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 IX
        Malbecco will no straunge knights host,
  For peevish gealosy:
Paridell giusts with Britomart:
  Both shew their auncestry.

REDOUBTED knights, and honorable dames,
To whom I levell all my labours end,
Right sore I feare, least with unworthie blames
This odious argument my rymes should shend,
Or ought your goodly patience offend,        5
Whiles of a wanton lady I doe write,
Which with her loose incontinence doth blend
The shyning glory of your soveraine light;
And knighthood fowle defaced by a faithlesse knight.
But never let th’ ensample of the bad
Offend the good: for good, by paragone
Of evill, may more notably be rad,
As white seemes fayrer, macht with blacke attone;
Ne all are shamed by the fault of one:
For lo! in heven, whereas all goodnes is,        15
Emongst the angels, a whole legione
Of wicked sprightes did fall from happy blis;
What wonder then, if one of women all did mis?
Then listen, lordings, if ye list to weet
The cause why Satyrane and Paridell        20
Mote not be entertaynd, as seemed meet,
Into that castle (as that squyre does tell.)
‘Therein a cancred crabbed carle does dwell,
That has no skill of court nor courtesie,
Ne cares what men say of him ill or well;        25
For all his dayes he drownes in privitie,
Yet has full large to live, and spend at libertie.
‘But all his mind is set on mucky pelfe,
To hoord up heapes of evill gotten masse,
For which he others wrongs and wreckes himselfe;        30
Yet is he lincked to a lovely lasse,
Whose beauty doth her bounty far surpasse,
The which to him both far unequall yeares
And also far unlike conditions has;
For she does joy to play emongst her peares,        35
And to be free from hard restraynt and gealous feares.
‘But he is old, and withered like hay,
Unfit faire ladies service to supply,
The privie guilt whereof makes him alway
Suspect her truth, and keepe continuall spy        40
Upon her with his other blincked eye;
Ne suffreth he resort of living wight
Approch to her, ne keepe her company,
But in close bowre her mewes from all mens sight,
Depriv’d of kindly joy and naturall delight.        45
‘Malbecco he, and Hellenore she hight,
Unfitly yokt together in one teeme:
That is the cause why never any knight
Is suffred here to enter, but he seeme
Such as no doubt of him he neede misdeeme.’        50
Thereat Sir Satyrane gan smyle, and say:
‘Extremely mad the man I surely deeme,
That weenes with watch and hard restraynt to stay
A womans will, which is disposd to go astray.
‘In vaine he feares that which he cannot shonne:
For who wotes not, that womans subtiltyes
Can guylen Argus, when she list misdonne?
It is not yron bandes, nor hundred eyes,
Nor brasen walls, nor many wakefull spyes,
That can withhold her wilfull wandring feet;        60
But fast goodwill with gentle courtesyes,
And timely service to her pleasures meet,
May her perhaps containe, that else would algates fleet.’
‘Then is he not more mad,’ sayd Paridell,
‘That hath himselfe unto such service sold,        65
In dolefull thraldome all his dayes to dwell?
For sure a foole I doe him firmely hold,
That loves his fetters, though they were of gold.
But why doe wee devise of others ill,
Whyles thus we suffer this same dotard old        70
To keepe us out, in scorne, of his owne will,
And rather do not ransack all, and him selfe kill?’
‘Nay, let us first,’ sayd Satyrane, ‘entreat
The man by gentle meanes, to let us in;
And afterwardes affray with cruell threat,        75
Ere that we to efforce it doe begin:
Then if all fayle, we will by force it win,
And eke reward the wretch for his mesprise,
As may be worthy of his haynous sin.’
That counsell pleasd: then Paridell did rise,        80
And to the castle gate approcht in quiet wise.
Whereat soft knocking, entrance he desyrd.
The good man selfe, which then the porter playd,
Him answered, that all were now retyrd
Unto their rest, and all the keyes convayd        85
Unto their maister, who in bed was layd,
That none him durst awake out of his dreme;
And therefore them of patience gently prayd.
