Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book VII. Two Cantos of Mutabilitie
Canto VI



        Proud Change (not pleasd in mortall things
  Beneath the moone to raigne)
Pretends, as well of gods as men,
  To be the soveraine.

WHAT man that sees the ever-whirling wheele
Of Change, the which all mortall things doth sway,
But that therby doth find, and plainly feele,
How Mutability in them doth play
Her cruell sports, to many mens decay?        5
Which that to all may better yet appeare,
I will rehearse that whylome I heard say,
How she at first her selfe began to reare
Gainst all the gods, and th’ empire sought from them to beare.
But first, here falleth fittest to unfold
Her antique race and linage ancient,
As I have found it registred of old
In Faery Land mongst records permanent.
She was, to weet, a daughter by descent
Of those old Titans that did whylome strive        15
With Saturnes sonne for heavens regiment;
Whom though high Jove of Kingdome did deprive,
Yet many of their stemme long after did survive.
And many of them afterwards obtain’d
Great power of Jove, and high authority:        20
As Hecatè, in whose almighty hand
He plac’t all rule and principality,
To be by her disposed diversly,
To gods and men, as she them list divide;
And drad Bellona, that doth sound on hie        25
Warres and allarums unto nations wide,
That makes both heaven and earth to tremble at her pride.
So likewise did this Titanesse aspire,
Rule and dominion to her selfe to gaine;
That as a goddesse men might her admire,        30
And heavenly honours yield, as to them twaine.
And first, on earth she sought it to obtaine;
Where she such proofe and sad examples shewed
Of her great power, to many ones great paine,
That not men onely (whom she soone subdewed),        35
But eke all other creatures, her bad dooings rewed.
For she the face of earthly things so changed,
That all which Nature had establisht first
In good estate, and in meet order ranged,
She did pervert, and all their statutes burst:        40
And all the worlds faire frame (which none yet durst
Of gods or men to alter or misguide)
She alter’d quite, and made them all accurst
That God had blest, and did at first provide
In that still happy state for ever to abide.        45
Ne shee the lawes of Nature onely brake,
But eke of Justice, and of Policie;
And wrong of right, and bad of good did make,
And death for life exchanged foolishlie:
Since which, all living wights have learn’d to die,        50
And all this world is woxen daily worse.
O pittious worke of Mutabilitie!
By which we all are subject to that curse,
And death, in stead of life, have sucked from our nurse.
And now, when all the earth she thus had brought
To her behest, and thralled to her might,
She gan to cast in her ambitious thought
T’ attempt the empire of the heavens hight,
And Jove himselfe to shoulder from his right.
And first, she past the region of the ayre,        60
And of the fire, whose substance thin and slight
Made no resistance, ne could her contraire,
But ready passage to her pleasure did prepaire.
Thence to the circle of the Moone she clambe,
Where Cynthia raignes in everlasting glory,        65
To whose bright shining palace straight she came,
All fairely deckt with heavens goodly story:
Whose silver gates (by which there sate an hory
Old aged sire, with hower-glasse in hand,
Hight Tyme) she entred, were he liefe or sory:        70
Ne staide till she the highest stage had scand,
Where Cynthia did sit, that never still did stand.
Her sitting on an ivory throne shee found,
Drawne of two steeds, th’ one black, the other white,
Environd with tenne thousand starres around,        75
That duly her attended day and night;
And by her side there ran her page, that hight
Vesper, whom we the evening-starre intend:
That with his torche, still twinkling like twylight,
Her lightened all the way where she should wend,        80
And joy to weary wandring travailers did lend:
That when the hardy Titanesse beheld
The goodly building of her palace bright,
Made of the heavens substance, and up-held
With thousand crystall pillors of huge hight,        85
Shee gan to burne in her ambitious spright,
And t’ envie her that in such glorie raigned.
Eftsoones she cast by force and tortious might
Her to displace, and to her selfe to have gained
The kingdome of the night, and waters by her wained.        90
Boldly she bid the goddesse downe descend,
And let her selfe into that ivory throne;
For shee her selfe more worthy thereof wend,
And better able it to guide alone:
Whether to men, whose fall she did bemone,        95
Or unto gods, whose state she did maligne,
Or to th’ infernall powers, her need give lone
Of her faire light and bounty most benigne,
Her selfe of all that rule shee deemed most condigne.
