Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book III. The Legend of Britomartis
Canto IV
        Bold Marinell of Britomart
  Is throwne on the Rich Strond:
Faire Florimell of Arthure is
  Long followed, but not fond.

WHERE is the antique glory now become,
That whylome wont in wemen to appeare?
Where be the brave atchievements doen by some?
Where be the batteilles, where the shield and speare,
And all the conquests which them high did reare,        5
That matter made for famous poets verse,
And boastfull men so oft abasht to heare?
Beene they all dead, and laide in dolefull herse?
Or doen they onely sleepe, and shall againe reverse?
If they be dead, then woe is me therefore:
But if they sleepe, O let them soone awake!
For all too long I burne with envy sore,
To heare the warlike feates which Homere spake
Of bold Penthesilee, which made a lake
Of Greekish blood so ofte in Trojan plaine;        15
But when I reade, how stout Debora strake
Proud Sisera, and how Camill’ hath slaine
The huge Orsilochus, I swell with great disdaine.
Yet these, and all that els had puissaunce,
Cannot with noble Britomart compare,        20
Aswell for glorie of great valiaunce,
As for pure chastitie and vertue rare,
That all her goodly deedes do well declare.
Well worthie stock, from which the branches sprong
That in late yeares so faire a blossome bare        25
As thee, O Queene, the matter of my song,
Whose lignage from this lady I derive along.
Who when, through speaches with the Redcrosse Knight,
She learned had th’ estate of Arthegall,
And in each point her selfe informd aright,        30
A frendly league of love perpetuall
She with him bound, and congé tooke withall.
Then he forth on his journey did proceede,
To seeke adventures which mote him befall,
And win him worship through his warlike deed,        35
Which alwaies of his paines he made the chiefest meed.
But Britomart kept on her former course,
Ne ever dofte her armes, but all the way
Grew pensive through that amarous discourse,
By which the Redcrosse Knight did earst display        40
Her lovers shape and chevalrous aray:
A thousand thoughts she fashioned in her mind,
And in her feigning fancie did pourtray
Him such as fittest she for love could find,
Wise, warlike, personable, courteous, and kind.        45
With such selfe-pleasing thoughts her wound she fedd,
And thought so to beguile her grievous smart;
But so her smart was much more grievous bredd,
And the deepe wound more deep engord her hart,
That nought but death her dolour mote depart.        50
So forth she rode without repose or rest,
Searching all lands and each remotest part,
Following the guydaunce of her blinded guest,
Till that to the seacoast at length she her addrest.
There she alighted from her light-foot beast,
And sitting downe upon the rocky shore,
Badd her old squyre unlace her lofty creast:
Tho, having vewd a while the surges hore,
That gainst the craggy clifts did loudly rore,
And in their raging surquedry disdaynd        60
That the fast earth affronted them so sore,
And their devouring covetize restraynd,
Thereat she sighed deepe, and after thus complaynd.
‘Huge sea of sorrow and tempestuous griefe,
Wherein my feeble barke is tossed long,        65
Far from the hoped haven of reliefe,
Why doe thy cruel billowes beat so strong,
And thy moyst mountaynes each on others throng,
Threatning to swallow up my fearefull lyfe?
O! doe thy cruell wrath and spightfull wrong        70
At length allay, and stint thy stormy stryfe,
Which in these troubled bowels raignes and rageth ryfe.
‘For els my feeble vessell, crazd and crackt
Through thy strong buffets and outrageous blowes,
Cannot endure, but needes it must be wrackt        75
On the rough rocks, or on the sandy shallowes,
The whiles that Love it steres, and Fortune rowes:
Love, my lewd pilott, hath a restlesse minde,
And Fortune, boteswaine, no assuraunce knowes,
But saile withouten starres gainst tyde and winde:        80
How can they other doe, sith both are bold and blinde?