Then Paridell began to chaunge his theme,
And threatned him with force and punishment extreme.        90
But all in vaine; for nought mote him relent:
And now so long before the wicket fast
They wayted, that the night was forward spent,
And the faire welkin, fowly overcast,
Gan blowen up a bitter stormy blast,        95
With showre and hayle so horrible and dred,
That this faire many were compeld at last
To fly for succour to a little shed,
The which beside the gate for swyne was ordered.
It fortuned, soone after they were gone,
Another knight, whom tempest thether brought,
Came to that castle, and with earnest mone,
Like as the rest, late entrance deare besought;
But like so as the rest, he prayd for nought,
For flatly he of entrance was refusd.        105
Sorely thereat he was displeasd, and thought
How to avenge himselfe so sore abusd,
And evermore the carle of courtesie accusd.
But to avoyde th’ intollerable stowre,
He was compeld to seeke some refuge neare,        110
And to that shed, to shrowd him from the showre,
He came, which full of guests he found whyleare,
So as he was not let to enter there:
Whereat he gan to wex exceeding wroth,
And swore that he would lodge with them yfere,        115
Or them dislodg, all were they liefe or loth;
And so defyde them each, and so defyde them both.
Both were full loth to leave that needfull tent,
And both full loth in darkenesse to debate;
Yet both full liefe him lodging to have lent,        120
And both full liefe his boasting to abate;
But chiefely Paridell his hart did grate,
To heare him threaten so despightfully,
As if he did a dogge in kenell rate,
That durst not barke; and rather had he dy        125
Then, when he was defyde, in coward corner ly.
Tho, hastily remounting to his steed,
He forth issew’d; like as a boystrous winde,
Which in th’ earthes hollow caves hath long ben hid,
And shut up fast within her prisons blind,        130
Makes the huge element, against her kinde,
To move and tremble as it were aghast,
Untill that it an issew forth may finde;
Then forth it breakes, and with his furious blast
Confounds both land and seas, and skyes doth overcast.        135
Their steel-hed speares they strongly coucht, and met
Together with impetuous rage and forse,
That with the terrour of their fierce affret,
They rudely drove to ground both man and horse,
That each awhile lay like a sencelesse corse.        140
But Paridell, sore brused with the blow,
Could not arise, the counterchaunge to scorse,
Till that young squyre him reared from below;
Then drew he his bright sword, and gan about him throw.
But Satyrane, forth stepping, did them stay,
And with faire treaty pacifide their yre:
Then, when they were accorded from the fray,
Against that castles lord they gan conspire,
To heape on him dew vengeaunce for his hire.
They beene agreed, and to the gates they goe,        150
To burne the same with unquenchable fire,
And that uncurteous carle, their commune foe,
To doe fowle death to die, or wrap in grievous woe.
Malbecco seeing them resolvd in deed
To flame the gates, and hearing them to call        155
For fire in earnest, ran with fearfull speed,
And to them calling from the castle wall,
Besought them humbly him to beare with all,
As ignorant of servants bad abuse,
And slacke attendaunce unto straungers call.        160
The knights were willing all things to excuse,
Though nought belev’d, and entraunce late did not refuse.
They beene ybrought into a comely bowre,
And servd of all things that mote needfull bee;
Yet secretly their hoste did on them lowre,        165
And welcomde more for feare then charitee;
But they dissembled what they did not see,
And welcomed themselves. Each gan undight
Their garments wett, and weary armour free,
To dry them selves by Vulcanes flaming light,        170
And eke their lately bruzed parts to bring in plight.
And eke that straunger knight emongst the rest
Was for like need enforst to disaray:
Tho, whenas vailed was her lofty crest,
Her golden locks, that were in tramells gay        175
Upbounden, did them selves adowne display,
And raught unto her heeles; like sunny beames,
That in a cloud their light did long time stay,
Their vapour vaded, shewe their golden gleames,
And through the persant aire shoote forth their azure streames.        180
Shee also dofte her heavy haberjeon,
Which the faire feature of her limbs did hyde,
And her well plighted frock, which she did won
To tucke about her short, when she did ryde,
Shee low let fall, that flowd from her lanck syde        185
Downe to her foot with carelesse modestee.
Then of them all she plainly was espyde
To be a woman wight, unwist to bee,
The fairest woman wight that ever eie did see.