But shee that had to her that soveraigne seat
By highest Jove assign’d, therein to beare
Nights burning lamp, regarded not her threat,
Ne yielded ought for favour or for feare;
But with sterne countenaunce and disdainfull cheare,
Bending her horned browes, did put her back:        105
And boldly blaming her for comming there,
Bade her attonce from heavens coast to pack,
Or at her perill bide the wrathfull thunders wrack.
Yet nathemore the Giantesse forbare:
But boldly preacing-on, raught forth her hand        110
To pluck her downe perforce from off her chaire;
And there-with lifting up her golden wand,
Threatned to strike her if she did withstand.
Where-at the starres, which round about her blazed,
And eke the Moones bright wagon, still did stand.        115
All beeing with so bold attempt amazed,
And on her uncouth habit and sterne looke still gazed.
Meane-while the lower world, which nothing knew
Of all that chaunced here, was darkned quite;
And eke the heavens, and all the heavenly crew        120
Of happy wights, now unpurvaide of light,
Were much afraid, and wondred at that sight;
Fearing least Chaos broken had his chaine,
And brought againe on them eternall night:
But chiefely Mercury, that next doth raigne,        125
Ran forth in haste, unto the king of gods to plaine.
All ran together with a great out-cry
To Joves faire palace, fixt in heavens hight;
And beating at his gates full earnestly,
Gan call to him aloud with all their might,        130
To know what meant that suddaine lack of light.
The father of the gods, when this he heard,
Was troubled much at their so strange affright,
Doubting least Typhon were againe up-rear’d,
Or other his old foes, that once him sorely fear’d.        135
Eftsoones the sonne of Maia forth he sent
Downe to the circle of the Moone, to knowe
The cause of this so strange astonishment,
And why shee did her wonted course forslowe;
And if that any were on earth belowe        140
That did with charmes or magick her molest,
Him to attache, and downe to hell to throwe:
But, if from heaven it were, then to arrest
The author, and him bring before his presence prest.
The wingd-foot god so fast his plumes did beat,
That soone he came where-as the Titanesse
Was striving with faire Cynthia for her seat:
At whose strange sight and haughty hardinesse
He wondred much, and feared her no lesse.
Yet laying feare aside to doe his charge,        150
At last he bade her (with bold stedfastnesse)
Ceasse to molest the Moone to walke at large,
Or come before high Jove, her dooings to discharge.
And there-with-all, he on her shoulder laid
His snaky-wreathed mace, whose awfull power        155
Doth make both gods and hellish fiends affraid:
Where-at the Titanesse did sternely lower,
And stoutly answer’d, that in evill hower
He from his Jove such message to her brought,
To bid her leave faire Cynthias silver bower;        160
Sith shee his Jove and him esteemed nought,
No more then Cynthia’s selfe; but all their kingdoms sought.
The heavens herald staid not to reply,
But past away, his doings to relate
Unto his lord; who now, in th’ highest sky,        165
Was placed in his principall estate,
With all the gods about him congregate:
To whom when Hermes had his message told,
It did them all exceedingly amate,
Save Jove; who, changing nought his count’nance bold,        170
Did unto them at length these speeches wise unfold:
‘Harken to mee awhile, yee heavenly powers:
Ye may remember since th’ Earths cursed seed
Sought to assaile the heavens eternall towers,
And to us all exceeding feare did breed:        175
But how we then defeated all their deed,
Yee all doe knowe, and them destroied quite;
Yet not so quite, but that there did succeed
An off-spring of their bloud, which did alite
Upon the fruitfull earth, which doth us yet despite.        180
‘Of that bad seed is this bold woman bred,
That now with bold presumption doth aspire
To thrust faire Phœbe from her silver bed,
And eke our selves from heavens high empire,
If that her might were match to her desire:        185
Wherefore, it now behoves us to advise
What way is best to drive her to retire;
Whether by open force or counsell wise,
Areed, ye sonnes of God, as best ye can devise.’
So having said, he ceast; and with his brow
(His black eye-brow, whose doomefull dreaded beck
Is wont to wield the world unto his vow,
And even the highest powers of heaven to check)
Made signe to them in their degrees to speake:
Who straight gan cast their counsell grave and wise.        195
Meane-while th’ Earths daughter, thogh she nought did reck
Of Hermes message, yet gan now advise,
What course were best to take in this hot bold emprize.
