Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book I. The Legend of the Knight of the Red Crosse
Canto VI
        From lawlesse lust by wondrous grace
  Fayre Una is releast:
Whom salvage nation does adore,
  And learnes her wise beheast.

AS when a ship, that flyes fayre under sayle,
An hidden rocke escaped hath unwares,
That lay in waite her wrack for to bewaile,
The marriner, yet halfe amazed, stares
At perill past, and yet in doubt ne dares        5
To joy at his foolhappie oversight:
So doubly is distrest twixt joy and cares
The dreadlesse corage of this Elfin knight,
Having escapt so sad ensamples in his sight.
Yet sad he was, that his too hastie speed
The fayre Duess’ had forst him leave behind;
And yet more sad, that Una, his deare dreed,
Her truth had staynd with treason so unkind:
Yet cryme in her could never creature find,
But for his love, and for her own selfe sake,        15
She wandered had from one to other Ynd,
Him for to seeke, ne ever would forsake,
Till her unwares the fiers Sansloy did overtake.
Who, after Archimagoes fowle defeat,
Led her away into a forest wilde,        20
And turning wrathfull fyre to lustfull heat,
With beastly sin thought her to have defilde,
And made the vassall of his pleasures vilde.
Yet first he cast by treatie, and by traynes,
Her to persuade that stubborne fort to yilde:        25
For greater conquest of hard love he gaynes,
That workes it to his will, then he that it constraines.
With fawning wordes he courted her a while,
And, looking lovely and oft sighing sore,
Her constant hart did tempt with diverse guile:        30
But wordes, and lookes, and sighes she did abhore,
As rock of diamond stedfast evermore.
Yet for to feed his fyrie lustfull eye,
He snatcht the vele that hong her face before:
Then gan her beautie shyne as brightest skye,        35
And burnt his beastly hart t’ efforce her chastitye.
So when he saw his flatt’ring artes to fayle,
And subtile engines bett from batteree,
With greedy force he gan the fort assayle,
Whereof he weend possessed soone to bee,        40
And win rich spoile of ransackt chastitee.
Ah! heavens, that doe this hideous act behold,
And heavenly virgin thus outraged see,
How can ye vengeance just so long withhold,
And hurle not flashing flames upon that Paynim bold?        45
The pitteous mayden, carefull comfortlesse,
Does throw out thrilling shriekes, and shrieking cryes,
The last vaine helpe of wemens great distresse,
And with loud plaintes importuneth the skyes;
That molten starres doe drop like weeping eyes,        50
And Phœbus, flying so most shamefull sight,
His blushing face in foggy cloud implyes,
And hydes for shame. What witt of mortall wight
Can now devise to quitt a thrall from such a plight?
Eternall Providence, exceeding thought,
Where none appeares can make her selfe a way:
A wondrous way it for this lady wrought,
From lyons clawes to pluck the gryped pray.
Her shrill outcryes and shrieks so loud did bray,
That all the woodes and forestes did resownd;        60
A troupe of Faunes and Satyres far a way
Within the wood were dauncing in a rownd,
Whiles old Sylvanus slept in shady arber sownd.
Who, when they heard that pitteous strained voice,
In haste forsooke their rurall meriment,        65
And ran towardes the far rebownded noyce,
To weet what wight so loudly did lament.
Unto the place they come incontinent:
Whom when the raging Sarazin espyde,
A rude, mishapen, monstrous rablement,        70
Whose like he never saw, he durst not byde,
But got his ready steed, and fast away gan ryde.
The wyld woodgods, arrived in the place,
There find the virgin doolfull desolate,
With ruffled rayments, and fayre blubbred face,        75
As her outrageous foe had left her late,
And trembling yet through feare of former hate.
All stand amazed at so uncouth sight,
And gin to pittie her unhappie state;
All stand astonied at her beautie bright,        80
In their rude eyes unworthy of so wofull plight.