Like as Minerva, being late returnd
From slaughter of the giaunts conquered;
Where proud Encelade, whose wide nosethrils burnd
With breathed flames, like to a furnace redd,
Transfixed with her speare, downe tombled dedd
From top of Hemus, by him heaped hye;        195
Hath loosd her helmet from her lofty hedd,
And her Gorgonian shield gins to untye
From her lefte arme, to rest in glorious victorye.
Which whenas they beheld, they smitten were
With great amazement of so wondrous sight,        200
And each on other, and they all on her,
Stood gazing, as if suddein great affright
Had them surprizd. At last avizing right
Her goodly personage and glorious hew,
Which they so much mistooke, they tooke delight        205
In their first error, and yett still anew
With wonder of her beauty fed their hongry vew.
Yet note their hongry vew be satisfide,
But seeing, still the more desir’d to see,
And ever firmely fixed did abide        210
In contemplation of divinitee:
But most they mervaild at her chevalree
And noble prowesse, which they had approv’d,
That much they faynd to know who she mote bee;
Yet none of all them her thereof amov’d,        215
Yet every one her likte, and every one her lov’d.
And Paridell, though partly discontent
With his late fall and fowle indignity,
Yet was soone wonne his malice to relent,
Through gratious regard of her faire eye,        220
And knightly worth, which he too late did try,
Yet tried did adore. Supper was dight;
Then they Malbecco prayd of courtesy,
That of his lady they might have the sight,
And company at meat, to doe them more delight.        225
But he, to shifte their curious request,
Gan causen why she could not come in place;
Her crased helth, her late recourse to rest,
And humid evening, ill for sicke folkes cace;
But none of those excuses could take place,        230
Ne would they eate, till she in presence came.
Shee came in presence with right comely grace,
And fairely them saluted, as became,
And shewd her selfe in all a gentle courteous dame.
They sate to meat, and Satyrane his chaunce
Was her before, and Paridell beside;
But he him selfe sate looking still askaunce
Gainst Britomart, and ever closely eide
Sir Satyrane, that glaunces might not glide:
But his blinde eie, that sided Paridell,        240
All his demeasnure from his sight did hide:
On her faire face so did he feede his fill,
And sent close messages of love to her at will.
And ever and anone, when none was ware,
With speaking lookes, that close embassage bore,        245
He rov’d at her, and told his secret care:
For all that art he learned had of yore.
Ne was she ignoraunt of that leud lore,
But in his eye his meaning wisely redd,
And with the like him aunswerd evermore:        250
Shee sent at him one fyrie dart, whose hedd
Empoisned was with privy lust and gealous dredd.
He from that deadly throw made no defence,
But to the wound his weake heart opened wyde:
The wicked engine through false influence        255
Past through his eies, and secretly did glyde
Into his heart, which it did sorely gryde.
But nothing new to him was that same paine,
Ne paine at all; for he so ofte had tryde
The powre thereof, and lov’d so oft in vaine,        260
That thing of course he counted, love to entertaine.
Thenceforth to her he sought to intimate
His inward griefe, by meanes to him well knowne:
Now Bacchus fruit out of the silver plate
He on the table dasht, as overthrowne,        265
Or of the fruitfull liquor overflowne,
And by the dauncing bubbles did divine,
Or therein write to lett his love be showne;
Which well she redd out of the learned line:
A sacrament prophane in mistery of wine.        270
And when so of his hand the pledge she raught,
The guilty cup she fained to mistake,
And in her lap did shed her idle draught,
Shewing desire her inward flame to slake.
By such close signes they secret way did make        275
Unto their wils, and one eies watch escape:
Two eies him needeth, for to watch and wake,
Who lovers will deceive. Thus was the ape,
By their faire handling, put into Malbeccoes cape.
Now when of meats and drinks they had their fill,
Purpose was moved by that gentle dame
Unto those knights adventurous, to tell
Of deeds of armes which unto them became,
And every one his kindred and his name.
