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 X
        Scudamour doth his conquest tell
  Of vertuous Amoret:
Great Venus temple is describ’d,
  And lovers life forth set.

‘TRUE he it said, what ever man it sayd,
That love with gall and hony doth abound,
But if the one be with the other wayd,
For every dram of hony therein found,
A pound of gall doth over it redound.        5
That I too true by triall have approved:
For since the day that first with deadly wound
My heart was launcht, and learned to have loved,
I never joyed howre, but still with care was moved.
‘And yet such grace is given them from above,
That all the cares and evill which they meet
May nought at all their setled mindes remove,
But seeme, against common sence, to them most sweet;
As bosting in their martyrdome unmeet.
So all that ever yet I have endured        15
I count as naught, and tread downe under feet,
Since of my love at length I rest assured,
That to disloyalty she will not be allured.
‘Long were to tell the travell and long toile,
Through which this Shield of Love I late have wonne,        20
And purchased this peerelesse beauties spoile,
That harder may be ended, then begonne:
But since ye so desire, your will be donne.
Then hearke, ye gentle knights and ladies free,
My hard mishaps, that ye may learne to shonne;        25
For though sweet love to conquer glorious bee,
Yet is the paine thereof much greater then the fee.
‘What time the fame of this renowmed prise
Flew first abroad, and all mens eares possest,
I, having armes then taken, gan avise        30
To winne me honour by some noble gest,
And purchase me some place amongst the best.
I boldly thought (so young mens thoughts are bold)
That this same brave emprize for me did rest,
And that both shield and she whom I behold        35
Might be my lucky lot; sith all by lot we hold.
‘So on that hard adventure forth I went,
And to the place of perill shortly came.
That was a temple faire and auncient,
Which of great mother Venus bare the name,        40
And farre renowmed through exceeding fame;
Much more then that which was in Paphos built,
Or that in Cyprus, both long since this same,
Though all the pillours of the one were guilt,
And all the others pavement were with yvory spilt.        45
‘And it was seated in an island strong,
Abounding all with delices most rare,
And wall’d by nature gainst invaders wrong,
That none mote have accesse, nor inward fare,
But by one way, that passage did prepare.        50
It was a bridge ybuilt in goodly wize,
With curious corbes and pendants graven faire,
And, arched all with porches, did arize
On stately pillours, fram’d after the Doricke guize.
‘And for defence thereof, on th’ other end
There reared was a castle faire and strong,
That warded all which in or out did wend,
And flancked both the bridges sides along,
Gainst all that would it faine to force or wrong.
And therein wonned twenty valiant knights;        60
All twenty tride in warres experience long;
Whose office was, against all manner wights
By all meanes to maintaine that castels ancient rights.
‘Before that castle was an open plaine,
And in the midst thereof a piller placed;        65
On which this shield, of many sought in vaine,
The Shield of Love, whose guerdon me hath graced,
Was hangd on high with golden ribbands laced;
And in the marble stone was written this,
With golden letters goodly well enchaced:        70
Blessed the man that well can use his blis:
Whose ever be the shield, faire Amoret be his.
‘Which when I red, my heart did inly earne,
And pant with hope of that adventures hap:
Ne stayed further newes thereof to learne,        75
But with my speare upon the shield did rap,
That all the castle ringed with the clap.
Streight forth issewd a knight all arm’d to proofe,
And bravely mounted to his most mishap:
Who, staying nought to question from aloofe,        80
Ran fierce at me, that fire glaunst from his horses hoofe.
‘Whom boldly I encountred as I could,
And by good fortune shortly him unseated.
Eftsoones out sprung two more of equall mould;
But I them both with equall hap defeated:        85
So all the twenty I likewise entreated,
And left them groning there upon the plaine.
Then, preacing to the pillour, I repeated
The read thereof for guerdon of my paine,
And taking downe the shield, with me did it retaine.        90
‘So forth without impediment I past,
Till to the bridges utter gate I came:
The which I found sure lockt and chained fast.
I knockt, but no man aunswred me by name;
I cald, but no man answerd to my clame.        95
Yet I persever’d still to knocke and call,
Till at the last I spide within the same
Where one stood peeping through a crevis small,
To whom I cald aloud, halfe angry therewithall.
‘That was to weet the porter of the place,
Unto whose trust the charge thereof was lent:
His name was Doubt, that had a double face,
Th’ one forward looking, th’ other backeward bent,
Therein resembling Janus auncient,
Which hath in charge the ingate of the yeare:        105
And evermore his eyes about him went,
As if some proved perill he did feare,
Or did misdoubt some ill, whose cause did not appeare.