She, more amazd, in double dread doth dwell;
And every tender part for feare does shake:
As when a greedy wolfe, through honger fell,
A seely lamb far from the flock does take,        85
Of whom he meanes his bloody feast to make,
A lyon spyes fast running towards him,
The innocent pray in hast he does forsake,
Which, quitt from death, yet quakes in every lim
With chaunge of feare, to see the lyon looke so grim.        90
Such fearefull fitt assaid her trembling hart,
Ne word to speake, ne joynt to move, she had:
The salvage nation feele her secret smart,
And read her sorrow in her count’nance sad:
Their frowning forheades, with rough hornes yclad,        95
And rustick horror, all a syde doe lay,
And, gently grenning, shew a semblance glad
To comfort her, and, feare to put away,
Their backward bent knees teach her humbly to obay.
The doubtfull damzell dare not yet committ
Her single person to their barbarous truth,
But still twixt feare and hope amazd does sitt,
Late learnd what harme to hasty trust ensu’th:
They, in compassion of her tender youth,
And wonder of her beautie soverayne,        105
Are wonne with pitty and unwonted ruth,
And all prostrate upon the lowly playne,
Doe kisse her feete, and fawne on her with count’nance fayne.
Their harts she ghesseth by their humble guise,
And yieldes her to extremitie of time;        110
So from the ground she fearelesse doth arise,
And walketh forth without suspect of crime:
They all as glad as birdes of joyous pryme,
Thence lead her forth, about her dauncing round,
Shouting, and singing all a shepheards ryme;        115
And, with greene braunches strowing all the ground,
Do worship her as queene with olive girlond cround.
And all the way their merry pipes they sound,
That all the woods with doubled eccho ring,
And with their horned feet doe weare the ground,        120
Leaping like wanton kids in pleasant spring.
So towards old Sylvanus they her bring;
Who with the noyse awaked, commeth out
To weet the cause, his weake steps governing
And aged limbs on cypresse stadle stout;        125
And with an yvie twyne his waste is girt about.
Far off he wonders what them makes so glad,
Or Bacchus merry fruit they did invent,
Or Cybeles franticke rites have made them mad.
They, drawing nigh, unto their god present        130
That flowre of fayth and beautie excellent:
The god himselfe, vewing that mirrhour rare,
Stood long amazd, and burnt in his intent:
His owne fayre Dryope now he thinkes not faire,
And Pholoe fowle, when her to this he doth compaire.        135
The woodborne people fall before her flat,
And worship her as goddesse of the wood;
And old Sylvanus selfe bethinkes not, what
To thinke of wight so fayre, but gazing stood,
In doubt to deeme her borne of earthly brood:        140
Sometimes Dame Venus selfe he seemes to see,
But Venus never had so sober mood;
Sometimes Diana he her takes to be,
But misseth bow, and shaftes, and buskins to her knee.
By vew of her he ginneth to revive
His ancient love, and dearest Cyparisse;
And calles to mind his pourtraiture alive,
How fayre he was, and yet not fayre to this;
And how he slew with glauncing dart amisse
A gentle hynd, the which the lovely boy        150
Did love as life, above all worldly blisse;
For griefe whereof the lad n’ould after joy,
But pynd away in anguish and selfewild annoy.
The wooddy nymphes, faire Hamadryades,
Her to behold do thether runne apace,        155
And all the troupe of light-foot Naiades
Flocke all about to see her lovely face:
But when they vewed have her heavenly grace,
They envy her in their malitious mind,
And fly away for feare of fowle disgrace:        160
But all the Satyres scorne their woody kind,
And henceforth nothing faire, but her, on earth they find.
Glad of such lucke, the luckelesse lucky mayd
Did her content to please their feeble eyes,
And long time with that salvage people stayd,        165
To gather breath in many miseryes.
