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 XI
        The theeves fall out for Pastorell,
  Whilest Melibee is slaine;
Her Calidore from them redeemes,
  And bringeth backe againe.

THE JOYES of love, if they should ever last,
Without affliction or disquietnesse,
That worldly chaunces doe amongst them cast,
Would be on earth too great a blessednesse,
Liker to heaven then mortall wretchednesse.        5
Therefore the winged god, to let men weet
That here on earth is no sure happinesse,
A thousand sowres hath tempred with one sweet,
To make it seeme more deare and dainty, as is meet.
Like as is now befalne to this faire mayd,
Faire Pastorell, of whom is now my song,
Who being now in dreadfull darknesse layd,
Amongst those theeves, which her in bondage strong
Detaynd, yet Fortune, not with all this wrong
Contented, greater mischiefe on her threw,        15
And sorrowes heapt on her in greater throng;
That who so heares her heavinesse would rew
And pitty her sad plight, so chang’d from pleasaunt hew.
Whylest thus she in these hellish dens remayned,
Wrapped in wretched cares and hearts unrest,        20
It so befell (as Fortune had ordayned)
That he which was their capitaine profest,
And had the chiefe commaund of all the rest,
One day as he did all his prisoners vew,
With lustfull eyes beheld that lovely guest,        25
Faire Pastorella, whose sad mournefull hew
Like the faire morning clad in misty fog did shew.
At sight whereof his barbarous heart was fired,
And inly burnt with flames most raging whot,
That her alone he for his part desired        30
Of all the other pray which they had got,
And her in mynde did to him selfe allot.
From that day forth he kyndnesse to her showed,
And sought her love by all the meanes he mote;
With looks, with words, with gifts he oft her wowed,        35
And mixed threats among, and much unto her vowed.
But all that ever he could doe or say
Her constant mynd could not a whit remove,
Nor draw unto the lure of his lewd lay,
To graunt him favour or afford him love.        40
Yet ceast he not to sew, and all waies prove,
By which he mote accomplish his request,
Saying and doing all that mote behove;
Ne day nor night he suffred her to rest,
But her all night did watch, and all the day molest.        45
At last when him she so importune saw,
Fearing least he at length the raines would lend
Unto his lust, and make his will his law,
Sith in his powre she was to foe or frend,
She thought it best, for shadow, to pretend        50
Some shew of favour, by him gracing small,
That she thereby mote either freely wend,
Or at more ease continue there his thrall:
A little well is lent, that gaineth more withall.
So from thenceforth, when love he to her made,
With better tearmes she did him entertaine,
Which gave him hope, and did him halfe perswade,
That he in time her joyaunce should obtaine.
But when she saw, through that small favours gaine,
That further then she willing was he prest,        60
She found no meanes to barre him, but to faine
A sodaine sickenesse, which her sore opprest,
And made unfit to serve his lawlesse mindes behest.
By meanes whereof she would not him permit
Once to approch to her in privity,        65
But onely mongst the rest by her to sit,
Mourning the rigour of her malady,
And seeking all things meete for remedy.
But she resolv’d no remedy to fynde,
Nor better cheare to shew in misery,        70
Till Fortune would her captive bonds unbynde:
Her sickenesse was not of the body, but the mynde.
During which space that she thus sicke did lie,
It chaunst a sort of merchants, which were wount
To skim those coastes, for bondmen there to buy,        75
And by such trafficke after gaines to hunt,
Arrived in this isle, though bare and blunt,
T’ inquire for slaves; where being readie met
By some of these same theeves, at the instant brunt,
Were brought unto their captaine, who was set        80
By his faire patients side with sorrowfull regret.
To whom they shewed, how those marchants were
Arriv’d in place, their bondslaves for to buy,
And therefore prayd that those same captives there
Mote to them for their most commodity        85
Be sold, and mongst them shared equally.
