Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book IV. The Legend of Cambel and Triamond
Canto I




THE RUGGED forhead that with grave foresight
Welds kingdomes causes and affaires of state,
My looser rimes (I wote) doth sharply wite,
For praising love, as I have done of late,
And magnifying lovers deare debate;        5
By which fraile youth is oft to follie led,
Through false allurement of that pleasing baite,
That better were in vertues discipled,
Then with vaine poemes weeds to have their fancies fed.
Such ones ill judge of love, that cannot love,
Ne in their frosen hearts feele kindly flame:
Forthy they ought not thing unknowne reprove,
Ne naturall affection faultless blame,
For fault of few that have abusd the same.
For it of honor and all vertue is        15
The roote, and brings forth glorious flowres of fame,
That crowne true lovers with immortall blis,
The meed of them that love, and do not live amisse.
Which who so list looke backe to former ages,
And call to count the things that then were donne,        20
Shall find, that all the workes of those wise sages,
And brave exploits which great heroes wonne,
In love were either ended or begunne:
Witnesse the father of philosophie,
Which to his Critias, shaded oft from sunne,        25
Of love full manie lessons did apply,
The which these Stoicke censours cannot well deny.
To such therefore I do not sing at all,
But to that sacred saint my soveraigne Queene,
In whose chast breast all bountie naturall        30
And treasures of true love enlocked beene,
Bove all her sexe that ever yet was seene:
To her I sing of love, that loveth best
And best is lov’d of all alive, I weene;
To her this song most fitly is addrest,        35
The queene of love, and prince of peace from heaven blest.
Which that she may the better deigne to heare,
Do thou, dred infant, Venus dearling dove,
From her high spirit chase imperious feare,
And use of awfull majestie remove:        40
In sted thereof with drops of melting love,
Deawd with ambrosiall kisses, by thee gotten
From thy sweete smyling mother from above,
Sprinckle her heart, and haughtie courage soften,
That she may hearke to love, and reade this lesson often.        45

        Fayre Britomart saves Amoret:
  Duessa discord breedes
Twixt Scudamour and Blandamour:
  Their fight and warlike deedes.

OF lovers sad calamities of old
Full many piteous stories doe remaine,
But none more piteous ever was ytold,
Then that of Amorets hart-binding chaine,
And this of Florimels unworthie paine:        50
The deare compassion of whose bitter fit
My softened heart so sorely doth constraine,
That I with teares full oft doe pittie it,
And oftentimes doe wish it never had bene writ.
For from the time that Scudamour her bought
In perilous fight, she never joyed day;
A perilous fight when he with force her brought
From twentie knights, that did him all assay:
Yet fairely well he did them all dismay,
And with great glorie both the Shield of Love        60
And eke the ladie selfe he brought away;
Whom having wedded, as did him behove,
A new unknowen mischiefe did from him remove.
For that same vile enchantour Busyran,
The very selfe same day that she was wedded,        65
Amidst the bridale feast, whilest every man,
Surcharg’d with wine, were heedlesse and ill hedded,
All bent to mirth before the bride was bedded,
Brought in that Mask of Love which late was showen:
And there the ladie ill of friends bestedded,        70
By way of sport, as oft in maskes is knowen,
Conveyed quite away to living wight unknowen.
Seven moneths he so her kept in bitter smart,
Because his sinfull lust she would not serve,
Untill such time as noble Britomart        75
Released her, that else was like to sterve,
Through cruell knife that her deare heart did kerve.
And now she is with her upon the way,
Marching in lovely wise, that could deserve
No spot of blame, though spite did oft assay        80
To blot her with dishonor of so faire a pray.
Yet should it be a pleasant tale, to tell
The diverse usage, and demeanure daint,
That each to other made, as oft befell.
For Amoret right fearefull was and faint,        85
Lest she with blame her honor should attaint,
That everie word did tremble as she spake,
And everie looke was coy and wondrous quaint,
And everie limbe that touched her did quake:
Yet could she not but curteous countenance to her make.        90
For well she wist, as true it was indeed,
That her lives lord and patrone of her health
Right well deserved, as his duefull meed,
Her love, her service, and her utmost wealth:
All is his justly, that all freely dealth.        95
Nathlesse her honor, dearer then her life,
She sought to save, as thing reserv’d from stealth;
Die had she lever with enchanters knife,
Then to be false in love, profest a virgine wife.
