Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book V. The Legend of Artegall
Canto IV
        Artegall dealeth right betwixt
  Two brethren that doe strive;
Saves Terpine from the gallow tree,
  And doth from death reprive.

WHO so upon him selfe will take the skill
True justice unto people to divide,
Had neede have mightie hands, for to fulfill
That which he doth with righteous doome decide,
And for to maister wrong and puissant pride.        5
For vaine it is to deeme of things aright,
And makes wrong doers justice to deride,
Unlesse it be perform’d with dreadlesse might:
For powre is the right hand of Justice truely hight.
Therefore whylome to knights of great emprise
The charge of Justice given was in trust,
That they might execute her judgements wise,
And with their might beat downe licentious lust,
Which proudly did impugne her sentence just.
Whereof no braver president this day        15
Remaines on earth, preserv’d from yron rust
Of rude oblivion, and long times decay,
Then this of Artegall, which here we have to say.
Who, having lately left that lovely payre,
Enlincked fast in wedlockes loyall bond,        20
Bold Marinell with Florimell the fayre,
With whom great feast and goodly glee he fond,
Departed from the Castle of the Strond,
To follow his adventures first intent,
Which long agoe he taken had in hond:        25
Ne wight with him for his assistance went,
But that great yron groome, his gard and government.
With whom as he did passe by the sea shore,
He chaunst to come whereas two comely squires,
Both brethren, whom one wombe together bore,        30
But stirred up with different desires,
Together strove, and kindled wrathfull fires:
And them beside two seemely damzels stood,
By all meanes seeking to asswage their ires,
Now with faire words; but words did little good,        35
Now with sharpe threats; but threats the more increast their mood.
And there before them stood a coffer strong,
Fast bound on every side with iron bands,
But seeming to have suffred mickle wrong,
Either by being wreckt uppon the sands,        40
Or being carried farre from forraine lands.
Seem’d that for it these squires at ods did fall,
And bent against them selves their cruell hands.
But evermore, those damzels did forestall
Their furious encounter, and their fiercenesse pall.        45
But firmely fixt they were, with dint of sword
And battailes doubtfull proofe their rights to try,
Ne other end their fury would afford,
But what to them fortune would justify.
So stood they both in readinesse, thereby        50
To joyne the combate with cruell intent;
When Artegall arriving happily,
Did stay a while their greedy bickerment,
Till he had questioned the cause of their dissent.
To whom the elder did this aunswere frame:
‘Then weete ye, sir, that we two brethren be,
To whom our sire, Milesio by name,
Did equally bequeath his lands in fee,
Two ilands, which ye there before you see
Not farre in sea; of which the one appeares        60
But like a little mount of small degree;
Yet was as great and wide ere many yeares,
As that same other isle, that greater bredth now beares.
‘But tract of time, that all things doth decay,
And this devouring sea, that naught doth spare,        65
The most part of my land hath washt away,
And throwne it up unto my brothers share:
So his encreased, but mine did empaire.
Before which time I lov’d, as was my lot,
That further mayd, hight Philtera the faire,        70
With whom a goodly doure I should have got,
And should have joyned bene to her in wedlocks knot.
‘Then did my younger brother Amidas
Love that same other damzell, Lucy bright,
To whom but little dowre allotted was;        75
Her vertue was the dowre that did delight.
What better dowre can to a dame be hight?
But now when Philtra saw my lands decay,
And former livelod fayle, she left me quight,
And to my brother did ellope streight way:        80
Who, taking her from me, his owne love left astray.
‘She seeing then her selfe forsaken so,
Through dolorous despaire, which she conceyved,
Into the sea her selfe did headlong throw,
Thinking to have her griefe by death bereaved.        85
But see how much her purpose was deceaved.
Whilest thus amidst the billowes beating of her
Twixt life and death, long to and fro she weaved,
She chaunst unwares to light uppon this coffer,
Which to her in that daunger hope of life did offer.        90
‘The wretched mayd, that earst desir’d to die,
When as the paine of death she tasted had,
And but halfe seene his ugly visnomie,
Gan to repent that she had beene so mad,
For any death to chaunge life, though most bad:        95
And catching hold of this sea-beaten chest,
The lucky pylot of her passage sad,
After long tossing in the seas distrest,
Her weary barke at last uppon mine isle did rest.
‘Where I, by chaunce then wandring on the shore,
Did her espy, and through my good endevour
From dreadfull mouth of death, which threatned sore
Her to have swallow’d up, did helpe to save her.
She then, in recompence of that great favour
Which I on her bestowed, bestowed on me        105
The portion of that good which fortune gave her,
Together with her selfe in dowry free;
Both goodly portions, but of both the better she.