‘On th’ one side he, on th’ other sate Delay,
Behinde the gate, that none her might espy;        110
Whose manner was, all passengers to stay
And entertaine with her occasions sly;
Through which some lost great hope unheedily,
Which never they recover might againe;
And others, quite excluded forth, did ly        115
Long languishing there in unpittied paine,
And seeking often entraunce afterwards in vaine.
‘Me when as he had privily espide
Bearing the shield which I had conquerd late,
He kend it streight, and to me opened wide.        120
So in I past, and streight he closd the gate.
But being in, Delay in close awaite
Caught hold on me, and thought my steps to stay,
Feigning full many a fond excuse to prate,
And time to steale, the threasure of mans day,        125
Whose smallest minute lost no riches render may.
‘But by no meanes my way I would forslow,
For ought that ever she could doe or say,
But from my lofty steede dismounting low,
Past forth on foote, beholding all the way        130
The goodly workes, and stones of rich assay,
Cast into sundry shapes by wondrous skill,
That like on earth no where I recken may:
And underneath, the river rolling still
With murmure soft, that seem’d to serve the workmans will.        135
‘Thence forth I passed to the second gate,
The Gate of Good Desert, whose goodly pride
And costly frame were long here to relate.
The same to all stoode alwaies open wide:
But in the porch did evermore abide        140
An hideous giant, dreadfull to behold,
That stopt the entraunce with his spacious stride,
And with the terrour of his countenance bold
Full many did affray, that else faine enter would.
‘His name was Daunger, dreaded over all,
Who day and night did watch and duely ward,
From fearefull cowards entrance to forstall,
And faint-heart-fooles, whom shew of perill hard
Could terrifie from Fortunes faire adward:
For oftentimes faint hearts, at first espiall        150
Of his grim face, were from approaching scard:
Unworthy they of grace, whom one deniall
Excludes from fairest hope, withouten further triall.
‘Yet many doughty warriours, often tride
In greater perils to be stout and bold,        155
Durst not the sternnesse of his looke abide,
But soone as they his countenance did behold,
Began to faint, and feele their corage cold.
Againe, some other, that in hard assaies
Were cowards knowne, and litle count did hold,        160
Either through gifts, or guile, or such like waies,
Crept in by stouping low, or stealing of the kaies.
‘But I, though meanest man of many moe,
Yet much disdaining unto him to lout,
Or creepe betweene his legs, so in to goe,        165
Resolv’d him to assault with manhood stout,
And either beat him in or drive him out.
Eftsoones, advauncing that enchaunted shield,
With all my might I gan to lay about:
Which when he saw, the glaive which he did wield        170
He gan forthwith t’ avale, and way unto me yield.
‘So as I entred, I did backeward looke,
For feare of harme, that might lie hidden there;
And loe! his hindparts, whereof heed I tooke,
Much more deformed fearefull ugly were,        175
Then all his former parts did earst appere:
For Hatred, Murther, Treason, and Despight,
With many moe, lay in ambushment there,
Awayting to entrap the warelesse wight,
Which did not them prevent with vigilant foresight.        180
‘Thus having past all perill, I was come
Within the compasse of that islands space;
The which did seeme, unto my simple doome,
The onely pleasant and delightfull place
That ever troden was of footings trace.        185
For all that Nature by her mother wit
Could frame in earth, and forme of substance base,
Was there, and all that Nature did omit,
Art, playing second Natures part, supplyed it.
‘No tree, that is of count, in greenewood growes,
From lowest juniper to ceder tall,
No flowre in field, that daintie odour throwes,
And deckes his branch with blossomes over all,
But there was planted, or grew naturall:
Nor sense of man so coy and curious nice,        195
But there mote find to please it selfe withall;
Nor hart could wish for any queint device,
But there it present was, and did fraile sense entice.
‘In such luxurious plentie of all pleasure,
It seem’d a second paradise to ghesse,        200
So lavishly enricht with Natures threasure,
That if the happie soules, which doe possesse
Th’ Elysian fields and live in lasting blesse,
Should happen this with living eye to see,
They soone would loath their lesser happinesse,        205
And wish to life return’d againe to bee,
That in this joyous place they mote have joyance free.
