Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book II. The Legend of Sir Guyon
Canto IV
        Guyon does Furor bind in chaines,
  And stops Occasion:
Delivers Phedon, and therefore
  By Strife is rayld uppon.

IN brave poursuitt of honorable deed,
There is I know not what great difference
Betweene the vulgar and the noble seed,
Which unto things of valorous pretence
Seemes to be borne by native influence;        5
As feates of armes, and love to entertaine;
But chiefly skill to ride seemes a science
Proper to gentle blood: some others faine
To menage steeds, as did this vaunter; but in vaine.
But he, the rightfull owner of that steede,
Who well could menage and subdew his pride,
The whiles on foot was forced for to yeed,
With that blacke palmer, his most trusty guide,
Who suffred not his wandring feete to slide;
But when strong passion, or weake fleshlinesse,        15
Would from the right way seeke to draw him wide,
He would, through temperaunce and stedfastnesse,
Teach him the weak to strengthen, and the strong suppresse.
It fortuned, forth faring on his way,
He saw from far, or seemed for to see,        20
Some troublous uprore or contentious fray,
Whereto he drew in hast, it to agree.
A mad man, or that feigned mad to bee,
Drew by the heare along upon the grownd
A handsom stripling with great crueltee,        25
Whom sore he bett, and gor’d with many a wownd,
That cheekes with teares, and sydes with blood did all abownd.
And him behynd, a wicked hag did stalke,
In ragged robes and filthy disaray:
Her other leg was lame, that she no’te walke,        30
But on a staffe her feeble steps did stay:
Her lockes, that loathly were and hoarie gray,
Grew all afore, and loosly hong unrold,
But all behinde was bald, and worne away,
That none thereof could ever taken hold,        35
And eke her face ill favourd, full of wrinckles old.
And ever as she went, her toung did walke
In fowle reproch and termes of vile despight,
Provoking him, by her outrageous talke,
To heape more vengeance on that wretched wight;        40
Somtimes she raught him stones, wherwith to smite,
Sometimes her staffe, though it her one leg were,
Withouten which she could not goe upright;
Ne any evill meanes she did forbeare,
That might him move to wrath, and indignation reare.        45
The noble Guyon, mov’d with great remorse,
Approching, first the hag did thrust away,
And after, adding more impetuous forse,
His mighty hands did on the madman lay,
And pluckt him backe; who, all on fire streight way,        50
Against him turning all his fell intent,
With beastly brutish rage gan him assay,
And smott, and bitt, and kickt, and scratcht, and rent,
And did he wist not what in his avengement.
And sure he was a man of mickle might,
Had he had governaunce, it well to guyde:
But when the frantick fitt inflamd his spright,
His force was vaine, and strooke more often wyde
Then at the aymed marke which he had eyde:
And oft himselfe he chaunst to hurt unwares,        60
Whylest reason, blent through passion, nought descryde,
But as a blindfold bull at randon fares,
And where he hits, nought knowes, and whom he hurts, nought cares.
His rude assault and rugged handeling
Straunge seemed to the knight, that aye with foe        65
In fayre defence and goodly menaging
Of armes was wont to fight; yet nathemoe
Was he abashed now, not fighting so,
But, more enfierced through his currish play,
Him sternly grypt, and, hailing to and fro,        70
To overthrow him strongly did assay,
But overthrew him selfe unwares, and lower lay.
And being downe, the villein sore did beate
And bruze with clownish fistes his manly face;
And eke the hag, with many a bitter threat,        75
Still cald upon to kill him in the place.
With whose reproch and odious menace
The knight emboyling in his haughtie hart,
Knitt all his forces, and gan soone unbrace
His grasping hold: so lightly did upstart,        80
And drew his deadly weapon, to maintaine his part.
Which when the palmer saw, he loudly cryde,
‘Not so, O Guyon, never thinke that so
That monster can be maistred or destroyd:
He is not, ah! he is not such a foe,        85
As steele can wound, or strength can overthroe.
That same is Furor, cursed cruel wight,
That unto knighthood workes much shame and woe;
And that same hag, his aged mother, hight
Occasion, the roote of all wrath and despight.        90
‘With her, who so will raging Furor tame,
Must first begin, and well her amenage:
First her restraine from her reprochfull blame
And evill meanes, with which she doth enrage
Her frantick sonne, and kindles his corage;        95
Then, when she is withdrawne, or strong withstood,
It’s eath his ydle fury to aswage,
And calme the tempest of his passion wood:
The bankes are overflowne, when stopped is the flood.’
