Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Book VI. The Legend of Sir Calidore
Canto V
 
        The salvage serves Serena well
  Till she Prince Arthure fynd;
Who her together with his squyre
  With th’ hermit leaves behynd.

I
O WHAT an easie thing is to descry
The gentle bloud, how ever it be wrapt
In sad misfortunes foule deformity,
And wretched sorrowes, which have often hapt!
For howsoever it may grow mis-shapt,        5
Like this wyld man, being undisciplynd,
That to all vertue it may seeme unapt,
Yet will it shew some sparkes of gentle mynd,
And at the last breake forth in his owne proper kynd.
 
II
That plainely may in this wyld man be red,
        10
Who, though he were still in this desert wood,
Mongst salvage beasts, both rudely borne and bred,
Ne ever saw faire guize, ne learned good,
Yet shewd some token of his gentle blood
By gentle usage of that wretched dame.        15
For certes he was borne of noble blood,
How ever by hard hap he hether came;
As ye may know, when time shall be to tell the same.
 
III
Who, when as now long time he lacked had
The good Sir Calepine, that farre was strayd,        20
Did wexe exceeding sorrowfull and sad,
As he of some misfortune were afrayd:
And leaving there this ladie all dismayd,
Went forth streightway into the forrest wyde,
To seeke if he perchance a sleepe were layd,        25
Or what so else were unto him betyde:
He sought him farre and neare, yet him no where he spyde.
 
IV
Tho, backe returning to that sorie dame,
He shewed semblant of exceeding mone,
By speaking signes, as he them best could frame;        30
Now wringing both his wretched hands in one,
Now beating his hard head upon a stone,
That ruth it was to see him so lament.
By which she well perceiving what was done,
Gan teare her hayre, and all her garments rent,        35
And beat her breast, and piteously her selfe torment.
 
V
Upon the ground her selfe she fiercely threw,
Regardlesse of her wounds, yet bleeding rife,
That with their bloud did all the flore imbrew,
As if her breast new launcht with murdrous knife        40
Would streight dislodge the wretched wearie life.
There she long groveling and deepe groning lay,
As if her vitall powers were at strife
With stronger death, and feared their decay:
Such were this ladies pangs and dolorous assay.        45
 
VI
Whom when the salvage saw so sore distrest,
He reared her up from the bloudie ground,
And sought, by all the meanes that he could best,
Her to recure out of that stony swound,
And staunch the bleeding of her dreary wound.        50
Yet nould she be recomforted for nought,
Ne cease her sorrow and impatient stound,
But day and night did vexe her carefull thought,
And ever more and more her owne affliction wrought.
 
VII
At length, when as no hope of his retourne
        55
She saw now left, she cast to leave the place,
And wend abrode, though feeble and forlorne,
To seeke some comfort in that sorie case.
His steede, now strong through rest so long a space,
Well as she could, she got, and did bedight,        60
And being thereon mounted, forth did pace,
Withouten guide, her to conduct aright,
Or gard, her to defend from bold oppressors might.
 
VIII
Whom when her host saw readie to depart,
He would not suffer her alone to fare,        65
But gan himselfe addresse to take her part.
Those warlike armes, which Calepine whyleare
Had left behind, he gan eftsoones prepare,
And put them all about himselfe unfit,
His shield, his helmet, and his curats bare;        70
But without sword upon his thigh to sit:
Sir Calepine himselfe away had hidden it.
 
IX
So forth they traveld, an uneven payre,
That mote to all men seeme an uncouth sight;
A salvage man matcht with a ladie fayre,        75
That rather seem’d the conquest of his might,
Gotten by spoyle, then purchaced aright.
But he did her attend most carefully,
And faithfully did serve both day and night,
Withouten thought of shame or villeny,        80
Ne ever shewed signe of foule disloyalty.
 