During which time her gentle wit she plyes,
To teach them truth, which worshipt her in vaine,
And made her th’ image of idolatryes;
But when their bootlesse zeale she did restrayne        170
From her own worship, they her asse would worship fayn.
It fortuned, a noble warlike knight
By just occasion to that forrest came,
To seeke his kindred, and the lignage right,
From whence he tooke his weldeserved name:        175
He had in armes abroad wonne muchell fame,
And fild far landes with glorie of his might;
Plaine, faithfull, true, and enimy of shame,
And ever lov’d to fight for ladies right,
But in vaine glorious frayes he litle did delight.        180
A Satyres sonne yborne in forrest wyld,
By straunge adventure as it did betyde,
And there begotten of a lady myld,
Fayre Thyamis the daughter of Labryde,
That was in sacred bandes of wedlocke tyde        185
To Therion, a loose unruly swayne,
Who had more joy to raunge the forrest wyde,
And chase the salvage beast with busie payne,
Then serve his ladies love, and waste in pleasures vayne.
The forlorne mayd did with loves longing burne,
And could not lacke her lovers company,
But to the wood she goes, to serve her turne,
And seeke her spouse, that from her still does fly,
And followes other game and venery.
A Satyre chaunst her wandring for to finde,        195
And kindling coles of lust in brutish eye,
The loyall linkes of wedlocke did unbinde,
And made her person thrall unto his beastly kind.
So long in secret cabin there he held
Her captive to his sensuall desyre,        200
Till that with timely fruit her belly sweld,
And bore a boy unto that salvage syre:
Then home he suffred her for to retyre,
For ransome leaving him the late-borne childe;
Whom, till to ryper yeares he gan aspyre,        205
He nousled up in life and manners wilde,
Emongst wild beastes and woods, from lawes of men exilde.
For all he taught the tender ymp was but
To banish cowardize and bastard feare:
His trembling hand he would him force to put        210
Upon the lyon and the rugged beare,
And from the she beares teats her whelps to teare;
And eke wyld roring buls he would him make
To tame, and ryde their backes not made to beare;
And the robuckes in flight to overtake:        215
That everie beast for feare of him did fly and quake.
Thereby so fearelesse and so fell he grew,
That his owne syre and maister of his guise
Did often tremble at his horrid vew,
And oft, for dread of hurt, would him advise        220
The angry beastes not rashly to despise,
Nor too much to provoke: for he would learne
The lyon stoup to him in lowly wise,
(A lesson hard) and make the libbard sterne
Leave roaring, when in rage he for revenge did earne.        225
And for to make his powre approved more,
Wyld beastes in yron yokes he would compell;
The spotted panther, and the tusked bore,
The pardale swift, and the tigre cruell,
The antelope, and wolfe both fiers and fell;        230
And them constraine in equall teme to draw.
Such joy he had their stubborne harts to quell,
And sturdie courage tame with dreadfullaw,
That his beheast they feared, as a tyrans law.
His loving mother came upon a day
Unto the woodes, to see her little sonne;
And chaunst unwares to meet him in the way,
After his sportes and cruell pastime donne,
When after him a lyonesse did runne,
That roaring all with rage, did lowd requere        240
Her children deare, whom he away had wonne:
The lyon whelpes she saw how he did beare,
And lull in rugged armes, withouten childish feare.
The fearefull dame all quaked at the sight,
And turning backe gan fast to fly away,        245
Untill, with love revokt from vaine affright,
She hardly yet perswaded was to stay,
And then to him these womanish words gan say:
‘Ah! Satyrane, my dearling and my joy,
For love of me leave off this dreadfull play;        250
To dally thus with death is no fit toy:
Go find some other play-fellowes, mine own sweet boy.’
In these and like delightes of bloody game
He trayned was, till ryper yeares he raught;
And there abode, whylst any beast of name        255
Walkt in that forrest, whom he had not taught
To feare his force: and then his courage haught
Desyrd of forreine foemen to be knowne,
And far abroad for straunge adventures sought:
In which his might was never overthrowne,        260
But through al Faery Lond his famous worth was blown.
