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 II
        Blandamour winnes false Florimell;
  Paridell for her strives;
They are accorded: Agape
  Doth lengthen her sonnes lives.

FIREBRAND of hell, first tynd in Phlegeton
By thousand furies, and from thence out throwen
Into this world, to worke confusion
And set it all on fire by force unknowen,
Is wicked discord, whose small sparkes once blowen        5
None but a god or godlike man can slake;
Such as was Orpheus, that when strife was growen
Amongst those famous ympes of Greece, did take
His silver harpe in hand, and shortly friends them make;
Or such as that celestiall Psalmist was,
That when the wicked feend his lord tormented,
With heavenly notes, that did all other pas,
The outrage of his furious fit relented.
Such musicke is wise words with time concented,
To moderate stiffe mindes, disposed to strive:        15
Such as that prudent Romane well invented,
What time his people into partes did rive,
Them reconcyld againe, and to their homes did drive.
Such us’d wise Glauce to that wrathfull knight,
To calme the tempest of his troubled thought:        20
Yet Blandamour, with termes of foule despight,
And Paridell her scornd, and set at nought,
As old and crooked and not good for ought.
Both they unwise, and warelesse of the evill
That by themselves unto themselves is wrought,        25
Through that false witch, and that foule aged drevill,
The one a feend, the other an incarnate devill.
With whom as they thus rode accompanide,
They were encountred of a lustie knight,
That had a goodly ladie by his side,        30
To whom he made great dalliance and delight.
It was to weete the bold Sir Ferraugh hight,
He that from Braggadocchio whilome reft
The snowy Florimell, whose beautie bright
Made him seeme happie for so glorious theft;        35
Yet was it in due traill but a wandring weft.
Which when as Blandamour, whose fancie light
Was alwaies flitting, as the wavering wind,
After each beautie that appeard in sight,
Beheld, eftsoones it prickt his wanton mind        40
With sting of lust, that reasons eye did blind,
That to Sir Paridell these words he sent:
‘Sir knight, why ride ye dumpish thus behind,
Since so good fortune doth to you present
So fayre a spoyle, to make you joyous meriment?’        45
But Paridell, that had too late a tryall
Of the bad issue of his counsell vaine,
List not to hearke, but made this faire denyall:
‘Last turne to hearke, but made this faire denyall:
This now be yours; God send you better gaine.’        50
Whose scoffed words he taking halfe in scorne,
Fiercely forth prickt his steed, as in disdaine,
Against that knight, ere he him well could torne;
By meanes whereof he hath him lightly overborne.
Who, with the sudden stroke astonisht sore
Upon the ground a while in slomber lay;
The whiles his love away the other bore,
And shewing her, did Paridell upbray:
‘Lo! sluggish knight, the victors happie pray!
So Fortune friends the bold:’ whom Paridell        60
Seeing so faire indeede, as he did say,
His hart with secret envie gan to swell,
And inly grudge at him, that he had sped so well.
Nathlesse proud man himselfe the other deemed,
Having so peerelesse paragon ygot:        65
For sure the fayrest Florimell him seemed
To him was fallen for his happie lot,
Whose like alive on earth he weened not:
Therefore he her did court, did serve, did wooe,
With humblest suit that he imagine mot,        70
And all things did devise, and all things dooe,
That might her love prepare, and liking win theretoo.
She, in regard thereof, him recompenst
With golden words and goodly countenance,
And such fond favours sparingly dispenst:        75
Sometimes him blessing with a light eyeglance,
And coy lookes tempring with loose dalliance;
Sometimes estranging him in sterner wise;
That, having cast him in a foolish trance,
He seemed brought to bed in Paradise,        80
And prov’d himselfe most foole in what he seem’d most wise.
So great a mistresse of her art she was,
And perfectly practiz’d in womans craft,
That though therein himselfe he thought to pas,
And by his false allurements wylie draft        85
Had thousand women of their love beraft,
Yet now he was surpriz’d: for that false spright,
Which that same witch had in this forme engraft,
Was so expert in every subtile slight,
That it could overreach the wisest earthly wight.        90
Yet he to her did dayly service more,
And dayly more deceived was thereby;
Yet Paridell him envied therefore,
As seeming plast in sole felicity:
So blind is lust, false colours to descry.        95
But Ate soone discovering his desire,
And finding now fit opportunity
To stirre up strife twixt love and spight and ire,
Did privily put coles unto his secret fire.