Therewith Sir Guyon left his first emprise,
And turning to that woman, fast her hent
By the hoare lockes that hong before her eyes,
And to the ground her threw: yet n’ ould she stent
Her bitter rayling and foule revilement,
But still provokt her sonne to wreake her still torment,        105
And catching hold of her ungratious tonge,
Thereon an yron lock did fasten firme and strong.
Then whenas use of speach was from her reft,
With her two crooked handes she signes did make,
And beckned him, the last help she had left:        110
But he that last left helpe away did take,
And both her handes fast bound unto a stake,
That she note stirre. Then gan her sonne to flye
Full fast away, and did her quite forsake;
But Guyon after him in hast did hye,        115
And soone him overtooke in sad perplexitye.
In his strong armes he stifly him embraste,
Who, him gainstriving, nought at all prevaild:
For all his power was utterly defaste,
And furious fitts at earst quite weren quaild:        120
Oft he re’nforst, and oft his forces fayld,
Yet yield he would not, nor his rancor slack.
Then him to ground he cast, and rudely hayld,
And both his hands fast bound behind his backe,
And both his feet in fetters to an yron rack.        125
With hundred yron chaines he did him bind,
And hundred knots, that did him sore constraine:
Yet his great yron teeth he still did grind,
And grimly gnash, threatning revenge in vaine:
His burning eyen, whom bloody strakes did staine,        130
Stared full wide, and threw forth sparkes of fyre,
And more for ranck despight then for great paine,
Shakt his long locks, colourd like copper-wyre,
And bitt his tawny beard to shew his raging yre.
Thus whenas Guyon Furor had captivd,
Turning about he saw that wretched squyre,
Whom that mad man of life nigh late deprivd,
Lying on ground, all soild with blood and myre:
Whom whenas he perceived to respyre,
He gan to comfort, and his woundes to dresse.        140
Being at last recured, he gan inquyre,
What hard mishap him brought to such distresse,
And made that caytives thrall, the thrall of wretchednesse.
With hart then throbbing, and with watry eyes,
‘Fayre sir,’ quoth he, ‘what man can shun the hap,        145
That hidden lyes unwares him to surpryse?
Misfortune waites advantage to entrap
The man most wary in her whelming lap.
So me, weake wretch, of many weakest one,
Unweeting, and unware of such mishap,        150
She brought to mischiefe through occasion,
Where this same wicked villein did me light upon.
‘It was a faithlesse squire, that was the sourse
Of all my sorrow, and of these sad teares,
With whom from tender dug of commune nourse        155
Attonce I was upbrought, and eft, when yeares
More rype us reason lent to chose our peares,
Our selves in league of vowed love wee knitt:
In which we long time, without gealous feares
Or faultie thoughts, contynewd, as was fitt;        160
And, for my part I vow, dissembled not a whitt.
‘It was my fortune, commune to that age,
To love a lady fayre of great degree,
The which was borne of noble parentage,
And set in highest seat of dignitee,        165
Yet seemd no lesse to love then loved to bee:
Long I her serv’d, and found her faithfull still,
Ne ever thing could cause us disagree:
Love, that two harts makes one, makes eke one will:
Each strove to please, and others pleasure to fulfill.        170
‘My friend, hight Philemon, I did partake
Of all my love and all my privitie;
Who greatly joyous seemed for my sake,
And gratious to that lady, as to mee;
Ne ever wight, that mote so welcome bee        175
As he to her, withouten blott or blame,
Ne ever thing, that she could thinke or see,
But unto him she would impart the same:
O wretched man, that would abuse so gentle dame!
‘At last such grace I found, and meanes I wrought,
That I that lady to my spouse had wonne;
Accord of friendes, consent of parents sought,
Affyaunce made, my happinesse begonne,
There wanted nought but few rites to be donne,
Which mariage make: that day too farre did seeme:        185
Most joyous man on whom the shining sunne
Did shew his face, my selfe I did esteeme,
And that my falser friend did no lesse joyous deeme.
‘But ear that wished day his beame disclosd,
He, either envying my toward good,        190
Or of himselfe to treason ill disposd,
One day unto me came in friendly mood,
And told for secret, how he understood,
That lady, whom I had to me assynd,
Had both distaind her honorable blood,        195
And eke the faith which she to me did bynd;
And therfore wisht me stay, till I more truth should fynd.
‘The gnawing anguish and sharp gelosy,
Which his sad speach infixed in my brest,
Ranckled so sore, and festred inwardly,        200
That my engreeved mind could find no rest,
Till that the truth thereof I did out wrest;
And him besought, by that same sacred band
Betwixt us both, to counsell me the best.
He then with solemne oath and plighted hand        205
Assurd, ere long the truth to let me understand.