‘Yet in this coffer, which she with her brought,
Great threasure sithence we did finde contained;        110
Which as our owne we tooke, and so it thought.
But this same other damzell since hath fained,
That to her selfe that threasure appertained;
And that she did transport the same by sea,
To bring it to her husband new ordained,        115
But suffred cruell shipwracke by the way.
But whether it be so or no, I can not say.
‘But whether it indeede be so or no,
This doe I say, that what so good or ill
Or God or Fortune unto me did throw,        120
Not wronging any other by my will,
I hold mine owne, and so will hold it still.
And though my land he first did winne away,
And then my love (though now it little skill)
Yet my good lucke he shall not likewise pray;        125
But I will it defend, whilst ever that I may.’
So having sayd, the younger did ensew:
‘Full true it is, what so about our land
My brother here declared hath to you:
But not for it this ods twixt us doth stand,        130
But for this threasure throwne uppon his strand;
Which well I prove, as shall appeare by triall,
To be this maides with whom I fastned hand,
Known by good markes and perfect good espiall,
Therefore it ought be rendred her without deniall.’        135
When they thus ended had, the knight began:
‘Certes your strife were easie to accord,
Would ye remit it to some righteous man.’
‘Unto your selfe,’ said they, ‘we give our word,
To bide what judgement ye shall us afford.’        140
‘Then for assuraunce to my doome to stand,
Under my foote let each lay downe his sword,
And then you shall my sentence understand.’
So each of them layd downe his sword out of his hand.
Then Artegall thus to the younger sayd:
‘Now tell me, Amidas, if that ye may,
Your brothers land, the which the sea hath layd
Unto your part, and pluckt from his away,
By what good right doe you withhold this day?’
‘What other right,’ quoth he, ‘should you esteeme,        150
But that the sea it to my share did lay?’
‘Your right is good,’ sayd he, ‘and so I deeme,
That what the sea unto you sent your own should seeme.’
Then turning to the elder thus he sayd:
‘Now, Bracidas, let this likewise be showne:        155
Your brothers threasure, which from him is strayd,
Being the dowry of his wife well knowne,
By what right doe you claime to be your owne?’
‘What other right,’ quoth he, ‘should you esteeme,
But that the sea hath it unto me throwne?’        160
‘Your right is good,’ sayd he, ‘and so I deeme,
That what the sea unto you sent your own should seeme.
‘For equall right in equall things doth stand;
For what the mighty sea hath once possest,
And plucked quite from all possessors hand,        165
Whether by rage of waves, that never rest,
Or else by wracke, that wretches hath distrest,
He may dispose by his imperiall might,
As thing at randon left, to whom he list.
So, Amidas, the land was yours first hight,        170
And so the threasure yours is, Bracidas, by right.’
When he his sentence thus pronounced had,
Both Amidas and Philtra were displeased:
But Bracidas and Lucy were right glad,
And on the threasure by that judgement seased.        175
So was their discord by this doome appeased,
And each one had his right. Then Artegall,
When as their sharpe contention he had ceased,
Departed on his way, as did befall,
To follow his old quest, the which him forth did call.        180
So as he travelled uppon the way,
He chaunst to come, where happily he spide
A rout of many people farre away;
To whom his course he hastily applide,
To weete the cause of their assemblaunce wide.        185
To whom when he approched neare in sight,
(An uncouth sight) he plainely then descride
To be a troupe of women warlike dight,
With weapons in their hands, as ready for to fight.
And in the midst of them he saw a knight,
With both his hands behinde him pinnoed hard,
And round about his necke an halter tight,
As ready for the gallow tree prepard:
His face was covered, and his head was bar’d,
That who he was uneath was to descry;        195
And with full heavy heart with them he far’d,
Griev’d to the soule, and groning inwardly,
That he of womens hands so base a death should dy.
But they like tyrants, mercilesse the more,
Rejoyced at his miserable case,        200
And him reviled, and reproched sore
With bitter taunts, and termes of vile disgrace.
Now when as Artegall, arriv’d in place,
Did aske what cause brought that man to decay,
They round about him gan to swarme apace,        205
Meaning on him their cruell hands to lay,
And to have wrought unwares some villanous assay.
But he was soone aware of their ill minde,
And drawing backe deceived their intent;
Yet though him selfe did shame on womankinde        210
His mighty hand to shend, he Talus sent
To wrecke on them their follies hardyment:
Who with few sowces of his yron flale
Dispersed all their troupe incontinent,
And sent them home to tell a piteous tale        215
Of their vaine prowesse turned to their proper bale.