X
Upon a day, as on their way they went,
It chaunst some furniture about her steed
To be disordred by some accident:
Which to redresse, she did th’ assistance need        85
Of this her groome, which he by signes did reede,
And streight his combrous armes aside did lay
Upon the ground, withouten doubt or dreed,
And in his homely wize began to assay
T’amend what was amisse, and put in right aray.        90
 
XI
Bout which whilest he was busied thus hard,
Lo where a knight together with his squire,
All arm’d to point, came ryding thetherward,
Which seemed by their portance and attire,
To be two errant knights, that did inquire        95
After adventures, where they mote them get.
Those were to weet (if that ye it require)
Prince Arthur and young Timias, which met
By straunge occasion, that here needs forth be set.
 
XII
After that Timias had againe recured
        100
The favour of Belphebe, (as ye heard)
And of her grace did stand againe assured,
To happie blisse he was full high uprear’d,
Nether of envy nor of chaunge afeard,
Though many foes did him maligne therefore,        105
And with unjust detraction him did beard;
Yet he himselfe so well and wisely bore,
That in her soveraine lyking he dwelt evermore.
 
XIII
But of them all which did his ruine seeke,
Three mightie enemies did him most despight,        110
Three mightie ones, and cruell minded eeke,
That him not onely sought by open might
To overthrow, but to supplant by slight.
The first of them by name was cald Despetto,
Exceeding all the rest in powre and hight;        115
The second, not so strong, but wise, Decetto;
The third, nor strong nor wise, but spightfullest, Defetto.
 
XIV
Oftimes their sundry powres they did employ,
And severall deceipts, but all in vaine:
For neither they by force could him destroy,        120
Ne yet entrap in treasons subtill traine.
Therefore conspiring all together plaine,
They did their counsels now in one compound;
Where singled forces faile, conjoynd may gaine.
The Blatant Beast the fittest meanes they found,        125
To worke his utter shame, and throughly him confound.
 
XV
Upon a day, as they the time did waite,
When he did raunge the wood for salvage game,
They sent that Blatant Beast to be a baite,
To draw him from his deare beloved dame        130
Unwares into the daunger of defame.
For well they wist that squire to be so bold,
That no one beast in forrest, wylde or tame,
Met him in chase, but he it challenge would,
And plucke the pray oftimes out of their greedy hould.        135
 
XVI
The hardy boy, as they devised had,
Seeing the ugly monster passing by,
Upon him set, of perill nought adrad,
Ne skilfull of the uncouth jeopardy;
And charged him so fierce and furiously,        140
That, his great force unable to endure,
He forced was to turne from him and fly:
Yet, ere he fled, he with his tooth impure
Him heedlesse bit, the whiles he was thereof secure.
 
XVII
Securely he did after him pursew,
        145
Thinking by speed to overtake his flight;
Who through thicke woods and brakes and briers him drew,
To weary him the more, and waste his spight,
So that he now has almost spent his spright:
Till that at length unto a woody glade        150
He came, whose covert stopt his further sight;
There his three foes, shrowded in guilefull shade,
Out of their ambush broke, and gan him to invade.
 
XVIII
Sharpely they all attonce did him assaile,
Burning with inward rancour and despight,        155
And heaped strokes did round about him haile
With so huge force, that seemed nothing might
Beare off their blowes from percing through quite.
Yet he them all so warily did ward,
That none of them in his soft flesh did bite,        160
And all the while his backe for best safegard
He lent against a tree, that backeward onset bard.
 
XIX
Like a wylde bull, that, being at a bay,
Is bayted of a mastiffe and a hound
And a curre-dog, that doe him sharpe assay        165
On every side, and beat about him round;
But most that curre, barking with bitter sownd,
And creeping still behinde, doth him incomber,
That in his chauffe he digs the trampled ground,
And threats his horns, and bellowes like the thonder:        170
So did that squire his foes disperse and drive asonder.
 
XX
Him well behoved so; for his three foes
Sought to encompasse him on every side,
And dangerously did round about enclose.
But most of all Defetto him annoyde,        175
Creeping behinde him still to have destroyde;
So did Decetto eke him circumvent;
But stout Despetto, in his greater pryde,
Did front him face to face against him bent:
Yet he them all withstood, and often made relent.        180
 
XXI
Till that at length, nigh tyrd with former chace,
And weary now with carefull keeping ward,
He gan to shrinke, and somewhat to give place,
Full like ere long to have escaped hard;
When as unwares he in the forrest heard        185
A trampling steede, that with his neighing fast
Did warne his rider be uppon his gard;
With noise whereof the squire, now nigh aghast,
Revived was, and sad dispaire away did cast.
 
