The Faerie Queene/Book I/Canto III

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The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser
Canto III


        Forsaken Truth long seekes her love,
          and makes the Lyon mylde,
        Marres blind Devotions mart, and fals
          in hand of leachour vylde.


                    I
NOUGHT is there under heav'ns wide hollownesse,
  That moves more deare compassion of mind,
  Then beautie brought t' unworthy wretchednesse
  Through envies snares, or fortunes freakes unkind.
  I, whether lately through her brightnesse blind,
  Or through alleageance and fast fealtie,
  Which I do owe unto all woman kind,
  Feele my hart perst with so great agonie,
When such I see, that all for pittie I could die.


                    II
And now it is empassioned so deepe,
  For fairest Unaes sake, of whom I sing,
  That my fraile eyes these lines with teares do steepe,
  To thinke how she through guilefull handeling,
  Though true as touch,^ though daughter of a king,
  Though faire as ever living wight was faire,
  Though nor in word nor deede ill meriting,
  Is from her knight divorced in despaire,
And her due loves^ deriv'd to that vile witches share.


                    III
Yet she most faithfull Ladie all this while
  Forsaken, wofull, solitarie mayd
  Far from all peoples prease, as in exile,
  In wildernesse and wastfull deserts strayd,
  To seeke her knight; who subtilly betrayd
  Through that late vision, which th' Enchaunter wrought,
  Had her abandond. She of nought affrayd,
  Through woods and wastnesse wide him daily sought;
Yet wished tydings^ none of him unto her brought.


                    IV
One day nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,
  From her unhastie beast she did alight,
  And on the grasse her daintie limbes did lay
  In secret shadow, farre from all mens sight:
  From her faire head her fillet she undight,
  And laid her stole aside. Her angels face
  As the great eye of heaven^ shyned bright,
  And made a sunshine in the shadie place;
Did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace.


                    V
It fortuned out of the thickest wood
  A ramping Lyon^ rushed suddainly,
  Hunting full greedy after salvage blood;
  Soone as the royall virgin he did spy,
  With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
  To have attonce devourd her tender corse:
  But to the pray when as he drew more ny,
  His bloody rage asswaged with remorse,
And with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse.


                    VI
In stead thereof he kist her wearie feet,
  And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong,
  As he her wronged innocence did weet.
  O how can beautie maister the most strong,
  And simple truth subdue avenging wrong?
  Whose yeelded pride^ and proud submission,
  Still dreading death, when she had marked long,
  Her hart gan melt in great compassion,
And drizling teares did shed for pure affection.


                    VII
The Lyon Lord of every beast in field,
  Quoth she, his princely puissance doth abate,
  And mightie proud to humble weake does yield,
  Forgetfull of the hungry rage, which late
  Him prickt, in pittie of my sad estate:
  But he my Lyon, and my noble Lord,
  How does he find in cruell hart to hate,
  Her that him lov'd, and ever most adord,
As the God of my life? why hath he me abhord?


                    VIII
Redounding teares did choke th' end of her plaint,
  Which softly ecchoed from the neighbour wood;
  And sad to see her sorrowfull constraint
  The kingly beast upon her gazing stood;
  With pittie calmd, downe fell his angry mood.
  At last in close hart shutting up her paine,
  Arose the virgin borne of heavenly brood,
  And to her snowy Palfrey got againe,
To seeke her strayed Champion, if she might attaine.


                    IX
The Lyon would not leave her desolate,
  But with her went along, as a strong gard
  Of her chast person, and a faithfull mate
  Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard:
  Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward,^
  And when she wakt, he waited diligent,
  With humble service to her will prepard:
  From her faire eyes he tooke commaundement,
And ever by her lookes conceived her intent.


                    X
Long she thus traveiled through deserts wyde,
  By which she thought her wandring knight shold pas,
  Yet never shew of living wight espyde;
  Till that at length she found the troden gras,
  In which the tract of peoples footing was,
  Under the steepe foot of a mountaine hore;
  The same she followes, till at last she has
  A damzell spyde^ slow footing her before,
That on her shoulders sad a pot of water bore.


                    XI
To whom approching she to her gan call,
  To weet, if dwelling place were nigh at hand;
  But the rude wench her answerd nought at all;
  She could not heare, nor speake, nor understand;
  Till seeing by her side the Lyon stand,
  With suddaine feare her pitcher downe she threw,
  And fled away: for never in that land
  Face of faire Ladie she before did vew,
And that dread Lyons looke her cast in deadly hew.^


                    XII
Full fast she fled, ne never lookt behynd,
  As if her life upon the wager lay,^
  And home she came, whereas her mother blynd^
  Sate in eternall night: nought could she say,
  But suddaine catching hold, did her dismay
  With quaking hands, and other signes of feare;
  Who full of ghastly fright and cold affray,
  Gan shut the dore. By this arrived there
Dame Una, wearie Dame, and entrance did requere.


