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 IX
        The squire of low degree, releast,
  Pœana takes to wife:
Britomart fightes with many knights;
  Prince Arthur stints their strife.

HARD is the doubt, and difficult to deeme,
When all three kinds of love together meet,
And doe dispart the hart with powre extreme,
Whether shall weigh the balance downe; to weet,
The deare affection unto kindred sweet,        5
Or raging fire of love to woman kind,
Or zeale of friends combynd with vertues meet.
But of them all, the band of vertuous mind,
Me seemes, the gentle hart should most assured bind.
For naturall affection soone doth cesse,
And quenched is with Cupids greater flame:
But faithfull friendship doth them both suppresse,
And them with maystring discipline doth tame,
Through thoughts aspyring to eternall fame.
For as the soule doth rule the earthly masse,        15
And all the service of the bodie frame,
So love of soule doth love of bodie passe,
No lesse then perfect gold surmounts the meanest brasse.
All which who list by tryall to assay,
Shall in this storie find approved plaine;        20
In which these squires true friendship more did sway,
Then either care of parents could refraine,
Or love of fairest ladie could constraine.
For though Pœana were as faire as morne,
Yet did this trustie squire with proud disdaine        25
For his friends sake her offred favours scorne,
And she her selfe her syre, of whom she was yborne.
Now after that Prince Arthur graunted had
To yeeld strong succour to that gentle swayne,
Who now long time had lyen in prison sad,        30
He gan advise how best he mote darrayne
That enterprize, for greatest glories gayne.
That headlesse tyrants tronke he reard from ground,
And having ympt the head to it agayne,
Upon his usuall beast it firmely bound,        35
And made it so to ride as it alive was found.
Then did he take that chaced squire, and layd
Before the ryder, as he captive were,
And made his dwarfe, though with unwilling ayd,
To guide the beast that did his maister beare,        40
Till to his castle they approched neare.
Whom when the watch, that kept continuall ward,
Saw comming home, all voide of doubtfull feare,
He, running downe, the gate to him unbard;
Whom straight the Prince ensuing, in together far’d.        45
There he did find in her delitious boure
The faire Pœana playing on a rote,
Complayning of her cruell paramoure,
And singing all her sorrow to the note,
As she had learned readily by rote;        50
That with the sweetnesse of her rare delight
The Prince halfe rapt, began on her to dote:
Till, better him bethinking of the right,
He her unwares attacht, and captive held by might.
Whence being forth produc’d, when she perceived
Her owne deare sire, she cald to him for aide.
But when of him no aunswere she received,
But saw him sencelesse by the squire upstaide,
She weened well that then she was betraide:
Then gan she loudly cry, and weepe, and waile,        60
And that same squire of treason to upbraide:
But all in vaine; her plaints might not prevaile;
Ne none there was to reskue her, ne none to baile.
Then tooke he that same dwarfe, and him compeld
To open unto him the prison dore,        65
And forth to bring those thrals which there he held.
Thence forth were brought to him above a score
Of knights and squires to him unknowne afore:
All which he did from bitter bondage free,
And unto former liberty restore.        70
Amongst the rest, that squire of low degree
Came forth full weake and wan, not like him selfe to bee.
Whom soone as faire Æmylia beheld,
And Placidas, they both unto him ran,
And him embracing fast betwixt them held,        75
Striving to comfort him all that they can,
And kissing oft his visage pale and wan;
That faire Pæana, them beholding both,
Gan both envy, and bitterly to ban;
Through jealous passion weeping inly wroth,        80
To see the sight perforce, that both her eyes were loth.
But when a while they had together beene,
And diversly conferred of their case,
She, though full oft she both of them had seene
A sunder, yet not ever in one place,        85
Began to doubt, when she them saw embrace,
Which was the captive squire she lov’d so deare,
Deceived through great likenesse of their face,
For they so like in person did appeare,
That she uneath discerned, whether whether weare.        90
And eke the Prince, when as he them avized,
Their like resemblaunce much admired there,
And mazd how Nature had so well disguized
Her worke, and counterfet her selfe so nere,
As if that by one patterne seene somewhere        95
She had them made a paragone to be,
Or whether it through skill or errour were.