Thereto her feare was made so much the greater
Through fine abusion of that Briton mayd:
Who, for to hide her fained sex the better
And maske her wounded mind, both did and sayd
Full many things so doubtfull to be wayd,
That well she wist not what by them to gesse;        105
For other whiles to her she purpos made
Of love, and otherwhiles of lustfulnesse,
That much she feard his mind would grow to some excesse.
His will she feard; for him she surely thought
To be a man, such as indeed he seemed,        110
And much the more, by that he lately wrought,
When her from deadly thraldome he redeemed,
For which no service she too much esteemed:
Yet dread of shame and doubt of fowle dishonor
Made her not yeeld so much as due she deemed.        115
Yet Britomart attended duly on her,
As well became a knight, and did to her all honor.
It so befell one evening, that they came
Unto a castell, lodged there to bee,
Where many a knight, and many a lovely dame,        120
Was then assembled, deeds of armes to see:
Amongst all which was none more faire then shee,
That many of them mov’d to eye her sore.
The custome of that place was such, that hee
Which had no love nor lemman there in store        125
Should either winne him one, or lye without the dore.
Amongst the rest there was a jolly knight,
Who, being asked for his love, avow’d
That fairest Amoret was his by right,
And offred that to justifie alowd.        130
The warlike virgine, seeing his so prowd
And boastfull chalenge, wexed inlie wroth,
But for the present did her anger shrowd;
And sayd, her love to lose she was full loth,
But either he should neither of them have, or both.        135
So foorth they went, and both together giusted;
But that same younker soone was over throwne,
And made repent that he had rashly lusted
For thing unlawfull, that was not his owne:
Yet since he seemed valiant, though unknowne,        140
She, that no lesse was courteous then stout,
Cast how to salve, that both the custome showne
Were kept, and yet that knight not locked out;
That seem’d full hard t’ accord two things so far in dout.
The seneschall was cal’d to deeme the right:
Whom she requir’d, that first fayre Amoret
Might be to her allow’d, as to a knight
That did her win and free from chalenge set:
Which straight to her was yeelded without let.
Then, since that strange knights love from him was quitted,        150
She claim’d that to her selfe, as ladies det,
He as a knight might justly be admitted;
So none should be out shut, sith all of loves were fitted.
With that, her glistring helmet she unlaced;
Which doft, her golden lockes, that were up bound        155
Still in a knot, unto her heeles downe traced,
And like a silken veile in compasse round
About her backe and all her bodie wound:
Like as the shining skie in summers night,
What time the dayes with scorching heat abound,        160
Is creasted all with lines of firie light,
That it prodigious seemes in common peoples sight.
Such when those knights and ladies all about
Beheld her, all were with amazement smit,
And every one gan grow in secret dout        165
Of this and that, according to each wit:
Some thought that some enchantment faygned it;
Some, that Bellona in that warlike wise
To them appear’d, with shield and armour fit;
Some, that it was a maske of strange disguise:        170
So diversely each one did sundrie doubts devise.
But that young knight, which through her gentle deed
Was to that goodly fellowship restor’d,
Ten thousand thankes did yeeld her for her meed,
And, doubly overcommen, her ador’d:        175
So did they all their former strife accord;
And eke fayre Amoret, now freed from feare,
More franke affection did to her afford,
And to her bed, which she was wont forbeare,
Now freely drew, and found right safe assurance theare.        180
Where all that night they of their loves did treat,
And hard adventures, twixt themselves alone,
That each the other gan with passion great
And griefull pittie privately bemone.
The morow next, so soone as Titan shone,        185
They both uprose, and to their waies them dight:
Long wandred they, yet never met with none
That to their willes could them direct aright,
Or to them tydings tell that mote their harts delight.
Lo! thus they rode, till at the last they spide
Two armed knights, that toward them did pace,
And each of them had ryding by his side
A ladie, seeming in so farre a space;
But ladies none they were, albee in face
And outward shew faire semblance they did beare;        195
For under maske of beautie and good grace
Vile treason and fowle falshood hidden were,
That mote to none but to the warie wise appeare.
The one of them the false Duessa hight,
That now had chang’d her former wonted hew:        200
For she could d’on so manie shapes in sight,
As ever could cameleon colours new;
So could she forge all colours, save the trew.
The other no whit better was then shee,
But that, such as she was, she plaine did shew;        205
Yet otherwise much worse, if worse might bee,
And dayly more offensive unto each degree.
Her name was Ate, mother of debate
And all dissention, which doth dayly grow
Amongst fraile men, that many a publike state        210
And many a private oft doth overthrow.
Her false Duessa, who full well did know
To be most fit to trouble noble knights,
Which hunt for honor, raised from below
Out of the dwellings of the damned sprights,        215
Where she in darkness wastes her cursed daies and nights.