‘Fresh shadowes, fit to shroud from sunny ray;
Faire lawnds, to take the sunne in season dew;
Sweet springs, in which a thousand nymphs did play;        210
Soft rombling brookes, that gentle slomber drew;
High reared mounts, the lands about to vew;
Low looking dales, disloignd from common gaze;
Delightfull bowres, to solace lovers trew;
False labyrinthes, fond runners eyes to daze;        215
All which by Nature made did Nature selfe amaze.
‘And all without were walkes and alleyes dight
With divers trees, enrang’d in even rankes;
And here and there were pleasant arbors pight,
And shadie seates, and sundry flowring bankes,        220
To sit and rest the walkers wearie shankes;
And therein thousand payres of lovers walkt,
Praysing their god, and yeelding him great thankes,
Ne ever ought but of their true loves talkt,
Ne ever for rebuke or blame of any balkt.        225
‘All these together by themselves did sport
Their spotlesse pleasures, and sweet loves content.
But farre away from these, another sort
Of lovers lincked in true harts consent;
Which loved not as these, for like intent,        230
But on chast vertue grounded their desire,
Farre from all fraud, or fayned blandishment;
Which, in their spirits kindling zealous fire,
Brave thoughts and noble deedes did evermore aspire.
‘Such were great Hercules, and Hyllus deare;
Trew Jonathan, and David trustie tryde;
Stout Theseus, and Pirithous his feare;
Pylades, and Orestes by his syde;
Myld Titus and Gesippus without pryde;
Damon and Pythias, whom death could not sever:        240
All these, and all that ever had bene tyde
In bands of friendship, there did live for ever;
Whose lives although decay’d, yet loves decayed never.
‘Which when as I, that never tasted blis
Nor happie howre, beheld with gazefull eye,        245
I thought there was none other heaven then this;
And gan their endlesse happinesse envye,
That, being free from feare and gealosye,
Might frankely there their loves desire possesse;
Whilest I through paines and perlous jeopardie        250
Was forst to seeke my lifes deare patronesse:
Much dearer be the things which come through hard distresse.
‘Yet all those sights, and all that else I saw,
Might not my steps withhold, but that forthright
Unto that purposd place I did me draw,        255
Where as my love was lodged day and night:
The temple of great Venus, that is hight
The Queene of Beautie, and of Love the mother,
There worshipped of every living wight;
Whose goodly workmanship farre past all other        260
That ever were on earth, all were they set together.
‘Not that same famous temple of Diane,
Whose hight all Ephesus did oversee,
And which all Asia sought with vowes prophane,
One of the worlds seven wonders sayd to bee,        265
Might match with this by many a degree:
Nor that which that wise king of Jurie framed,
With endlesse cost, to be th’ Almighties see;
Nor all that else through all the world is named
To all the heathen gods, might like to this be clamed.        270
‘I, much admyring that so goodly frame,
Unto the porch approcht, which open stood;
But therein sate an amiable dame,
That seem’d to be of very sober mood,
And in her semblant shewed great womanhood:        275
Strange was her tyre; for on her head a crowne
She wore, much like unto a Danisk hood,
Poudred with pearle and stone, and all her gowne
Enwoven was with gold, that raught full low a downe.
‘On either side of her two young men stood,
Both strongly arm’d, as fearing one another;
Yet were they brethren both of halfe the blood,
Begotten by two fathers of one mother,
Though of contrarie natures each to other:
The one of them hight Love, the other Hate;        285
Hate was the elder, Love the younger brother;
Yet was the younger stronger in his state
Then th’ elder, and him maystred still in all debate.
‘Nathlesse that dame so well them tempred both,
That she them forced hand to joyne in hand,        290
Albe that Hatred was thereto full loth,
And turn’d his face away, as he did stand,
Unwilling to behold that lovely band.
Yet she was of such grace and vertuous might,
That her commaundment he could not withstand,        295
But bit his lip for felonous despight,
And gnasht his yron tuskes at that displeasing sight.
‘Concord she cleeped was in common reed,
Mother of blessed Peace and Friendship trew;
They both her twins, both borne of heavenly seed,        300
And she her selfe likewise divinely grew;
The which right well her workes divine did shew:
For strength and wealth and happinesse she lends,
And strife and warre and anger does subdew;
Of litle much, of foes she maketh frends,        305
And to afflicted minds sweet rest and quiet sends.
‘By her the heaven is in his course contained,
And all the world in state unmoved stands,
As their Almightie Maker first ordained,
And bound them with inviolable bands;        310
Else would the waters overflow the lands,
And fire devoure the ayre, and hell them quight,
But that she holds them with her blessed hands.