Thus gazing long, at them much wondred he;
So did the other knights and squires, which them did see.
Then gan they ransacke that same castle strong,
In which he found great store of hoorded threasure,
The which that tyrant gathered had by wrong
And tortious powre, without respect or measure.
Upon all which the Briton Prince made seasure,
And afterwards continu’d there a while,        105
To rest him selfe, and solace in soft pleasure
Those weaker ladies after weary toile;
To whom he did divide part of his purchast spoile.
And for more joy, that captive lady faire,
The faire Pæana, he enlarged free,        110
And by the rest did set in sumptuous chaire,
To feast and frollicke; nathemore would she
Shew gladsome countenaunce nor pleasaunt glee,
But grieved was for losse both of her sire,
And eke of lordship, with both land and fee:        115
But most she touched was with griefe entire
For losse of her new love, the hope of her desire.
But her the Prince, through his well wonted grace,
To better termes of myldnesse did entreat
From that fowle rudenesse which did her deface;        120
And that same bitter corsive, which did eat
Her tender heart, and made refraine from meat,
He with good thewes and speaches well applyde
Did mollifie, and calme her raging heat.
For though she were most faire, and goodly dyde,        125
Yet she it all did mar with cruelty and pride.
And for to shut up all in friendly love,
Sith love was first the ground of all her griefe,
That trusty squire he wisely well did move
Not to despise that dame, which lov’d him liefe,        130
Till he had made of her some better priefe,
But to accept her to his wedded wife.
Thereto he offred for to make him chiefe
Of all her land and lordship during life:
He yeelded, and her tooke; so stinted all their strife.        135
From that day forth in peace and joyous blis
They liv’d together long without debate,
Ne private jarre, ne spite of enemis
Could shake the safe assuraunce of their state.
And she, whom Nature did so faire create        140
That she mote match the fairest of her daies,
Yet with lewd loves and lust intemperate
Had it defaste, thenceforth reformd her waies,
That all men much admyrde her change, and spake her praise.
Thus when the Prince had perfectly compylde
These paires of friends in peace and setled rest,
Him selfe, whose minde did travell as with chylde
Of his old love, conceav’d in secret brest,
Resolved to pursue his former quest;
And taking leave of all, with him did beare        150
Faire Amoret, whom Fortune by bequest
Had left in his protection whileare,
Exchanged out of one into an other feare.
Feare of her safety did her not constraine,
For well she wist now in a mighty hond        155
Her person, late in perill, did remaine,
Who able was all daungers to withstond:
But now in feare of shame she more did stond,
Seeing her selfe all soly succourlesse,
Left in the victors powre, like vassall bond;        160
Whose will her weakenesse could no way represse,
In case his burning lust should breake into excesse.
But cause of feare sure had she none at all
Of him, who goodly learned had of yore
The course of loose affection to forstall,        165
And lawlesse lust to rule with reasons lore;
That all the while he by his side her bore,
She was as safe as in a sanctuary.
Thus many miles they two together wore,
To seeke their loves dispersed diversly,        170
Yet neither shewed to other their hearts privity.
At length they came, whereas a troupe of knights
They saw together skirmishing, as seemed:
Sixe they were all, all full of fell despight,
But foure of them the battell best beseemed,        175
That which of them was best mote not be deemed.
Those foure were they from whom false Florimell
By Braggadochio lately was redeemed;
To weet, sterne Druon, and lewd Claribell,
Love-lavish Blandamour, and lustfull Paridell.        180
Druons delight was all in single life,
And unto ladies love would lend no leasure:
The more was Claribell enraged rife
With fervent flames, and loved out of measure:
So eke lov’d Blandamour, but yet at pleasure        185
Would change his liking, and new lemans prove:
But Paridell of love did make no threasure,
But lusted after all that him did move.