Then Paridell, in whom a kindly pride        285
Of gratious speach and skill his words to frame
Abounded, being glad of so fitte tide
Him to commend to her, thus spake, of al well eide:
‘Troy, that art now nought but an idle name,
And in thine ashes buried low dost lie,        290
Though whilome far much greater then thy fame,
Before that angry gods and cruell skie
Upon thee heapt a direfull destinie,
What boots it boast thy glorious descent,
And fetch from heven thy great genealogie,        295
Sith all thy worthie prayses being blent,
Their ofspring hath embaste, and later glory shent?
‘Most famous worthy of the world, by whome
That warre was kindled which did Troy inflame,
And stately towres of Ilion whilome        300
Brought unto balefull ruine, was by name
Sir Paris, far renowmd through noble fame;
Who, through great prowesse and bold hardinesse,
From Lacedæmon fetcht the fayrest dame,
That ever Greece did boast, or knight possesse,        305
Whom Venus to him gave for meed of worthinesse:
‘Fayre Helene, flowre of beautie excellent,
And girlond of the mighty conquerours,
That madest many ladies deare lament
The heavie losse of their brave paramours,        310
Which they far off beheld from Trojan toures,
And saw the fieldes of faire Scamander strowne
With carcases of noble warrioures,
Whose fruitlesse lives were under furrow sowne,
And Xanthus sandy bankes with blood all overflowne.        315
‘From him my linage I derive aright,
Who long before the ten yeares siege of Troy,
Whiles yet on Ida he a shepeheard hight,
On faire Oenone got a lovely boy,
Whom, for remembrance of her passed joy,        320
She of his father Parius did name;
Who, after Greekes did Priams realme destroy,
Gathred the Trojan reliques sav’d from flame,
And with them sayling thence, to th’ isle of Paros came.
‘That was by him cald Paros, which before
Hight Nausa; there he many yeares did raine,
And built Nausicle by the Pontick shore,
The which he dying lefte next in remaine
To Paridas his sonne,
From whom I, Paridell, by kin descend;        330
But, for faire ladies love and glories gaine,
My native soile have lefte, my dayes to spend
In seewing deeds of armes, my lives and labors end.’
Whenas the noble Britomart heard tell
Of Trojan warres and Priams citie sackt,        335
The ruefull story of Sir Paridell,
She was empassiond at that piteous act,
With zelous envy of Greekes cruell fact
Against that nation, from whose race of old
She heard that she was lineally extract:        340
For noble Britons sprong from Trojans bold,
And Troynovant was built of old Troyes ashes cold.
Then sighing soft awhile, at last she thus:
‘O lamentable fall of famous towne,
Which raignd so many yeares victorious,        345
And of all Asie bore the soveraine crowne,
In one sad night consumd and throwen downe!
What stony hart, that heares thy haplesse fate,
Is not empierst with deepe compassiowne,
And makes ensample of mans wretched state,        350
That floures so fresh at morne, and fades at evening late?
‘Behold, sir, how your pitifull complaint
Hath fownd another partner of your payne:
For nothing may impresse so deare constraint,
As countries cause and commune foes disdayne.        355
But if it should not grieve you, backe agayne
To turne your course, I would to heare desyre
What to Aeneas fell; sith that men sayne
He was not in the cities wofull fyre
Consum’d, but did him selfe to safety retyre.’        360
‘Anchyses sonne, begott of Venus fayre,’
Said he, ‘out of the flames for safegard fled,
And with a remnant did to sea repayre,
Where he through fatall errour long was led
Full many yeares, and weetlesse wandered        365
From shore to shore, emongst the Lybick sandes,
Ere rest he fownd. Much there he suffered,
And many perilles past in forreine landes,
To save his people sad from victours vengefull handes.
‘At last in Latium he did arryve,
Where he with cruell warre was entertaind
Of th’ inland folke, which sought him backe to drive,
Till he with old Latinus was constraind
To contract wedlock; (so the Fates ordaind;)
Wedlocke contract in blood, and eke in blood        375
Accomplished, that many deare complaind:
The rivall slaine, the victour, through the flood
Escaped hardly, hardly praisd his wedlock good.