Yet evermore it was his maner faire,
After long labours and adventures spent,
Unto those native woods for to repaire,
To see his syre and ofspring auncient.        265
And now he thether came for like intent;
Where he unwares the fairest Una found,
Straunge lady, in so straunge habiliment,
Teaching the Satyres, which her sat around,
Trew sacred lore, which from her sweet lips did redound.        270
He wondred at her wisedome hevenly rare,
Whose like in womens witt he never knew;
And when her curteous deeds he did compare,
Gan her admire, and her sad sorrowes rew,
Blaming of Fortune, which such troubles threw,        275
And joyd to make proofe of her cruelty
On gentle dame, so hurtlesse and so trew:
Thenceforth he kept her goodly company,
And learnd her discipline of faith and verity.
But she, all vowd unto the Redcrosse Knight,
His wandring perill closely did lament,
Ne in this new acquaintaunce could delight,
But her deare heart with anguish did torment,
And all her witt in secret counsels spent,
How to escape. At last in privy wise        285
To Satyrane she shewed her intent;
Who, glad to gain such favour, gan devise,
How with that pensive maid he best might thence arise.
So on a day, when Satyres all were gone
To doe their service to Sylvanus old,        290
The gentle virgin, left behinde alone,
He led away with corage stout and bold.
Too late it was to Satyres to be told,
Or ever hope recover her againe:
In vaine he seekes that, having, cannot hold.        295
So fast he carried her with carefull paine,
That they the wods are past, and come now to the plaine.
The better part now of the lingring day
They traveild had, whenas they far espide
A weary wight forwandring by the way,        300
And towards him they gan in hast to ride,
To weete of newes that did abroad betide,
Or tidings of her Knight of the Redcrosse.
But he, them spying, gan to turne aside
For feare, as seemd, or for some feigned losse:        305
More greedy they of newes fast towards him do crosse.
A silly man, in simple weeds forworne,
And soild with dust of the long dried way;
His sandales were with toilsome travell torne,
And face all tand with scorching sunny ray,        310
As he had traveild many a sommers day
Through boyling sands of Arabie and Ynde;
And in his hand a Jacobs staffe, to stay
His weary limbs upon; and eke behind
His scrip did hang, in which his needments he did bind.        315
The knight, approching nigh, of him inquerd
Tidings of warre, and of adventures new;
But warres, nor new adventures, none he herd.
Then Una gan to aske, if ought he knew
Or heard abroad of that her champion trew,        320
That in his armour bare a croslet red.
‘Ay me! deare dame,’ quoth he, ‘well may I rew
To tell the sad sight which mine eies have red:
These eies did see that knight both living and eke ded.’
That cruell word her tender hart so thrild,
That suddein cold did ronne through every vaine,
And stony horrour all her sences fild
With dying fitt, that downe she fell for paine.
The knight her lightly reared up againe,
And comforted with curteous kind reliefe:        330
Then, wonne from death, she bad him tellen plaine
The further processe of her hidden griefe;
The lesser pangs can beare, who hath endur’d the chief.
Then gan the pilgrim thus: ‘I chaunst this day,
This fatall day, that shall I ever rew,        335
To see two knights in travell on my way
(A sory sight) arraung’d in batteill new,
Both breathing vengeaunce, both of wrathfull hew:
My feareful flesh did tremble at their strife,
To see their blades so greedily imbrew,        340
That, dronke with blood, yet thristed after life:
What more? the Redcrosse Knight was slain with Paynim knife.’
‘Ah, dearest Lord!’ quoth she, ‘how might that bee,
And he the stoutest knight, that ever wonne?’
‘Ah, dearest dame,’ quoth hee, ‘how might I see        345
The thing, that might not be, and yet was donne?’
‘Where is,’ said Satyrane, ‘that Paynims sonne,
That him of life, and us of joy, hath refte?’