                    XIII
Which when none yeelded, her unruly Page^
  With his rude claws the wicket open rent,
  And let her in; where of his cruell rage
  Nigh dead with feare, and faint astonishment,
  She found them both in darkesome corner pent;
  Where that old woman day and night did pray
  Upon her beads devoutly penitent;
  Nine hundred Pater nosters^ every day,
And thrise nine hundred Aves she was wont to say.


                    XIV
And to augment her painefull pennance more,
  Thrise every weeke in ashes she did sit,
  And next her wrinkled skin rough sackcloth wore,
  And thrise three times did fast from any bit:
  But now for feare her beads she did forget.
  Whose needlesse dread for to remove away,
  Faire Una framed words and count'nance fit:
  Which hardly doen, at length she gan them pray,
That in their cotage small that night she rest her may.


                    XV
The day is spent, and commeth drowsie night,
  When every creature shrowded is in sleepe;
  Sad Una downe her laies in wearie plight,
  And at her feete the Lyon watch doth keepe:
  In stead of rest, she does lament, and weepe
  For the late losse of her deare loved knight,
  And sighes, and grones, and ever more does steepe
  Her tender brest in bitter teares all night,
All night she thinks too long, and often lookes for light.


                    XVI
Now when Aldeboran^ was mounted hie
  Above the shynie Cassiopeias chaire,^
  And all in deadly sleepe did drowned lie,
  One knocked at the dore,^ and in would fare;
  He knocked fast, and often curst, and sware,
  That readie entrance was not at his call:
  For on his backe a heavy load he bare
  Of nightly stelths, and pillage severall,
Which he had got abroad by purchase criminall.


                    XVII
He was, to weete, a stout and sturdy thiefe,
  Wont to robbe Churches of their ornaments,
  And poore mens boxes of their due reliefe,
  Which given was to them for good intents;
  The holy Saints of their rich vestiments
  He did disrobe, when all men carelesse slept,
  And spoild the Priests of their habiliments,
  Whiles none the holy things in safety kept;
Then he by conning sleights in at the window crept.


                    XVIII
And all that he by right or wrong could find,
  Unto this house he brought, and did bestow
  Upon the daughter of this woman blind,
  Abessa, daughter of Corceca slow,
  With whom he whoredome usd, that few did know,
  And fed her fat with feast of offerings,
  And plentie, which in all the land did grow;
  Ne spared he to give her gold and rings:
And now he to her brought part of his stolen things.


                    XIX
Thus long the dore with rage and threats he bet,
  Yet of those fearfull women none durst rize,
  The Lyon frayed them, him in to let:
  He would no longer stay him to advize,^
  But open breakes the dore in furious wize,
  And entring is; when that disdainfull beast
  Encountring fierce, him suddaine doth surprize,
  And seizing cruell clawes on trembling brest,
Under his Lordly foot him proudly hath supprest.


                    XX
Him booteth not resist,^ nor succour call,
  His bleeding hart is in the vengers hand,
  Who streight him rent in thousand peeces small,
  And quite dismembred hath: the thirsty land
  Drunke up his life; his corse left on the strand.
  His fearefull friends weare out the wofull night,
  Ne dare to weepe, nor seeme to understand
  The heavie hap, which on them is alight,
Affraid, least to themselves the like mishappen might.


                    XXI
Now when broad day the world discovered has,
  Up Una rose, up rose the Lyon eke,
  And on their former journey forward pas,
  In wayes unknowne, her wandring knight to seeke,
  With paines farre passing that long wandring Greeke,^
  That for his love refused deitie;
  Such were the labours of his Lady meeke,
  Still seeking him, that from her still did flie;
Then furthest from her hope, when most she weened nie.


                    XXII
Soone as she parted thence, the fearfull twaine,
  That blind old woman and her daughter deare,^
  Came forth, and finding Kirkrapine there slaine,
  For anguish great they gan to rend their heare,
  And beat their brests, and naked flesh to teare.
  And when they both had wept and wayld their fill,
  Then forth they ran like two amazed deare,
  Halfe mad through malice, and revenging will,
To follow her, that was the causer of their ill.