‘Thou god of windes, that raignest in the seas,
That raignest also in the continent,
At last blow up some gentle gale of ease,
The which may bring my ship, ere it be rent,        85
Unto the gladsome port of her intent:
Then, when I shall my selfe in safety see,
A table, for eternall moniment
Of thy great grace, and my great jeopardee,
Great Neptune, I avow to hallow unto thee.’        90
Then sighing softly sore, and inly deepe,
She shut up all her plaint in privy griefe;
For her great courage would not let her weepe;
Till that old Glauce gan with sharpe repriefe
Her to restraine, and give her good reliefe,        95
Through hope of those which Merlin had her told
Should of her name and nation be chiefe,
And fetch their being from the sacred mould
Of her immortall womb, to be in heaven enrold.
Thus as she her recomforted, she spyde
Where far away one, all in armour bright,
With hasty gallop towards her did ryde:
Her dolour soone she ceast, and on her dight
Her helmet, to her courser mounting light:
Her former sorrow into suddein wrath,        105
Both coosen passions of distroubled spright,
Converting, forth she beates the dusty path:
Love and despight attonce her courage kindled hath.
As when a foggy mist hath overcast
The face of heven, and the cleare ayre engroste,        110
The world in darkenes dwels, till that at last
The watry southwinde, from the seabord coste
Upblowing, doth disperse the vapour lo’ste,
And poures it selfe forth in a stormy showre;
So the fayre Britomart, having disclo’ste        115
Her clowdy care into a wrathfull stowre,
The mist of griefe dissolv’d did into vengeance powre.
Eftsoones her goodly shield addressing fayre,
That mortall speare she in her hand did take,
And unto battaill did her selfe prepayre.        120
The knight, approching, sternely her bespake:
‘Sir knight, that doest thy voyage rashly make
By this forbidden way in my despight,
Ne doest by others death ensample take,
I read thee soone retyre, whiles thou hast might,        125
Least afterwards it be too late to take thy flight.’
Ythrild with deepe disdaine of his proud threat,
She shortly thus: ‘Fly they, that need to fly;
Wordes fearen babes: I meane not thee entreat
To passe; but maugre thee will passe or dy:’        130
Ne lenger stayd for th’ other to reply,
But with sharpe speare the rest made dearly knowne.
Strongly the straunge knight ran, and sturdily
Strooke her full on the brest, that made her downe
Decline her head, and touch her crouper with her crown.        135
But she againe him in the shield did smite
With so fierce furie and great puissaunce,
That through his threesquare scuchin percing quite,
And through his mayled hauberque, by mischaunce
The wicked steele through his left side did glaunce:        140
Him so transfixed she before her bore
Beyond his croupe, the length of all her launce,
Till, sadly soucing on the sandy shore,
He tombled on an heape, and wallowd in his gore.
Like as the sacred oxe, that carelesse stands
With gilden hornes and flowry girlonds crownd,
Proud of his dying honor and deare bandes,
Whiles th’ altars fume with frankincense arownd,
All suddeinly with mortall stroke astownd,
Doth groveling fall, and with his streaming gore        150
Distaines the pillours and the holy grownd,
And the faire flowres that decked him afore:
So fell proud Marinell upon the pretious shore.
The martiall mayd stayd not him to lament,
But forward rode, and kept her ready way        155
Along the strond; which as she over-went,
She saw bestrowed all with rich aray
Of pearles and pretious stones of great assay,
And all the gravell mixt with golden owre;
Whereat she wondred much, but would not stay        160
For gold, or perles, or pretious stones an howre,
But them despised all, for all was in her powre.
Whiles thus he lay in deadly stonishment,
Tydings hereof came to his mothers eare:
His mother was the blacke-browd Cymoent,        165
The daughter of great Nereus, which did beare
This warlike sonne unto an earthly peare,
The famous Dumarin; who on a day
Finding the nymph a sleepe in secret wheare,
As he by chaunce did wander that same way,        170
Was taken with her love, and by her closely lay.