This their request the captaine much appalled;
Yet could he not their just demaund deny,
And willed streight the slaves should forth be called,
And sold for most advantage, not to be forestalled.        90
Then forth the good old Melibœ was brought,
And Coridon, with many other moe,
Whom they before in diverse spoyles had caught:
All which he to the marchants sale did showe.
Till some, which did the sundry prisoners knowe,        95
Gan to inquire for that faire shepherdesse,
Which with the rest they tooke not long agoe,
And gan her forme and feature to expresse,
The more t’ augment her price through praise of comlinesse.
To whom the captaine in full angry wize
Made answere, that the mayd of whom they spake
Was his owne purchase and his onely prize,
With which none had to doe, ne ought partake,
But he himselfe, which did that conquest make;
Litle for him to have one silly lasse:        105
Besides through sicknesse now so wan and weake,
That nothing meet in marchandise to passe.
So shew’d them her, to prove how pale and weake she was.
The sight of whom, though now decayd and mard,
And eke but hardly seene by candle-light,        110
Yet like a diamond of rich regard
In doubtfull shadow of the darkesome night,
With starrie beames about her shining bright,
These marchants fixed eyes did so amaze,
That what through wonder, and what through delight,        115
A while on her they greedily did gaze,
And did her greatly like, and did her greatly praize.
At last when all the rest them offred were,
And prises to them placed at their pleasure,
They all refused in regard of her,        120
Ne ought would buy, how ever prisd with measure,
Withouten her, whose worth above all threasure
They did esteeme, and offred store of gold.
But then the captaine, fraught with more displeasure,
Bad them be still, his love should not be sold:        125
The rest take if they would, he her to him would hold.
Therewith some other of the chiefest theeves
Boldly him bad such injurie forbeare;
For that same mayd, how ever it him greeves,
Should with the rest be sold before him theare,        130
To make the prises of the rest more deare.
That with great rage he stoutly doth denay;
And fiercely drawing forth his blade, doth sweare,
That who so hardie hand on her doth lay,
It dearely shall aby, and death for handsell pay.        135
Thus as they words amongst them multiply,
They fall to strokes, the frute of too much talke,
And the mad steele about doth fiercely fly,
Not sparing wight, ne leaving any balke,
But making way for Death at large to walke:        140
Who, in the horror of the griesly night,
In thousand dreadful shapes doth mongst them stalke,
And makes huge havocke, whiles the candlelight
Out quenched leaves no skill nor difference of wight.
Like as a sort of hungry dogs, ymet
About some carcase by the common way,
Doe fall together, stryving each to get
The greatest portion of the greedie pray;
All on confused heapes themselves assay,
And snatch, and byte, and rend, and tug, and teare,        150
That who them sees would wonder at their fray,
And who sees not would be affrayd to heare:
Such was the conflict of those cruell Brigants there.
But first of all, their captives they doe kill,
Least they should joyne against the weaker side,        155
Or rise against the remnant at their will:
Old Melibœ is slaine, and him beside
His aged wife, with many others wide;
But Coridon, escaping craftily,
Creepes forth of dores, whilst darknes him doth hide,        160
And flyes away as fast as he can hye,
Ne stayeth leave to take, before his friends doe dye.
But Pastorella, wofull wretched elfe,
Was by the captaine all this while defended,
Who, minding more her safety then himselfe,        165
His target alwayes over her pretended;
By meanes whereof, that mote not be amended,
He at the length was slaine, and layd on ground,
Yet holding fast twixt both his armes extended
Fayre Pastorell, who with the selfe same wound        170
Launcht through the arme, fell down with him in drerie swound.
There lay she covered with confused preasse
Of carcases, which dying on her fell.
Tho, when as he was dead, the fray gan ceasse,
And each to other calling, did compell        175
To stay their cruell hands from slaughter fell,
Sith they that were the cause of all were gone.