By sundry meanes thereto she prickt him forth,
Now with remembrance of those spightfull speaches,
Now with opinion of his owne more worth,
Now with recounting of like former breaches
Made in their friendship, as that hag him teaches:
And ever when his passion is allayd,        105
She it revives and new occasion reaches:
That, on a time, as they together way’d,
He made him open chalenge, and thus boldly sayd:
‘Too boastfull Blandamour, too long I beare
The open wrongs thou doest me day by day:        110
Well know’st thou, when we friendship first did sweare,
The covenant was, that every spoyle or pray
Should equally be shard betwixt us tway:
Where is my part, then, of this ladie bright,
Whom to thy selfe thou takest quite away?        115
Render therefore therein to me my right,
Or answere for thy wrong, as shall fall out in fight.’
Exceeding wroth thereat was Blandamour,
And gan this bitter answere to him make:
‘Too foolish Paridell, that fayrest floure        120
Wouldst gather faine, and yet no paines wouldst take!
But not so easie will I her forsake;
This hand her wonne, this hand shall her defend.’
With that they gan their shivering speares to shake,
And deadly points at eithers breast to bend,        125
Forgetfull each to have bene ever others frend.
Their firie steedes with so untamed forse
Did beare them both to fell avenges end,
That both their speares, with pitilesse remorse,
Through shield and mayle and haberjeon did wend,        130
And in their flesh a griesly passage rend,
That with the furie of their owne affret
Each other, horse and man, to ground did send;
Where lying still awhile, both did forget
The perilous present stownd in which their lives were set.        135
As when two warlike brigandines at sea,
With murdrous weapons arm’d to cruell fight,
Doe meete together on the watry lea,
They stemme ech other with so fell despight,
That with the shocke of their owne heed-lesse might,        140
Their wooden ribs are shaken nigh a sonder;
They which from shore behold the dreadfull sight
Of flashing fire, and heare the ordenance thonder,
Do greatly stand amaz’d at such unwonted wonder.
At length they both upstarted in amaze,
As men awaked rashly out of dreme,
And round about themselves a while did gaze;
Till, seeing her that Florimell did seme,
In doubt to whom she victorie should deeme,
Therewith their dulled sprights they edgd anew,        150
And drawing both their swords with rage extreme,
Like two mad mastiffes each on other flew,
And shields did share, and mailes did rash, and helmes did hew.
So furiously each other did assayle,
As if their soules they would attonce have rent        155
Out of their brests, that streames of bloud did rayle
Adowne, as if their springs of life were spent;
That all the ground with purple bloud was sprent,
And all their armours staynd with bloudie gore;
Yet scarcely once to breath would they relent,        160
So mortall was their malice and so sore
Become of fayned friendship which they vow’d afore.
And that which is for ladies most besitting,
To stint all strife, and foster friendly peace,
Was from those dames so farre and so unfitting,        165
As that, in stead of praying them surcease,
They did much more their cruelty encrease;
Bidding them fight for honour of their love,
And rather die then ladies cause release.
With which vaine termes so much they did them move,        170
That both resolv’d the last extremities to prove.
There they, I weene, would fight untill this day,
Had not a squire, even he the Squire of Dames,
By great adventure travelled that way;
Who seeing both bent to so bloudy games,        175
And both of old well knowing by their names,
Drew nigh, to weete the cause of their debate:
And first laide on those ladies thousand blames,
That did not seeke t’ appease their deadly hate,
But gazed on their harmes, not pittying their estate.        180
And then those knights he humbly did beseech
To stay their hands, till he a while had spoken:
Who lookt a little up at that his speech,
Yet would not let their battell so be broken,
Both greedie fiers on other to be wroken.        185
Yet he to them so earnestly did call,
And them conjur’d by some well knowen token,
That they at last their wrothfull hands let fall,
Content to heare him speake, and glad to rest withall.