So diversly these foure disposed were to love.
But those two other, which beside them stoode,
Were Britomart and gentle Scudamour;
Who all the while beheld their wrathfull moode,
And wondred at their impacable stoure,
Whose like they never saw till that same houre:
So dreadfull strokes each did at other drive,        195
And laid on load with all their might and powre,
As if that every dint the ghost would rive
Out of their wretched corses, and their lives deprive.
As when Dan Æolus, in great displeasure,
For losse of his deare love by Neptune hent,        200
Sends forth the winds out of his hidden threasure,
Upon the sea to wreake his fell intent;
They, breaking forth with rude unruliment
From all foure parts of heaven, doe rage full sore,
And tosse the deepes, and teare the firmament,        205
And all the world confound with wide uprore,
As if in stead thereof they Chaos would restore.
Cause of their discord and so fell debate
Was for the love of that same snowy maid,
Whome they had lost in turneyment of late,        210
And seeking long, to weet which way she straid,
Met here together, where, through lewd upbraide
Of Ate and Duessa, they fell out,
And each one taking part in others aide,
This cruell conflict raised thereabout,        215
Whose dangerous successe depended yet in dout.
For sometimes Paridell and Blandamour
The better had, and bet the others backe;
Eftsoones the others did the field recoure,
And on their foes did worke full cruell wracke:        220
Yet neither would their fiendlike fury slacke,
But evermore their malice did augment;
Till that uneath they forced were, for lacke
Of breath, their raging rigour to relent,
And rest themselves for to recover spirits spent.        225
Then gan they change their sides, and new parts take;
For Paridell did take to Druons side,
For old despight, which now forth newly brake
Gainst Blandamour, whom alwaies he envide;
And Blandamour to Claribell relide:        230
So all afresh gan former fight renew.
As when two barkes, this caried with the tide,
That with the wind, contrary courses sew,
If wind and tide doe change, their courses change anew.
Thenceforth they much more furiously gan fare,
As if but then the battell had begonne,
Ne helmets bright ne hawberks strong did spare,
That through the clifts the vermeil bloud out sponne,
And all adowne their riven sides did ronne.
Such mortall malice wonder was to see        240
In friends profest, and so great outrage donne:
But sooth is said, and tride in each degree,
Faint friends when they fall out most cruell fomen bee.
Thus they long while continued in fight,
Till Scudamour and that same Briton maide        245
By fortune in that place did chance to light:
Whom soone as they with wrathfull eie bewraide,
They gan remember of the fowle upbraide,
The which that Britonesse had to them donne,
In that late turney for the snowy maide;        250
Where she had them both shamefully fordonne,
And eke the famous prize of beauty from them wonne.
Eftsoones all burning with a fresh desire
Of fell revenge, in their malicious mood
They from them selves gan turne their furious ire,        255
And cruell blades, yet steeming with whot bloud,
Against those two let drive, as they were wood:
Who wondring much at that so sodaine fit,
Yet nought dismayd, them stoutly well withstood;
Ne yeelded foote, ne once abacke did flit,        260
But being doubly smitten, likewise doubly smit.
The warlike dame was on her part assaid
Of Claribell and Blandamour attone;
And Paridell and Druon fiercely laid
At Scudamour, both his professed fone.        265
Foure charged two, and two surcharged one;
Yet did those two them selves so bravely beare,
That the other litle gained by the lone,
But with their owne repayed duely weare,
And usury withall: such gaine was gotten deare.        270
Full oftentimes did Britomart assay
To speake to them, and some emparlance move;
But they for nought their cruell hands would stay,
Ne lend an eare to ought that might behove:
As when an eager mastiffe once doth prove        275
The tast of bloud of some engored beast,
No words may rate, nor rigour him remove
From greedy hold of that his blouddy feast:
So litle did they hearken to her sweet beheast.