Eftsoones she thus resolv’d; that whil’st the gods
(After returne of Hermes embassie)        200
Were troubled, and amongst themselves at ods,
Before they could new counsels re-allie,
To set upon them in that extasie;
And take what fortune time and place would lend:
So forth she rose, and through the purest sky        205
To Joves high palace straight cast to ascend,
To prosecute her plot: good on-set boads good end.
Shee there arriving, boldly in did pass;
Where all the gods she found in counsell close,
All quite unarm’d, as then their manner was.        210
At sight of her they suddaine all arose,
In great amaze, ne wist what way to chose.
But Jove, all fearelesse, forc’t them to aby;
And in his soveraine throne, gan straight dispose
Himselfe more full of grace and majestie,        215
That mote encheare his friends, and foes mote terrifie.
That when the haughty Titanesse beheld,
All were she fraught with pride and impudence,
Yet with the sight thereof was almost queld;
And inly quaking, seem’d as reft of sense,        220
And voyd of speech in that drad audience;
Untill that Jove himselfe her selfe bespake:
‘Speake, thou fraile woman, speake with confidence;
Whence art thou, and what doost thou here now make?
What idle errand hast thou, earths mansion to forsake?’        225
Shee, halfe confused with his great commaund,
Yet gathering spirit of her natures pride,
Him boldly answer’d thus to his demaund:
‘I am a daughter, by the mothers side,
Of her that is grand-mother magnifide        230
Of all the gods, great Earth, great Chaos child:
But by the fathers (be it not envide)
I greater am in bloud (whereon I build)
Then all the gods, though wrongfully from heaven exil’d.
‘For Titan (as ye all acknowledge must)
Was Saturnes elder brother by birth-right;
Both, sonnes of Uranus: but by unjust
And guilefull meanes, through Corybantes slight,
The younger thrust the elder from his right:
Since which thou, Jove, injuriously hast held        240
The heavens rule from Titans sonnes by might;
And them to hellish dungeons downe hast feld:
Witnesse, ye heavens, the truth of all that I have teld.’
Whil’st she thus spake, the gods, that gave good eare
To her bold words, and marked well her grace,        245
Beeing of stature tall as any there
Of all the gods, and beautifull of face
As any of the goddesses in place,
Stood all astonied; like a sort of steeres,
Mongst whom some beast of strange and forraine race        250
Unwares is chaunc’t, far straying from his peeres:
So did their ghastly gaze bewray their hidden feares.
Till, having pauz’d awhile, Jove thus bespake:
‘Will never mortall thoughts ceasse to aspire,
In this bold sort, to heaven claime to make,        255
And touch celestiall seates with earthly mire?
I would have thought that bold Procrustes hire,
Or Typhons fall, or proud Ixions paine,
Or great Prometheus tasting of our ire,
Would have suffiz’d the rest for to restraine,        260
And warn’d all men, by their example, to refraine:
‘But now this off-scum of that cursed fry
Dare to renew the like bold enterprize,
And chalenge th’ heritage of this our skie;
Whom what should hinder, but that we likewise        265
Should handle as the rest of her allies,
And thunder-drive to hell?’ With that, he shooke
His nectar-deawed locks, with which the skyes
And all the world beneath for terror quooke,
And left his burning levin-brond in hand he tooke.        270
But, when he looked on her lovely face,
In which faire beames of beauty did appeare,
That could the greatest wrath soone turne to grace
(Such sway doth beauty even in heaven beare)
He staide his hand: and having chang’d his cheare,        275
He thus againe in milder wise began:
‘But ah! if gods should strive with flesh yfere,
Then shortly should the progeny of man
Be rooted out, if Jove should doe still what he can.
‘But thee, faire Titans child, I rather weene,
Through some vaine errour, or inducement light,
To see that mortall eyes have never seene;
Or through ensample of thy sisters might,
Bellona, whose great glory thou doost spight,
Since thou hast seene her dreadfull power belowe,        285
Mongst wretched men, dismaide with her affright,
To bandie crownes, and kingdomes to bestowe:
And sure thy worth no lesse then hers doth seem to showe.
‘But wote thou this, thou hardy Titanesse,
That not the worth of any living wight        290
May challenge ought in heavens interesse;
Much lesse the title of old Titans right:
For we by conquest of our soveraine might,
And by eternall doome of Fates decree,
Have wonne the empire of the heavens bright;        295
Which to ourselves we hold, and to whom wee
Shall worthy deeme partakers of our blisse to bee.
