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 VIII
        The gentle squire recovers grace:
  Sclaunder her guests doth staine:
Corflambo chaseth Placidas,
  And is by Arthure slaine.

WELL said the wiseman, now prov’d true by this,
Which to this gentle squire did happen late,
That the displeasure of the mighty is
Then death it selfe more dread and desperate.
For naught the same may calme ne mitigate,        5
Till time the tempest doe thereof delay
With sufferaunce soft, which rigour can abate,
And have the sterne remembrance wypt away
Of bitter thoughts, which deepe therein infixed lay.
Like as it fell to this unhappy boy,
Whose tender heart the faire Belphebe had
With one sterne looke so daunted, that no joy
In all his life, which afterwards he lad,
He ever tasted; but with penaunce sad
And pensive sorrow pind and wore away,        15
Ne ever laught, ne once shew’d countenance glad;
But alwaies wept and wailed night and day,
As blasted bloosme through heat doth languish and decay.
Till on a day, as in his wonted wise
His doole he made, there chaunst a turtle dove        20
To come where he his dolors did devise,
That likewise late had lost her dearest love,
Which losse her made like passion also prove.
Who seeing his sad plight, her tender heart
With deare compassion deeply did emmove,        25
That she gan mone his undeserved smart,
And with her dolefull accent beare with him a part.
Shee sitting by him, as on ground he lay,
Her mournefull notes full piteously did frame,
And thereof made a lamentable lay,        30
So sensibly compyld, that in the same
Him seemed oft he heard his owne right name.
With that he forth would poure so plenteous teares,
And beat his breast unworthy of such blame,
And knocke his head, and rend his rugged heares,        35
That could have perst the hearts of tigres and of beares.
Thus, long this gentle bird to him did use
Withouten dread of perill to repaire
Unto his wonne, and with her mournefull muse
Him to recomfort in his greatest care,        40
That much did ease his mourning and misfare:
And every day, for guerdon of her song,
He part of his small feast to her would share;
That, at the last, of all his woe and wrong
Companion she became, and so continued long.        45
Upon a day, as she him sate beside,
By chance he certaine miniments forth drew,
Which yet with him as relickes did abide
Of all the bounty which Belphebe threw
On him, whilst goodly grace she did him shew:        50
Amongst the rest a jewell rich he found,
That was a ruby of right perfect hew,
Shap’d like a heart yet bleeding of the wound,
And with a litle golden chaine about it bound.
The same he tooke, and with a riband new,
In which his ladies colours were, did bind
About the turtles necke, that with the vew
Did greatly solace his engrieved mind.
All unawares the bird, when she did find
Her selfe so deckt, her nimble wings displaid,        60
And flew away, as lightly as the wind:
Which sodaine accident him much dismaid,
And looking after long, did marke which way she straid.
But when as long he looked had in vaine,
Yet saw her forward still to make her flight,        65
His weary eie returnd to him againe,
Full of discomfort and disquiet plight,
That both his juell he had lost so light,
And eke his deare companion of his care.
But that sweet bird departing flew forth right        70
Through the wide region of the wastfull aire,
Untill she came where wonned his Belphebe faire.
There found she her (as then it did betide)
Sitting in covert shade of arbors sweet,
After late weary toile, which she had tride        75
In salvage chase, to rest as seem’d her meet.
There she alighting, fell before her feet,
And gan to her her mournful plaint to make,
As was her wont, thinking to let her weet
The great tormenting griefe that for her sake        80
Her gentle squire through her displeasure did pertake.
She her beholding with attentive eye,
At length did marke about her purple brest
That precious juell, which she formerly
Had knowne right well, with colourd ribbands drest:        85
Therewith she rose in hast, and her addrest
With ready hand it to have reft away:
But the swift bird obayd not her behest,
But swarv’d aside, and there againe did stay;
She follow’d her, and thought againe it to assay.        90
And ever when she nigh approcht, the dove
Would flit a litle forward, and then stay,
Till she drew neare, and then againe remove;
So tempting her still to pursue the pray,
And still from her escaping soft away:        95
Till that at length into that forrest wide
She drew her far, and led with slow delay.
