Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Book IV. The Legend of Cambel and Triamond
Canto V
 
        The ladies for the girdle strive
  Of famous Florimell:
Scudamour, comming to Cares house,
  Doth sleepe from him expell.

I
IT hath bene through all ages ever seene,
That with the praise of armes and chevalrie
The prize of beautie still hath joyned beene;
And that for reasons speciall privitie:
For either doth on other much relie.        5
For he me seemes most fit the faire to serve,
That can her best defend from villenie;
And she most fit his service doth deserve,
That fairest is and from her faith will never swerve.
 
II
So fitly now here commeth next in place,
        10
After the proofe of prowesse ended well,
The controverse of beauties soveraine grace;
In which, to her that doth the most excell
Shall fall the girdle of faire Florimell:
That many wish to win for glorie vaine,        15
And not for vertuous use, which some doe tell
That glorious belt did in it selfe containe,
Which ladies ought to love, and seeke for to obtaine.
 
III
That girdle gave the vertue of chast love
And wivehood true to all that did it beare;        20
But whosoever contrarie doth prove
Might not the same about her middle weare:
But it would loose, or else a sunder teare.
Whilome it was (as Faeries wont report)
Dame Venus girdle, by her steemed deare,        25
What time she usd to live in wively sort;
But layd aside, when so she usd her looser sport.
 
IV
Her husband Vulcan whylome for her sake,
When first he loved her with heart entire,
This pretious ornament, they say, did make,        30
And wrought in Lemno with unquenched fire:
And afterwards did for her loves first hire
Give it to her, for ever to remaine,
Therewith to bind lascivious desire,
And loose affections streightly to restraine;        35
Which vertue it for ever after did retaine.
 
V
The same one day, when she her selfe disposd
To visite her beloved paramoure,
The God of Warre, she from her middle loosd,
And left behind her in her secret bowre,        40
On Acidalian mount, where many an howre
She with the pleasant Graces wont to play.
There Florimell in her first ages flowre
Was fostered by those Graces, (as they say)
And brought with her from thence that goodly belt away.        45
 
VI
That goodly belt was Cestus hight by name,
And as her life by her esteemed deare.
No wonder then, if that to winne the same
So many ladies sought, as shall appeare;
For pearelesse she was thought, that did it beare.        50
And now by this their feast all being ended,
The judges which thereto selected were
Into the Martian field adowne descended,
To deeme this doutfull case, for which they all contended.
 
VII
But first was question made, which of those knights
        55
That lately turneyd had the wager wonne:
There was it judged by those worthie wights,
That Satyrane the first day best had donne:
For he last ended, having first begonne.
The second was to Triamond behight,        60
For that he sav’d the victour from fordonne:
For Cambell victour was in all mens sight,
Till by mishap he in foemens hand did light.
 
VIII
The third dayes prize unto that straunger knight,
Whom all men term’d Knight of the Hebene Speare,        65
To Britomart, was given by good right;
For that with puissant stroke she downe did beare
The Salvage Knight, that victour was whileare,
And all the rest which had the best afore,
And to the last unconquer’d did appeare;        70
For last is deemed best. To her therefore
The fayrest ladie was adjudgd for paramore.
 
IX
But thereat greatly grudged Arthegall,
And much repynd, that both of victors meede
And eke of honour she did him forestall.        75
Yet mote he not withstand what was decreede;
But inly thought of that despightfull deede
Fit time t’ awaite avenged for to bee.
This being ended thus, and all agreed,
Then next ensew’d the paragon to see        80
Of beauties praise, and yeeld the fayrest her due fee.
 
X
Then first Cambello brought unto their view
His faire Cambina, covered with a veale;
Which being once withdrawne, most perfect hew
And passing beautie did eftsoones reveale,        85
That able was weake harts away to steale.
Next did Sir Triamond unto their sight
The face of his deare Canacee unheale;
Whose beauties beame eftsoones did shine so bright,
That daz’d the eyes of all, as with exceeding light.        90
 
XI
And after her did Paridell produce
His false Duessa, that she might be seene,
Who with her forged beautie did seduce
The hearts of some, that fairest her did weene;
As diverse wits affected divers beene.        95
Then did Sir Ferramont unto them shew
His Lucida, that was full faire and sheene:
And after these an hundred ladies moe
Appear’d in place, the which each other did outgoe.
 
XII
All which who so dare thinke for to enchace,
        100
Him needeth sure a golden pen, I weene,
To tell the feature of each goodly face.
For since the day that they created beene,
So many heavenly faces were not seene
Assembled in one place: ne he that thought        105
For Chian folke to pourtraict beauties queene,
By view of all the fairest to him brought,
So many faire did see, as here he might have sought.
 
