Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book V. The Legend of Artegall
Canto III
        The spousals of faire Florimell,
  Where turney many knights:
There Braggadochio is uncas’d
  In all the ladies sights.

AFTER long stormes and tempests overblowne,
The sunne at length his joyous face doth cleare:
So when as Fortune all her spight hath showne,
Some blisfull houres at last must needes appeare;
Else should afflicted wights oftimes despeire.        5
So comes it now to Florimell by tourne,
After long sorrowes suffered whyleare,
In which captiv’d she many moneths did mourne,
To tast of joy, and to wont pleasures to retourne.
Who being freed from Proteus cruell band
By Marinell, was unto him affide,
And by him brought againe to Faerie Land;
Where he her spous’d, and made his joyous bride.
The time and place was blazed farre and wide,
And solemne feasts and giusts ordain’d therefore.        15
To which there did resort from every side
Of lords and ladies infinite great store;
Ne any knight was absent, that brave courage bore.
To tell the glorie of the feast that day,
The goodly service, the devicefull sights,        20
The bridegromes state, the brides most rich aray,
The pride of ladies, and the worth of knights,
The royall banquets, and the rare delights
Were worke fit for an herauld, not for me:
But for so much as to my lot here lights,        25
That with this present treatise doth agree,
True vertue to advance, shall here recounted bee.
When all men had with full satietie
Of meates and drinkes their appetites suffiz’d,
To deedes of armes and proofe of chevalrie        30
They gan themselves addresse, full rich aguiz’d,
As each one had his furnitures deviz’d.
And first of all issu’d Sir Marinell,
And with him sixe knights more, which enterpriz’d
To chalenge all in right of Florimell,        35
And to maintaine that she all others did excell.
The first of them was hight Sir Orimont,
A noble knight, and tride in hard assayes;
The second had to name Sir Bellisont,
But second unto none in prowesse prayse;        40
The third was Brunell, famous in his dayes;
The fourth Ecastor, of exceeding might;
The fift Armeddan, skild in lovely layes;
The sixt was Lansack, a redoubted knight:
All sixe well seene in armes, and prov’d in many a fight.        45
And them against came all that list to giust,
From every coast and countrie under sunne:
None was debard, but all had leave that lust.
The trompets sound; then all together ronne.
Full many deedes of armes that day were donne,        50
And many knights unhorst, and many wounded,
As fortune fell; yet litle lost or wonne:
But all that day the greatest prayse redounded
To Marinell, whose name the heralds loud resounded.
The second day, so soone as morrow light
Appear’d in heaven, into the field they came,
And there all day continew’d cruell fight,
With divers fortune fit for such a game,
In which all strove with perill to winne fame.
Yet whether side was victor note be ghest:        60
But at the last the trompets did proclame
That Marinell that day deserved best.
So they disparted were, and all men went to rest.
The third day came, that should due tryall lend
Of all the rest, and then this warlike crew        65
Together met, of all to make an end.
There Marinell great deeds of armes did shew;
And through the thickest like a lyon flew,
Rashing off helmes, and ryving plates a sonder,
That every one his daunger did eschew.        70
So terribly his dreadfull strokes did thonder,
That all men stood amaz’d, and at his might did wonder.
But what on earth can alwayes happie stand?
The greater prowesse greater perils find.
So farre he past amongst his enemies band,        75
That they have him enclosed so behind,
As by no meanes he can himselfe outwind.
And now perforce they have him prisoner taken;
And now they doe with captive bands him bind;
And now they lead him thence, of all forsaken,        80
Unlesse some succour had in time him overtaken.
It fortun’d whylest they were thus ill beset,
Sir Artegall into the tilt-yard came,
With Braggadochio, whom he lately met
Upon the way, with that his snowy dame.        85
Where when he understood by common fame
What evill hap to Marinell betid,
He much was mov’d at so unworthie shame,
And streight that boaster prayd, with whom he rid,
To change his shield with him, to be the better hid.        90
So forth he went, and soone them over hent,
Where they were leading Marinell away;
Whom he assayld with dreadlesse hardiment,
And forst the burden of their prize to stay.
They were an hundred knights of that array;        95
Of which th’ one halfe upon himselfe did set,
The other stayd behind to gard the pray.
But he ere long the former fiftie bet;
And from the other fiftie soone the prisoner fet.
So backe he brought Sir Marinell againe;
Whom having quickly arm’d againe anew,
They both together joyned might and maine,
To set afresh on all the other crew.
Whom with sore havocke soone they overthrew,
And chaced quite out of the field, that none        105
Against them durst his head to perill shew.
So were they left lords of the field alone:
So Marinell by him was rescu’d from his fone.
Which when he had perform’d, then backe againe
To Braggadochio did his shield restore:        110
Who all this while behind him did remaine,
Keeping there close with him in pretious store
That his false ladie, as ye heard afore.
Then did the trompets sound, and judges rose,
And all these knights, which that day armour bore,        115
Came to the open hall, to listen whose
The honour of the prize should be adjudg’d by those.
And thether also came in open sight
Fayre Florimell, into the common hall,
To greet his guerdon unto every knight,        120
And best to him to whom the best should fall.