But that same wretched man, ordaynd to die,
They left behind them, glad to be so quit:
Him Talus tooke out of perplexitie,
And horrour of fowle death for knight unfit,        220
Who more then losse of life ydreaded it;
And him restoring unto living light,
So brought unto his lord, where he did sit,
Beholding all that womanish weake fight;
Whom soone as he beheld, he knew, and thus behight:        225
‘Sir Turpine, haplesse man, what make you here?
Or have you lost your selfe and your discretion,
That ever in this wretched case ye were?
Or have ye yeelded you to proude oppression
Of womens powre, that boast of mens subjection?        230
Or else what other deadly dismall day
Is falne on you, by heavens hard direction,
That ye were runne so fondly far astray,
As for to lead your selfe unto your owne decay?’
Much was the man confounded in his mind,
Partly with shame, and partly with dismay,
That all astonisht he him selfe did find,
And little had for his excuse to say,
But onely thus: ‘Most haplesse well ye may
Me justly terme, that to this shame am brought,        240
And made the scorne of knighthod this same day.
But who can scape what his owne fate hath wrought?
The worke of heavens will surpasseth humaine thought.’
‘Right true: but faulty men use oftentimes
To attribute their folly unto fate,        245
And lay on heaven the guilt of their owne crimes.
But tell, Sir Terpin, ne let you amate
Your misery, how fell ye in this state?’
‘Then sith ye needs,’ quoth he, ‘will know my shame,
And all the ill which chaunst to me of late,        250
I shortly will to you rehearse the same,
In hope ye will not turne misfortune to my blame.
‘Being desirous (as all knights are woont)
Through hard adventures deedes of armes to try,
And after fame and honour for to hunt,        255
I heard report that farre abrode did fly,
That a proud Amazon did late defy
All the brave knights that hold of Maidenhead,
And unto them wrought all the villany
That she could forge in her malicious head,        260
Which some hath put to shame, and many done be dead.
‘The cause, they say, of this her cruell hate,
Is for the sake of Bellodant the bold,
To whom she bore most fervent love of late,
And wooed him by all the waies she could:        265
But when she saw at last, that he ne would
For ought or nought be wonne unto her will,
She turn’d her love to hatred manifold,
And for his sake vow’d to doe all the ill
Which she could doe to knights; which now she doth fulfill.        270
‘For all those knights, the which by force or guile
She doth subdue, she fowly doth entreate.
First she doth them of warlike armes despoile,
And cloth in womens weedes: and then with threat
Doth them compell to worke, to earne their meat,        275
To spin, to card, to sew, to wash, to wring;
Ne doth she give them other thing to eat,
But bread and water, or like feeble thing,
Them to disable from revenge adventuring.
‘But if through stout disdaine of manly mind,
Any her proud observaunce will withstand,
Uppon that gibbet, which is there behind,
She causeth them be hang’d up out of hand;
In which condition I right now did stand.
For being overcome by her in fight,        285
And put to that base service of her band,
I rather chose to die in lives despight,
Then lead that shamefull life, unworthy of a knight.’
‘How hight that Amazon,’ sayd Artegall,
‘And where and how far hence does she abide?’        290
‘Her name,’ quoth he, ‘they Radigund doe call,
A Princesse of great powre and greater pride,
And queene of Amazons, in armes well tride
And sundry battels, which she hath atchieved
With great successe, that her hath glorifide,        295
And made her famous, more then is believed;
Ne would I it have ween’d, had I not late it prieved.’
‘Now sure,’ said he, ‘and by the faith that I
To Maydenhead and noble knighthood owe,
I will not rest, till I her might doe trie,        300
And venge the shame that she to knights doth show.
Therefore, Sir Terpin, from you lightly throw
This squalid weede, the patterne of dispaire,
And wend with me, that ye may see and know,
How fortune will your ruin’d name repaire,        305
And knights of Maidenhead, whose praise she would empaire.’
With that, like one that hopelesse was repryv’d
From deathes dore, at which he lately lay,
Those yron fetters wherewith he was gyv’d,
The badges of reproch, he threw away,        310
And nimbly did him dight to guide the way
Unto the dwelling of that Amazone,
Which was from thence not past a mile or tway:
A goodly citty and a mighty one,
The which of her owne name she called Radegone.        315
Where they arriving, by the watchman were
Described streight, who all the citty warned,
How that three warlike persons did appeare,
Of which the one him seem’d a knight all armed,
And th’ other two well likely to have harmed.        320
Eftsoones the people all to harnesse ran,
And like a sort of bees in clusters swarmed:
Ere long their queene her selfe, halfe like a man,
Came forth into the rout, and them t’ array began.
And now the knights, being arrived neare,
Did beat uppon the gates to enter in,
And at the porter, skorning them so few,
Threw many threats, if they the towne did win,
To teare his flesh in peeces for his sin.