In th’ end she her unto that place did guide,
Whereas that wofull man in languor did abide.
Eftsoones she flew unto his fearelesse hand,
And there a piteous ditty new deviz’d,
As if she would have made her understand
His sorrowes cause, to be of her despis’d.
Whom when she saw in wretched weedes disguiz’d,
With heary glib deform’d, and meiger face,        105
Like ghost late risen from his grave agryz’d,
She knew him not, but pittied much his case,
And wisht it were in her to doe him any grace.
He her beholding, at her feet downe fell,
And kist the ground on which her sole did tread,        110
And washt the same with water, which did well
From his moist eies, and like two streames procead;
Yet spake no word whereby she might aread
What mister wight he was, or what he ment;
But as one daunted with her presence dread,        115
Onely few ruefull lookes unto her sent,
As messengers of his true meaning and intent.
Yet nathemore his meaning she ared,
But wondred much at his so selcouth case,
And by his persons secret seemlyhed        120
Well weend that he had beene some man of place,
Before misfortune did his hew deface:
That, being mov’d with ruth, she thus bespake:
‘Ah, wofull man! what Heavens hard disgrace,
Or wrath of cruell wight on thee ywrake,        125
Or selfe disliked life, doth thee thus wretched make?
‘If Heaven, then none may it redresse or blame,
Sith to his powre we all are subject borne;
If wrathfull wight, then fowle rebuke and shame
Be theirs, that have so cruell thee forlorne;        130
But if through inward griefe or wilfull scorne
Of life it be, then better doe advise;
For he whose daies in wilfull woe are worne,
The grace of his Creator doth despise,
That will not use his gifts for thanklesse nigardise.’        135
When so he heard her say, eftsoones he brake
His sodaine silence, which he long had pent,
And sighing inly deepe, her thus bespake:
‘Then have they all themselves against me bent:
For Heaven, first author of my languishment,        140
Envying my too great felicity,
Did closely with a cruell one consent
To cloud my daies in dolefull misery,
And make me loath this life, still longing for to die.
‘Ne any but your selfe, O dearest dred,
Hath done this wrong, to wreake on worthlesse wight
Your high displesure, through misdeeming bred:
That, when your pleasure is to deeme aright,
Ye may redresse, and me restore to light.’
Which sory words her mightie hart did mate        150
With mild regard, to see his ruefull plight,
That her inburning wrath she gan abate,
And him receiv’d againe to former favours state.
In which he long time afterwards did lead
An happie life with grace and good accord,        155
Fearlesse of fortunes chaunge or envies dread,
And eke all mindlesse of his owne deare lord,
The noble Prince, who never heard one word
Of tydings, what did unto him betide,
Or what good fortune did to him afford,        160
But through the endlesse world did wander wide,
Him seeking evermore, yet no where him descride.
Till on a day, as through that wood he rode,
He chaunst to come where those two ladies late,
Æmylia and Amoret, abode,        165
Both in full sad and sorrowfull estate;
The one right feeble through the evill rate
Of food, which in her duresse she had found:
The other almost dead and desperate
Through her late hurts, and through that haplesse wound        170
With which the squire in her defence her sore astound.
Whom when the Prince beheld, he gan to rew
The evill case in which those ladies lay;
But most was moved at the piteous vew,
Of Amoret, so neare unto decay,        175
That her great daunger did him much dismay.
Eftsoones that pretious liquour forth he drew,
Which he in store about him kept alway,
And with few drops thereof did softly dew
Her wounds, that unto strength restor’d her soone anew.        180
Tho, when they both recovered were right well,
He gan of them inquire, what evill guide
Them thether brought, and how their harmes befell.
To whom they told all that did them betide,
And how from thraldome vile they were untide        185
Of that same wicked carle, by virgins hond;
Whose bloudie corse they shew’d him there beside,
And eke his cave, in which they both were bond:
At which he wondred much, when all those signes he fond.
And evermore he greatly did desire
To know, what virgin did them thence unbind;
And oft of them did earnestly inquire,
Where was her won, and how he mote her find.