‘Then ceasse thy idle claime, thou foolish gerle,
And seeke by grace and goodnesse to obtaine
That place from which by folly Titan fell;        300
There-to thou maist perhaps, if so thou faine,
Have Jove thy gratious lord and soveraigne.’
So having said, she thus to him replide:
‘Ceasse, Saturnes sonne, to seeke by proffers vaine
Of idle hopes t’ allure mee to thy side,        305
For to betray my right, before I have it tride.
‘But thee, O Jove, no equall judge I deeme
Of my desert, or of my dewfull right;
That in thine owne behalfe maist partiall seeme:
But to the highest him, that is behight        310
Father of gods and men by equall might,
To weet, the god of Nature, I appeale.’
There-at Jove wexed wroth, and in his spright
Did inly grudge, yet did it well conceale;
And bade Dan Phœbus scribe her appellation seale.        315
Eftsoones the time and place appointed were,
Where all, both heavenly powers and earthly wights,
Before great Natures presence should appeare,
For triall of their titles and best rights:
That was, to weet, upon the highest hights        320
Of Arlo-hill (Who knowes not Arlo-hill?)
That is the highest head (in all mens sights)
Of my old father Mole, whom shepheards quill
Renowmed hath with hymnes fit for a rurall skill.
And, were it not ill fitting for this file,
To sing of hilles and woods, mongst warres and knights,
I would abate the sternenesse of my stile,
Mongst these sterne stounds to mingle soft delights;
And tell how Arlo through Dianaes spights
(Beeing of old the best and fairest hill        330
That was in all this holy-islands hights)
Was made the most unpleasant and most ill.
Meane while, O Clio, lend Calliope thy quill.
Whylome, when Ireland florished in fame
Of wealths and goodnesse, far above the rest        335
Of all that beare the British Islands name,
The gods then us’d (for pleasure and for rest)
Oft to resort there-to, when seem’d them best:
But none of all there-in more pleasure found
Then Cynthia, that is soveraine queene profest        340
Of woods and forrests, which therein abound,
Sprinkled with wholsom waters more then most on ground.
But mongst them all, as fittest for her game,
Either for chace of beasts with hound or boawe,
Or for to shroude in shade from Phœbus flame,        345
Or bathe in fountaines that doe freshly flowe,
Or from high hilles, or from the dales belowe,
She chose this Arlo; where shee did resort
With all her nymphes enranged on a rowe,
With whom the woody gods did oft consort:        350
For with the nymphes the satyres love to play and sport.
Amongst the which there was a nymph that hight
Molanna, daughter of old Father Mole,
And sister unto Mulla, faire and bright,
Unto whose bed false Bregog whylome stole,        355
That Shepheard Colin dearely did condole,
And made her lucklesse loves well knowne to be.
But this Molanna, were she not so shole,
Were no lesse faire and beautifull then shee:
Yet as she is, a fairer flood may no man see.        360
For, first, she springs out of two marble rocks,
On which a grove of oakes high-mounted growes,
That as a girlond seemes to deck the locks
Of som faire bride, brought forth with pompous showes
Out of her bowre, that many flowers strowes:        365
So, through the flowry dales she tumbling downe,
Through many woods and shady coverts flowes
(That on each side her silver channell crowne)
Till to the plaine she come, whose valleyes shee doth drowne.
In her sweet streames Diana used oft
(After her sweatie chace and toilesome play)
To bathe her selfe; and after, on the soft
And downy grasse, her dainty limbes to lay
In covert shade, where none behold her may:
For much she hated sight of living eye.        375
Foolish god Faunus, though full many a day
He saw her clad, yet longed foolishly
To see her naked mongst her nymphes in privity.
No way he found to compasse his desire,
But to corrupt Molanna, this her maid,        380
Her to discover for some secret hire:
So her with flattering words he first assaid;
And after, pleasing gifts for her purvaid,
Queene-apples, and red cherries from the tree,
With which he her allured and betraid,        385
To tell what time he might her lady see
When she her selfe did bathe, that he might secret bee.
There-to hee promist, if shee would him pleasure
With this small boone, to quit her with a better;
To weet, that where-as shee had out of measure        390
Long lov’d the Fanchin, who by nought did set her,
That he would undertake for this to get her
To be his love, and of him liked well:
Besides all which, he vow’d to be her debter
For many moe good turnes then he would tell;        395
The least of which this little pleasure should excell.
