Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book VI. The Legend of Sir Calidore
Canto IX
        Calidore hostes with Melibœ
  And loves fayre Pastorell;
Coridon envies him, yet he
  For ill rewards him well.

NOW turne againe my teme, thou jolly swayne,
Backe to the furrow which I lately left;
I lately left a furrow, one or twayne,
Unplough’d, the which my coulter hath not cleft:
Yet seem’d the soyle both fayre and frutefull eft,        5
As I it past, that were too great a shame,
That so rich frute should be from us bereft;
Besides the great dishonour and defame,
Which should befall to Calidores immortall name.
Great travell hath the gentle Calidore
And toyle endured, sith I left him last
Sewing the Blatant Beast, which I forbore
To finish then, for other present hast.
Full many pathes and perils he hath past,
Through hils, through dales, throgh forests, and throgh plaines,        15
In that same quest which fortune on him cast,
Which he atchieved to his owne great gaines,
Reaping eternall glorie of his restlesse paines.
So sharply he the monster did pursew,
That day nor night he suffred him to rest,        20
Ne rested he himselfe but natures dew,
For dread of daunger, not to be redrest,
If he for slouth forslackt so famous quest.
Him first from court he to the citties coursed,
And from the citties to the townes him prest,        25
And from the townes into the countrie forsed,
And from the country back to private farmes he scorsed.
From thence into the open fields he fled,
Whereas the heardes were keeping of their neat,
And shepheards singing to their flockes, that fed,        30
Layes of sweete love and youthes delightfull heat:
Him thether eke for all his fearefull threat
He followed fast, and chaced him so nie,
That to the folds, where sheepe at night doe seat,
And to the litle cots, where shepherds lie        35
In winters wrathfull time, he forced him to flie.
There on a day, as he pursew’d the chace,
He chaunst to spy a sort of shepheard groomes,
Playing on pypes, and caroling apace,
The whyles their beasts there in the budded broomes        40
Beside them fed, and nipt the tender bloomes:
For other worldly wealth they cared nought.
To whom Sir Calidore yet sweating comes,
And them to tell him courteously besought,
If such a beast they saw, which he had thether brought.        45
They answer’d him that no such beast they saw,
Nor any wicked feend that mote offend
Their happie flockes, nor daunger to them draw:
But if that such there were (as none they kend)
They prayd High God them farre from them to send.        50
Then one of them him seeing so to sweat,
After his rusticke wise, that well he weend,
Offred him drinke, to quench his thirstie heat,
And if he hungry were, him offred eke to eat.
The knight was nothing nice, where was no need,
And tooke their gentle offer: so adowne
They prayd him sit, and gave him for to feed
Such homely what as serves the simple clowne,
That doth despise the dainties of the towne.
Tho, having fed his fill, he there besyde        60
Saw a faire damzell, which did weare a crowne
Of sundry flowres, with silken ribbands tyde,
Yclad in home-made greene that her owne hands had dyde.
Upon a litle hillocke she was placed
Higher then all the rest, and round about        65
Environ’d with a girland, goodly graced,
Of lovely lasses, and them all without
The lustie shepheard swaynes sate in a rout,
The which did pype and sing her prayses dew,
And oft rejoyce, and oft for wonder shout,        70
As if some miracle of heavenly hew
Were downe to them descended in that earthly vew.
And soothly sure she was full fayre of face,
And perfectly well shapt in every lim,
Which she did more augment with modest grace        75
And comely carriage of her count’nance trim,
That all the rest like lesser lamps did dim:
Who, her admiring as some heavenly wight,
Did for their soveraine goddesse her esteeme,
And caroling her name both day and night,        80
The fayrest Pastorella her by name did hight.
Ne was there heard, ne was there shepheards swayne,
But her did honour, and eke many a one
Burnt in her love, and with sweet pleasing payne
Full many a night for her did sigh and grone:        85
But most of all the shepheard Coridon
For her did languish, and his deare life spend;
Yet neither she for him nor other none
Did care a whit, ne any liking lend:
Though meane her lot, yet higher did her mind ascend.        90
Her whyles Sir Calidore there vewed well,
And markt her rare demeanure, which him seemed
So farre the meane of shepheards to excell,
As that he in his mind her worthy deemed
To be a princes paragone esteemed,        95
He was unwares surprisd in subtile bands
Of the Blynd Boy, ne thence could be redeemed
By any skill out of his cruell hands,
Caught like the bird which gazing still on others stands.