But when as nought according to his mind
He could outlearne, he them from ground did reare,        195
(No service lothsome to a gentle kind)
And on his warlike beast them both did beare,
Himselfe by them on foot, to succour them from feare.
So when that forrest they had passed well,
A litle cotage farre away they spide,        200
To which they drew, ere night upon them fell;
And entring in, found none therein abide,
But one old woman sitting there beside,
Upon the ground, in ragged rude attyre,
With filthy lockes about her scattered wide,        205
Gnawing her nayles for felnesse and for yre,
And there out sucking venime to her parts entyre.
A foule and loathly creature sure in sight,
And in conditions to be loath’d no lesse:
For she was stuft with rancour and despight        210
Up to the throat; that oft with bitternesse
It forth would breake, and gush in great excesse,
Pouring out streames of poyson and of gall
Gainst all that truth or vertue doe professe;
Whom she with leasings lewdly did miscall,        215
And wickedly backbite: her name men Sclaunder call.
Her nature is, all goodnesse to abuse,
And causelesse crimes continually to frame,
With which she guiltlesse persons may accuse,
And steale away the crowne of their good name;        220
Ne ever knight so bold, ne ever dame
So chast and loyall liv’d, but she would strive
With forged cause them falsely to defame;
Ne ever thing so well was doen alive,
But she with blame would blot, and of due praise deprive.        225
Her words were not, as common words are ment,
T’ expresse the meaning of the inward mind,
But noysome breath, and poysnous spirit sent
From inward parts, with cancred malice lind,
And breathed forth with blast of bitter wind;        230
Which passing through the eares would pierce the hart,
And wound the soule it selfe with griefe unkind:
For like the stings of aspes, that kill with smart,
Her spightfull words did pricke and wound the inner part.
Such was that hag, unmeet to host such guests,
Whom greatest princes court would welcome fayne;
But neede, that answers not to all requests,
Bad them not looke for better entertayne;
And eke that age despysed nicenesse vaine,
Enur’d to hardnesse and to homely fare,        240
Which them to warlike discipline did trayne,
And manly limbs endur’d with litle care
Against all hard mishaps and fortunelesse misfare.
Then all that evening, welcommed with cold
And chearelesse hunger, they together spent;        245
Yet found no fault, but that the hag did scold
And rayle at them with grudgefull discontent,
For lodging there without her owne consent:
Yet they endured all with patience milde,
And unto rest themselves all onely lent;        250
Regardlesse, of that queane so base and vilde
To be unjustly blamd, and bitterly revilde.
Here well I weene, when as these rimes be red
With misregard, that some rash witted wight,
Whose looser thought will lightly be misled,        255
These gentle ladies will misdeeme too light,
For thus conversing with this noble knight;
Sith now of dayes such temperance is rare
And hard to finde, that heat of youthfull spright
For ought will from his greedie pleasure spare:        260
More hard for hungry steed t’ abstaine from pleasant lare.
But antique age, yet in the infancie
Of time, did live then like an innocent,
In simple truth and blamelesse chastitie,
Ne then of guile had made experiment,        265
But voide of vile and treacherous intent,
Held vertue for it selfe in soveraine awe:
Then loyall love had royall regiment,
And each unto his lust did make a lawe,
From all forbidden things his liking to withdraw.        270
The lyon there did with the lambe consort,
And eke the dove sate by the faulcons side,
Ne each of other feared fraud or tort,
But did in safe securitie abide,
Withouten perill of the stronger pride:        275
But when the world woxe old, it woxe warre old
(Whereof it hight) and having shortly tride
The traines of wit, in wickednesse woxe bold,
And dared of all sinnes the secrets to unfold.
Then beautie, which was made to represent
The great Creatours owne resemblance bright,
Unto abuse of lawlesse lust was lent,
And made the baite of bestiall delight:
Then faire grew foule, and foule grew faire in sight,
And that which wont to vanquish God and man        285
Was made the vassall of the victors might;
Then did her glorious flowre wex dead and wan,
Despisd and troden downe of all that overran.
