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 III
        The battell twixt three brethren with
  Cambell for Canacee:
Cambina with true friendships bond
  Doth their long strife agree.

O WHY doe wretched men so much desire
To draw their dayes unto the utmost date,
And doe not rather wish them soone expire,
Knowing the miserie of their estate,
And thousand perills which them still awate,        5
Tossing them like a boate amid the mayne,
That every houre they knocke at Deathes gate?
And he that happie seemes and least in payne,
Yet is as nigh his end as he that most doth playne.
Therefore this Fay I hold but fond and vaine,
The which, in seeking for her children three
Long life, thereby did more prolong their paine.
Yet whilest they lived none did ever see
More happie creatures then they seem’d to bee,
Nor more ennobled for their courtesie,        15
That made them dearely lov’d of each degree,
Ne more renowmed for their chevalrie,
That made them dreaded much of all men farre and nie.
These three that hardie chalenge tooke in hand,
For Canacee with Cambell for to fight:        20
The day was set, that all might understand,
And pledges pawnd the same to keepe a right:
That day, the dreddest day that living wight
Did ever see upon this world to shine,
So soone as heavens window shewed light,        25
These warlike champions, all in armour shine,
Assembled were in field, the chalenge to define.
The field with listes was all about enclos’d,
To barre the prease of people farre away;
And at th’ one side sixe judges were dispos’d,        30
To view and deeme the deedes of armes that day;
And on the other side, in fresh aray,
Fayre Canacee upon a stately stage
Was set, to see the fortune of that fray,
And to be seene, as his most worthie wage        35
That could her purchase with his lives adventur’d gage.
Then entred Cambell first into the list,
With stately steps and fearelesse countenance,
As if the conquest his he surely wist.
Soone after did the brethren three advance,        40
In brave aray and goodly amenance,
With scutchins gilt and banners broad displayd;
And marching thrise in warlike ordinance,
Thrise lowted lowly to the noble mayd,
The whiles shril trompets and loud clarions sweetly playd.        45
Which doen, the doughty chalenger came forth,
All arm’d to point, his chalenge to abet:
Gainst whom Sir Priamond, with equall worth
And equall armes, himselfe did forward set.
A trompet blew; they both together met        50
With dreadfull force and furious intent,
Carelesse of perill in their fiers affret,
As if that life to losse they had forelent,
And cared not to spare that should be shortly spent.
Right practicke was Sir Priamond in fight,
And throughly skild in use of shield and speare;
Ne lesse approved was Cambelloes might,
Ne lesse his skill in weapons did appeare,
That hard it was to weene which harder were.
Full many mightie strokes on either side        60
Were sent, that seemed death in them to beare,
But they were both so watchfull and well eyde,
That they avoyded were, and vainely by did slyde.
Yet one of many was so strongly bent
By Priamond, that with unluckie glaunce        65
Through Cambels shoulder it unwarely went,
That forced him his shield to disadvaunce:
Much was he grieved with that gracelesse chaunce,
Yet from the wound no drop of bloud there fell,
But wondrous paine, that did the more enhaunce        70
His haughtie courage to advengement fell:
Smart daunts not mighty harts, but makes them more to swell.
With that, his poynant speare he fierce aventred,
With doubled force, close underneath his shield,
That through the mayles into his thigh it entred,        75
And there arresting, readie way did yield
For bloud to gush forth on the grassie field;
That he for paine himselfe not right upreare,
But too and fro in great amazement reel’d,
Like an old oke, whose pith and sap is seare,        80
At puffe of every storme doth stagger here and there.
Whom so dismayd when Cambell had espide,
Againe he drove at him with double might,
That nought mote stay the steele, till in his side
The mortall point most cruelly empight:        85
Where fast infixed, whilest he sought by slight
It forth to wrest, the staffe a sunder brake,
And left the head behind: with which despight
He all enrag’d, his shivering speare did shake,
And charging him a fresh, thus felly him bespake:        90
‘Lo! faitour, there thy meede unto thee take,
The meede of thy mischalenge and abet:
Not for thine owne, but for thy sisters sake,
Have I thus long thy life unto thee let:
But to forbeare doth not forgive the det.’        95
The wicked weapon heard his wrathfull vow,
And passing forth with furious affret,
Pierst through his bever quite into his brow,
That with the force it backward forced him to bow.