The simple maid did yield to him anone;
And eft him placed where he close might view
That never any saw, save onely one,
Who, for his hire to so foole-hardy dew,        400
Was of his hounds devour’d in hunters hew.
Tho, as her manner was on sunny day,
Diana, with her nymphes about her, drew
To this sweet spring; where, doffing her array,
She bath’d her lovely limbes, for Jove a likely pray.        405
There Faunus saw that pleased much his eye,
And made his hart to tickle in his brest,
That, for great joy of some-what he did spy,
He could him not containe in silent rest;
But breaking forth in laughter, loud profest        410
His foolish thought. A foolish Faune indeed,
That couldst not hold thy selfe so hidden blest,
But wouldest needs thine owne conceit areed!
Babblers unworthy been of so divine a meed.
The goddesse, all abashed with that noise,
In haste forth started from the guilty brooke;
And running straight where-as she heard his voice,
Enclos’d the bush about, and there him tooke,
Like darred larke, not daring up to looke
On her whose sight before so much he sought.        420
Thence forth they drew him by the hornes, and shooke
Nigh all to peeces, that they left him nought;
And then into the open light they forth him brought.
Like as an huswife, that with busie care
Thinks of her dairie to make wondrous gaine,        425
Finding where-as some wicked beast unware
That breakes into her dayr’ house, there doth draine
Her creaming pannes, and frustrate all her paine,
Hath, in some snare or gin set close behind,
Entrapped him, and caught into her traine,        430
Then thinkes what punishment were best assign’d,
And thousand deathes deviseth in her vengefull mind:
So did Diana and her maydens all
Use silly Faunus, now within their baile:
They mocke and scorne him, and him foule miscall;        435
Some by the nose him pluckt, some by the taile,
And by his goatish beard some did him haile:
Yet he (poore soule!) with patience all did beare;
For nought against their wils might countervaile:
Ne ought he said, what ever he did heare;        440
But hanging downe his head, did like a mome appeare.
At length, when they had flouted him their fill,
They gan to cast what penaunce him to give.
Some would have gelt him, but that same would spill
The wood-gods breed, which must for ever live:        445
Others would through the river him have drive,
And ducked deepe; but that seem’d penaunce light:
But most agreed, and did this sentence give,
Him in deares skin to clad, and in that plight
To hunt him with their hounds, him selfe save how hee might.        450
But Cynthia’s selfe, more angry then the rest,
Thought not enough to punish him in sport,
And of her shame to make a gamesome jest;
But gan examine him in straighter sort,
Which of her nymphes, or other close consort,        455
Him thither brought, and her to him betraid.
He, much affeard, to her confessed short
That ’t was Molanna which her so bewraid.
Then all attonce their hands upon Molanna laid.
But him (according as they had decreed)
With a deeres-skin they covered, and then chast
With all their hounds, that after him did speed;
But he, more speedy, from them fled more fast
Then any deere: so sore him dread aghast.
They after follow’d all with shrill outcry,        465
Shouting as they the heavens would have brast:
That all the woods and dales, where he did flie,
Did ring againe, and loud reeccho to the skie.
So they him follow’d till they weary were;
When, back returning to Molann’ againe,        470
They, by commaund’ment of Diana, there
Her whelm’d with stones. Yet Faunus (for her paine)
Of her beloved Fanchin did obtaine,
That her he would receive unto his bed.
So now her waves passe through a pleasant plaine,        475
Till with the Fanchin she her selfe doe wed,
And (both combin’d) themselves in one faire river spred.
Nath’lesse, Diana, full of indignation,
Thence-forth abandond her delicious brooke;
In whose sweet streame, before that bad occasion,        480
So much delight to bathe her limbes she tooke:
Ne onely her, but also quite forsooke
All those faire forrests about Arlo hid,
And all that mountaine, which doth overlooke
The richest champian that may else be rid,        485
And the faire Shure, in which are thousand salmons bred.
Them all, and all that she so deare did way,
Thence-forth she left; and parting from the place,
There-on an heavy haplesse curse did lay,
To weet, that wolves, where she was wont to space,        490
Should harbour’d be, and all those woods deface,
And thieves should rob and spoile that coast around.
Since which, those woods, and all that goodly chase,
Doth to this day with wolves and thieves abound:
Which too-too true that lands in-dwellers since have found.        495

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