Hard by the gates of hell her dwelling is,
There whereas all the plagues and harmes abound,
Which punish wicked men, that walke amisse.
It is a darksome delve farre under ground,        220
With thornes and barren brakes environd round,
That none the same may easily out win;
Yet many waies to enter may be found,
But more to issue forth when one is in:
For discord harder is to end then to begin.        225
And all within, the riven walls were hung
With ragged monuments of times forepast,
All which the sad effects of discord sung:
There were rent robes and broken scepters plast,
Altars defyl’d, and holy things defast,        230
Disshivered speares, and shields ytorne in twaine,
Great cities ransackt, and strong castles rast,
Nations captived, and huge armies slaine:
Of all which ruines there some relicks did remaine.
There was the signe of antique Babylon,
Of fatall Thebes, of Rome that raigned long,
Of sacred Salem, and sad Ilion,
For memorie of which on high there hong
The golden apple, cause of all their wrong,
For which the three faire goddesses did strive:        240
There also was the name of Nimrod strong,
Of Alexander, and his princes five,
Which shar’d to them the spoiles that he had got alive:
And there the relicks of the drunken fray,
The which amongst the Lapithees befell:        245
And of the bloodie feast, which sent away
So many Centaures drunken soules to hell,
That under great Alcides furie fell:
And of the dreadfull discord, which did drive
The noble Argonauts to outrage fell,        250
That each of life sought others to deprive,
All mindlesse of the Golden Fleece, which made them strive.
And eke of private persons many moe,
That were too long a worke to count them all;
Some of sworne friends, that did their faith forgoe;        255
Some of borne brethren, prov’d unnaturall;
Some of deare lovers, foes perpetuall:
Witnesse their broken bandes there to be seene,
Their girlonds rent, their bowres despoyled all;
The moniments whereof there byding beene,        260
As plaine as at the first, when they were fresh and greene.
Such was her house within; but all without,
The barren ground was full of wicked weedes,
Which she her selfe had sowen all about,
Now growen great, at first of little seedes,        265
The seedes of evill wordes and factious deedes;
Which, when to ripenesse due they growen arre,
Bring foorth an infinite increase, that breedes
Tumultuous trouble and contentious jarre,
The which most often end in bloudshed and in warre.        270
And those same cursed seedes doe also serve
To her for bread, and yeeld her living food:
For life it is to her, when others sterve
Through mischievous debate and deadly feood,
That she may sucke their life and drinke their blood,        275
With which she from her childhood had bene fed:
For she at first was borne of hellish brood,
And by infernall furies nourished,
That by her monstrous shape might easily be red.
Her face most fowle and filthy was to see,
With squinted eyes contrarie wayes intended,
And loathly mouth, unmeete a mouth to bee,
That nought but gall and venim comprehended,
And wicked wordes that God and man offended:
Her lying tongue was in two parts divided,        285
And both the parts did speake, and both contended;
And as her tongue, so was her hart discided,
That never thoght one thing, but doubly stil was guided.
Als as she double spake, so heard she double,
With matchlesse eares deformed and distort,        290
Fild with false rumors and seditious trouble,
Bred in assemblies of the vulgar sort,
That still are led with every light report.
And as her eares, so eke her feet were odde,
And much unlike, th’ one long, the other short,        295
And both misplast; that, when th’ one forward yode,
The other backe retired, and contrarie trode.
Likewise unequall were her handes twaine:
That one did reach, the other pusht away;
That one did make, the other mard againe,        300
And sought to bring all things unto decay;
Whereby great riches, gathered manie a day,
She in short space did often bring to nought,
And their possessours often did dismay:
For all her studie was and all her thought,        305
How she might overthrow the things that Concord wrought.
So much her malice did her might surpas,
That even th’ Almightie selfe she did maligne,
Because to man so mercifull he was,
And unto all his creatures so benigne,        310
Sith she her selfe was of his grace indigne:
For all this worlds faire workmanship she tride
Unto his last confusion to bring,
And that great golden chaine quite to divide,
With which it blessed Concord hath together tide.        315
Such was that hag which with Duessa roade,
And serving her in her malitious use,
To hurt good knights, was as it were her baude,
To sell her borrowed beautie to abuse.
For though, like withered tree that wanteth juyce,        320
She old and crooked were, yet now of late
As fresh and fragrant as the floure deluce
She was become, by chaunge of her estate,
And made full goodly joyance to her new found mate.