And now it is so utterly decayd,
That any bud thereof doth scarse remaine,        290
But if few plants, preserv’d through heavenly ayd,
In princes court doe hap to sprout against,
Dew’d with her drops of bounties soveraine,
Which from that goodly glorious flowre proceed,
Sprung of the auncient stocke of princes straine,        295
Now th’ onely remnant of that royall breed,
Whose noble kind at first was sure of heavenly seed.
Tho, soone as day discovered heavens face
To sinfull men with darknes overdight,
This gentle crew gan from their eye-lids chace        300
The drowzie humour of the dampish night,
And did themselves unto their journey dight.
So forth they yode, and forward softly paced,
That them to view had bene an uncouth sight,
How all the way the Prince on footpace traced,        305
The ladies both on horse, together fast embraced.
Soone as they thence departed were afore,
That shamefull hag, the slaunder of her sexe,
Them follow’d fast, and them reviled sore,
Him calling theefe, them whores; that much did vexe        310
His noble hart: thereto she did annexe
False crimes and facts, such as they never ment,
That those two ladies much asham’d did wexe:
The more did she pursue her lewd intent,
And rayl’d and rag’d, till she had all her poyson spent.        315
At last, when they were passed out of sight,
Yet she did not her spightful speach forbeare,
But after them did barke, and still back-bite,
Though there were none her hatefull words to heare:
Like as a curre doth felly bite and teare        320
The stone which passed straunger at him threw;
So she them seeing past the reach of eare,
Against the stones and trees did rayle anew,
Till she had duld the sting which in her tongs end grew.
They, passing forth, kept on their readie way,
With easie steps so soft as foot could stryde,
Both for great feeblesse, which did oft assay
Faire Amoret, that scarcely she could ryde,
And eke through heavie armes, which sore annoyd
The Prince on foot, not wonted so to fare;        330
Whose steadie hand was faine his steede to guyde,
And all the way from trotting hard to spare;
So was his toyle the more, the more that was his care.
At length they spide where towards them with speed
A squire came gallopping, as he would flie,        335
Bearing a little dwarfe before his steed,
That all the way full loud for aide did crie,
That seem’d his shrikes would rend the brasen skie:
Whom after did a mightie man pursew,
Ryding upon a dromedare on hie,        340
Of stature huge, and horrible of hew,
That would have maz’d a man his dreadfull face to vew.
For from his fearefull eyes two fierie beames,
More sharpe then points of needles, did proceede,
Shooting forth farre away two flaming streames,        345
Full of sad powre, that poysonous bale did breede
To all that on him lookt without good heed,
And secretly his enemies did slay:
Like as the basiliske, of serpents seede,
From powrefull eyes close venim doth convay        350
Into the lookers hart, and killeth farre away.
He all the way did rage at that same squire,
And after him full many threatnings threw,
With curses vaine in his avengefull ire:
But none of them (so fast away he flew)        355
Him overtooke before he came in vew.
Where when he saw the Prince in armour bright,
He cald to him aloud, his case to rew,
And rescue him through succour of his might,
From that his cruell foe, that him pursewd in sight.        360
Eftsoones the Prince tooke downe those ladies twaine
From loftie steede, and mounting in their stead,
Came to that squire, yet trembling every vaine:
Of whom he gan enquire his cause of dread:
Who as he gan the same to him aread,        365
Loe! hard behind his backe his foe was prest,
With dreadfull weapon aymed at his head,
That unto death had doen him unredrest,
Had not the noble Prince his readie stroke represt.
Who, thrusting boldly twixt him and the blow,
The burden of the deadly brunt did beare
Upon his shield, which lightly he did throw
Over his head, before the harme came neare.
Nathlesse it fell with so despiteous dreare
And heavie sway, that hard unto his crowne        375
The shield it drove, and did the covering reare:
Therewith both squire and dwarfe did tomble downe
Unto the earth, and lay long while in senselesse swowne.
Whereat the Prince full wrath, his strong right hand
In full avengement heaved up on hie,        380
And stroke the Pagan with his steely brand
So sore, that to his saddle bow thereby
He bowed low, and so a while did lie:
And sure, had not his massie yron mace
Betwixt him and his hurt bene happily,        385
It would have cleft him to the girding place;
Yet, as it was, it did astonish him long space.