First he desir’d their cause of strife to see:
They said, it was for love of Florimell.
‘Ah! gentle knights,’ quoth he, ‘how may that bee,
And she so farre astray, as none can tell?’
‘Fond squire,’ full angry then sayd Paridell,
‘Seest not the ladie there before thy face?’        195
He looked backe, and her advizing well,
Weend, as he said, by that her outward grace,
That fayrest Florimell was present there in place.
Glad man was he to see that joyous sight,
For none alive but joy’d in Florimell,        200
And lowly to her lowting, thus behight:
‘Fayrest of faire, that fairenesse doest excell,
This happie day I have to greete you well,
In which you safe I see, whom thousand late
Misdoubted lost through mischiefe that befell;        205
Long may you live in health and happie state.’
She litle answer’d him, but lightly did aggrate.
Then turning to those knights, he gan a new:
‘And you, Sir Blandamour and Paridell,
That for this ladie present in your vew        210
Have rays’d this cruell warre and outrage fell,
Certes, me seemes, bene not advised well,
But rather ought in friendship for her sake
To joyne your force, their forces to repell
That seeke perforce her from you both to take,        215
And of your gotten spoyle their owne triumph to make.’
Thereat Sir Blandamour, with countenance sterne,
All full of wrath, thus fiercely him bespake:
‘A read, thou squire, that I the man may learne,
That dare fro me thinke Florimell to take.’        220
‘Not one,’ quoth he, ‘but many doe partake
Herein, as thus: It lately so befell,
That Satyran a girdle did uptake
Well knowne to appertaine to Florimell,
Which for her sake he wore, as him beseemed well.        225
‘But when as she her selfe was lost and gone,
Full many knights, that loved her like deare,
Thereat did greatly grudge, that he alone
That lost faire ladies ornament should weare,
And gan therefore close spight to him to beare:        230
Which he to shun, and stop vile envies sting,
Hath lately caus’d to be proclaim’d each where
A solemne feast, with publike turneying,
To which all knights with them their ladies are to bring.
‘And of them all she that is fayrest found
Shall have that golden girdle for reward,
And of those knights who is most stout on ground
Shall to that fairest ladie be prefard.
Since therefore she her selfe is now your ward,
To you that ornament of hers pertaines        240
Against all those that chalenge it to gard,
And save her honour with your ventrous paines;
That shall you win more glory then ye here find gaines.’
When they the reason of his words had hard,
They gan abate the rancour of their rage,        245
And with their honours and their loves regard
The furious flames of malice to asswage.
Tho each to other did his faith engage,
Like faithfull friends thenceforth to joyne in one
With all their force, and battell strong to wage        250
Gainst all those knights, as their professed fone,
That chaleng’d ought in Florimell, save they alone.
So well accorded forth they rode together
In friendly sort, that lasted but a while,
And of all old dislikes they made faire weather;        255
Yet all was forg’d and spred with golden foyle;
That under it hidde hate and hollow guyle.
Ne certes can that friendship long endure,
How ever gay and goodly be the style,
That doth ill cause or evill end enure:        260
For vertue is the band that bindeth harts most sure.
Thus as they marched all in close disguise
Of fayned love, they chaunst to overtake
Two knights, that lincked rode in lovely wise,
As if they secret counsels did partake;        265
And each not farre behinde him had his make,
To weete, two ladies of most goodly hew,
That twixt themselves did gentle purpose make,
Unmindfull both of that discordfull crew,
The which with speedie pace did after them pursew.        270
Who, as they now approched nigh at hand,
Deeming them doughtie as they did appeare,
They sent that squire afore, to understand
What mote they be: who, viewing them more neare,
Returned readie newes, that those same weare        275
Two of the prowest knights in Faery Lond,
And those two ladies their two lovers deare;
Couragious Cambell, and stout Triamond,
With Canacee and Cambine linckt in lovely bond.
Whylome, as antique stories tellen us,
Those two were foes the fellonest on ground,
And battell made the dreddest daungerous
That ever shrilling trumpet did resound;
Though now their acts be no where to be found,
As that renowmed poet them compyled        285
With warlike numbers and heroicke sound,
Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled,
On Fames eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled.