Thereto they all attonce agreed well,
And lighting candles new, gan search anone,
How many of their friends were slaine, how many fone.        180
Their captaine there they cruelly found kild,
And in his armes the dreary dying mayd,
Like a sweet angell twixt two clouds uphild:
Her lovely light was dimmed and decayd,
With cloud of death upon her eyes displayd;        185
Yet did the cloud make even that dimmed light
Seeme much more lovely in that darknesse layd,
And twixt the twinckling of her eye-lids bright
To sparke out litle beames, like starres in foggie night.
But when they mov’d the carcases aside,
They found that life did yet in her remaine:
Then all their helpes they busily applyde,
To call the soule backe to her home againe;
And wrought so well with labour and long paine,
That they to life recovered her at last.        195
Who sighing sore, as if her hart in twaine
Had riven bene, and all her hart strings brast,
With drearie drouping eyne lookt up like one aghast.
There she beheld, that sore her griev’d to see,
Her father and her friends about her lying,        200
Her selfe sole left, a second spoyle to bee
Of those that, having saved her from dying,
Renew’d her death by timely death denying,
What now is left her but to wayle and weepe,
Wringing her hands, and ruefully loud crying?        205
Ne cared she her wound in teares to steepe,
Albe with all their might those Brigants her did keepe.
But when they saw her now reliv’d againe,
They left her so, in charge of one the best
Of many worst, who with unkind disdaine        210
And cruell rigour her did much molest;
Scarse yeelding her due food, or timely rest,
And scarsely suffring her infestred wound,
That sore her payn’d, by any to be drest.
So leave we her in wretched thraldome bound,        215
And turne we backe to Calidore, where we him found.
Who when he backe returned from the wood,
And saw his shepheards cottage spoyled quight,
And his love reft away, he wexed wood,
And halfe enraged at that ruefull sight,        220
That even his hart, for very fell despight,
And his owne flesh he readie was to teare:
He chauft, he griev’d, he fretted, and he sight,
And fared like a furious wyld beare,
Whose whelpes are stolne away, she being otherwhere.        225
Ne wight he found, to whom he might complaine,
Ne wight he found, of whom he might inquire;
That more increast the anguish of his paine.
He sought the woods; but no man could see there:
He sought the plaines; but could no tydings heare:        230
The woods did nought but ecchoes vaine rebound;
The playnes all waste and emptie did appeare:
Where wont the shepheards oft their pypes resound,
And feed an hundred flocks, there now not one he found.
At last, as there he romed up and downe,
He chaunst one comming towards him to spy,
That seem’d to be some sorie simple clowne,
With ragged weedes, and lockes upstaring hye,
As if he did from some late daunger fly,
And yet his feare did follow him behynd:        240
Who as he unto him approched nye,
He mote perceive by signes which he did fynd,
That Coridon it was, the silly shepherds hynd.
Tho to him running fast, he did not stay
To greet him first, but askt, where were the rest;        245
Where Pastorell? Who full of fresh dismay,
And gushing forth in teares, was so opprest,
That he no word could speake, but smit his brest,
And up to heaven his eyes fast streming threw.
Whereat the knight amaz’d, yet did not rest,        250
But askt againe, what ment that rufull hew:
Where was his Pastorell? where all the other crew?
‘Ah, well away!’ sayd he then sighing sore,
‘That ever I did live, this day to see,
This dismall day, and was not dead before,        255
Before I saw faire Pastorella dye!’
‘Die? out alas!’ then Calidore did cry,
‘How could the death dare ever her to quell?
But read, thou shepheard, read what destiny
Or other dyrefull hap from heaven or hell        260
Hath wrought this wicked deed: doe feare away, and tell.’
Tho, when the shepheard breathed had a whyle,
He thus began: ‘Where shall I then commence
This wofull tale? or how those Brigants vyle,
With cruell rage and dreadfull violence        265
Spoyld all our cots, and caried us from hence?
Or how faire Pastorell should have bene sold
To marchants, but was sav’d with strong defence?
Or how those theeves, whilest one sought her to hold,
Fell all at ods, and fought through fury fierce and bold?        270
‘In that same conflict (woe is me!) befell
This fatall chaunce, this dolefull accident,
Whose heavy tydings now I have to tell.