Therewith a sunder in the midst it brast,
And in his hand nought but the troncheon left;
The other halfe behind yet sticking fast
Out of his headpeece Cambell fiercely reft,
And with such furie backe at him it heft,
That, making way unto his dearest life,        105
His weasand pipe it through his gorget cleft:
Thence streames of purple bloud issuing rife
Let forth his wearie ghost, and made an end of strife.
His wearie ghost, assoyld from fleshly band,
Did not, as others wont, directly fly        110
Unto her rest in Plutoes griesly land,
Ne into ayre did vanish presently,
Ne chaunged was into a starre in sky:
But through traduction was eftsoones derived,
Like as his mother prayd the Destinie,        115
Into his other brethren that survived,
In whom he liv’d a new, of former life deprived.
Whom when on ground his brother next beheld,
Though sad and sorie for so heavy sight,
Yet leave unto his sorrow did not yeeld;        120
But rather stird to vengeance and despight,
Through secret feeling of his generous spright,
Rusht fiercely forth, the battell to renew,
As in reversion of his brothers right;
And chalenging the virgin as his dew.        125
His foe was soone addrest: the trompets freshly blew.
With that they both together fiercely met,
As if that each ment other to devoure;
And with their axes both so sorely bet,
That neither plate nor mayle, whereas their powre        130
They felt, could once sustaine the hideous stowre,
But rived were like rotten wood a sunder,
Whilest through their rifts the ruddie bloud did showre,
And fire did flash, like lightning after thunder,
That fild the lookers on attonce with ruth and wonder.        135
As when two tygers, prickt with hungers rage,
Have by good fortune found some beasts fresh spoyle,
On which they weene their famine to asswage,
And gaine a feastfull guerdon of their toyle;
Both falling out doe stirre up strifefull broyle,        140
And cruell battell twixt themselves doe make,
Whiles neither lets the other touch the soyle,
But either sdeignes with other to partake:
So cruelly these knights strove for that ladies sake.
Full many strokes, that mortally were ment,
The whiles were enterchaunged twixt them two;
Yet they were all with so good wariment
Or warded, or avoyded and let goe,
That still the life stood fearelesse of her foe:
Till Diamond, disdeigning long delay        150
Of doubtfull fortune wavering to and fro,
Resolv’d to end it one or other way;
And heav’d his murdrous axe at him with mighty sway.
The dreadfull stroke, in case it had arrived
Where it was ment, (so deadly it was ment)        155
The soule had sure out of his bodie rived,
And stinted all the strife incontinent.
But Cambels fate that fortune did prevent:
For seeing it at hand, he swarv’d asyde,
And so gave way unto his fell intent:        160
Who, missing of the marke which he had eyde,
Was with the force nigh feld whilst his right foot did slyde.
As when a vulture greedie of his pray,
Through hunger long, that hart to him doth lend,
Strikes at an heron with all his bodies sway,        165
That from his force seemes nought may it defend;
The warie fowle, that spies him toward bend
His dreadfull souse, avoydes it, shunning light,
And maketh him his wing in vaine to spend;
That with the weight of his owne weeldlesse might,        170
He falleth nigh to ground, and scarse recovereth flight.
Which faire adventure when Cambello spide,
Full lightly, ere himselfe he could recower,
From daungers dread to ward his naked side,
He can let drive at him with all his power,        175
And with his axe him smote in evill hower,
That from his shoulders quite his head he reft:
The headlesse tronke, as heedlesse of that stower,
Stood still a while, and his fast footing kept,
Till, feeling life to fayle, it fell, and deadly slept.        180
They which that piteous spectacle beheld
Were much amaz’d the headlesse tronke to see
Stand up so long, and weapon vaine to weld,
Unweeting of the Fates divine decree
For lifes succession in those brethren three.        185
For notwithstanding that one soule was reft,
Yet, had the bodie not dismembred bee,
It would have lived, and revived eft;
But finding no fit seat, the lifelesse corse it left.