So stood he still long gazing thereupon,
Ne any will had thence to move away,
Although his quest were farre afore him gon;
But after he had fed, yet did he stay,
And sate there still, untill the flying day
Was farre forth spent, discoursing diversly        105
Of sundry things, as fell, to worke delay;
And evermore his speach he did apply
To th’ heards, but meant them to the damzels fantazy.
By this the moystie night approching fast,
Her deawy humour gan on th’ earth to shed,        110
That warn’d the shepheards to their homes to hast
Their tender flocks, now being fully fed,
For feare of wetting them before their bed;
Then came to them a good old aged syre,
Whose silver lockes bedeckt his beard and hed,        115
With shepheards hooke in hand, and fit attyre,
That wild the damzell rise; the day did now expyre.
He was, to weet, by common voice esteemed
The father of the fayrest Pastorell,
And of her selfe in very deede so deemed;        120
Yet was not so, but, as old stories tell,
Found her by fortune, which to him befell,
In th’ open fields an infant left alone,
And taking up brought home, and noursed well
As his owne chyld; for other he had none;        125
That she in tract of time accompted was his owne.
She at his bidding meekely did arise,
And streight unto her litle flocke did fare:
Then all the rest about her rose likewise,
And each his sundrie sheepe with severall care        130
Gathered together, and them homeward bare:
Whylest everie one with helping hands did strive
Amongst themselves, and did their labours share,
To helpe faire Pastorella home to drive
Her fleecie flocke; but Coridon most helpe did give.        135
But Melibœe (so hight that good old man)
Now seeing Calidore left all alone,
And night arrived hard at hand, began
Him to invite unto his simple home;
Which though it were a cottage clad with lome,        140
And all things therein meane, yet better so
To lodge then in the salvage fields to rome.
The knight full gladly soone agreed thereto,
Being his harts owne wish, and home with him did go.
There he was welcom’d of that honest syre,
And of his aged beldame homely well;
Who him besought himselfe to disattyre,
And rest himselfe, till supper time befell;
By which home came the fayrest Pastorell,
After her flocke she in their fold had tyde;        150
And, supper readie dight, they to it fell
With small adoe, and nature satisfyde,
The which doth litle crave, contented to abyde.
Tho when they had their hunger slaked well,
And the fayre mayd the table ta’ne away,        155
The gentle knight, as he that did excell
In courtesie, and well could doe and say,
For so great kindnesse as he found that day
Gan greatly thanke his host and his good wife;
And drawing thence his speach another way,        160
Gan highly to commend the happie life
Which shepheards lead, without debate or bitter strife.
‘How much,’ sayd he, ‘more happie is the state,
In which ye, father, here doe dwell at ease,
Leading a life so free and fortunate        165
From all the tempests of these worldly seas,
Which tosse the rest in daungerous disease;
Where warres, and wreckes, and wicked enmitie
Doe them afflict, which no man can appease!
That certes I your happinesse envie,        170
And wish my lot were plast in such felicitie.’
‘Surely, my sonne,’ then answer’d he againe,
‘If happie, then it is in this intent,
That, having small, yet doe I not complaine
Of want, ne wish for more it to augment,        175
But doe my selfe, with that I have, content;
So taught of nature, which doth litle need
Of forreine helpes to lifes due nourishment:
The fields my food, my flocke my rayment breed;
No better doe I weare, no better doe I feed.        180
‘Therefore I doe not any one envy,
Nor am envyde of any one therefore;
They that have much, feare much to loose thereby,
And store of cares doth follow riches store.
The litle that I have growes dayly more        185
Without my care, but onely to attend it;
My lambes doe every yeare increase their score,
And my flockes father daily doth amend it.
What have I, but to praise th’ Almighty, that doth send it?
‘To them that list, the worlds gay showes I leave,
And to great ones such follies doe forgive,
Which oft through pride do their owne perill weave,
And through ambition downe themselves doe drive
To sad decay, that might contented live.
Me no such cares nor combrous thoughts offend,        195
Ne once my minds unmoved quiet grieve,
But all the night in silver sleepe I spend,
And all the day, to what I list I doe attend.
‘Sometimes I hunt the fox, the vowed foe
Unto my lambes, and him dislodge away;        200
Sometimes the fawne I practise from the doe,
Or from the goat her kidde how to convay;
Another while I baytes and nets display,
The birds to catch, or fishes to beguyle:
And when I wearie am, I downe doe lay        205
My limbes in every shade, to rest from toyle,
And drinke of every brooke, when thirst my throte doth boyle.