But when he to himselfe returnd againe,
All full of rage he gan to curse and sweare,
And vow by Mahoune that he should be slaine.        390
With that his murdrous mace he up did reare,
That seemed nought the souse thereof could beare,
And therewith smote at him with all his might.
But ere that it to him approched neare,
The royall child, with readie quicke foresight,        395
Did shun the proofe thereof and it avoyded light.
But ere his hand he could recure againe,
To ward his bodie from the balefull stound,
He smote at him with all his might and maine,
So furiously, that, ere he wist, he found        400
His head before him tombling on the ground.
The whiles his babling tongue did yet blaspheme
And curse his god, that did him so confound;
The whiles his life ran foorth in bloudie streame,
His soule descended downe into the Stygian reame.        405
Which when that squire beheld, he woxe full glad
To see his foe breath out his spright in vaine:
But that same dwarfe right sorie seem’d and sad,
And howld aloud to see his lord there slaine,
And rent his haire and scratcht his face for paine.        410
Then gan the Prince at leasure to inquire
Of all the accident, there hapned plaine,
And what he was, whose eyes did flame with fire;
All which was, thus to him declared by that squire.
‘This mightie man,’ quoth he, ‘whom you have slaine,
Of an huge geauntesse whylome was bred;
And by his strength rule to himselfe did gaine
Of many nations into thraldome led,
And mightie kingdomes of his force adred;
Whom yet he conquer’d not by bloudie fight,        420
Ne hostes of men with banners brode dispred,
But by the powre of his infectious sight,
With which he killed all that came within his might.
‘Ne was he ever vanquished afore,
But ever vanquisht all with whom he fought;        425
Ne was there man so strong, but he downe bore,
Ne woman yet so faire, but he her brought
Unto his bay, and captived her thought.
For most of strength and beautie his desire
Was spoyle to make, and wast them unto nought,        430
By casting secret flakes of lustfull fire
From his false eyes, into their harts and parts entire.
‘Therefore Corflambo was he cald aright,
Though namelesse there his bodie now doth lie;
Yet hath he left one daughter that is hight        435
The faire Pœana; who seemes outwardly
So faire as ever yet saw living eie:
And were her vertue like her beautie bright,
She were as faire as any under skie.
But ah! she given is to vaine delight,        440
And eke too loose of life, and eke of love too light.
‘So as it fell, there was a gentle squire,
That lov’d a ladie of high parentage;
But for his meane degree might not aspire
To match so high, her friends with counsell sage        445
Dissuaded her from such a disparage.
But she, whose hart to love was wholly lent,
Out of his hands could not redeeme her gage,
But firmely following her first intent,
Resolv’d with him to wend, gainst all her friends consent.        450
‘So twixt themselves they pointed time and place,
To which when he according did repaire,
An hard mishap and disaventrous case
Him chaunst; in stead of his Æmylia faire,
This gyants sonne, that lies there on the laire        455
An headlesse heape, him unawares there caught,
And, all dismayd through mercilesse despaire,
Him wretched thrall unto his dongeon brought,
Where he remaines, of all unsuccour’d and unsought.
‘This gyants daughter came upon a day
Unto the prison in her joyous glee,
To view the thrals which there in bondage lay:
Amongst the rest she chaunced there to see
This lovely swaine, the squire of low degree;
To whom she did her liking lightly cast,        465
And wooed him her paramour to bee:
From day to day she woo’d and prayd him fast,
And for his love him promist libertie at last.
‘He, though affide unto a former love,
To whom his faith he firmely ment to hold,        470
Yet seeing not how thence he mote remove,
But by that meanes which fortune did unfold,
Her graunted love, but with affection cold,
To win her grace his libertie to get.
Yet she him still detaines in captive hold,        475
Fearing least, if she should him freely set,
He would her shortly leave, and former love forget.