There he this knight of her begot, whom borne
She, of his father, Marinell did name,
And in a rocky cave, as wight forlorne,
Long time she fostred up, till he became        175
A mighty man at armes, and mickle fame
Did get through great adventures by him donne:
For never man he suffred by that same
Rich Strond to travell, whereas he did wonne,
But that he must do battail with the sea-nymphes sonne.        180
An hundred knights of honorable name
He had subdew’d, and them his vassals made,
That through all Farie Lond his noble fame
Now blazed was, and feare did all invade,
That none durst passen through that perilous glade.        185
And to advaunce his name and glory more,
Her sea-god syre she dearely did perswade,
T’ endow her sonne with threasure and rich store,
Bove all the sonnes that were of earthly wombes ybore.
The god did graunt his daughters deare demaund,
To doen his nephew in all riches flow:
Eftsoones his heaped waves he did commaund
Out of their hollow bosome forth to throw
All the huge threasure, which the sea below
Had in his greedy gulfe devoured deepe,        195
And him enriched through the overthrow
And wreckes of many wretches, which did weepe
And often wayle their wealth, which he from them did keepe.
Shortly upon that shore there heaped was
Exceeding riches and all pretious things,        200
The spoyle of all the world, that it did pas
The wealth of th’ East, and pompe of Persian kings:
Gold, amber, yvorie, perles, owches, rings,
And all that els was pretious and deare,
The sea unto him voluntary brings,        205
That shortly he a great lord did appeare,
As was in all the lond of Faery, or else wheare.
Thereto he was a doughty dreaded knight,
Tryde often to the scath of many deare,
That none in equall armes him matchen might:        210
The which his mother seeing, gan to feare
Least his too haughtie hardines might reare
Some hard mishap, in hazard of his life:
Forthy she oft him counseld to forbeare
The bloody batteill, and to stirre up strife,        215
But after all his warre to rest his wearie knife.
And, for his more assuraunce, she inquir’d
One day of Proteus by his mighty spell
(For Proteus was with prophecy inspir’d)
Her deare sonnes destiny to her to tell,        220
And the sad end of her sweet Marinell.
Who, through foresight of his eternall skill,
Bad her from womankind to keepe him well:
For of a woman he should have much ill;
A virgin straunge and stout him should dismay or kill.        225
Forthy she gave him warning every day,
The love of women not to entertaine;
A lesson too too hard for living clay,
From love in course of nature to refraine:
Yet he his mothers lore did well retaine,        230
And ever from fayre ladies love did fly;
Yet many ladies fayre did oft complaine,
That they for love of him would algates dy:
Dy who so list for him, he was loves enimy.
But ah! who can deceive his destiny,
Or weene by warning to avoyd his fate?
That, when he sleepes in most security
And safest seemes, him soonest doth amate,
And findeth dew effect or soone or late.
So feeble is the powre of fleshly arme!        240
His mother bad him wemens love to hate,
For she of womans force did feare no harme;
So weening to have arm’d him, she did quite disarme.
This was that woman, this that deadly wownd,
That Proteus prophecide should him dismay,        245
The which his mother vainely did expownd,
To be hart-wownding love, which should assay
To bring her sonne unto his last decay.
So ticle be the termes of mortall state
And full of subtile sophismes, which doe play        250
With double sences, and with false debate,
T’ approve the unknowen purpose of eternall fate.
Too trew the famous Marinell it fownd,
Who, through late triall, on that wealthy strond
Inglorious now lies in sencelesse swownd,        255
Through heavy stroke of Britomartis hond.
Which when his mother deare did understond,
And heavy tidings heard, whereas she playd
Amongst her watry sisters by a pond,
Gathering sweete daffadillyes, to have made        260
Gay girlonds, from the sun their forheads fayr to shade,
Eftesoones both flowres and girlonds far away
Shee flong, and her faire deawy locks yrent;
To sorrow huge she turnd her former play,
And gamesome merth to grievous dreriment:        265
Shee threw her selfe downe on the continent,
Ne word did speake, but lay as in a swowne,
Whiles al her sisters did for her lament,
With yelling outcries, and with shrieking sowne;
And every one did teare her girlond from her crowne.        270
Soone as shee up out of her deadly fitt
Arose, shee bad her charett to be brought,
And all her sisters, that with her did sitt,
Bad eke attonce their charetts to be sought:
Tho, full of bitter griefe and pensife thought,        275
She to her wagon clombe; clombe all the rest,
And forth together went, with sorow fraught.