Then for that stranger knight they loud did call,
To whom that day they should the girlond yield:
Who came not forth: but for Sir Artegall
Came Braggadochio, and did shew his shield,        125
Which bore the sunne brode blazed in a golden field.
The sight whereof did all with gladnesse fill:
So unto him they did addeeme the prise
Of all that tryumph. Then the trompets shrill
Don Braggadochios name resounded thrise:        130
So courage lent a cloke to cowardise.
And then to him came fayrest Florimell,
And goodly gan to greet his brave emprise,
And thousand thankes him yeeld, that had so well
Approv’d that day that she all others did excell.        135
To whom the boaster, that all knights did blot,
With proud disdaine did scornefull answere make,
That what he did that day, he did it not
For her, but for his owne deare ladies sake,
Whom on his perill he did undertake,        140
Both her and eke all others to excell:
And further did uncomely speaches crake.
Much did his words the gentle ladie quell,
And turn’d aside for shame to heare what he did tell.
Then forth he brought his snowy Florimele,
Whom Trompart had in keeping there beside,
Covered from peoples gazement with a vele.
Whom when discovered they had throughly eide,
With great amazement they were stupefide;
And said, that surely Florimell it was,        150
Or if it were not Florimell so tride,
That Florimell her selfe she then did pas.
So feeble skill of perfect things the vulgar has.
Which when as Marinell beheld likewise,
He was therewith exceedingly dismayd;        155
Ne wist he what to thinke, or to devise,
But, like as one whom feends had made affrayd,
He long astonisht stood, ne ought he sayd,
Ne ought he did, but with fast fixed eies
He gazed still upon that snowy mayd;        160
Whom ever as he did the more avize,
The more to be true Florimell he did surmize.
As when two sunnes appeare in the azure skye,
Mounted in Phœbus charet fierie bright,
Both darting forth faire beames to each mans eye,        165
And both adorn’d with lampes of flaming light,
All that behold so strange prodigious sight,
Not knowing Natures worke, nor what to weene,
Are rapt with wonder and with rare affright:
So stood Sir Marinell, when he had seene        170
The semblant of this false by his faire beauties queene.
All which when Artegall, who all this while
Stood in the preasse close covered, well advewed,
And saw that boasters pride and gracelesse guile,
He could no longer beare, but forth issewed,        175
And unto all himselfe there open shewed,
And to the boaster said: ‘Thou losell base,
That hast with borrowed plumes thy selfe endewed,
And others worth with leasings doest deface,
When they are all restor’d, thou shalt rest in disgrace.        180
‘That shield, which thou doest beare, was it indeed,
Which this dayes honour sav’d to Marinell;
But not that arme, nor thou the man, I reed,
Which didst that service unto Florimell.
For proofe shew forth thy sword, and let it tell        185
What strokes, what dreadfull stoure it stird this day:
Or shew the wounds which unto thee befell;
Or shew the sweat with which thou diddest sway
So sharpe a battell, that so many did dismay.
‘But this the sword which wrought those cruell stounds,
And this the arme the which that shield did beare,
And these the signes,’ (so shewed forth his wounds)
‘By which that glorie gotten doth appeare.
As for this ladie, which he sheweth here,
Is not (I wager) Florimell at all;        195
But some fayre franion, fit for such a fere,
That by misfortune in his hand did fall.’
For proofe whereof, he bad them Florimell forth call.
So forth the noble ladie was ybrought,
Adorn’d with honor and all comely grace:        200
Whereto her bashfull shamefastnesse ywrought
A great increase in her faire blushing face;
As roses did with lillies interlace.
For of those words, the which that boaster threw,
She inly yet conceived great disgrace.        205
Whom when as all the people such did vew,
They shouted loud, and signes of gladnesse all did shew.
Then did he set her by that snowy one,
Like the true saint beside the image set,
Of both their beauties to make paragone,        210
And triall, whether should the honor get.
Streight way so soone as both together met,
Th’ enchaunted damzell vanisht into nought:
Her snowy substance melted as with heat,
Ne of that goodly hew remayned ought,        215
But th’ emptie girdle, which about her wast was wrought.
As when the daughter of Thaumantes faire
Hath in a watry cloud displayed wide
Her goodly bow, which paints the liquid ayre;
That all men wonder at her colours pride;        220
All suddenly, ere one can looke aside,
The glorious picture vanisheth away,
Ne any token doth thereof abide:
So did this ladies goodly forme decay,
And into nothing goe, ere one could it bewray.        225
Which when as all that present were beheld,
They stricken were with great astonishment,
And their faint harts with senselesse horrour queld,
To see the thing, that seem’d so excellent,
So stolen from their fancies wonderment;        230
That what of it became none understood.
And Braggadochio selfe with dreriment
So daunted was, in his despeyring mood,
That like a lifelesse corse immoveable he stood.
But Artegall that golden belt uptooke,
The which of all her spoyle was onely left;
Which was not hers, as many it mistooke,
But Florimells owne girdle, from her reft,
While she was flying, like a weary weft,
From that foule monster which did her compell        240
To perils great; which he unbuckling eft,
Presented to the fayrest Florimell;
Who round about her tender wast it fitted well.