But wicked Time, that all good thoughts doth waste,
And workes of noblest wits to nought out weare,        290
That famous moniment hath quite defaste,
And robd the world of threasure endlesse deare,
The which mote have enriched all us heare.
O cursed Eld, the cankerworme of writs!
How may these rimes, so rude as doth appeare,        295
Hope to endure, sith workes of heavenly wits
Are quite devourd, and brought to nought by little bits?
Then pardon, O most sacred happie spirit,
That I thy labours lost may thus revive,
And steale from thee the meede of thy due merit,        300
That none durst ever whilest thou wast alive,
And, being dead, in vaine yet many strive:
Ne dare I like, but through infusion sweete
Of thine owne spirit, which doth in me survive,
I follow here the footing of thy feete,        305
That with thy meaning so I may the rather meete.
Cambelloes sister was fayre Canacee,
That was the learnedst ladie in her dayes,
Well seene in everie science that mote bee,
And every secret worke of Natures wayes,        310
In wittie riddles, and in wise soothsayes,
In power of herbes, and tunes of beasts and burds;
And, that augmented all her other prayse,
She modest was in all her deedes and words,
And wondrous chast of life, yet lov’d of knights and lords.        315
Full many lords and many knights her loved,
Yet she to none of them her liking lent,
Ne ever was with fond affection moved,
But rul’d her thoughts with goodly governement,
For dread of blame and honours blemishment;        320
And eke unto her lookes a law she made,
That none of them once out of order went,
But, like to warie centonels well stayd,
Still watcht on every side, of secret foes affrayd.
So much the more as she refusd to love,
So much the more she loved was and sought,
That oftentimes unquiet strife did move
Amongst her lovers, and great quarrels wrought,
That oft for her in bloudie armes they fought.
Which whenas Cambell, that was stout and wise,        330
Perceiv’d would breede great mischiefe, he bethought
How to prevent the perill that mote rise,
And turne both him and her to honour in this wise.
One day, when all that troupe of warlike wooers
Assembled were, to weet whose she should bee,        335
All mightie men and dreadfull derring dooers,
(The harder it to make them well agree)
Amongst them all this end he did decree;
That of them all, which love to her did make,
They by consent should chose the stoutest three,        340
That with himselfe should combat for her sake,
And of them all the victour should his sister take.
Bold was the chalenge, as himselfe was bold,
And courage full of haughtie hardiment,
Approved oft in perils manifold,        345
Which he atchiev’d to his great ornament:
But yet his sisters skill unto him lent
Most confidence and hope of happie speed,
Conceived by a ring which she him sent,
That, mongst the manie vertues which we reed,        350
Had power to staunch al wounds that mortally did bleed.
Well was that rings great vertue knowen to all,
That dread thereof, and his redoubted might,
Did all that youthly rout so much appall,
That none of them durst undertake the fight;        355
More wise they weend to make of love delight,
Then life to hazard for faire ladies looke,
And yet uncertaine by such outward sight,
Though for her sake they all that perill tooke,
Whether she would them love, or in her liking brooke.        360
Amongst those knights there were three brethren bold,
Three bolder brethren never were yborne,
Borne of one mother in one happie mold,
Borne at one burden in one happie morne;
Thrise happie mother, and thrise happie morne,        365
That bore three such, three such not to be fond!
Her name was Agape, whose children werne
All three as one; the first hight Priamond,
The second Dyamond, the youngest Triamond.
Stout Priamond, but not so strong to strike,
Strong Diamond, but not so stout a knight,
But Triamond was stout and strong alike:
On horsebacke used Triamond to fight,
And Priamond on foote had more delight,
But horse and foote knew Diamond to wield:        375
With curtaxe used Diamond to smite,
And Triamond to handle speare and shield,
But speare and curtaxe both usd Priamond in field.
These three did love each other dearely well,
And with so firme affection were allyde,        380
As if but one soule in them all did dwell,
Which did her powre into three parts divyde;
Like three faire branches budding farre and wide,
That from one roote deriv’d their vitall sap:
And like that roote that doth her life divide        385
Their mother was, and had full blessed hap,
These three so noble babes to bring forth at one clap.