XXII
Eftsoones he spide a knight approching nye,
        190
Who, seeing one in so great daunger set
Mongst many foes, him selfe did faster hye,
To reskue him, and his weake part abet,
For pitty so to see him overset.
Whom soone as his three enemies did vew,        195
They fled, and fast into the wood did get:
Him booted not to thinke them to pursew,
The covert was so thicke, that did no passage shew.
 
XXIII
Then turning to that swaine, him well he knew
To be his Timias, his owne true squire:        200
Whereof exceeding glad, he to him drew,
And him embracing twixt his armes entire,
Him thus bespake: ‘My liefe, my lifes desire,
Why have ye me alone thus long yleft?
Tell me, what worlds despight, or heavens yre,        205
Hath you thus long away from me bereft?
Where have ye all this while bin wandring, where bene weft?’
 
XXIV
With that he sighed deepe for inward tyne:
To whom the squire nought aunswered againe,
But shedding few soft teares from tender eyne,        210
His deare affect with silence did restraine,
And shut up all his plaint in privy paine.
There they awhile some gracious speaches spent,
As to them seemed fit time to entertaine.
After all which up to their steedes they went,        215
And forth together rode, a comely couplement.
 
XXV
So now they be arrived both in sight
Of this wyld man, whom they full busie found
About the sad Serena things to dight,
With those brave armours lying on the ground,        220
That seem’d the spoile of some right well renownd.
Which when that squire beheld, he to them stept,
Thinking to take them from that hylding hound:
But he it seeing, lightly to him lept,
And sternely with strong hand it from his handling kept.        225
 
XXVI
Gnashing his grinded teeth with griesly looke,
And sparkling fire out of his furious eyne,
Him with his fist unwares on th’ head he strooke,
That made him downe unto the earth encline;
Whence soone upstarting, much he gan repine,        230
And laying hand upon his wrathfull blade,
Thought therewithall forth with him to have slaine;
Who it perceiving, hand upon him layd,
And greedily him griping, his avengement stayd.
 
XXVII
With that aloude the faire Serena cryde
        235
Unto the knight, them to dispart in twaine:
Who to them stepping did them soone divide,
And did from further violence restraine,
Albe the wyld-man hardly would refraine.
Then gan the Prince of her for to demand,        240
What and from whence she was, and by what traine
She fell into that salvage villaines hand,
And whether free with him she now were, or in band.
 
XXVIII
To whom she thus: ‘I am, as now ye see,
The wretchedst dame, that live this day on ground,        245
Who both in minde, the which most grieveth me,
And body have receiv’d a mortall wound,
That hath me driven to this drery stound.
I was erewhile the love of Calepine,
Who whether he alive be to be found,        250
Or by some deadly chaunce be done to pine,
Since I him lately lost, uneath is to define.
 
XXIX
‘In salvage forrest I him lost of late,
Where I had surely long ere this bene dead,
Or else remained in most wretched state,        255
Had not this wylde man in that wofull stead
Kept and delivered me from deadly dread.
In such a salvage wight, of brutish kynd,
Amongst wilde beastes in desert forrests bred,
It is most straunge and wonderfull to fynd        260
So milde humanity and perfect gentle mynd.
 
XXX
‘Let me therefore this favour for him finde,
That ye will not your wrath upon him wreake,
Sith he cannot expresse his simple minde,
Ne yours conceive, ne but by tokens speake:        265
Small praise to prove your powre on wight so weake.’
With such faire words she did their heate asswage,
And the strong course of their displeasure breake,
That they to pitty turnd their former rage,
And each sought to supply the office of her page.        270
 
XXXI
So having all things well about her dight,
She on her way cast forward to proceede,
And they her forth conducted, where they might
Finde harbour fit to comfort her great neede.
For now her wounds corruption gan to breed;        275
And eke this squire, who like wise wounded was
Of that same monster late, for lacke of heed,
Now gan to faint, and further could not pas
Through feeblenesse, which all his limbes oppressed has.
 