Full many ladies often had assayd
About their middles that faire belt to knit;        245
And many a one suppos’d to be a mayd:
Yet it to none of all their loynes would fit,
Till Florimell about her fastned it.
Such power it had, that to no womans wast
By any skill or labour it would sit,        250
Unlesse that she were continent and chast,
But it would lose or breake, that many had disgrast.
Whilest thus they busied were bout Florimell,
And boastfull Braggadochio to defame,
Sir Guyon, as by fortune then befell,        255
Forth from the thickest preasse of people came,
His owne good steed, which he had stolne, to clame;
And th’ one hand seizing on his golden bit,
With th’ other drew his sword: for with the same
He ment the thiefe there deadly to have smit:        260
And had he not bene held, he nought had fayld of it.
Thereof great hurly burly moved was
Throughout the hall, for that same warlike horse:
For Braggadochio would not let him pas;
And Guyon would him algates have perforse,        265
Or it approve upon his carrion corse.
Which troublous stirre when Artegall perceived,
He nigh them drew to stay th’ avengers forse,
And gan inquire how was that steed bereaved,
Whether by might extort, or else by slight deceaved.        270
Who all that piteous storie, which befell
About that wofull couple which were slaine,
And their young bloodie babe, to him gantell;
With whom whiles he did in the wood remaine,
His horse purloyned was by subtill traine:        275
For which he chalenged the thiefe to fight.
But he for nought could him thereto constraine;
For as the death he hated such despight,
And rather had to lose, then trie in armes his right.
Which Artegall well hearing, though no more
By law of armes there neede ones right to trie,
As was the wont of warlike knights of yore,
Then that his foe should him the field denie,
Yet further right by tokens to descrie,
He askt what privie tokens he did beare.        285
‘If that,’ said Guyon, ‘may you satisfie,
Within his mouth a blacke spot doth appeare,
Shapt like a horses shoe, who list to seeke it there.’
Whereof to make due tryall, one did take
The horse in hand, within his mouth to looke:        290
But with his heeles so sorely he him strake,
That all his ribs he quite in peeces broke,
That never word from that day forth he spoke.
Another, that would seeme to have more wit,
Him by the bright embrodered hedstall tooke:        295
But by the shoulder him so sore he bit,
That he him maymed quite, and all his shoulder split.
Ne he his mouth would open unto wight,
Untill that Guyon selfe unto him spake,
And called Brigadore (so was he hight);        300
Whose voice so soone as he did undertake,
Eftsoones he stood as still as any stake,
And suffred all his secret marke to see:
And when as he him nam’d, for joy he brake
His bands, and follow’d him with gladfull glee,        305
And friskt, and flong aloft, and louted low on knee.
Thereby Sir Artegall did plaine areed,
That unto him the horse belong’d, and sayd:
‘Lo there, Sir Guyon, take to you the steed,
As he with golden saddle is arayd;        310
And let that losell, plainely now displayd,
Hence fare on foot, till he an horse have gayned.’
But the proud boaster gan his doome upbrayd,
And him revil’d, and rated, and disdayned,
That judgement so unjust against him had ordayned.        315
Much was the knight incenst with his lewd word,
To have revenged that his villeny;
And thrise did lay his hand upon his sword,
To have him slaine, or dearely doen aby.
But Guyon did his choler pacify,        320
Saying, ‘Sir knight, it would dishonour bee
To you, that are our judge of equity,
To wreake your wrath on such a carle as hee:
It ’s punishment enough, that all his shame doe see.’
So did he mitigate Sir Artegall;
But Talus by the backe the boaster hent,
And drawing him out of the open hall,
Upon him did inflict this punishment:
First he his beard did shave, and fowly shent;
Then from him reft his shield, and it renverst,        330
And blotted out his armes with falshood blent,
And himselfe baffuld, and his armes unherst,
And broke his sword in twaine, and all his armour sperst.
The whiles his guilefull groome was fled away:
But vaine it was to thinke from him to flie.        335
Who overtaking him did disaray,
And all his face deform’d with infamie,
And out of court him scourged openly.
So ought all faytours, that true knighthood shame,
And armes dishonour with base villanie,        340
From all brave knights be banisht with defame:
For oft their lewdnes blotteth good deserts with blame.
Now when these counterfeits were thus uncased
Out of the foreside of their forgerie,
And in the sight of all men cleane disgraced,        345
All gan to jest and gibe full merilie
At the remembrance of their knaverie.
Ladies can laugh at ladies, knights at knights,
To thinke with how great vaunt of braverie
He them abused, through his subtill slights,        350
And what a glorious shew he made in all their sights.
There leave we them in pleasure and repast
Spending their joyous dayes and gladfull nights,
And taking usurie of time forepast,
With all deare delices and rare delights,        355
Fit for such ladies and such lovely knights:
And turne we here to this faire furrowes end
Our wearie yokes, to gather fresher sprights,
That, when as time to Artegall shall tend,
We on his first adventure may him forward send.        360
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