‘Yet after all, he victour did survive,
And with Latinus did the kingdom part.        380
But after, when both nations gan to strive,
Into their names the title to convart,
His sonne Iülus did from thence depart
With all the warlike youth of Trojans bloud,
And in Long Alba plast his throne apart,        385
Where faire it florished, and long time stoud,
Till Romulus, renewing it, to Rome remoud.’
‘There, there,’ said Britomart, ‘a fresh appeard
The glory of the later world to spring,
And Troy againe out of her dust was reard,        390
To sitt in second seat of soveraine king
Of all the world under her governing.
But a third kingdom yet is to arise
Out of the Trojans scattered ofspring,
That, in all glory and great enterprise,        395
Both first and second Troy shall dare to equalise.
‘It Troynovant is hight, that with the waves
Of wealthy Thamis washed is along,
Upon whose stubborne neck, whereat he raves
With roring rage, and sore him selfe does throng,        400
That all men feare to tempt his billowes strong,
She fastned hath her foot, which standes so hy,
That it a wonder of the world is song
In forreine landes, and all which passen by,
Beholding it from farre, doe thinke it threates the skye.        405
‘The Trojan Brute did first that citie fownd,
And Hygate made the meare thereof by west,
And Overt gate by north: that is the bownd
Toward the land; two rivers bownd the rest.
So huge a scope at first him seemed best,        410
To be the compasse of his kingdomes seat:
So huge a mind could not in lesser rest,
Ne in small meares containe his glory great,
That Albion had conquered first by warlike feat.’
‘Ah! fairest lady knight,’ said Paridell,
‘Pardon, I pray, my heedlesse oversight,
Who had forgot that whylome I hard tell
From aged Mnemon; for my wits beene light.
Indeed he said (if I remember right)
That of the antique Trojan stocke there grew        420
Another plant, that raught to wondrous hight,
And far abroad his mightie braunches threw
Into the utmost angle of the world he knew.
‘For that same Brute, whom much he did advaunce
In all his speach, was Sylvius his sonne,        425
Whom having slain through luckles arrowes glaunce,
He fled for feare of that he had misdonne,
Or els for shame, so fowle reproch to shonne,
And with him ledd to sea an youthly trayne,
Where wearie wandring they long time did wonne,        430
And many fortunes prov’d in th’ ocean mayne,
And great adventures found, that now were long to sayne.
‘At last by fatall course they drive were
Into an island spatious and brode,
The furthest north that did to them appeare:        435
Which, after rest, they seeking farre abrode,
Found it the fittest soyle for their abode,
Fruitfull of all thinges fitt for living foode,
But wholy waste and void of peoples trode,
Save an huge nation of the geaunts broode,        440
That fed on living flesh, and dronck mens vitall blood.
‘Whom he, through wearie wars and labours long,
Subdewd with losse of many Britons bold:
In which the great Goemagot of strong
Corineus, and Coulin of Debon old,        445
Were overthrowne and laide on th’ earth full cold,
Which quaked under their so hideous masse:
A famous history to bee enrold
In everlasting moniments of brasse,
That all the antique worthies merits far did passe.        450
‘His worke great Troynovant, his worke is eke
Faire Lincolne, both renowmed far away,
That who from east to west will endlong seeke,
Cannot two fairer cities find this day,
Except Cleopolis: so heard I say        455
Old Mnemon. Therefore, sir, I greet you well,
Your countrey kin, and you entyrely pray
Of pardon for the strife which late befell
Betwixt us both unknowne.’ So ended Paridell.
But all the while that he these speeches spent,
Upon his lips hong faire Dame Hellenore,
With vigilant regard and dew attent,
Fashioning worldes of fancies evermore
In her fraile witt, that now her quite forlore:
The whiles unwares away her wondring eye        465
And greedy eares her weake hart from her bore:
Which he perceiving, ever privily,
In speaking, many false belgardes at her let fly.
So long these knightes discoursed diversly
Of straunge affaires, and noble hardiment,        470
Which they had past with mickle jeopardy,
That now the humid night was farforth spent,
And hevenly lampes were halfendeale ybrent:
Which th’ old man seeing wel, who too long thought
Every discourse and every argument,        475
Which by the houres he measured, besought
Them go to rest. So all unto their bowres were brought.

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