Her mate, he was a jollie youthfull knight,
That bore great sway in armes and chivalrie,
And was indeed a man of mickle might:
His name was Blandamour, that did descrie
His fickle mind full of inconstancie.
And now himselfe he fitted had right well        330
With two companions of like qualitie,
Faithlesse Duessa, and false Paridell,
That whether were more false, full hard it is to tell.
Now when this gallant with his goodly crew
From farre espide the famous Britomart,        335
Like knight adventurous in outward vew,
With his faire paragon, his conquests part,
Approching nigh, eftsoones his wanton hart
Was tickled with delight, and jesting sayd:
‘Lo! there, Sir Paridel, for your desart,        340
Good lucke presents you with yond lovely mayd,
For pitie that ye want a fellow for your ayd.’
By that the lovely paire drew nigh to hond:
Whom when as Paridel more plaine beheld,
Albee in heart he like affection fond,        345
Yet mindfull how he late by one was feld,
That did those armes and that same scutchion weld,
He had small lust to buy his love so deare,
But answered: ‘Sir, him wise I never held,
That, having once escaped perill neare,        350
Would afterwards afresh the sleeping evill reare.
‘This knight too late his manhood and his might
I did assay, that me right dearely cost,
Ne list I for revenge provoke new fight,
Ne for light ladies love, that soone is lost.’        355
The hot-spurre youth so scorning to be crost,
‘Take then to you this dame of mine,’ quoth hee,
‘And I, without your perill or your cost,
Will chalenge yond same other for my fee.’
So forth he fiercely prickt, that one him scarce could see.        360
The warlike Britonesse her soone addrest,
And with such uncouth welcome did receave
Her fayned paramour, her forced guest,
That, being forst his saddle soone to leave,
Him selfe he did of his new love deceave,        365
And made him selfe thensample of his follie.
Which done, she passed forth, not taking leave,
And left him now as sad as whilome jollie,
Well warned to beware with whom he dar’d to dallie.
Which when his other companie beheld,
They to his succour ran with readie ayd:
And finding him unable once to weld,
They reared him on horsebacke, and upstayd,
Till on his way they had him forth convayd:
And all the way, with wondrous griefe of mynd        375
And shame, he shewd him selfe to be dismayd,
More for the love which he had left behynd,
Then that which he had to Sir Paridel resynd.
Nathlesse he forth did march well as he might,
And made good semblance to his companie,        380
Dissembling his disease and evill plight;
Till that ere long they chaunced to espie
Two other knights, that towards them did ply
With speedie course, as bent to charge them new.
Whom when as Blandamour approching nie        385
Perceiv’d to be such as they seemd in vew,
He was full wo, and gan his former griefe renew.
For th’ one of them he perfectly descride
To be Sir Scudamour, by that he bore
The God of Love with wings displayed wide,        390
Whom mortally he hated evermore,
Both for his worth, that all men did adore,
And eke because his love he wonne by right:
Which when he thought, it grieved him full sore,
That, through the bruses of his former fight,        395
He now unable was to wreake his old despight.
Forthy he thus to Paridel bespake:
‘Faire sir, of friendship let me now you pray,
That as I late adventured for your sake,
The hurts whereof me now from battell stay,        400
Ye will me now with like good turne repay,
And justifie my cause on yonder knight.’
‘Ah! sir,’ said Paridel, ‘do not dismay
Your selfe for this; my selfe will for you fight,
As ye have done for me: the left hand rubs the right.’        405
With that he put his spurres unto his steed,
With speare in rest, and toward him did fare,
Like shaft out of a bow preventing speed.
But Scudamour was shortly well aware
Of his approch, and gan him selfe prepare        410
Him to receive with entertainment meete.
So furiously they met, that either bare
The other downe under their horses feete,
That what of them became themselves did scarsly weete.
As when two billowes in the Irish sowndes,
Forcibly driven with contrarie tydes,
Do meete together, each abacke rebowndes
With roaring rage; and dashing on all sides,
That filleth all the sea with fome, divydes
The doubtfull current into divers wayes:        420
So fell those two in spight of both their prydes;
But Scudamour himselfe did soone uprayse,
And mounting light, his foe for lying long upbrayes.
Who, rolled on an heape, lay still in swound,
All carelesse of his taunt and bitter rayle;        425
Till that the rest, him seeing lie on ground,
Ran hastily, to weete what did him ayle:
Where finding that the breath gan him to fayle,
With busie care they strove him to awake,
And doft his helmet, and undid his mayle:        430
So much they did, that at the last they brake
His slomber, yet so mazed that he nothing spake.