Whom when the Briton Prince a farre beheld
With ods of so unequall match opprest,
His mighty heart with indignation sweld,
And inward grudge fild his heroicke brest:
Eftsoones him selfe he to their aide addrest,
And thrusting fierce into the thickest preace,        285
Divided them, how ever loth to rest,
And would them faine from battell to surceasse,
With gentle words perswading them to friendly peace.
But they so farre from peace or patience were,
That all at once at him gan fiercely flie,        290
And lay on load, as they him downe would beare:
Like to a storme, which hovers under skie,
Long here and there and round about doth stie,
At length breakes downe in raine, and haile, and sleet,
First from one coast, till nought thereof be drie;        295
And then another, till that likewise fleet;
And so from side to side till all the world it weet.
But now their forces greatly were decayd,
The Prince yet being fresh untoucht afore;
Who them with speaches milde gan first disswade        300
From such foule outrage, and them long forbore:
Till, seeing them through suffrance hartned more,
Him selfe he bent their furies to abate,
And layd at them so sharpely and so sore,
That shortly them compelled to retrate,        305
And being brought in daunger, to relent too late.
But now his courage being throughly fired,
He ment to make them know their follies prise,
Had not those two him instantly desired
T’ asswage his wrath, and pardon their mesprise.        310
At whose request he gan him selfe advise
To stay his hand, and of a truce to treat
In milder tearmes, as list them to devise:
Mongst which, the cause of their so cruell heat
He did them aske: who all that passed gan repeat;        315
And told at large how that same errant knight,
To weet, faire Britomart, them late had foyled
In open turney, and by wrongfull fight
Both of their publicke praise had them despoyled,
And also of their private loves beguyled;        320
Of two full hard to read the harder theft.
But she that wrongfull challenge soone assoyled,
And shew’d that she had not that lady reft,
(As they supposd) but her had to her liking left.
To whom the Prince thus goodly well replied:
‘Certes, sir knights, ye seemen much to blame,
To rip up wrong that battell once hath tried;
Wherein the honor both of armes ye shame,
And eke the love of ladies foule defame;
To whom the world this franchise ever yeelded,        330
That of their loves choise they might freedom clame,
And in that right should by all knights be shielded:
Gainst which, me seemes, this war ye wrongfully have wielded.’
‘And yet,’ quoth she, ‘a greater wrong remaines:
For I thereby my former love have lost,        335
Whom seeking ever since, with endlesse paines,
Hath me much sorrow and much travell cost:
Aye me, to see that gentle maide so tost!’
But Scudamour, then sighing deepe, thus saide:
‘Certes her losse ought me to sorrow most,        340
Whose right she is, where ever she be straide,
Through many perils wonne, and many fortunes waide.
‘For from the first that I her love profest,
Unto this houre, this present lucklesse howre,
I never joyed happinesse nor rest,        345
But thus turmoild from one to other stowre,
I wast my life, and doe my daies devowre
In wretched anguishe and incessant woe,
Passing the measure of my feeble powre,
That, living thus a wretch and loving so,        350
I neither can my love, ne yet my life forgo.’
Then good Sir Claribell him thus bespake:
‘Now were it not, Sir Scudamour, to you
Dislikefull paine, so sad a taske to take,
Mote we entreat you, sith this gentle crew        355
Is now so well accorded all anew,
That, as we ride together on our way,
Ye will recount to us in order dew
All that adventure, which ye did assay
For that faire ladies love: past perils well apay.’        360
So gan the rest him likewise to require,
But Britomart did him importune hard
To take on him that paine: whose great desire
He glad to satisfie, him selfe prepar’d
To tell through what misfortune he had far’d        365
In that atchievement, as to him befell;
And all those daungers unto them declar’d,
Which sith they cannot in this canto well
Comprised be, I will them in another tell.

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