First all the captives, which they here had hent,
Were by them slaine by generall consent;        275
Old Melibœ and his good wife withall
These eyes saw die, and dearely did lament:
But when the lot to Pastorell did fall,
Their captaine long withstood, and did her death forstall.
‘But what could he gainst all them doe alone?
It could not boot; needs mote she die at last:
I onely scapt through great confusione
Of cryes and clamors, which amongst them past,
In dreadfull darknesse dreadfully aghast;
That better were with them to have bene dead,        285
Then here to see all desolate and wast,
Despoyled of those joyes and jollyhead,
Which with those gentle shepherds here I wont to lead.’
When Calidore these ruefull newes had raught,
His hart quite deaded was with anguish great,        290
And all his wits with doole were nigh distraught,
That he his face, his head, his brest did beat,
And death it selfe unto himselfe did threat;
Oft cursing th’ heavens, that so cruell were
To her, whose name he often did repeat;        295
And wishing oft, that he were present there,
When she was slaine, or had bene to her succour nere.
But after griefe awhile had had his course,
And spent it selfe in mourning, he at last
Began to mitigate his swelling sourse,        300
And in his mind with better reason cast,
How he might save her life, if life did last;
Or if that dead, how he her death might wreake,
Sith otherwise he could not mend thing past;
Or if it to revenge he were too weake,        305
Then for to die with her, and his lives threed to breake.
Tho Coridon he prayd, sith he well knew
The readie way unto that theevish wonne,
To wend with him, and be his conduct trew
Unto the place, to see what should be donne.        310
But he, whose hart through feare was late fordonne,
Would not for ought be drawne to former drede,
But by all meanes the daunger knowne did shonne:
Yet Calidore so well him wrought with meed,
And faire bespoke with words, that he at last agreed.        315
So forth they goe together (God before)
Both clad in shepheards weeds agreeably,
And both with shepheards hookes: but Calidore
Had, underneath, him armed privily.
Tho, to the place when they approched nye,        320
They chaunst, upon an hill not farre away,
Some flockes of sheepe and shepheards to espy;
To whom they both agreed to take their way,
In hope there newes to learne, how they mote best assay.
There did they find, that which they did not feare,
The selfe same flocks the which those theeves had reft
From Melibœ and from themselves whyleare,
And certaine of the theeves there by them left,
The which for want of heards themselves then kept.
Right well knew Coridon his owne late sheepe,        330
And seeing them, for tender pittie wept:
But when he saw the theeves which did them keepe,
His hart gan fayle, albe he saw them all asleepe.
But Calidore recomforting his griefe,
Though not his feare; for nought may feare disswade;        335
Him hardly forward drew, whereas the thiefe
Lay sleeping soundly in the bushes shade;
Whom Coridon him counseld to invade
Now all unwares, and take the spoyle away;
But he, that in his mind had closely made        340
A further purpose, would not so them slay,
But gently waking them, gave them the time of day.
Tho sitting downe by them upon the greene,
Of sundrie things he purpose gan to faine;
That he by them might certaine tydings weene        345
Of Pastorell, were she alive or slaine.
Mongst which the theeves them questioned againe,
What mister men, and eke from whence they were.
To whom they answer’d, as did appertaine,
That they were poore heardgroomes, the which whylere        350
Had from their maisters fled, and now sought hyre elswhere.
Whereof right glad they seem’d, and offer made
To hyre them well, if they their flockes would keepe:
For they themselves were evill groomes, they sayd,
Unwont with heards to watch, or pasture sheepe,        355
But to forray the land, or scoure the deepe.
Thereto they soone agreed, and earnest tooke,
To keepe their flockes for litle hyre and chepe;
For they for better hyre did shortly looke:
So there all day they bode, till light the sky forsooke.        360
Tho, when as towards darksome night it drew,
Unto their hellish dens those theeves them brought,
Where shortly they in great acquaintance grew,
And all the secrets of their entrayles sought.
