverslie:For him the Father of all formes they call;Therefore needs mote he live, that living gives to all.

xlviiiJoying his goddesse, and of her enjoyd:Ne feareth he henceforth that foe of his,Which with his cruell tuske him deadly cloyd:For that wilde Bore, the which him once annoyd,She firmely hath emprisoned for ay,That her sweet love his malice mote avoyd,In a strong rocky Cave, which is they say,Hewen underneath that Mount, that none him losen may.

xlixWith many of the Gods in company,Which thither haunt, and with the winged boySporting himselfe in safe felicity:Who when he hath with spoiles and crueltyRansackt the world, and in the wofull hartsOf many wretches set his triumphes hye,Thither resorts, and laying his sad dartsAside, with faire Adonis playes his wanton parts.

lFaire Psyche to him lately reconcyld,After long troubles and unmeet upbrayes,With which his mother Venus her revyld,And eke himselfe her cruelly exyld:But now in stedfast love and happy stateShe with him lives, and hath him borne a chyld,Pleasure, that doth both gods and men aggrate,Pleasure, the daughter of Cupid and Psyche late.

liThe younger daughter of Chrysogonee,And unto Psyche with great trust and careCommitted her, yfostered to bee,And trained up in true feminitee:Who no lesse carefully her tendered,Then her owne daughter Pleasure, to whom sheeMade her companion, and her lessonedIn all the lore of love, and goodly womanhead.

© Edmund Spenser