Which when as Blandamour beheld, he sayd:
‘False faitour Scudamour, that hast by slight
And foule advantage this good knight dismayd,        435
A knight much better then thy selfe behight,
Well falles it thee that I am not in plight,
This day, to wreake the dammage by thee donne:
Such is thy wont, that still when any knight
Is weakned, then thou doest him overronne:        440
So hast thou to thy selfe false honour often wonne.’
He little answer’d, but in manly heart
His mightie indignation did forbeare,
Which was not yet so secret, but some part
Thereof did in his frouning face appeare:        445
Like as a gloomie cloud, the which doth beare
An hideous storme, is by the northerne blast
Quite overblowne, yet doth not passe so cleare,
But that it all the skie doth overcast
With darknes dred, and threatens all the world to wast.        450
‘Ah! gentle knight,’ then false Duessa sayd,
‘Why do ye strive for ladies love so sore,
Whose chiefe desire is love and friendly aid
Mongst gentle knights to nourish evermore?
Ne be ye wroth, Sir Scudamour, therefore,        455
That she your love list love another knight,
Ne do your selfe dislike a whit the more;
For love is free, and led with selfe delight,
Ne will enforced be with maisterdome or might.’
So false Duessa, but vile Ate thus:
‘Both foolish knights, I can but laugh at both,
That strive and storme, with stirre outrageous,
For her that each of you alike doth loth,
And loves another, with whom now she goth
In lovely wise, and sleepes, and sports, and playes;        465
Whilest both you here with many a cursed oth
Sweare she is yours, and stirre up bloudie frayes,
To win a willow bough, whilest other weares the bayes.’
‘Vile hag,’ sayd Scudamour, ‘why dost thou lye?
And falsly seekst a vertuous wight to shame?’        470
‘Fond knight,’ sayd she, ‘the thing that with this eye
I saw, why should I doubt to tell the same?’
‘Then tell,’ quoth Blandamour, ‘and feare no blame,
Tell what thou saw’st, maulgre who so it heares.’
‘I saw,’ quoth she, ‘a stranger knight, whose name        475
I wote not well, but in his shield he beares
(That well I wote) the heads of many broken speares.
‘I saw him have your Amoret at will,
I saw him kisse, I saw him her embrace,
I saw him sleepe with her all night his fill,        480
All manie nights, and manie by in place,
That present were to testifie the case.’
Which when as Scudamour did heare, his heart
Was thrild with inward griefe, as when in chace
The Parthian strikes a stag with shivering dart,        485
The beast astonisht stands in middest of his smart.
So stood Sir Scudamour, when this he heard,
Ne word he had to speake for great dismay,
But lookt on Glauce grim, who woxe afeard
Of outrage for the words which she heard say,        490
Albee untrue she wist them by assay.
But Blandamour, whenas he did espie
His chaunge of cheere, that anguish did bewray,
He woxe full blithe, as he had got thereby,
And gan thereat to triumph without victorie.        495
‘Lo! recreant,’ sayd he, ‘the fruitlesse end
Of thy vaine boast, and spoile of love misgotten,
Whereby the name of knight-hood thou dost shend,
And all true lovers with dishonor blotten:
All things not rooted well will soone be rotten.’        500
‘Fy, fy! false knight,’ then false Duessa cryde,
‘Unworthy life, that love with guile hast gotten;
Be thou, where ever thou do go or ryde,
Loathed of ladies all, and of all knights defyde.’
But Scudamour, for passing great despight,
Staid not to answer, scarcely did refraine,
But that in all those knights and ladies sight
He for revenge had guiltlesse Glauce slaine:
But being past, he thus began amaine:
‘False traitour squire, false squire of falsest knight,        510
Why doth mine hand from thine avenge abstaine,
Whose lord hath done my love this foule despight?
Why do I not it wreake on thee now in my might?
‘Discourteous, disloyall Britomart,
Untrue to God, and unto man unjust,        515
What vengeance due can equall thy desart,
That hast with shamefull spot of sinfull lust
Defil’d the pledge committed to thy trust?
Let ugly shame and endlesse infamy
Colour thy name with foule reproaches rust.        520
Yet thou, false squire, his fault shalt deare aby,
And with thy punishment his penance shalt supply.’
The aged dame, him seeing so enraged,
Was dead with feare; nathlesse, as neede required,
His flaming furie sought to have assuaged        525
With sober words, that sufferance desired
Till time the tryall of her truth expyred:
And evermore sought Britomart to clare.
But he the more with furious rage was fyred,
And thrise his hand to kill her did upreare,        530
And thrise he drew it backe: so did at last forbeare.

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