It left; but that same soule which therein dwelt,
Streight entring into Triamond, him fild
With double life and griefe; which when he felt,
As one whose inner parts had bene ythrild
With point of steele, that close his hartbloud spild,
He lightly lept out of his place of rest,        195
And rushing forth into the emptie field,
Against Cambello fiercely him addrest;
Who him affronting soone to fight was readie prest.
Well mote ye wonder how that noble knight,
After he had so often wounded beene,        200
Could stand on foot now to renew the fight.
But had ye then him forth advauncing seene,
Some newborne wight ye would him surely weene,
So fresh he seemed and so fierce in sight;
Like as a snake, whom wearie winters teene        205
Hath worne to nought, now feeling sommers might,
Casts off his ragged skin and freshly doth him dight.
All was through vertue of the ring he wore,
The which not onely did not from him let
One drop of bloud to fall, but did restore        210
His weakned powers, and dulled spirits whet,
Through working of the stone therein yset.
Else how could one of equall might with most,
Against so many no lesse mightie met,
Once thinke to match three such on equall cost,        215
Three such as able were to match a puissant host?
Yet nought thereof was Triamond adredde,
Ne desperate of glorious victorie,
But sharpely him assayld, and sore bestedde,
With heapes of strokes, which he at him let flie        220
As thicke as hayle forth poured from the skie:
He stroke, he soust, he foynd, he hewd, he lasht,
And did his yron brond so fast applie,
That from the same the fierie sparkles flasht,
As fast as water-sprinkles gainst a rocke are dasht.        225
Much was Cambello daunted with his blowes,
So thicke they fell, and forcibly were sent,
That he was forst from daunger of the throwes
Backe to retire, and somewhat to relent,
Till th’ heat of his fierce furie he had spent:        230
Which when for want of breath gan to abate,
He then afresh with new encouragement
Did him assayle, and mightily amate,
As fast as forward erst, now backward to retrate.
Like as the tide, that comes fro th’ ocean mayne,
Flowes up the Shenan with contrarie forse,
And overruling him in his owne rayne,
Drives backe the current of his kindly course,
And makes it seeme to have some other sourse:
But when the floud is spent, then backe againe,        240
His borrowed waters forst to redisbourse,
He sends the sea his owne with double gaine,
And tribute eke withall, as to his soveraine.
Thus did the battell varie to and fro,
With diverse fortune doubtfull to be deemed:        245
Now this the better had, now had his fo;
Then he halfe vanquisht, then the other seemed;
Yet victors both them selves alwayes esteemed.
And all the while the disentrayled blood
Adowne their sides like litle rivers stremed,        250
That with the wasting of his vitall flood
Sir Triamond at last full faint and feeble stood.
But Cambell still more strong and greater grew,
Ne felt his blood to wast, ne powres emperisht,
Through that rings vertue, that with vigour new,        255
Still when as he enfeebled was, him cherisht,
And all his wounds and all his bruses guarisht:
Like as a withered tree, through husbands toyle,
Is often seene full freshly to have florisht,
And fruitfull seene full freshly to have florisht,        260
As fresh as when it first was planted in the soyle.
Through which advantage, in his strength he rose,
And smote the other with so wondrous might,
That through the seame which did his hauberk close
Into his throate and life it pierced quight,        265
That downe he fell as dead in all mens sight:
Yet dead he was not, yet he sure did die,
As all men do that lose the living spright:
So did one soule out of his bodie flie
Unto her native home from mortall miserie.        270
But nathelesse whilst all the lookers on
Him dead behight, as he to all appeard,
All unawares he started up anon,
As one that had out of a dreame bene reard,
And fresh assayld his foe; who halfe affeard        275
Of th’ uncouth sight, as he some ghost had seene,
Stood still amaz’d, holding his idle sweard;
Till, having often by him stricken beene,
He forced was to strike, and save him selfe from teene.