The waves, obedient to theyr beheast,
Them yielded ready passage, and their rage surceast.
Great Neptune stoode amazed at their sight,
Whiles on his broad rownd backe they softly slid,
And eke him selfe mournd at their mournfull plight,
Yet wist not what their wailing ment, yet did,
For great compassion of their sorow, bid
His mighty waters to them buxome bee:        285
Eftesoones the roaring billowes still abid,
And all the griesly monsters of the see
Stood gaping at their gate, and wondred them to see.
A teme of dolphins, raunged in aray,
Drew the smooth charett of sad Cymoent;        290
They were all taught by Triton to obay
To the long raynes at her commaundement:
As swifte as swallowes on the waves they went,
That their brode flaggy finnes no fome did reare,
Ne bubling rowndell they behinde them sent;        295
The rest of other fishes drawen weare,
Which with their finny oars the swelling sea did sheare.
Soone as they bene arriv’d upon the brim
Of the Rich Strond, their charets they forlore,
And let their temed fishes softly swim        300
Along the margent of the fomy shore,
Least they their finnes should bruze, and surbate sore
Their tender feete upon the stony grownd:
And comming to the place, where all in gore
And cruddy blood enwallowed they fownd        305
The lucklesse Marinell, lying in deadly swownd;
His mother swowned thrise, and the third time
Could scarce recovered bee out of her paine;
Had she not beene devoide of mortall slime,
Shee should not then have bene relyv’d againe;        310
But soone as life recovered had the raine,
Shee made so piteous mone and deare wayment,
That the hard rocks could scarse from tears refraine,
And all her sister nymphes with one consent
Supplide her sobbing breaches with sad complement.        315
‘Deare image of my selfe,’ she sayd, ‘that is,
The wretched sonne of wretched mother borne,
Is this thine high advauncement? O! is this
Th’ immortall name, with which thee yet unborne
Thy gransire Nereus promist to adorne?        320
Now lyest thou of life and honor refte,
Now lyest thou a lumpe of earth forlorne,
Ne of thy late life memory is lefte,
Ne can thy irrevocable desteny bee wefte?
‘Fond Proteus, father of false prophecis!
And they more fond, that credit to thee give!
Not this the worke of womans hand ywis,
That so deepe wound through these deare members drive.
I feared love: but they that love doe live,
But they that dye doe nether love nor hate.        330
Nath’lesse to thee thy folly I forgive,
And to my selfe and to accursed fate
The guilt I doe ascribe: deare wisedom bought too late.
‘O what availes it of immortall seed
To beene ybredd and never borne to dye?        335
Farre better I it deeme to die with speed,
Then waste in woe and waylfull miserye.
Who dyes the utmost dolor doth abye,
But who that lives is lefte to waile his losse:
So life is losse, and death felicity:        340
Sad life worse then glad death: and greater crosse
To see frends grave, then dead the grave self to engrosse.
‘But if the heavens did his dayes envie,
And my short blis maligne, yet mote they well
Thus much afford me, ere that he did die,        345
That the dim eies of my deare Marinell
I mote have closed, and him bed farewell,
Sith other offices for mother meet
They would not graunt ———
Yett, maulgre them, farewell, my sweetest sweet!        350
Farewell, my sweetest sonne, sith we no more shall meet!’
Thus when they all had sorowed their fill,
They softly gan to search his griesly wownd:
And that they might him handle more at will,
They him disarmd, and spredding on the grownd        355
Their watchet mantles frindgd with silver rownd,
They softly wipt away the gelly blood
From th’ orifice; which having well upbownd,
They pourd in soveraine balme and nectar good,
Good both for erthly med’cine and for hevenly food.        360
Tho, when the lilly handed Liagore
(This Liagore whilome had learned skill
In leaches craft, by great Appolloes lore,
Sith her whilome upon high Pindus hill
He loved, and at last her wombe did fill        365
With hevenly seed, whereof wise Pæon sprong)
Did feele his pulse, shee knew there staied still
Some litle life his feeble sprites emong;
Which to his mother told, despeyre she from her flong.
