The Faerie Queene/Book I/Canto II

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The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser
Canto II


        The guilefull great Enchaunter parts
          the Redcrosse Knight from truth,
        Into whose stead faire Falshood steps,
          and workes him wofull ruth.


                    I
BY this the Northerne wagoner^ had set
  His sevenfold teme^ behind the stedfast starre,^
  That was in Ocean waves yet never wet,
  But firme is fixt, and sendeth light from farre
  To all that in the wide deepe wandring arre:
  And chearefull Chaunticlere^ with his note shrill
  Had warned once, that Phœbus fiery carre^
  In hast was climbing up the Easterne hill,
Full envious that night so long his roome did fill.


                    II
When those accursed messengers of hell,
  That feigning dreame, and that faire-forged Spright^
  Came to their wicked maister, and gan tell
  Their bootelesse paines, and ill succeeding night:
  Who all in rage to see his skilfull might
  Deluded so, gan threaten hellish paine
  And sad Proserpines wrath, them to affright.
  But when he saw his threatning was but vaine,
He cast about, and searcht his baleful bookes againe.


                    III
Eftsoones he tooke that miscreated faire,
  And that false other Spright, on whom he spred
  A seeming body of the subtile aire,
  Like a young Squire, in loves and lustybed
  His wanton dayes that ever loosely led,
  Without regard of armes and dreaded fight:
  Those two he tooke, and in a secret bed,
  Coverd with darknesse and misdeeming night,
Them both together laid, to joy in vaine delight.


                    IV
Forthwith he runnes with feigned faithfull hast
  Unto his guest, who after troublous sights
  And dreames, gan now to take more sound repast,
  Whom suddenly he wakes with fearfull frights,
  As one aghast with feends or damned sprights,
  And to him cals, Rise, rise, unhappy Swaine
  That here wex old in sleepe, whiles wicked wights
  Have knit themselves in Venus shameful chaine,
Come see where your false Lady doth her honour staine.


                    V
All in amaze he suddenly upstart
  With sword in hand, and with the old man went
  Who soone him brought into a secret part
  Where that false couple were full closely ment
  In wanton lust and leud embracement:
  Which when he saw, he burnt with gealous fire,
  The eye of reason was with rage yblent,
  And would have slaine them in his furious ire,
But hardly was restreined of that aged sire.


                    VI
Returning to his bed in torment great,
  And bitter anguish of his guiltie sight,
  He could not rest, but did his stout heart eat,
  And wast his inward gall with deepe despight,
  Yrkesome of life, and too long lingring night.
  At last faire Hesperus^ in highest skie
  Had spent his lampe and brought forth dawning light,
  Then up he rose, and clad him hastily;
The Dwarfe him brought his steed: so both away do fly.


                    VII
Now when the rosy-fingred Morning^ faire,
  Weary of aged Tithones^ saffron bed,
  Had spread her purple robe through deawy aire,
  And the high hils Titan^ discovered,
  The royall virgin shooke off drowsy-hed;
  And rising forth out of her baser bowre,
  Lookt for her knight, who far away was fled,
  And for her Dwarfe, that wont to wait each houre:
Then gan she waile and weepe, to see that woefull stowre.


                    VIII
And after him she rode with so much speede
  As her slow beast could make; but all in vaine:
  For him so far had borne his light-foot steede,
  Pricked with wrath and fiery fierce disdaine,
  That him to follow was but fruitlesse paine;
  Yet she her weary limbes would never rest,
  But every hill and dale, each wood and plaine,
  Did search, sore grieved in her gentle brest,
He so ungently left her, whom she loved best.


                    IX
But subtill Archimago, when his guests
  He saw divided into double parts,
  And Una wandring in woods and forrests,
  Th' end of his drift, he praisd his divelish arts,
  That had such might over true meaning harts:
  Yet rests not so, but other meanes doth make,
  How he may worke unto her further smarts:
  For her he hated as the hissing snake,
And in her many troubles did most pleasure take.


                    X
He then devisde himselfe how to disguise;
  For by his mightie science he could take
  As many formes and shapes in seeming wise,
  As ever Proteus^ to himselfe could make:
  Sometime a fowle, sometime a fish in lake,
  Now like a foxe, now like a dragon fell,
  That of himselfe he ofte for feare would quake,
  And oft would flie away. O who can tell
The hidden power of herbes^ and might of Magicke spell?


                    XI
But now seemde best the person to put on
  Of that good knight, his late beguiled guest:
  In mighty armes he was yclad anon:
  And silver shield, upon his coward brest
  A bloudy crosse, and on his craven crest
  A bounch of haires discolourd diversly:
  Full jolly knight he seemde, and well addrest,
  And when he sate upon his courser free,
Saint George himself ye would have deemed him to be.