                    XXIII
Whom overtaking, they gan loudly bray,
  With hollow howling, and lamenting cry,
  Shamefully at her rayling all the way,
  And her accusing of dishonesty,
  That was the flowre of faith and chastity;
  And still amidst her rayling, she did pray,
  That plagues, and mischiefs, and long misery
  Might fall on her, and follow all the way,
And that in endlesse error she might ever stray.


                    XXIV
But when she saw her prayers nought prevaile,
  She backe returned with some labour lost;
  And in the way as shee did weepe and waile,
  A knight her met in mighty armes embost,
  Yet knight was not for all his bragging bost,
  But subtill Archimag, that Una sought
  By traynes into new troubles to have tost:
  Of that old woman tidings he besought,
If that of such a Ladie she could tellen ought.


                    XXV
Therewith she gan her passion to renew,
  And cry, and curse, and raile, and rend her heare,
  Saying, that harlot she too lately knew,
  That caused her shed so many a bitter teare,
  And so forth told the story of her feare:
  Much seemed he to mone her haplesse chaunce,
  And after for that Ladie did inquere;
  Which being taught, he forward gan advaunce
His fair enchaunted steed, and eke his charmed launce.


                    XXVI
Ere long he came where Una traveild slow,
  And that wilde Champion wayting her besyde:
  Whom seeing such, for dread he durst not show
  Himselfe too nigh at hand, but turned wyde
  Unto an hill; from whence when she him spyde,
  By his like seeming shield, her knight by name
  She weend it was, and towards him gan ryde:
  Approaching nigh, she wist it was the same,
And with faire fearefull humblesse towards him shee came:


                    XXVII
And weeping said, Ah my long lacked Lord,
  Where have ye bene thus long out of my sight?
  Much feared I to have bene quite abhord,
  Or ought have done,^ that ye displeasen might,
  That should as death^ unto my deare heart light:
  For since mine eye your joyous sight did mis,
  My chearefull day is turnd to chearelesse night,
  And eke my night of death the shadow is;
But welcome now my light, and shining lampe of blis.


                    XXVIII
He thereto meeting said, My dearest Dame,
  Farre be it from your thought, and fro my will,
  To thinke that knighthood I so much should shame,
  As you to leave, that have me loved still,
  And chose in Faery court^ of meere goodwill,
  Where noblest knights were to be found on earth:
  The earth shall sooner leave her kindly skill,^
  To bring forth fruit, and make eternall derth,
Then I leave you, my liefe, yborne of heavenly berth.


                    XXIX
And sooth to say, why I left you so long,
  Was for to seeke adventure in strange place,
  Where Archimago said a felon strong
  To many knights did daily worke disgrace;
  But knight he now shall never more deface:
  Good cause of mine excuse; that mote ye please
  Well to accept, and evermore embrace
  My faithfull service, that by land and seas
Have vowd you to defend: now then your plaint appease.


                    XXX
His lovely words her seemd due recompence
  Of all her passed paines: one loving howre
  For many yeares of sorrow can dispence:
  A dram of sweet is worth a pound of sowre:
  She has forgot, how many a woful stowre
  For him she late endurd; she speakes no more
  Of past: true is, that true love hath no powre
  To looken backe; his eyes be fixt before.
Before her stands her knight, for whom she toyld so sore.


                    XXXI
Much like, as when the beaten marinere,
  That long hath wandred in the Ocean wide,
  Oft soust in swelling Tethys saltish teare,
  And long time having tand his tawney hide
  With blustring breath of heaven, that none can bide,
  And scorching flames of fierce Orions hound,^
  Soone as the port from farre he has espide,
  His chearefull whistle merrily doth sound,
And Nereus crownes with cups^; his mates him pledg around.


                    XXXII
Such joy made Una, when her knight she found;
  And eke th' enchaunter joyous seemd no lesse,
  Then the glad marchant, that does vew from ground^
  His ship farre come from watrie wildernesse,
  He hurles out vowes, and Neptune oft doth blesse:
  So forth they past, and all the way they spent
  Discoursing of her dreadful late distresse,
  In which he askt her, what the Lyon ment:
Who told her all that fell in journey as she went.


                    XXXIII
They had not ridden farre, when they might see
  One pricking towards them with hastie heat,
  Full strongly armd, and on a courser free,
  That through his fiercenesse fomed all with sweat,
  And the sharpe yron did for anger eat,
  When his hot ryder spurd his chauffed side;
  His looke was sterne, and seemed still to threat
  Cruell revenge, which he in hart did hyde,
And on his shield Sans loy^ in bloudie lines was dyde.