‘The time was once, in my first prime of yeares,
When pride of youth forth pricked my desire,
That I disdain’d amongst mine equall peares        210
To follow sheepe, and shepheards base attire:
For further fortune then I would inquire,
And leaving home, to roiall court I sought;
Where I did sell my selfe for yearely hire,
And in the princes gardin daily wrought:        215
There I beheld such vainenesse, as I never thought.
‘With sight whereof soone cloyd, and long deluded
With idle hopes, which them doe entertaine,
After I had ten yeares my selfe excluded
From native home, and spent my youth in vaine,        220
I gan my follies to my selfe to plaine,
And this sweet peace, whose lacke did then appeare.
Tho backe returning to my sheepe againe,
I from thenceforth have learn’d to love more deare
This lowly quiet life, which I inherite here.’        225
Whylest thus he talkt, the knight with greedy eare
Hong still upon his melting mouth attent;
Whose sensefull words empierst his hart so neare,
That he was rapt with double ravishment,
Both of his speach, that wrought him great content,        230
And also of the object of his vew,
On which his hungry eye was alwayes bent;
That twixt his pleasing tongue and her faire hew
He lost himselfe, and like one halfe entraunced grew.
Yet to occasion meanes to worke his mind,
And to insinuate his harts desire,
He thus replyde: ‘Now surely, syre, I find,
That all this worlds gay showes, which we admire,
Be but vaine shadowes to this safe retyre
Of life, which here in lowlinesse ye lead,        240
Fearelesse of foes, or Fortunes wrackfull yre,
Which tosseth states, and under foot doth tread
The mightie ones, affrayd of every chaunges dread.
‘That even I, which daily doe behold
The glorie of the great, mongst whom I won,        245
And now have prov’d what happinesse ye hold
In this small plot of your dominion,
Now loath great lordship and ambition;
And wish the heavens so much had graced mee,
As graunt me live in like condition;        250
Or that my fortunes might transposed bee
From pitch of higher place unto this low degree.’
‘In vaine,’ said then old Melibœ, ‘doe men
The heavens of their fortunes fault accuse,
Sith they know best what is the best for them:        255
For they to each such fortune doe diffuse,
As they doe know each can most aptly use.
For not that which men covet most is best,
Nor that thing worst which men do most refuse;
But fittest is, that all contented rest        260
With that they hold: each hath his fortune in his brest.
‘It is the mynd that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch or happie, rich or poore:
For some, that hath abundance at his will,
Hath not enough, but wants in greatest store;        265
And other, that hath litle, askes no more,
But in that litle is both rich and wise;
For wisedome is most riches; fooles therefore
They are, which fortunes doe by vowes devize,
Sith each unto himselfe his life may fortunize.’        270
‘Since then in each mans self,’ said Calidore,
‘It is, to fashion his owne lyfes estate,
Give leave awhyle, good father, in this shore
To rest my barcke, which hath bene beaten late
With stormes of fortune and tempestuous fate,        275
In seas of troubles and of toylesome paine,
That, whether quite from them for to retrate
I shall resolve, or backe to turne againe,
I may here with your selfe some small repose obtaine.
‘Not that the burden of so bold a guest
Shall chargefull be, or chaunge to you at all;
For your meane food shall be my daily feast,
And this your cabin both my bowre and hall.
Besides, for recompence hereof, I shall
You well reward, and golden guerdon give,        285
That may perhaps you better much withall,
And in this quiet make you safer live.’
So forth he drew much gold, and toward him it drive.
But the good man, nought tempted with the offer
Of his rich mould, did thrust it farre away,        290
And thus bespake: ‘Sir knight, your bounteous proffer
Be farre fro me, to whom ye ill display
That mucky masse, the cause of mens decay,
That mote empaire my peace with daungers dread.
But, if ye algates covet to assay        295
This simple sort of life, that shepheards lead,
Be it your owne: our rudenesse to your selfe aread.’
So there that night Sir Calidore did dwell,
And long while after, whilest him list remaine,
Dayly beholding the faire Pastorell,        300
And feeding on the bayt of his owne bane.
During which time he did her entertaine
With all kind courtesies he could invent;
And every day, her companie to gaine,
When to the field she went, he with her went:        305
So for to quench his fire, he did it more augment.