‘Ere long with like againe he boorded mee,
Saying, he now had boulted all the floure,
And that it was a groome of base degree,
Which of my love was partener paramoure:        210
Who used in a darkesome inner bowre
Her oft to meete: which better to approve,
He promised to bring me at that howre,
When I should see that would me nearer move,
And drive me to withdraw my blind abused love.        215
‘This gracelesse man, for furtherance of his guile,
Did court the handmayd of my lady deare,
Who, glad t’ embosome his affection vile,
Did all she might, more pleasing to appeare.
One day, to worke her to his will more neare,        220
He woo’d her thus: “Pryene,” (so she hight)
“What great despight doth Fortune to thee beare,
Thus lowly to abase thy beautie bright,
That it should not deface all others lesser light?
‘“But if she had her least helpe to thee lent,
T’ adorne thy forme according thy desart,
Their blazing pride thou wouldest soone have blent,
And staynd their prayses with thy least good part;
Ne should faire Claribell with all her art,
Though she thy lady be, approch thee neare:        230
For proofe thereof, this evening, as thou art,
Aray thy selfe in her most gorgeous geare,
That I may more delight in thy embracement deare.”
‘The mayden, proud through praise and mad through love,
Him hearkned to, and soone her selfe arayd,        235
The whiles to me the treachour did remove
His craftie engin, and, as he had sayd,
Me leading, in a secret corner layd,
The sad spectatour of my tragedie;
Where left, he went, and his owne false part playd,        240
Disguised like that groome of base degree,
Whom he had feignd th’ abuser of my love to bee.
‘Eftsoones he came unto th’ appointed place,
And with him brought Pryene, rich arayd,
In Claribellaes clothes. Her proper face        245
I not descerned in that darkesome shade,
But weend it was my love with whom he playd.
Ah God! what horrour and tormenting griefe
My hart, my handes, mine eyes, and all assayd!
Me liefer were ten thousand deathes priefe,        250
Then wounde of gealous worme, and shame of such repriefe.
‘I home retourning, fraught with fowle despight,
And chawing vengeaunce all the way I went,
Soone as my loathed love appeard in sight,
With wrathfull hand I slew her innocent;        255
That after soone I dearely did lament:
For when the cause of that outrageous deede
Demaunded, I made plaine and evident,
Her faultie handmayd, which that bale did breede,
Confest how Philemon her wrought to chaunge her weede.        260
‘Which when I heard, with horrible affright
And hellish fury all enragd, I sought
Upon my selfe that vengeable despight
To punish: yet it better first I thought,
To wreake my wrath on him that first it wrought.        265
To Philemon, false faytour Philemon,
I cast to pay that I so dearely bought:
Of deadly drugs I gave him drinke anon,
And washt away his guilt with guilty potion.
‘Thus heaping crime on crime, and griefe on griefe,
To loose of love adjoyning losse of frend,
I meant to purge both with a third mischiefe,
And in my woes beginner it to end.
That was Pryene; she did first offend,
She last should smart: with which cruell intent,        275
When I at her my murdrous blade did bend,
She fled away with ghastly dreriment,
And I, poursewing my fell purpose, after went.
‘Feare gave her winges, and rage enforst my flight:
Through woods and plaines so long I did her chace,        280
Till this mad man, whom your victorious might
Hath now fast bound, me met in middle space:
As I her, so he me poursewd apace,
And shortly overtooke: I, breathing yre,
Sore chauffed at my stay in such a cace,        285
And with my heat kindled his cruell fyre;
Which kindled once, his mother did more rage inspyre.
‘Betwixt them both, they have me doen to dye,
Through wounds, and strokes, and stubborne handeling,
That death were better then such agony        290
As griefe and fury unto me did bring;
Of which in me yet stickes the mortall sting,
That during life will never be appeasd.’
When he thus ended had his sorrowing,
Said Guyon: ‘Squyre, sore have ye beene diseasd;        295
But all your hurts may soone through temperance be easd.’
Then gan the palmer thus: ‘Most wretched man,
That to affections does the bridle lend!
In their beginning they are weake and wan,
But soone through suff’rance growe to fearefull end.        300
Whiles they are weake, betimes with them contend:
For when they once to perfect strength do grow,
Strong warres they make, and cruell battry bend
Gainst fort of reason, it to overthrow:
Wrath, gelosy, griefe, love this squyre have laide thus low.        305
‘Wrath, gealosie, griefe, love do thus expell:
Wrath is a fire, and gealosie a weede,
Griefe is a flood, and love a monster fell;
The fire of sparkes, the weede of little seede,
The flood of drops, the monster filth did breede:        310
But sparks, seed, drops, and filth do thus delay;
The sparks soone quench, the springing seed outweed,
The drops dry up, and filth wipe cleane away:
So shall wrath, gealosy, griefe, love die and decay.’