XXXII
So forth they rode together all in troupe,
        280
To seeke some place, the which mote yeeld some ease
To these sicke twaine, that now began to droupe:
And all the way the Prince sought to appease
The bitter anguish of their sharpe disease,
By all the courteous meanes he could invent;        285
Somewhile with merry purpose fit to please,
And otherwhile with good encouragement,
To make them to endure the pains did them torment.
 
XXXIII
Mongst which, Serena did to him relate
The foule discourt’sies and unknightly parts,        290
Which Turpine had unto her shewed late,
Without compassion of her cruell smarts,
Although Blandina did with all her arts
Him otherwise perswade, all that she might;
Yet he of malice, without her desarts,        295
Not onely her excluded late at night,
But also trayterously did wound her weary knight.
 
XXXIV
Wherewith the Prince sore moved, there avoud
That, soone as he returned backe againe,
He would avenge th’ abuses of that proud        300
And shamefull knight, of whom she did complaine.
This wize did they each other entertaine,
To passe the tedious travell of the way;
Till towards night they came unto a plaine,
By which a little hermitage there lay,        305
Far from all neighbourhood, the which annoy it may.
 
XXXV
And nigh thereto a little chappell stoode,
Which being all with yvy overspred,
Deckt all the roofe and shadowing the roode,
Seem’d like a grove faire braunched over hed:        310
Therein the hermite, which his life here led
In streight observaunce of religious vow,
Was wont his howres and holy things to bed;
And therein he likewise was praying now,
Whenas these knights arriv’d, they wist not where nor how.        315
 
XXXVI
They stayd not there, but streight way in did pas.
Whom when the hermite present saw in place,
From his devotion streight he troubled was;
Which breaking of, he toward them did pace,
With stayed steps and grave beseeming grace:        320
For well it seem’d that whilome he had beene
Some goodly person, and of gentle race,
That could his good to all, and well did weene,
How each to entertaine with curt’sie well beseene.
 
XXXVII
And soothly it was sayd by common fame,
        325
So long as age enabled him thereto,
That he had bene a man of mickle name,
Renowmed much in armes and derring doe:
But being aged now and weary to
Of warres delight and worlds contentious toyle,        330
The name of knighthood he did disavow,
And hanging up his armes and warlike spoyle,
From all this worlds incombraunce did himselfe assoyle.
 
XXXVIII
He thence them led into his hermitage,
Letting their steedes to graze upon the greene:        335
Small was his house, and like a little cage,
For his owne turne, yet inly neate and clene,
Deckt with greene boughes and flowers gay beseene.
Therein he them full faire did entertaine,
Not with such forged showes, as fitter beene        340
For courting fooles, that curtesies would faine,
But with entire affection and appearaunce plaine.
 
XXXIX
Yet was their fare but homely, such as hee
Did use his feeble body to sustaine;
The which full gladly they did take in gree,        345
Such as it was, ne did of want complaine,
But being well suffiz’d, them rested faine.
But faire Serene all night could take no rest,
Ne yet that gentle squire, for grievous paine
Of their late woundes, the which the Blatant Beast        350
Had given them, whose griefe through suffraunce sore increast.
 
XL
So all that night they past in great disease,
Till that the morning, bringing earely light
To guide mens labours, brought them also ease,
And some asswagement of their painefull plight.        355
Then up they rose, and gan them selves to dight
Unto their journey; but that squire and dame
So faint and feeble were, that they ne might
Endure to travell, nor one foote to frame:
Their hearts were sicke, their sides were sore, their feete were lame.        360
 
XLI
Therefore the Prince, whom great affaires in mynd
Would not permit to make there lenger stay,
Was forced there to leave them both behynd,
In that good hermits charge, whom he did pray
To tend them well. So forth he went his way,        365
And with him eke the salvage, that whyleare,
Seeing his royall usage and array,
Was greatly growne in love of that brave pere,
Would needes depart, as shall declared be elsewhere.
 
 
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