XIII
At last, the most redoubted Britonesse
Her lovely Amoret did open shew;        110
Whose face discovered, plainely did expresse
The heavenly pourtraict of bright angels hew.
Well weened all, which her that time did vew,
That she should surely beare the bell away,
Till Blandamour, who thought he had the trew        115
And very Florimell, did her display:
The sight of whom once seene did all the rest dismay.
 
XIV
For all afore that seemed fayre and bright,
Now base and contemptible did appeare,
Compar’d to her, that shone as Phebes light        120
Amongst the lesser starres in evening cleare.
All that her saw with wonder ravisht weare,
And weend no mortall creature she should bee,
But some celestiall shape, that flesh did beare:
Yet all were glad there Florimell to see;        125
Yet thought that Florimell was not so faire as shee.
 
XV
As guilefull goldsmith that, by secret skill,
With golden foyle doth finely over spred
Some baser metall, which commend he will
Unto the vulgar for good gold insted,        130
He much more goodly glosse thereon doth shed,
To hide his falshood, then if it were trew:
So hard this idole was to be ared,
That Florimell her selfe in all mens vew
She seem’d to passe: so forged things do fairest shew.        135
 
XVI
Then was that golden belt by doome of all
Graunted to her, as to the fayrest dame.
Which being brought, about her middle small
They thought to gird, as best it her became;
But by no meanes they could it thereto frame.        140
For, ever as they fastned it, it loos’d
And fell away, as feeling secret blame.
Full oft about her wast she it enclos’d;
And it as oft was from about her wast disclos’d.
 
XVII
That all men wondred at the uncouth sight,
        145
And each one thought as to their fancies came.
But she her selfe did thinke it doen for spight,
And touched was with secret wrath and shame
Therewith, as thing deviz’d her to defame.
Then many other ladies likewise tride        150
About their tender loynes to knit the same;
But it would not on none of them abide,
But when they thought it fast, eftsoones it was untide.
 
XVIII
Which when that scornefull Squire of Dames did vew,
He lowdly gan to laugh, and thus to jest:        155
‘Alas for pittie, that so faire a crew,
As like can not be seene from east to west,
Cannot find one this girdle to invest!
Fie on the man that did it first invent,
To shame us all with this, Ungirt unblest!        160
Let never ladie to his love assent,
That hath this day so many so unmanly shent.’
 
XIX
Thereat all knights gan laugh, and ladies lowre:
Till that at last the gentle Amoret
Likewise assayd, to prove that girdles powre;        165
And having it about her middle set,
Did find it fit withouten breach or let.
Whereat the rest gan greatly to envie:
But Florimell exceedingly did fret,
And snatching from her hand halfe angrily        170
The belt againe, about her bodie gan it tie.
 
XX
Yet nathemore would it her bodie fit;
Yet nathelesse to her, as her dew right,
It yeelded was by them that judged it:
And she her selfe adjudged to the knight        175
That bore the hebene speare, as wonne in fight.
But Britomart would not thereto assent,
Ne her owne Amoret forgoe so light
For that strange dame, whose beauties wonderment
She lesse esteem’d then th’ others vertuous government.        180
 
XXI
Whom when the rest did see her to refuse,
They were full glad, in hope themselves to get her:
Yet at her choice they all did greatly muse.
But after that, the judges did arret her
Unto the second best, that lov’d her better;        185
That was the Salvage Knight: but he was gone
In great displeasure, that he could not get her.
Then was she judged Triamond his one;
But Triamond lov’d Canacee, and other none.
 
XXII
Tho unto Satyran she was adjudged,
        190
Who was right glad to gaine so goodly meed:
But Blandamour thereat full greatly grudged,
And litle prays’d his labours evill speed,
That, for to winne the saddle, lost the steed.
Ne lesse thereat did Paridell complaine,        195
And thought t’ appeale from that which was decreed
To single combat with Sir Satyrane.
Thereto him Ate stird, new discord to maintaine.
 
XXIII
And eke with these, full many other knights
She through her wicked working did incense,        200
Her to demaund, and chalenge as their rights,
Deserved for their perils recompense.
Amongst the rest, with boastfull vaine pretense
Stept Braggadochio forth, and as his thrall
Her claym’d, by him in battell wonne long sens:        205
Whereto her selfe he did to witnesse call;
Who being askt, accordingly confessed all.
 