‘Yet so much favour she to him hath hight
Above the rest, that he sometimes may space
And walke about her gardens of delight,        480
Having a keeper still with him in place;
Which keeper is this dwarfe, her dearling base,
To whom the keyes of every prison dore
By her committed be, of speciall grace,
And at his will may whom he list restore,        485
And whom he list reserve, to be afflicted more.
‘Whereof when tydings came unto mine eare,
Full inly sorie, for the fervent zeale
Which I to him as to my soule did beare,
I thether went; where I did long conceale        490
My selfe, till that the dwarfe did me reveale,
And told his dame her squire of low degree
Did secretly out of her prison steale;
For me he did mistake that squire to bee;
For never two so like did living creature see.        495
‘Then was I taken and before her brought:
Who, through the likenesse of my outward hew,
Being likewise beguiled in her thought,
Gan blame me much for being so untrew,
To seeke by flight her fellowship t’ eschew,        500
That lov’d me deare, as dearest thing alive.
Thence she commaunded me to prison new;
Whereof I glad did not gainesay nor strive,
But suffred that same dwarfe me to her dongeon drive.
‘There did I finde mine onely faithfull frend
In heavy plight and sad perplexitie;
Whereof I sorie, yet my selfe did bend
Him to recomfort with my companie.
But him the more agreev’d I found thereby:
For all his joy, he said, in that distresse,        510
Was mine and his Æmylias libertie.
Æmylia well he lov’d, as I mote ghesse;
Yet greater love to me then her he did professe.
‘But I with better reason him aviz’d,
And shew’d him how, through error and mis-thought        515
Of our like persons, eath to be disguiz’d,
Or his exchange or freedome might be wrought.
Whereto full loth was he, ne would for ought
Consent that I, who stood all fearelesse free,
Should wilfully be into thraldome brought,        520
Till Fortune did perforce it so decree.
Yet, overrul’d at last, he did to me agree.
‘The morrow next, about the wonted howre,
The dwarfe cald at the doore of Amyas,
To come forthwith unto his ladies bowre.        525
In steed of whom forth came I, Placidas,
And undiscerned forth with him did pas.
There with great joyance and with gladsome glee
Of faire Pœana I received was,
And oft imbrast, as if that I were hee,        530
And with kind words accoyd, vowing great love to mee.
‘Which I, that was not bent to former love,
As was my friend, that had her long refusd,
Did well accept, as well it did behove,
And to the present neede it wisely usd.        535
My former hardnesse first I faire excusd;
And after promist large amends to make.
With such smooth termes her error I abusd,
To my friends good more then for mine owne sake,
For whose sole libertie I love and life did stake.        540
‘Thenceforth I found more favour at her hand,
That to her dwarfe, which had me in his charge,
She bad to lighten my too heavie band,
And graunt more scope to me to walke at large.
So on a day, as by the flowrie marge        545
Of a fresh streame I with that elfe did play,
Finding no meanes how I might us enlarge,
But if that dwarfe I could with me convay,
I lightly snatcht him up, and with me bore away.
‘Thereat he shriekt aloud, that with his cry
The tyrant selfe came forth with yelling bray,
And me pursew’d; but nathemore would I
Forgoe the purchase of my gotten pray,
But have perforce him hether brought away.’
Thus as they talked, loe! where nigh at hand        555
Those ladies two, yet doubtfull through dismay,
In presence came, desirous t’ understand
Tydings of all which there had hapned on the land.
Where soone as sad Æmylia did espie
Her captive lovers friend, young Placidas,        560
All mindlesse of her wonted modestie,
She to him ran, and him with streight embras
Enfolding said: ‘And lives yet Amyas?’
‘He lives,’ quoth he, ‘and his Æmylia loves.’
‘Then lesse,’ said she, ‘by all the woe I pas,        565
With which my weaker patience Fortune proves.
But what mishap thus long him fro my selfe removes?’
Then gan he all this storie to renew,
And tell the course of his captivitie;
That her deare hart full deepely made to rew,        570
And sigh full sore, to heare the miserie,
In which so long he mercilesse did lie.
Then, after many teares and sorrowes spent,
She deare besought the Prince of remedie:
Who thereto did with readie will consent,        575
And well perform’d, as shall appeare by his event.

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