There did they find, contrarie to their thought,        365
That Pastorell yet liv’d, but all the rest
Were dead, right so as Coridon had taught:
Whereof they both full glad and blyth did rest,
But chiefly Calidore, whom griefe had most possest.
At length, when they occasion fittest found,
In dead of night, when all the theeves did rest
After a late forray, and slept full sound,
Sir Calidore him arm’d, as he thought best,
Having of late by diligent inquest
Provided him a sword of meanest sort:        375
With which he streight went to the captaines nest.
But Coridon durst not with him consort,
Ne durst abide behind, for dread of worse effort.
When to the cave they came, they found it fast:
But Calidore with huge resistlesse might        380
The dores assayled, and the locks upbrast.
With noyse whereof the theefe awaking light,
Unto the entrance ran: where the bold knight,
Encountring him, with small resistance slew;
The whiles faire Pastorell through great affright        385
Was almost dead, misdoubting least of new
Some uprore were like that which lately she did vew.
But when as Calidore was comen in,
And gan aloud for Pastorell to call,
Knowing his voice, although not heard long sin,        390
She sudden was revived there withall,
And wondrous joy felt in her spirits thrall:
Like him that being long in tempest tost,
Looking each houre into deathes mouth to fall,
At length espyes at hand the happie cost,        395
On which he safety hopes, that earst feard to be lost.
Her gentle hart, that now long season past
Had never joyance felt, nor chearefull thought,
Began some smacke of comfort new to tast,
Like lyfull heat to nummed senses brought,        400
And life to feele, that long for death had sought;
Ne lesse in hart rejoyced Calidore,
When he her found, but, like to one distraught
And robd of reason, towards her him bore,
A thousand times embrast, and kist a thousand more.        405
But now by this, with noyse of late uprore,
The hue and cry was raysed all about;
And all the Brigants, flocking in great store,
Unto the cave gan preasse, nought having dout
Of that was doen, and entred in a rout.        410
But Calidore in th’ entry close did stand,
And entertayning them with courage stout,
Still slew the formost that came first to hand,
So long, till all the entry was with bodies mand.
Tho, when no more could nigh to him approch,
He breath’d his sword, and rested him till day:
Which when he spyde upon the earth t’ encroch,
Through the dead carcases he made his way,
Mongst which he found a sword of better say,
With which he forth went into th’ open light:        420
Where all the rest for him did readie stay,
And fierce assayling him, with all their might
Gan all upon him lay: there gan a dreadfull fight.
How many flyes in whottest sommers day
Do seize upon some beast, whose flesh is bare,        425
That all the place with swarmes do overlay,
And with their litle stings right felly fare;
So many theeves about him swarming are,
All which do him assayle on every side,
And sore oppresse, ne any him doth spare:        430
But he doth with his raging brond divide
Their thickest troups, and round about him scattreth wide.
Like as a lion mongst an heard of dere,
Disperseth them to catch his choysest pray;
So did he fly amongst them here and there,        435
And all that nere him came did hew and slay,
Till he had strowd with bodies all the way;
That none his daunger daring to abide,
Fled from his wrath, and did themselves convay
Into their caves, their heads from death to hide,        440
Ne any left, that victorie to him envide.
Then backe returning to his dearest deare,
He her gan to recomfort, all he might,
With gladfull speaches and with lovely cheare,
And forth her bringing to the joyous light,        445
Whereof she long had lackt the wishfull sight,
Deviz’d all goodly meanes, from her to drive
The sad remembrance of her wretched plight.
So her uneath at last he did revive,
That long had lyen dead, and made againe alive.        450
This doen, into those theevish dens he went,
And thence did all the spoyles and threasures take,
Which they from many long had robd and rent,
But Fortune now the victors meed did make;
Of which the best he did his love betake;        455
And also all those flockes, which they before
Had reft from Melibœ and from his make,
He did them all to Coridon restore:
So drove them all away, and his love with him bore.

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