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

  ONE day, nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,
  From her unhastie beast she did alight;
  And on the grasse her dainty limbs did lay
  In secrete shadow, far from all mens sight;
  From her fayre head her fillet she undight,        5
  And layd her stole aside. Her angels face,
  As the great eye of heaven, shyned bright,
  And made a sunshine in the shady place;
Did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace.
  It fortunèd, out of the thickest wood        10
  A ramping lyon rushèd suddeinly,
  Hunting full greedy after salvage blood:
  Soone as the royall virgin he did spy,
  With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
  To have attonce devoured her tender corse;        15
  But to the pray whenas he drew more ny,
  His bloody rage aswagèd with remorse
And, with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse.
  Instead thereof, he kist her wearie feet,
  And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong        20
  As he her wrongèd innocence did weet. 1
  O how can beautie maister the most strong,
  And simple truth subdue avenging wrong!
  Whose yielded pryde and proud submission,
  Still dreading death, when she had markèd long,        25
  Her hart gan melt in great compassion;
And drizling teares did shed for pure affection.
  “The lyon, lord of everie beast in field,”
  Quoth she, “his princely puissance doth abate,
  And mightie proud to humble weake does yield,        30
  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 lovd, and ever most adord        35
As the god of my life? why hath he me abhord?”
  Redounding tears 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;        40
  With pittie calmd, downe fell his angry mood.
  At last, in close hart shutting up her payne,
  Arose the virgin borne of heavenly brood,
  And to her snowy palfrey got agayne,
To seek her strayèd champion if she might attayne.        45
  The lyon would not leave her desolate,
  But with her went along, as a strong gard
  Of her chast person, and a faythfull mate
  Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard:
  Still, when she slept, he kept both watch and ward;        50
  And, when she wakt, he wayted diligent,
  With humble service to her will prepard;
  From her fayre eyes he took commandment,
And ever by her lookes conceivèd her intent.
Note 1. understand. [back]

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