‘Unlucky squire,’ saide Guyon, ‘sith thou hast
Falne into mischiefe through intemperaunce,
Henceforth take heede of that thou now hast past,
And guyde thy waies with warie governaunce,
Least worse betide thee by some later chaunce.
But read how art thou nam’d, and of what kin.’        320
‘Phedon I hight,’ quoth he, ‘and do advaunce
Mine auncestry from famous Coradin,
Who first to rayse our house to honour did begin.’
Thus as he spake, lo! far away they spyde
A varlet ronning towardes hastily,        325
Whose flying feet so fast their way applyde,
That round about a cloud of dust did fly,
Which, mingled all with sweate, did dim his eye.
He soone approched, panting, breathlesse, whot,
And all so soyld, that none could him descry.        330
His countenaunce was bold, and bashed not
For Guyons lookes, but scornefull eyglaunce at him shot.
Behind his backe he bore a brasen shield,
On which was drawen faire, in colours fit,
A flaming fire in midst of bloody field,        335
And round about the wreath this word was writ,
Burnt I doe burne. Right well beseemed it
To be the shield of some redoubted knight:
And in his hand two dartes exceeding flit
And deadly sharp he held, whose heads were dight        340
In poyson and in blood of malice and despight.
When he in presence came, to Guyon first
He boldly spake: ‘Sir knight, if knight thou bee,
Abandon this forestalled place at erst,
For feare of further harme, I counsell thee;        345
Or bide the chaunce at thine owne jeopardee.’
The knight at his great boldnesse wondered,
And though he scornd his ydle vanitee,
Yet mildly him to purpose answered;
For not to grow of nought he it conjectured.        350
‘Varlet, this place most dew to me I deeme,
Yielded by him that held it forcibly.
But whence shold come that harme, which thou dost seeme
To threat to him that mindes his chaunce t’ abye?’
‘Perdy,’ sayd he, ‘here comes, and is hard by,        355
A knight of wondrous powre and great assay,
That never yet encountred enemy,
But did him deadly daunt, or fowle dismay;
Ne thou for better hope, if thou his presence stay.’
‘How hight he then,’ sayd Guyon, ‘and from whence?’
‘Pyrochles is his name, renowmed farre
For his bold feates and hardy confidence,
Full oft approvd in many a cruell warre;
The brother of Cymochles, both which arre
The sonnes of old Acrates and Despight,        365
Acrates, sonne of Phlegeton and Jarre;
But Phlegeton is sonne of Herebus and Night;
But Herebus sonne of Aeternitie is hight.
‘So from immortall race he does proceede,
That mortall hands may not withstand his might,        370
Drad for his derring doe and bloody deed;
For all in blood and spoile is his delight.
His am I Atin, his in wrong and right,
That matter make for him to worke upon,
And stirre him up to strife and cruell fight.        375
Fly therefore, fly this fearfull stead anon,
Least thy foolhardize worke thy sad confusion.’
‘His be that care, whom most it doth concerne,’
Sayd he: ‘but whether with such hasty flight
Art thou now bownd? for well mote I discerne        380
Great cause, that carries thee so swifte and light.’
‘My lord,’ quoth he, ‘me sent, and streight behight
To seeke Occasion, where so she bee:
For he is all disposd to bloody fight,
And breathes out wrath and hainous crueltee:        385
Hard is his hap, that first fals in his jeopardee.’
‘Mad man,’ said then the palmer, ‘that does seeke
Occasion to wrath, and cause of strife!
Shee comes unsought, and shonned followes eke.
Happy who can abstaine, when Rancor rife        390
Kindles revenge, and threats his rusty knife:
Woe never wants, where every cause is caught,
And rash Occasion makes unquiet life.’
‘Then loe! wher bound she sits, whom thou hast sought,’
Said Guyon: ‘let that message to thy lord be brought.’        395
That when the varlett heard and saw, streight way
He wexed wondrous wroth, and said: ‘Vile knight,
That knights and knighthood doest with shame upbray,
And shewst th’ ensample of thy childishe might,
With silly weake old woman thus to fight!        400
Great glory and gay spoile sure hast thou gott,
And stoutly prov’d thy puissaunce here in sight.
That shall Pyrochles well requite, I wott,
And with thy blood abolish so reprochfull blott.’
With that, one of his thrillant darts he threw,
Headed with yre and vengeable despight:
The quivering steele his aymed end wel knew,
And to his brest it selfe intended right.
But he was wary, and, ere it empight
In the meant marke, advaunst his shield atweene,        410
On which it seizing, no way enter might,
But backe rebownding left the forckhead keene:
Eftsoones he fled away, and might no where be seene.

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