Their mother was a Fay, and had the skill
Of secret things, and all the powres of nature,
Which she by art could use unto her will,        390
And to her service bind each living creature,
Through secret understanding of their feature.
Thereto she was right faire, when so her face
She list discover, and of goodly stature;
But she, as Fayes are wont, in privie place        395
Did spend her dayes, and lov’d in forests wyld to space.
There on a day a noble youthly knight,
Seeking adventures in the salvage wood,
Did by great fortune get of her the sight,
As she sate carelesse by a cristall flood,        400
Combing her golden lockes, as seemd her good;
And unawares upon her laying hold,
That strove in vaine him long to have withstood,
Oppressed her, and there (as it is told)
Got these three lovely babes, that prov’d three champions bold.        405
Which she with her long fostred in that wood,
Till that to ripenesse of mans state they grew:
Then, shewing forth signes of their fathers blood,
They loved armes, and knighthood did ensew,
Seeking adventures, where they anie knew.        410
Which when their mother saw, she gan to dout
Their safetie, least by searching daungers new,
And rash provoking perils all about,
Their days mote be abridged through their corage stout.
Therefore desirous th’ end of all their dayes
To know, and them t’ enlarge with long extent,
By wondrous skill and many hidden wayes
To the three Fatall Sisters house she went.
Farre under ground from tract of living went,
Downe in the bottome of the deepe Abysse,        420
Where Demogorgon, in dull darknesse pent,
Farre from the view of gods and heavens blis,
The hideous Chaos keepes, their dreadfull dwelling is.
There she them found, all sitting round about
The direfull distaffe standing in the mid,        425
And with unwearied fingers drawing out
The lines of life, from living knowledge hid.
Sad Clotho held the rocke, the whiles the thrid
By griesly Lachesis was spun with paine,
That cruell Atropos eftsoones undid,        430
With cursed knife cutting the twist in twaine:
Most wretched men, whose dayes depend on thrids so vaine!
She them saluting, there by them sate still,
Beholding how the thrids of life they span:
And when at last she had beheld her fill,        435
Trembling in heart, and looking pale and wan,
Her cause of comming she to tell began.
To whom fierce Atropos: ‘Bold Fay, that durst
Come see the secret of the life of man,
Well worthie thou to be of Jove accurst,        440
And eke thy childrens thrids to be a sunder burst.’
Whereat she sore affrayd, yet her besought
To graunt her boone, and rigour to abate,
That she might see her childrens thrids forth brought,
And know the measure of their utmost date,        445
To them ordained by eternall Fate:
Which Clotho graunting, shewed her the same:
That when she saw, it did her much amate
To see their thrids so thin as spiders frame,
And eke so short, that seemd their ends out shortly came.        450
She then began them humbly to intreate
To draw them longer out, and better twine,
That so their lives might be prolonged late.
But Lachesis thereat gan to repine,
And sayd: ‘Fond dame! that deem’st of things divine        455
As of humane, that they may altred bee,
And chaung’d at pleasure for those impes of thine:
Not so; for what the Fates do once decree,
Not all the gods can chaunge, nor Jove him self can free.’
‘Then since,’ quoth she, ‘the terme of each mans life
For nought may lessened nor enlarged bee,
Graunt this, that when ye shred with fatall knife
His line which is the eldest of the three,
Which is of them the shortest, as I see,
Eftsoones his life may passe into the next;        465
And when the next shall likewise ended bee,
That both their lives may likewise be annext
Unto the third, that his may so be trebly wext.’
They graunted it; and then that carefull Fay
Departed thence with full contented mynd;        470
And comming home, in warlike fresh aray
Them found all three, according to their kynd:
But unto them what destinie was assynd,
Or how their lives were eekt, she did not tell;
But evermore, when she fit time could fynd,        475
She warned them to tend their safeties well,
And love each other deare, what ever them befell.
So did they surely during all their dayes,
And never discord did amongst them fall;
Which much augmented all their other praise.        480
And now, t’ increase affection naturall,
In love of Canacee they joyned all:
Upon which ground this same great battell grew,
Great matter growing of beginning small;
The which, for length, I will not here pursew,        485
But rather will reserve it for a canto new.

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