                    XII
But he the knight, whose semblaunt he did beare,
  The true Saint George, was wandred far away,
  Still flying from his thoughts and gealous feare;
  Will was his guide, and griefe led him astray.
  At last him chaunst to meete upon the way
  A faithless Sarazin^ all arm'd to point,
  In whose great shield was writ with letters gay
  Sans foy: full large of limbe and every joint
He was, and cared not for God or man a point.


                    XIII
He had a faire companion^ of his way,
  A goodly Lady clad in scarlot red,
  Purfled with gold and pearle of rich assay,
  And like a Persian mitre on her hed
  She wore, with crowns and owches garnished,
  The which her lavish lovers to her gave;
  Her wanton palfrey all was overspred
  With tinsell trappings, woven like a wave,
Whose bridle rung with golden bels and bosses brave.


                    XIV
With faire disport and courting dalliaunce
  She intertainde her lover all the way:
  But when she saw the knight his speare advaunce,
  She soone left off her mirth and wanton play,
  And bade her knight addresse him to the fray:
  His foe was nigh at hand. He prickt with pride
  And hope to winne his Ladies heart that day,
  Forth spurred fast: adowne his coursers side
The red bloud trickling staind the way, as he did ride.


                    XV
The knight of the Redcrosse when him he spide,
  Spurring so hote with rage dispiteous,
  Gan fairely couch his speare, and towards ride:
  Soone meete they both, both fell and furious,
  That daunted with their forces hideous,
  Their steeds do stagger, and amazed stand,
  And eke themselves, too rudely rigorous,
  Astonied with the stroke of their owne hand
Doe backe rebut, and each to other yeeldeth land.


                    XVI
As when two rams^ stird with ambitious pride,
  Fight for the rule of the rich fleeced flocke,
  Their horned fronts so fierce on either side
  Do meete, that with the terrour of the shocke
  Astonied both, stand sencelesse as a blocke,
  Forgetfull of the hanging victory:^
  So stood these twaine, unmoved as a rocke,
  Both staring fierce, and holding idely
The broken reliques^ of their former cruelty.


                    XVII
The Sarazin sore daunted with the buffe
  Snatcheth his sword, and fiercely to him flies;
  Who well it wards, and quyteth cuff with cuff:
  Each others equall puissaunce envies,^
  And through their iron sides^ with cruell spies
  Does seeke to perce: repining courage yields
  No foote to foe. The flashing fier flies
  As from a forge out of their burning shields,
And streams of purple bloud new dies the verdant fields.


                    XVIII
Curse on that Crosse (quoth then the Sarazin),
  That keepes thy body from the bitter fit;^
  Dead long ygoe I wote thou haddest bin,
  Had not that charme from thee forwarned it:
  But yet I warne thee now assured sitt,^
  And hide thy head. Therewith upon his crest
  With rigour so outrageous^ he smitt,
  That a large share^ it hewd out of the rest,
And glauncing down his shield from blame him fairly blest.^


                    XIX
Who thereat wondrous wroth, the sleeping spark
  Of native vertue gan eftsoones revive,
  And at his haughtie helmet making mark,
  So hugely stroke, that it the steele did rive,
  And cleft his head. He tumbling downe alive,
  With bloudy mouth his mother earth did kis.
  Greeting his grave: his grudging^ ghost did strive
  With the fraile flesh; at last it flitted is,
Whither the soules do fly of men that live amis.


                    XX
The Lady when she saw her champion fall,
  Like the old ruines of a broken towre,
  Staid not to waile his woefull funerall,
  But from him fled away with all her powre;
  Who after her as hastily gan scowre,
  Bidding the Dwarfe with him to bring away
  The Sarazins shield, signe of the conqueroure.
  Her soone he overtooke, and bad to stay,
For present cause was none of dread her to dismay.


                    XXI
She turning backe with ruefull countenaunce,
  Cride, Mercy mercy Sir vouchsafe to show
  On silly Dame, subject to hard mischaunce,
  And to your mighty will. Her humblesse low
  In so ritch weedes and seeming glorious show,
  Did much emmove his stout heroicke heart,
  And said, Deare dame, your suddin overthrow
  Much rueth me; but now put feare apart,
And tell, both who ye be, and who that tooke your part.


                    XXII
Melting in teares, then gan she thus lament;
  The wretched woman, whom unhappy howre
  Hath now made thrall to your commandement,
  Before that angry heavens list to lowre,
  And fortune false betraide me to your powre,
  Was, (O what now availeth that I was!)
  Borne the sole daughter of an Emperour,^
  He that the wide West under his rule has,
And high hath set his throne, where Tiberis doth pas.