‘Nor far away,’ quoth he, ‘he hence doth wonne,
Foreby a fountaine, where I late him lefte        350
Washing his bloody wounds, that through the steele were cleft.’
Therewith the knight thence marched forth in hast,
Whiles Una, with huge heavinesse opprest,
Could not for sorrow follow him so fast;
And soone he came, as he the place had ghest,        355
Whereas that Pagan proud him selfe did rest
In secret shadow by a fountaine side:
Even he it was, that earst would have supprest
Faire Una: whom when Satyrane espide,
With foule reprochfull words he boldly him defide;        360
And said: ‘Arise, thou cursed miscreaunt,
That hast with knightlesse guile and trecherous train
Faire knighthood fowly shamed, and doest vaunt
That good Knight of the Redcrosse to have slain:
Arise, and with like treason now maintain        365
Thy guilty wrong, or els thee quilty yield.’
The Sarazin, this hearing, rose amain,
And catching up in hast his three square shield
And shining helmet, soone him buckled to the field;
And, drawing nigh him, said: ‘Ah, misborn Elfe!
In evill houre thy foes thee hither sent,
Anothers wrongs to wreak upon thy selfe:
Yet ill thou blamest me, for having blent
My name with guile and traiterous intent:
That Redcrosse Knight, perdie, I never slew;        375
But had he beene where earst his armes were lent,
Th’ enchaunter vaine his errour should not rew:
But thou his errour shalt, I hope, now proven trew.’
Therewith they gan, both furious and fell,
To thunder blowes, and fiersly to assaile        380
Each other, bent his enimy to quell;
That with their force they perst both plate and maile,
And made wide furrowes in their fleshes fraile,
That it would pitty any living eie.
Large floods of blood adowne their sides did raile;        385
But floods of blood could not them satisfie:
Both hongred after death: both chose to win, or die.
So long they fight, and fell revenge pursue,
That, fainting each, them selves to breathen lett,
And, ofte refreshed, battell oft renue:        390
As when two bores, with rancling malice mett,
Their gory sides fresh bleeding fiercely frett,
Til breathlesse both them selves aside retire,
Where, foming wrath, their cruell tuskes they whett,
And trample th’ earth, the whiles they may respire;        395
Then backe to fight againe, new breathed and entire.
So fiersly, when these knights had breathed once,
They gan to fight retourne, increasing more
Their puissant force and cruell rage attonce,
With heaped strokes more hugely then before,        400
That with their drery wounds and bloody gore
They both deformed, scarsely could bee known.
By this, sad Una fraught with anguish sore,
Led with their noise, which through the aire was thrown,
Arriv’d, wher they in erth their fruitles blood had sown.        405
Whom all so soone as that proud Sarazin
Espide, he gan revive the memory
Of his leud lusts, and late attempted sin,
And lefte the doubtfull battell hastily,
To catch her, newly offred to his eie:        410
But Satyrane, with strokes him turning, staid,
And sternely bad him other businesse plie
Then hunt the steps of pure unspotted maid:
Wherewith he al enrag’d, these bitter speaches said:
‘O foolish Faeries sonne! what fury mad
Hath thee incenst to hast thy dolefull fate?
Were it not better I that lady had
Then that thou hadst repented it too late?
Most sencelesse man he, that himselfe doth hate,
To love another. Lo then, for thine ayd,        420
Here take thy lovers token on thy pate.’
So they two fight; the whiles the royall mayd
Fledd farre away, of that proud Paynim sore afrayd.
But that false pilgrim, which that leasing told,
Being in deed old Archimage, did stay        425
In secret shadow, all this to behold,
And much rejoyced in their bloody fray:
But when he saw the damsell passe away,
He left his stond, and her pursewd apace,
In hope to bring her to her last decay.        430
But for to tell her lamentable cace,
And eke this battels end, will need another place.

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