Tho up him taking in their tender hands,
They easely unto her charett beare:
Her teme at her commaundement quiet stands,
Whiles they the corse into her wagon reare,
And strowe with flowres the lamentable beare:
Then all the rest into their coches clim,        375
And through the brackish waves their passage shear;
Upon great Neptunes necke they softly swim,
And to her watry chamber swiftly carry him.
Deepe in the bottome of the sea, her bowre
Is built of hollow billowes heaped hye,        380
Like to thicke clouds that threat a stormy showre,
And vauted all within, like to the skye,
In which the gods doe dwell eternally:
There they him laide in easy couch well dight,
And sent in haste for Tryphon, to apply        385
Salves to his wounds, and medicines of might:
For Tryphon of sea gods the soveraine leach is hight.
The whiles the nymphes sitt all about him rownd,
Lamenting his mishap and heavy plight;
And ofte his mother, vewing his wide wownd,        390
Cursed the hand that did so deadly smight
Her dearest sonne, her dearest harts delight.
But none of all those curses overtooke
The warlike maide, th’ ensample of that might;
But fairely well shee thryvd, and well did brooke        395
Her noble deeds, ne her right course for ought forsooke.
Yet did false Archimage her still pursew,
To bring to passe his mischievous intent,
Now that he had her singled from the crew
Of courteous knights, the Prince and Fary gent,        400
Whom late in chace of beauty excellent
Shee lefte, pursewing that same foster strong;
Of whose fowle outrage they impatient,
And full of firy zele, him followed long,
To reskew her from shame, and to revenge her wrong.        405
Through thick and thin, through mountains and through playns,
Those two gret champions did attonce pursew
The fearefull damzell, with incessant payns:
Who from them fled, as light-foot hare from vew
Of hunter swifte and sent of howndes trew.        410
At last they came unto a double way,
Where, doubtfull which to take, her to reskew,
Themselves they did dispart, each to assay
Whether more happy were to win so goodly pray.
But Timias, the Princes gentle squyre,
That ladies love unto his lord forlent,
And with proud envy and indignant yre
After that wicked foster fiercely went.
So beene they three three sondry wayes ybent:
But fayrest fortune to the Prince befell;        420
Whose chaunce it was, that soone he did repent,
To take that way in which that damozell
Was fledd afore, affraid of him as feend of hell.
At last of her far of he gained vew:
Then gan he freshly pricke his fomy steed,        425
And ever as he nigher to her drew,
So evermore he did increase his speed,
And of each turning still kept wary heed:
Alowd to her he oftentimes did call,
To doe away vaine doubt and needlesse dreed:        430
Full myld to her he spake, and oft let fall
Many meeke wordes, to stay and comfort her withall.
But nothing might relent her hasty flight;
So deepe the deadly feare of that foule swaine
Was earst impressed in her gentle spright:        435
Like as a fearefull dove, which through the raine
Of the wide ayre her way does cut amaine,
Having farre off espyde a tassell gent,
Which after her his nimble winges doth straine,
Doubleth her hast for feare to bee forhent,        440
And with her pineons cleaves the liquid firmament.
With no lesse hast, and eke with no lesse dreed,
That fearefull ladie fledd from him that ment
To her no evill thought nor evill deed;
Yet former feare of being fowly shent        445
Carried her forward with her first intent:
And though, oft looking backward, well she vewde
Her selfe freed from that foster insolent,
And that it was a knight which now her sewde,
Yet she no lesse the knight feard then that villein rude.        450
His uncouth shield and straunge armes her dismayd,
Whose like in Faery Lond were seldom seene,
That fast she from him fledd, no lesse afrayd
Then of wilde beastes if she had chased beene:
Yet he her followd still with corage keene,        455
So long that now the golden Hesperus
Was mounted high in top of heaven sheene,
And warnd his other brethren joyeous
To light their blessed lamps in Joves eternall hous.