Yet from thenceforth more warily he fought,
As one in feare the Stygian gods t’ offend,
Ne followd on so fast, but rather sought
Him selfe to save, and daunger to defend,
Then life and labour both in vaine to spend.
Which Triamond perceiving, weened sure        285
He gan to faint toward the battels end,
And that he should not long on foote endure,
A signe which did to him the victorie assure.
Whereof full blith, eftsoones his mightie hand
He heav’d on high, in mind with that same blow        290
To make an end of all that did withstand:
Which Cambell seeing come, was nothing slow
Him selfe to save from that so deadly throw;
And at that instant reaching forth his sweard,
Close underneath his shield, that scarce did show,        295
Stroke him, as he his hand to strike upreard,
In th’ arm-pit full, that through both sides the wound appeard.
Yet still that direfull stroke kept on his way,
And falling heavie on Cambelloes crest,
Strooke him so hugely that in swowne he lay,        300
And in his head an hideous wound imprest:
And sure, had it not happily found rest
Upon the brim of his brode plated shield,
It would have cleft his braine downe to his brest.
So both at once fell dead upon the field,        305
And each to other seemd the victorie to yield.
Which when as all the lookers on beheld,
They weened sure the warre was at an end,
And judges rose, and marshals of the field
Broke up the listes, their armes away to rend;        310
And Canacee gan wayle her dearest frend.
All suddenly they both upstarted light,
The one out of the swownd which him did blend,
The other breathing now another spright,
And fiercely each assayling, gan afresh to fight.        315
Long while they then continued in that wize,
As if but then the battell had begonne:
Strokes, wounds, wards, weapons, all they did despise,
Ne either car’d to ward, or perill shonne,
Desirous both to have the battell donne;        320
Ne either cared life to save or spill,
Ne which of them did winne, ne which were wonne.
So wearie both of fighting had their fill,
That life it selfe seemd loathsome, and long safetie ill.
Whilst thus the case in doubtfull ballance hong,
Unsure to whether side it would incline,
And all mens eyes and hearts, which there among
Stood gazing, filled were with rufull tine,
And secret feare to see their fatall fine,
All suddenly they heard a troublous noyes,        330
That seemd some perilous tumult to desine,
Confusd with womens cries and shouts of boyes,
Such as the troubled theaters oftimes annoyes.
Thereat the champions both stood still a space,
To weeten what that sudden clamour ment;        335
Lo! where they spyde with speedie whirling pace
One in a charet of straunge furniment
Towards them driving like a storme out sent.
The charet decked was in wondrous wize
With gold and many a gorgeous ornament,        340
After the Persian Monarks antique guize,
Such as the maker selfe could best by art devize.
And drawne it was (that wonder is to tell)
Of two grim lyons, taken from the wood,
In which their powre all others did excell;        345
Now made forget their former cruell mood,
T’ obey their riders hest, as seemed good.
And therein sate a ladie passing faire
And bright, that seemed borne of angels brood,
And with her beautie bountie did compare,        350
Whether of them in her should have the greater share.
Thereto she learned was in magicke leare,
And all the artes that subtill wits discover,
Having therein bene trained many a yeare,
And well instructed by the Fay her mother,        355
That in the same she farre exceld all other.
Who, understanding by her mightie art
Of th’ evill plight in which her dearest brother
Now stood, came forth in hast to take his part,
And pacifie the strife which causd so deadly smart.        360
And as she passed through th’ unruly preace
Of people thronging thicke her to behold,
Her angrie teame, breaking their bonds of peace,
Great heapes of them, like sheepe in narrow fold,
For hast did over-runne, in dust enrould;        365
That, thorough rude confusion of the rout,
Some fearing shriekt, some being harmed hould,
Some laught for sport, some did for wonder shout,
And some, that would seeme wise, their wonder turnd to dout.
In her right hand a rod of peace shee bore,
About the which two serpents weren wound,
Entrayled mutually in lovely lore,
And by the tailes together firmely bound,
And both were with one olive garland crownd,
Like to the rod which Maias sonne doth wield,        375
Wherewith the hellish fiends he doth confound.
