Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Fancy: III. Mythical: Mystical: Legendary
Una and the Red Crosse Knight
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 
From “The Faërie Queene,” Book I. Canto I.

  A GENTLE Knight was pricking on the plaine,
  Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
  Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
  The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde;
  Yet armes till that time did he never wield:        5
  His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
  As much disdayning to the curbe to yield;
  Full iolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.
 
  And on his brest a bloodie crosse he bore,        10
  The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
  For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
  And dead, as living ever, him adored:
  Upon his shield the like was also scored,
  For soveraine hope, which in his helpe he had,        15
  Right, faithfull, true he was in deede and word;
  But of his cheere, 1 did seeme too solemne sad;
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad. 2
 
  Upon a great adventure he was bond,
  That greatest Gloriana to him gave,        20
  That greatest glorious queene of Faëry lond,
  To winne him worshippe, and her grace to have,
  Which of all earthly thinges he most did crave:
  And ever, as he rode, his hart did earne
  To prove his puissance in battell brave        25
  Upon his foe, and his new force to learne;
Upon his foe, a Dragon horrible and stearne.
 
  A lovely Ladie rode him faire beside,
  Upon a lowly asse more white then snow;
  Yet she much whiter; but the same did hide        30
  Under a vele, that wimpled was full low;
  And over all a blacke stole shee did throw:
  As one that inly mournd, so was she sad,
  And heavie sate upon her palfrey slow;
  Seemèd in heart some hidden care she had;        35
And by her in a line a milke-white lambe she lad.
 
  So pure and innocent as that same lambe
  She was in life and every vertuous lore;
  And by descent from royall lynage came
  Of ancient kinges and queenes, that had of yore        40
  Their scepters stretcht from east to westerne shore,
  And all the world in their subiection held;
  Till that infernall feend with foule uprore
  Forwasted all their land, and then expeld;
Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld.        45
 
  Behind her farre away a Dwarfe did lag,
  That lasie seemd, in being ever last,
  Or wearièd with bearing of her bag
  Of needments at his backe. Thus as they past,
  The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast,        50
  And angry Iove an hideous storme of raine
  Did poure into his lemans lap so fast,
  That everie wight to shrowd it did constrain;
And this faire couple eke to shrowd themselves were fain.
 
  Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,        55
  A shadie grove not farr away they spide,
  That promist ayde the tempest to withstand;
  Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride,
  Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide,
  Not perceable with power of any starr;        60
  And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
  With footing worne, and leading inward farr:
Faire harbour that them seemes; so in they entred ar.
 
Note 1. countenance. [back]
Note 2. dreaded. [back]
 
 
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