                    XXIII
He in the first flowre of my freshest age,
  Betrothed me unto the onely haire^
  Of a most mighty king, most rich and sage;
  Was never Prince so faithfull and so faire,
  Was never Prince so meeke and debonaire;
  But ere my hoped day of spousall shone,
  My dearest Lord fell from high honours staire
  Into the hands of his accursed fone,
And cruelly was slaine, that shall I ever mone.


                    XXIV
His blessed body spoild of lively breath,
  Was afterward, I know not how, convaid
  And fro me hid: of whose most innocent death
  When tidings came to me, unhappy maid,
  O how great sorrow my sad soule assaid.
  Then forth I went his woefull corse to find,
  And many yeares throughout the world I straid,
  A virgin widow, whose deepe wounded mind
With love long time did languish as the striken hind.


                    XXV
At last it chaunced this proud Sarazin
  To meete me wandring, who perforce me led
  With him away, but yet could never win
  The Fort, that Ladies hold in soveraigne dread;
  There lies he now with foule dishonour dead,
  Who whiles he livde, was called proud Sansfoy,
  The eldest of three brethren, all three bred
  Of one bad sire, whose youngest is Sansjoy;
And twixt them both was born the bloudy bold Sansloy.


                    XXVI
In this sad plight, friendlesse, unfortunate,
  Now miserable I Fidessa dwell,
  Craving of you in pitty of my state,
  To do none ill, if please ye not do well.
  He in great passion all this while did dwell,
  More busying his quicke eyes, her face to view,
  Then his dull eares, to heare what she did tell;
  And said, Faire Lady hart of flint would rew
The undeserved woes and sorrowes which ye shew.


                    XXVII
Henceforth in safe assuraunce may ye rest,
  Having both found a new friend you to aid,
  And lost an old foe that did you molest:
  Better new friend then an old foe is said.
  With chaunge of cheare the seeming simple maid
  Let fall her eyen, as shamefast to the earth,
  And yeelding soft, in that she nought gain-said,
  So forth they rode, he feining seemely merth,
And she coy lookes: so dainty they say maketh derth.^


                    XXVIII
Long time they thus together traveiled,
  Till weary of their way, they came at last
  Where grew two goodly trees, that faire did spred
  Their armes abroad, with gray mosse overcast,
  And their greene leaves trembling with every blast,
  Made a calme shadow far in compasse round:
  The fearfull Shepheard often there aghast
  Under them never sat, ne wont there sound^
His mery oaten pipe, but shund th' unlucky ground.


                    XXIX
But this good knight soone as he them can spie,
  For the cool shade^ him thither hastly got:
  For golden Phœbus now ymounted hie,
  From fiery wheeles of his faire chariot
  Hurled his beame so scorching cruell hot,
  That living creature mote it not abide;
  And his new Lady it endured not.
  There they alight, in hope themselves to hide
From the fierce heat, and rest their weary limbs a tide.


                    XXX
Faire seemely pleasaunce^ each to other makes,
  With goodly purposes^ there as they sit:
  And in his falsed fancy he her takes
  To be the fairest wight that lived yit;
  Which to expresse he bends his gentle wit,
  And thinking of those braunches greene to frame
  A girlond for her dainty forehead fit,
  He pluckt a bough;^ out of whose rift there came
Small drops of gory bloud, that trickled down the same.


                    XXXI
Therewith a piteous yelling voyce was heard,
  Crying, O spare with guilty hands^ to teare
  My tender sides in this rough rynd embard,
  But fly, ah fly far hence away, for feare
  Least to you hap, that happened to me heare,
  And to this wretched Lady, my deare love,
  O too deare love, love bought with death too deare.
  Astond he stood, and up his haire did hove,
And with that suddein horror could no member move.


                    XXXII
At last whenas the dreadfull passion
  Was overpast, and manhood well awake,
  Yet musing at the straunge occasion,
  And doubting much his sence, he thus bespake;
  What voyce of damned Ghost from Limbo lake,^
  Or guilefull spright wandring in empty aire,
  Both which fraile men do oftentimes mistake,
  Sends to my doubtfull eares these speaches rare,
And ruefull plaints, me bidding guiltlesse bloud to spare?


                    XXXIII
Then groning deepe, Nor damned Ghost, (quoth he,)
  Nor guileful sprite to thee these wordes doth speake,
  But once a man Fradubio,^ now a tree,
  Wretched man, wretched tree; whose nature weake
  A cruell witch her cursed will to wreake,
  Hath thus transformd, and plast in open plaines,
  Where Boreas doth blow full bitter bleake,
  And scorching Sunne does dry my secret vaines:
For though a tree I seeme, yet cold and heat me paines.