And in her other hand a cup she hild,
The which was with Nepenthe to the brim upfild.
Nepenthe is a drinck of soverayne grace,
Devized by the gods, for to asswage        380
Harts grief, and bitter gall away to chace,
Which stirs up anguish and contentious rage:
In stead thereof sweet peace and quietage
It doth establish in the troubled mynd.
Few men, but such as sober are and sage,        385
Are by the gods to drinck thereof assynd;
But such as drinck, eternall happinesse do fynd.
Such famous men, such worthies of the earth,
As Jove will have advaunced to the skie,
And there made gods, though borne of mortall berth,        390
For their high merits and great dignitie,
Are wont, before they may to heaven flie,
To drincke hereof, whereby all cares forepast
Are washt away quite from their memorie.
So did those olde heroes hereof taste,        395
Before that they in blisse amongst the gods were plaste.
Much more of price and of more gratious powre
Is this, then that same water of Ardenne,
The which Rinaldo drunck in happie howre,
Described by that famous Tuscane penne:        400
For that had might to change the hearts of men
Fro love to hate, a change of evill choise:
But this doth hatred make in love to brenne,
And heavy heart with comfort doth rejoyce.
Who would not to this vertue rather yeeld his voice?        405
At last arriving by the listes side,
Shee with her rod did softly smite the raile,
Which straight flew ope, and gave her way to ride.
Eftsoones out of her coch she gan availe,
And pacing fairely forth, did bid all haile,        410
First to her brother, whom she loved deare,
That so to see him made her heart to quaile:
And next to Cambell, whose sad ruefull cheare
Made her to change her hew, and hidden love t’ appeare.
They lightly her requit (for small delight
They had as then her long to entertaine,)
And eft them turned both againe to fight:
Which when she saw, downe on the bloudy plaine
Her selfe she threw, and teares gan shed amaine;
Amongst her teares immixing prayers meeke,        420
And with her prayers reasons, to restraine
From blouddy strife; and blessed peace to seeke,
By all that unto them was deare, did them beseeke.
But when as all might nought with them prevaile,
Shee smote them lightly with her powrefull wand.        425
Then suddenly as if their hearts did faile,
Their wrathfull blades downe fell out of their hand,
And they like men astonisht still did stand.
Thus whilest their minds were doubtfully distraught,
And mighty spirites bound with mightier band,        430
Her golden cup to them for drinke she raught,
Whereof, full glad for thirst, ech drunk an harty draught.
Of which so soone as they once tasted had,
Wonder it is that sudden change to see:
Instead of strokes, each other kissed glad,        435
And lovely haulst, from feare of treason free,
And plighted hands for ever friends to be.
When all men saw this sudden change of things,
So mortall foes so friendly to agree,
For passing joy, which so great marvaile brings,        440
They all gan shout aloud, that all the heaven rings.
All which when gentle Canacee beheld,
In hast she from her lofty chaire descended,
Too weet what sudden tidings was befeld:
Where when she saw that cruell war so ended,        445
And deadly foes so faithfully affrended,
In lovely wise she gan that lady greet,
Which had so great dismay so well amended,
And entertaining her with curt’sies meet,
Profest to her true friendship and affection sweet.        450
Thus when they all accorded goodly were,
The trumpets sounded, and they all arose,
Thence to depart with glee and gladsome chere.
Those warlike champions both together chose
Homeward to march, themselves there to repose,        455
And wise Cambina, taking by her side
Faire Canacee, as fresh as morning rose,
Unto her coch remounting, home did ride,
Admir’d of all the people and much glorifide.
Where making joyous feast theire daies they spent
In perfect love, devoide of hatefull strife,
Allide with bands of mutuall couplement;
For Triamond had Canacee to wife,
With whom he ledd a long and happie life;
And Cambel tooke Cambina to his fere,        465
The which as life were each to other liefe.
So all alike did love, and loved were,
That since their days such lovers were not found elswhere.

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