She is the nourse of pleasure and delight,
And unto Venus grace the gate doth open right.        315
‘By her I entring halfe dismayed was,
But she in gentle wise me entertayned,
And twixt her selfe and Love did let me pas;
But Hatred would my entrance have restrayned,
And with his club me threatned to have brayned,        320
Had not the ladie with her powrefull speach
Him from his wicked will uneath refrayned;
And th’ other eke his malice did empeach,
Till I was throughly past the perill of his reach.
‘Into the inmost temple thus I came,
Which fuming all with frankensence I found,
And odours rising from the altars flame.
Upon an hundred marble pillors round
The roofe up high was reared from the ground,
All deckt with crownes, and chaynes, and girlands gay,        330
And thousand pretious gifts worth many a pound,
The which sad lovers for their vowes did pay;
And all the ground was strow’d with flowres, as fresh as May.
‘An hundred altars round about were set,
All flaming with their sacrifices fire,        335
That with the steme thereof the temple swet,
Which rould in clouds to heaven did aspire,
And in them bore true lovers vowes entire:
And eke an hundred brasen caudrons bright,
To bath in joy and amorous desire,        340
Every of which was to a damzell hight;
For all the priests were damzels, in soft linnen dight.
‘Right in the midst the goddesse selfe did stand
Upon an altar of some costly masse,
Whose substance was uneath to understand:        345
For neither pretious stone, nor durefull brasse,
Nor shining gold, nor mouldring clay it was;
But much more rare and pretious to esteeme,
Pure in aspect, and like to christall glasse,
Yet glasse was not, if one did rightly deeme,        350
But being faire and brickle, likest glasse did seeme.
‘But it in shape and beautie did excell
All other idoles which the heathen adore,
Farre passing that which by surpassing skill
Phidias did make in Paphos isle of yore,        355
With which that wretched Greeke, that life forlore,
Did fall in love: yet this much fairer shined,
But covered with a slender veile afore;
And both her feete and legs together twyned
Were with a snake, whose head and tail were fast combyned.        360
‘The cause why she was covered with a vele
Was hard to know, for that her priests the same
From peoples knowledge labour’d to concele.
But sooth it was not sure for womanish shame,
Nor any blemish, which the worke mote blame;        365
But for, they say, she hath both kinds in one,
Both male and female, both under one name:
She syre and mother is her selfe alone,
Begets and eke conceives, ne needeth other none.
‘And all about her necke and shoulders flew
A flocke of litle loves, and sports, and joyes,
With nimble wings of gold and purple hew,
Whose shapes seem’d not like to terrestriall boyes,
But like to angels playing heavenly toyes;
The whilest their eldest brother was away,        375
Cupid, their eldest brother: he enjoyes
The wide kingdome of Love with lordly sway,
And to his law compels all creatures to obay.
‘And all about her altar, scattered lay
Great sorts of lovers piteously complayning,        380
Some of their losse, some of their loves delay,
Some of their pride, some paragons disdayning,
Some fearing fraud, some fraudulently fayning,
As every one had cause of good or ill.
Amongst the rest some one, through loves constrayning,        385
Tormented sore, could not containe it still,
But thus brake forth, that all the temple it did fill:
‘“Great Venus, queene of beautie and of grace,
The joy of gods and men, that under skie
Doest fayrest shine, and most adorne thy place,        390
That with thy smyling looke doest pacifie
The raging seas, and makst the stormes to flie;
Thee, goddesse, thee the winds, the clouds doe feare,
And when thou spredst thy mantle forth on hie,
The waters play, and pleasant lands appeare,        395
And heavens laugh, and al the world shews joyous cheare.
‘“Then doth the dædale earth throw forth to thee
Out of her fruitfull lap aboundant flowres;
And then all living wights, soone as they see
The Spring breake forth out of his lusty bowres,        400
They all doe learne to play the paramours:
First doe the merry birds, thy prety pages,
Privily pricked with thy lustfull powres,
Chirpe loud to thee out of their leavy cages,
And thee their mother call to coole their kindly rages.        405
‘“Then doe the salvage beasts begin to play
Their pleasant friskes, and loath their wonted food;
The lyons rore, the tygres loudly bray,
The raging buls rebellow through the wood,
And breaking forth, dare tempt the deepest flood,        410
To come where thou doest draw them with desire:
So all things else, that nourish vitall blood,
Soone as with fury thou doest them inspire,
In generation seeke to quench their inward fire.
‘“So all the world by thee at first was made,
And dayly yet thou doest the same repayre:
Ne ought on earth that merry is and glad,
Ne ought on earth that lovely is and fayre,
But thou the same for pleasure didst prepayre.