                    XXXIV
When nigh he drew unto this gentle payre
  And saw the Red-crosse, which the knight did beare,
  He burnt in fire, and gan eftsoones prepare
  Himselfe to battell with his couched speare.
  Loth was that other, and did faint through feare,
  To taste th' untryed dint of deadly steele;
  But yet his Lady did so well him cheare,
  That hope of new goodhap he gan to feele;
So bent his speare, and spurd his horse with yron heele.


                    XXXV
But that proud Paynim forward came so fierce,
  And full of wrath, that with his sharp-head speare,
  Through vainly crossed shield^ he quite did pierce,
  And had his staggering steede not shrunke for feare,
  Through shield and bodie eke he should him beare:
  Yet so great was the puissance of his push,
  That from his saddle quite he did him beare:
  He tombling rudely downe to ground did rush,
And from his gored wound a well of bloud did gush.


                    XXXVI
Dismounting lightly from his loftie steed,
  He to him lept, in mind to reave his life,
  And proudly said, Lo there the worthie meed
  Of him that slew Sansfoy with bloudie knife;
  Henceforth his ghost freed from repining strife,
  In peace may passen over Lethe lake,^
  When mourning altars purgd with enemies life,^
  The blacke infernall Furies^ doen aslake:
Life from Sansfoy thou tookst, Sansloy shall from thee take.


                    XXXVII
Therewith in haste his helmet gan unlace,^
  Till Una cried, O hold that heavie hand,
  Deare Sir, what ever that thou be in place:
  Enough is, that thy foe doth vanquisht stand
  Now at thy mercy: Mercie not withstand:
  For he is one the truest knight alive,
  Though conquered now he lie on lowly land,
  And whilest him fortune favourd, faire did thrive
In bloudie field: therefore of life him not deprive.


                    XXXVIII
Her piteous words might not abate his rage,
  But rudely rending up his helmet, would
  Have slaine him straight: but when he sees his age,
  And hoarie head of Archimago old,
  His hasty hand he doth amazed hold,
  And halfe ashamed, wondred at the sight:
  For that old man well knew he, though untold,
  In charmes and magicke to have wondrous might,
Ne ever wont in field,^ ne in round lists to fight;


                    XXXIX
And said, Why Archimago, lucklesse syre,
  What doe I see? what hard mishap is this,
  That hath thee hither brought to taste mine yre?
  Or thine the fault, or mine the error is,
  Instead of foe to wound my friend amis?
  He answered nought, but in a traunce still lay,
  And on those guilefull dazed eyes of his
  The cloude of death did sit. Which doen away,
He left him lying so, ne would no lenger stay:


                    XL
But to the virgin comes, who all this while
  Amased stands, her selfe so mockt to see
  By him, who has the guerdon of his guile,
  For so misfeigning her true knight to bee:
  Yet is she now in more perplexitie,
  Left in the hand of that same Paynim bold,
  From whom her booteth not at all to flie;
  Who, by her cleanly garment catching hold,
Her from her Palfrey pluckt, her visage to behold.


                    XLI
But her fierce servant, full of kingly awe
  And high disdaine, whenas his soveraine Dame
  So rudely handled by her foe he sawe,
  With gaping jawes full greedy at him came,
  And ramping on his shield, did weene the same
  Have reft away with his sharpe rending clawes:
  But he was stout, and lust did now inflame
  His corage more, that from his griping pawes
He hath his shield redeem'd, and foorth his swerd he drawes.


                    XLII
O then too weake and feeble was the forse
  Of salvage beast, his puissance to withstand:
  For he was strong, and of so mightie corse,
  As ever wielded speare in warlike hand,
  And feates of armes did wisely understand.
  Eftsoones he perced through his chaufed chest
  With thrilling point of deadly yron brand,
  And launcht his Lordly hart: with death opprest
He roar'd aloud, whiles life forsooke his stubborne brest.


                    XLIII
Who now is left to keepe the forlorne maid
  From raging spoile of lawlesse victors will?
  Her faithfull gard remov'd, her hope dismaid,
  Her selfe a yielded pray to save or spill.
  He now Lord of the field, his pride to fill,
  With foule reproches, and disdainfull spight
  Her vildly entertaines, and will or nill,
  Beares her away upon his courser light:
Her prayers nought prevaile, his rage is more of might.^


                    XLIV
And all the way, with great lamenting paine,
  And piteous plaints she filleth his dull eares,
  That stony hart could riven have in twaine,
  And all the way she wets with flowing teares:
  But he enrag'd with rancor, nothing heares.
  Her servile beast yet would not leave her so,
  But followes her farre off, ne ought he feares,
  To be partaker of her wandring woe,
More mild in beastly kind, then that her beastly foe.