But she, that never had acquainted beene
With such queint usage, fit for queenes and kings,
Ne ever had such knightly service seene,
But, being bred under base shepheards wings,        310
Had ever learn’d to love the lowly things,
Did litle whit regard his courteous guize,
But cared more for Colins carolings
Then all that he could doe, or ever devize:
His layes, his loves, his lookes she did them all despize.        315
Which Calidore perceiving, thought it best
To chaunge the manner of his loftie looke;
And doffing his bright armes, himselfe addrest
In shepheards weed, and in his hand he tooke,
In stead of steelehead speare, a shepheards hooke,        320
That who had seene him then would have bethought
On Phrygian Paris by Plexippus brooke,
When he the love of fayre Oenone sought,
What time the golden apple was unto him brought.
So being clad, unto the fields he went
With the faire Pastorella every day,
And kept her sheepe with diligent attent,
Watching to drive the ravenous wolfe away,
The whylest at pleasure she mote sport and play;
And every evening helping them to fold:        330
And otherwhiles, for need, he did assay
In his strong hand their rugged teats to hold,
And out of them to presse the milke: love so much could.
Which seeing Coridon, who her likewise
Long time had lov’d, and hop’d her love to gaine,        335
He much was troubled at that straungers guize,
And many gealous thoughts conceiv’d in vaine,
That this of all his labour and long paine
Should reap the harvest, ere it ripened were;
That made him scoule, and pout, and oft complaine        340
Of Pastorell to all the shepheards there,
That she did love a stranger swayne then him more dere.
And ever, when he came in companie
Where Calidore was present, he would loure
And byte his lip, and even for gealousie        345
Was readie oft his owne hart to devoure,
Impatient of any paramoure:
Who on the other side did seeme so farre
From malicing, or grudging his good houre,
That all he could, he graced him with her,        350
Ne ever shewed signe of rancour or of jarre.
And oft, when Coridon unto her brought
Or litle sparrowes, stolen from their nest,
Or wanton squirrels, in the woods farre sought,
Or other daintie thing for her addrest,        355
He would commend his guift, and make the best.
Yet she no whit his presents did regard,
Ne him could find to fancie in her brest:
This newcome shepheard had his market mard.
Old love is litle worth when new is more prefard.        360
One day when as the shepheard swaynes together
Were met, to make their sports and merrie glee,
As they are wont in faire sunshynie weather,
The whiles their flockes in shadowes shrouded bee,
They fell to daunce: then did they all agree,        365
That Colin Clout should pipe, as one most fit;
And Calidore should lead the ring, as hee
That most in Pastorellaes grace did sit.
Thereat frown’d Coridon, and his lip closely bit.
But Calidore, of courteous inclination,
Tooke Coridon and set him in his place,
That he should lead the daunce, as was his fashion;
For Coridon could daunce, and trimly trace.
And when as Pastorella, him to grace,
Her flowry garlond tooke from her owne head,        375
And plast on his, he did it soone displace,
And did it put on Coridons in stead:
Then Coridon woxe frollicke, that earst seemed dead.
Another time, when as they did dispose
To practise games, and maisteries to try,        380
They for their judge did Pastorella chose;
A garland was the meed of victory.
There Coridon, forth stepping openly,
Did chalenge Calidore, to wrestling game:
For he, through long and perfect industry,        385
Therein well practisd was, and in the same
Thought sure t’ avenge his grudge, and worke his foe great shame.
But Calidore he greatly did mistake;
For he was strong and mightily stiffe pight,
That with one fall his necke he almost brake,        390
And had he not upon him fallen light,
His dearest joynt he sure had broken quight.
Then was the oaken crowne by Pastorell
Given to Calidore, as his due right;
But he, that did in courtesie excell,        395
Gave it to Coridon, and said he wonne it well.
Thus did the gentle knight himselfe abeare
Amongst that rusticke rout in all his deeds,
That even they the which his rivals were
Could not maligne him, but commend him needs:        400
For courtesie amongst the rudest breeds
Good will and favour. So it surely wrought
With this faire mayd, and in her mynde the seeds
Of perfect love did sow, that last forth brought
The fruite of joy and blisse, though long time dearely bought.        405
Thus Calidore continu’d there long time,
To winne the love of the faire Pastorell;
Which having got, he used without crime
Or blamefull blot, but menaged so well,
That he, of all the rest which there did dwell,        410
Was favoured, and to her grace commended.
But what straunge fortunes unto him befell,
Ere he attain’d the point by him intended,
Shall more conveniently in other place be ended.

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