XXIV
Thereat exceeding wroth was Satyran;
And wroth with Satyran was Blandamour;
And wroth with Blandamour was Erivan;        210
And at them both Sir Paridell did loure.
So all together stird up strifull stoure,
And readie were new battell to darraine.
Each one profest to be her paramoure,
And vow’d with speare and shield it to maintaine;        215
Ne judges powre, ne reasons rule, mote them restraine.
 
XXV
Which troublous stirre when Satyrane aviz’d,
He gan to cast how to appease the same,
And, to accord them all, this meanes deviz’d:
First in the midst to set that fayrest dame,        220
To whom each one his chalenge should disclame,
And he himselfe his right would eke releasse:
Then looke, to whom she voluntarie came,
He should without disturbance her possesse:
Sweete is the love that comes alone with willingnesse.        225
 
XXVI
They all agreed, and then that snowy mayd
Was in the middest plast among them all:
All on her gazing wisht, and vowd, and prayd,
And to the Queene of Beautie close did call,
That she unto their portion might befall.        230
Then when she long had lookt upon each one,
As though she wished to have pleasd them all,
At last to Braggadochio selfe alone
She came of her accord, in spight of all his fone.
 
XXVII
Which when they all beheld, they chaft, and rag’d,
        235
And woxe nigh mad for very harts despight,
That from revenge their willes they scarse asswag’d:
Some thought from him her to have reft by might;
Some proffer made with him for her to fight.
But he nought car’d for all that they could say:        240
For he their words as wind esteemed light.
Yet not fit place he thought it there to stay,
But secretly from thence that night her bore away.
 
XXVIII
They which remaynd, so soone as they perceiv’d
That she was gone, departed thence with speed,        245
And follow’d them, in mind her to have reav’d
From wight unworthie of so noble meed.
In which poursuit how each one did succeede,
Shall else be told in order, as it fell.
But now of Britomart it here doth neede,        250
The hard adventures and strange haps to tell;
Since with the rest she went not after Florimell.
 
XXIX
For soone as she them saw to discord set,
Her list no longer in that place abide;
But taking with her lovely Amoret,        255
Upon her first adventure forth did ride,
To seeke her lov’d, making blind Love her guide.
Unluckie mayd, to seeke her enemie!
Unluckie mayd, to seeke him farre and wide,
Whom, when he was unto her selfe most nie,        260
She through his late disguizement could him not descrie!
 
XXX
So much the more her griefe, the more her toyle:
Yet neither toyle nor griefe she once did spare,
In seeking him that should her paine assoyle;
Whereto great comfort in her sad misfare        265
Was Amoret, companion of her care:
Who likewise sought her lover long miswent,
The gentle Scudamour, whose hart whileare
That stryfull hag with gealous discontent
Had fild, that he to fell reveng was fully bent.        270
 
XXXI
Bent to revenge on blamelesse Britomart
The crime which cursed Ate kindled earst,
The which like thornes did pricke his gealous hart,
And through his soule like poysned arrow perst,
That by no reason it might be reverst,        275
For ought that Glauce could or doe or say.
For aye the more that she the same reherst,
The more it gauld and griev’d him night and day,
That nought but dire revenge his anger mote defray.
 
XXXII
So as they travelled, the drouping night,
        280
Covered with cloudie storme and bitter showre,
That dreadfull seem’d to every living wight,
Upon them fell, before her timely howre;
That forced them to seeke some covert bowre,
Where they might hide their heads in quiet rest,        285
And shrowd their persons from that stormie stowre.
Not farre away, not meete for any guest,
They spide a little cottage, like some poore mans nest.
 
XXXIII
Under a steepe hilles side it placed was,
There where the mouldred earth had cav’d the banke;        290
And fast beside a little brooke did pas
Of muddie water, that like puddle stanke,
By which few crooked sallowes grew in ranke:
Wherto approaching nigh, they heard the sound
Of many yron hammers beating ranke,        295
And answering their wearie turnes around,
That seemed some blacksmith dwelt in that desert ground.
 
XXXIV
There entring in, they found the goodman selfe
Full busily unto his worke ybent;
Who was to weet a wretched wearish elfe,        300
With hollow eyes and rawbone cheekes forspent,
As if he had in prison long bene pent:
Full blacke and griesly did his face appeare,
Besmeard with smoke that nigh his eyesight blent;
With rugged beard, and hoarie shagged heare,        305
The which he never wont to combe, or comely sheare.
 