All suddeinly dim wox the dampish ayre,
And griesly shadowes covered heaven bright,
That now with thousand starres was decked fayre;
Which when the Prince beheld, a lothfull sight,
And that perforce, for want of lenger light,
He mote surceasse his suit, and lose the hope        465
Of his long labour, he gan fowly wyte
His wicked fortune, that had turnd aslope,
And cursed Night, that reft from him so goodly scope.
Tho, when her wayes he could no more descry,
But to and fro at disaventure strayd,        470
Like as a ship, whose lodestar suddeinly
Covered with cloudes her pilott hath dismayd,
His wearisome pursuit perforce he stayd,
And from his loftie steed dismounting low,
Did let him forage. Downe himselfe he layd        475
Upon the grassy ground, to sleepe a throw;
The cold earth was his couch, the hard steele his pillow.
But gentle Sleepe envyde him any rest;
In stead thereof sad sorow and disdaine
Of his hard hap did vexe his noble brest,        480
And thousand fancies bett his ydle brayne
With their light wings, the sights of semblants vaine;
Oft did he wish that lady faire mote bee
His Faery Queene, for whom he did complaine;
Or that his Faery Queene were such as shee;        485
And ever hasty Night he blamed bitterlie.
‘Night, thou foule mother of annoyaunce sad,
Sister of heavie Death, and nourse of Woe,
Which wast begot in heaven, but for thy bad
And brutish shape thrust downe to hell below,        490
Where by the grim floud of Cocytus slow
Thy dwelling is, in Herebus black hous,
(Black Herebus, thy husband, is the foe
Of all the gods) where thou ungratious
Halfe of thy dayes doest lead in horrour hideous:        495
‘What had th’ Eternall Maker need of thee,
The world in his continuall course to keepe,
That doest all thinges deface, ne lettest see
The beautie of his worke? Indeed, in sleepe
The slouthfull body that doth love to steep        500
His lustlesse limbes, and drowne his baser mind,
Doth praise thee oft, and oft from Stygian deepe
Calles thee, his goddesse in his errour blind,
And great Dame Natures handmaide chearing every kind.
‘But well I wote, that to an heavy hart
Thou art the roote and nourse of bitter cares,
Breeder of new, renewer of old smarts:
In stead of rest thou lendest rayling teares,
In stead of sleepe thou sendest troublous feares
And dreadfull visions, in the which alive        510
The dreary image of sad death appeares:
So from the wearie spirit thou doest drive
Desired rest, and men of happinesse deprive.
‘Under thy mantle black there hidden lye
Light-shonning thefte, and traiterous intent,        515
Abhorred bloodshed, and vile felony,
Shamefull deceipt, and daunger imminent,
Fowle horror, and eke hellish dreriment:
All these, I wote, in thy protection bee,
And light doe shonne, for feare of being shent:        520
For light ylike is loth’d of them and thee,
And all that lewdnesse love doe hate the light to see.
‘For Day discovers all dishonest wayes,
And sheweth each thing as it is in deed:
The prayses of High God he faire displayes,        525
And His large bountie rightly doth areed.
Dayes dearest children be the blessed seed
Which Darknesse shall subdue and heaven win:
Truth is his daughter; he her first did breed,
Most sacred virgin, without spot of sinne.        530
Our life is day, but death with darknesse doth begin.
‘O when will Day then turne to me againe,
And bring with him his long expected light?
O Titan, hast to reare thy joyous waine:
Speed thee to spred abroad thy beames bright,        535
And chace away this too long lingring Night;
Chace her away, from whence she came, to hell:
She, she it is, that hath me done despight:
There let her with the damned spirits dwell,
And yield her rowme to Day, that can it governe well.’        540
Thus did the Prince that wearie night outweare
In restlesse anguish and unquiet paine;
And earely, ere the Morrow did upreare
His deawy head out of the ocean maine,
He up arose, as halfe in great disdaine,        545
And clombe unto his steed. So forth he went,
With heavy looke and lumpish pace, that plaine
In him bewraid great grudge and maltalent:
His steed eke seemd t’ apply his steps to his intent.

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