                    XXXIV
Say on Fradubio then, or man, or tree,
  Quoth then the knight, by whose mischievous arts
  Art thou misshaped thus, as now I see?
  He oft finds med'cine, who his griefe imparts;
  But double griefs afflict concealing harts,
  As raging flames who striveth to suppresse.
  The author then (said he) of all my smarts,
  Is one Duessa a false sorceresse,
That many errant knights hath brought to wretchednesse.


                    XXXV
In prime of youthly yeares, when corage hot
  The fire of love and joy of chevalree
  First kindled in my brest, it was my lot
  To love this gentle Lady, whom ye see,
  Now not a Lady, but a seeming tree;
  With whom as once I rode accompanyde,
  Me chaunced of a knight encountred bee,
  That had a like faire Lady by his syde,
Like a faire Lady, but did fowle Duessa hyde.


                    XXXVI
Whose forged beauty he did take in hand,
  All other Dames to have exceeded farre;
  I in defence of mine did likewise stand,
  Mine, that did then shine as the Morning starre.
  So both to battell fierce arraunged arre,
  In which his harder fortune was to fall
  Under my speare: such is the dye of warre:
  His Lady left as a prise martiall,
Did yield her comely person to be at my call.


                    XXXVII
So doubly lov'd of Ladies unlike faire,
  Th' one seeming such, the other such indeede,
  One day in doubt I cast for to compare,
  Whether in beauties glorie did exceede;
  A Rosy girlond was the victors meede:
  Both seemde to win, and both seemde won to bee,
  So hard the discord was to be agreede.
  Fraelissa was as faire, as faire mote bee,
And ever false Duessa seemde as faire as shee.


                    XXXVIII
The wicked witch now seeing all this while
  The doubtfull ballaunce equally to sway,
  What not by right, she cast to win by guile,
  And by her hellish science raisd streightway
  A foggy mist, that overcast the day,
  And a dull blast, that breathing on her face,
  Dimmed her former beauties shining ray,
  And with foule ugly forme did her disgrace:
Then was she faire alone, when none was faire in place.^


                    XXXIX
Then cride she out, Fye, fye, deformed wight,
  Whose borrowed beautie now appeareth plaine
  To have before bewitched all mens sight;
  O leave her soone, or let her soone be slaine.
  Her loathly visage viewing with disdaine,
  Eftsoones I thought her such, as she me told,
  And would have kild her; but with faigned paine
  The false witch did my wrathfull hand with-hold;
So left her, where she now is turnd to treen mould.^


                    XL
Then forth I tooke Duessa for my Dame,
  And in the witch unweeting joyd long time,
  Ne ever wist but that she was the same,^
  Till on a day (that day is every Prime,
  When Witches wont do penance for their crime)
  I chaunst to see her in her proper hew,^
  Bathing her selfe in origane and thyme:
  A filthy foule old woman I did vew,
That ever to have toucht her I did deadly rew.


                    XLI
Her neather parts misshapen, monstruous,
  Were hidd in water, that I could not see.
  But they did seeme more foule and hideous,
  Then womans shape man would beleeve to bee.
  Thensforth from her most beastly companie
  I gan refraine, in minde to slip away,
  Soone as appeard safe opportunitie:
  For danger great, if not assur'd decay,
I saw before mine eyes, if I were knowne to stray.


                    XLII
The divelish hag by chaunges of my cheare^
  Perceiv'd my thought, and drownd in sleepie night,^
  With wicked herbs and ointments did besmeare
  My body all, through charms and magicke might,
  That all my senses were bereaved quight:
  Then brought she me into this desert waste,
  And by my wretched lovers side me pight,
  Where now enclosd in wooden wals full faste,
Banisht from living wights, our wearie dayes we waste.


                    XLIII
But how long time, said then the Elfin knight,
  Are you in this misformed house to dwell?
  We may not chaunge (quoth he) this evil plight,
  Till we be bathed in a living well;^
  That is the terme prescribed by the spell.
  O how, said he, mote I that well out find,
  That may restore you to your wonted well?
  Time and suffised fates to former kynd
Shall us restore, none else from hence may us unbynd.


                    XLIV
The false Duessa, now Fidessa hight,
  Heard how in vaine Fradubio did lament,
  And knew well all was true. But the good knight
  Full of sad feare and ghastly dreriment,
  When all this speech the living tree had spent,
  The bleeding bough did thrust into the ground,
  That from the bloud he might be innocent,
  And with fresh clay did close the wooden wound:
Then turning to his Lady, dead with feare her found.


                    XLV
Her seeming dead he found with feigned feare,
  As all unweeting of that well she knew,
  And paynd himselfe with busie care to reare
  Her out of carelesse swowne. Her eyelids blew
  And dimmed sight with pale and deadly hew
  At last she up gan lift: with trembling cheare
  Her up he tooke, too simple and too trew,
  And oft her kist. At length all passed feare,^
He set her on her steede, and forward forth did beare.