Thou art the root of all that joyous is,        420
Great god of men and women, queene of th’ ayre,
Mother of laughter, and welspring of blisse;
O graunt that of my love at last I may not misse.”
‘So did he say: but I with murmure soft,
That none might heare the sorrow of my hart,        425
Yet inly groning deepe and sighing oft,
Besought her to graunt ease unto my smart,
And to my wound her gratious help impart.
Whilest thus I spake, behold! with happy eye
I spyde where at the idoles feet apart        430
A bevie of fayre damzels close did lye,
Wayting when as the antheme should be sung on hye.
‘The first of them did seeme of ryper yeares
And graver countenance then all the rest;
Yet all the rest were eke her equall peares,        435
Yet unto her obayed all the best.
Her name was Womanhood, that she exprest
By her sad semblant and demeanure wyse:
For stedfast still her eyes did fixed rest,
Ne rov’d at randon, after gazers guyse,        440
Whose luring baytes oftimes doe heedlesse harts entyse.
‘And next to her sate goodly Shamefastnesse,
Ne ever durst her eyes from ground upreare,
Ne ever once did looke up from her desse,
As if some blame of evill she did feare,        445
That in her cheekes made roses oft appeare:
And her against sweet Cherefulnesse was placed,
Whose eyes, like twinkling stars in evening cleare,
Were deckt with smyles, that all sad humors chaced,
And darted forth delights, the which her goodly graced.        450
‘And next to her sate sober Modestie,
Holding her hand upon her gentle hart;
And her against sate comely Curtesie,
That unto every person knew her part;
And her before was seated overthwart        455
Soft Silence, and submisse Obedience,
Both linckt together never to dispart,
Both gifts of God not gotten but from thence,
Both girlonds of his saints against their foes offence.
‘Thus sate they all a round in seemely rate.
And in the midst of them a goodly mayd,
Even in the lap of Womanhood, there sate,
The which was all in lilly white arayd,
With silver streames amongst the linnen stray’d;
Like to the Morne, when first her shyning face        465
Hath to the gloomy world it selfe bewray’d:
That same was fayrest Amoret in place,
Shyning with beauties light and heavenly vertues grace.
‘Whom soone as I beheld, my hart gan throb,
And wade in doubt, what best were to be donne:        470
For sacrilege me seem’d the church to rob,
And folly seem’d to leave the thing undonne,
Which with so strong attempt I had begonne.
Tho, shaking off all doubt and shamefast feare,
Which ladies love I heard had never wonne        475
Mongst men of worth, I to her stepped neare,
And by the lilly hand her labour’d up to reare.
‘Thereat that formost matrone me did blame,
And sharpe rebuke, for being over bold;
Saying it was to knight unseemely shame,        480
Upon a recluse virgin to lay hold,
That unto Venus services was sold.
To whom I thus: “Nay, but it fitteth best
For Cupids man with Venus mayd to hold;
For ill your goddesse services are drest        485
By virgins, and her sacrifices let to rest.”
‘With that my shield I forth to her did show,
Which all that while I closely had conceld;
On which when Cupid with his killing bow
And cruell shafts emblazond she beheld,        490
At sight thereof she was with terror queld,
And said no more: but I, which all that while
The pledge of faith, her hand, engaged held,
Like warie hynd within the weedie soyle,
For no intreatie would forgoe so glorious spoyle.        495
‘And evermore upon the goddesse face
Mine eye was fixt, for feare of her offence:
Whom when I saw with amiable grace
To laugh at me, and favour my pretence,
I was emboldned with more confidence,        500
And nought for nicenesse nor for envy sparing,
In presence of them all forth led her thence,
All looking on, and like astonisht staring,
Yet to lay hand on her not one of all them daring.
‘She often prayd, and often me besought,
Sometime with tender teares to let her goe,
Sometime with witching smyles: but yet, for nought
That ever she to me could say or doe,
Could she her wished freedome fro me wooe;
But forth I led her through the temple gate,        510
By which I hardly past with much adoe:
But that same ladie, which me friended late
In entrance, did me also friend in my retrate.
‘No lesse did Daunger threaten me with dread,
When as he saw me, maugre all his powre,        515
That glorious spoyle of beautie with me lead,
Then Cerberus, when Orpheus did recoure
His leman from the Stygian princes boure.
But evermore my shield did me defend
Against the storme of every dreadfull stoure:        520
Thus safely with my love I thence did wend.’
So ended he his tale, where I this canto end.

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