XXXV
Rude was his garment, and to rags all rent,
Ne better had he, ne for better cared:
With blistred hands emongst the cinders brent,
And fingers filthie, with long nayles unpared,        310
Right fit to rend the food on which he fared.
His name was Care; a blacksmith by his trade,
That neither day nor night from working spared,
But to small purpose yron wedges made;
Those be unquiet thoughts, that carefull minds invade.        315
 
XXXVI
In which his worke he had sixe servants prest,
About the andvile standing evermore,
With huge great hammers, that did never rest
From heaping stroakes, which thereon soused sore:
All sixe strong groomes, but one then other more:        320
For by degrees they all were disagreed;
So likewise did the hammers which they bore
Like belles in greatnesse orderly succeed,
That he which was the last the first did farre exceede.
 
XXXVII
He like a monstrous gyant seem’d in sight,
        325
Farre passing Bronteus or Pyracmon great,
The which in Lipari doe day and night
Frame thunderbolts for Joves avengefull threate.
So dreadfully he did the andvile beat,
That seem’d to dust he shortly would it drive:        330
So huge his hammer and so fierce his heat,
That seem’d a rocke of diamond it could rive,
And rend a sunder quite, if he thereto list strive.
 
XXXVIII
Sir Scudamour, there entring, much admired
The manner of their worke and wearie paine;        335
And having long beheld, at last enquired
The cause and end thereof: but all in vaine;
For they for nought would from their worke refraine,
Ne let his speeches come unto their eare;
And eke the breathfull bellowes blew amaine,        340
Like to the northren winde, that none could heare:
Those Pensifenesse did move; and Sighes the bellows weare.
 
XXXIX
Which when that warriour saw, he said no more,
But in his armour layd him downe to rest:
To rest he layd him downe upon the flore,        345
(Whylome for ventrous knights the bedding best,)
And thought his wearie limbs to have redrest.
And that old aged dame, his faithfull squire,
Her feeble joynts layd eke a downe to rest;
That needed much her weake age to desire,        350
After so long a travell, which them both did tire.
 
XL
There lay Sir Scudamour long while expecting.
When gentle sleepe his heavie eyes would close;
Oft chaunging sides, and oft new place electing,
Where better seem’d he mote himselfe repose;        355
And oft in wrath he thence againe uprose;
And oft in wrath he layd him downe againe.
But wheresoever he did himselfe dispose,
He by no meanes could wished ease obtaine:
So every place seem’d painefull, and ech changing vaine.        360
 
XLI
And evermore, when he to sleepe did thinke,
The hammers sound his senses did molest;
And evermore, when he began to winke,
The bellowes noyse disturb’d his quiet rest,
Ne suffred sleepe to settle in his brest.        365
And all the night the dogs did barke and howle
About the house, at sent of stranger guest:
And now the crowing cocke, and now the owle
Lowde shriking, him afflicted to the very sowle.
 
XLII
And if by fortune any litle nap
        370
Upon his heavie eye-lids chaunst to fall,
Eftsoones one of those villeins him did rap
Upon his headpeece with his yron mall,
That he was soone awaked therewithall,
And lightly started up as one affrayd,        375
Or as if one him suddenly did call:
So oftentimes he out of sleepe abrayd,
And then lay musing long on that him ill apayd.
 
XLIII
So long he muzed, and so long he lay,
That at the last his wearie sprite opprest        380
With fleshly weaknesse, which no creature may
Long time resist, gave place to kindly rest,
That all his senses did full soone arrest:
Yet, in his soundest sleepe, his dayly feare
His ydle braine gan busily molest,        385
And made him dreame those two disloyall were:
The things that day most minds, at night doe most appeare.
 
XLIV
With that, the wicked carle, the maister smith,
A paire of redwhote yron tongs did take
Out of the burning cinders, and therewith        390
Under his side him nipt, that, forst to wake,
He felt his hart for very paine to quake,
And started up avenged for to be
On him the which his quiet slomber brake:
Yet, looking round about him, none could see;        395
Yet did the smart remaine, though he himselfe did flee.
 
XLV
In such disquiet and hartfretting payne
He all that night, that too long night, did passe.
And now the day out of the ocean mayne
Began to peepe above this earthly masse,        400
With pearly dew sprinkling the morning grasse:
Then up he rose like heavie lumpe of lead,
That in his face, as in a looking glasse,
The signes of anguish one mote plainely read,
And ghesse the man to be dismayd with gealous dread.        405
 
XLVI
Unto his lofty steede he clombe anone,
And forth upon his former voiage fared,
And with him eke that aged squire attone;
Who, whatsoever perill was prepared,
Both equall paines and equall perill shared:        410
The end whereof and daungerous event
Shall for another canticle be spared:
But here my wearie teeme, nigh over spent,
Shall breath it selfe awhile, after so long a went.
 
 
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