Which when as Radigund there comming heard,        330
Her heart for rage did grate, and teeth did grin:
She bad that streight the gates should be unbard,
And to them way to make, with weapons well prepard.
Soone as the gates were open to them set,
They pressed forward, entraunce to have made.        335
But in the middle way they were ymet
With a sharpe showre of arrowes, which them staid,
And better bad advise, ere they assaid
Unknowen perill of bold womens pride.
Then all that rout uppon them rudely laid,        340
And heaped strokes so fast on every side,
And arrowes haild so thicke, that they could not abide.
But Radigund her selfe, when she espide
Sir Terpin, from her direfull doome acquit,
So cruell doale amongst her maides divide,        345
T’ avenge that shame they did on him commit,
All sodainely enflam’d with furious fit,
Like a fell lionesse at him she flew,
And on his head-peece him so fiercely smit,
That to the ground him quite she overthrew,        350
Dismayd so with the stroke that he no colours knew.
Soone as she saw him on the ground to grovell,
She lightly to him leapt, and in his necke
Her proud foote setting, at his head did levell,
Weening at once her wrath on him to wreake,        355
And his contempt, that did her judg’ment breake.
As when a beare hath seiz’d her cruell clawes
Uppon the carkasse of some beast too weake,
Proudly stands over, and a while doth pause,
To heare the piteous beast pleading her plaintiffe cause.        360
Whom when as Artegall in that distresse
By chaunce beheld, he left the bloudy slaughter
In which he swam, and ranne to his redresse.
There her assayling fiercely fresh, he raught her
Such an huge stroke, that it of sence distraught her:        365
And had she not it warded warily,
It had depriv’d her mother of a daughter.
Nathlesse for all the powre she did apply,
It made her stagger oft, and stare with ghastly eye.
Like to an eagle in his kingly pride,
Soring through his wide empire of the aire,
To weather his brode sailes, by chaunce hath spide
A goshauke, which hath seized for her share
Uppon some fowle, that should her feast prepare;
With dreadfull force he flies at her bylive,        375
That with his souce, which none enduren dare,
Her from the quarrey he away doth drive,
And from her griping pounce the greedy prey doth rive.
But soone as she her sence recover’d had,
She fiercely towards him her selfe gan dight,        380
Through vengeful wrath and sdeignfull pride half mad:
For never had she suffred such despight.
But ere she could joyne hand with him to fight,
Her warlike maides about her flockt so fast,
That they disparted them, maugre their might,        385
And with their troupes did far a sunder cast:
But mongst the rest the fight did untill evening last.
And every while that mighty yron man,
With his strange weapon, never wont in warre,
Them sorely vext, and courst, and overran,        390
And broke their bowes, and did their shooting marre,
That none of all the many once did darre
Him to assault, nor once approach him nie,
But like a sort of sheepe dispersed farre
For dread of their devouring enemie,        395
Through all the fields and vallies did before him flie.
But when as daies faire shinie-beame, yclowded
With fearefull shadowes of deformed night,
Warn’d man and beast in quiet rest be shrowded,
Bold Radigund, with sound of trumpe on hight,        400
Causd all her people to surcease from fight,
And gathering them unto her citties gate,
Made them all enter in before her sight,
And all the wounded, and the weake in state,
To be convayed in, ere she would once retrate.        405
When thus the field was voided all away,
And all things quieted, the Elfin knight,
Weary of toile and travell of that day,
Causd his pavilion to be richly pight
Before the city gate, in open sight;        410
Where he him selfe did rest in safety,
Together with Sir Terpin, all that night:
But Talus usde in times of jeopardy
To keepe a nightly watch, for dread of treachery.
But Radigund full of heart-gnawing griefe,
For the rebuke which she sustain’d that day,
Could take no rest, ne would receive reliefe,
But tossed in her troublous minde, what way
She mote revenge that blot which on her lay.
There she resolv’d her selfe in single fight        420
To try her fortune, and his force assay,
Rather then see her people spoiled quight,
As she had seene that day, a disaventerous sight.
She called forth to her a trusty mayd,
Whom she thought fittest for that businesse,        425
(Her name was Clarin,) and thus to her sayd:
‘Goe, damzell, quickly, doe thy selfe addresse,
To doe the message which I shall expresse
Goe thou unto that stranger Faery knight,
Who yeester day drove us to such distresse;        430
Tell, that to morrow I with him wil fight,
And try in equall field, whether hath greater might.
‘But these conditions doe to him propound:
That if I vanquishe him, he shall obay
My law, and ever to my lore be bound;        435
And so will I, if me he vanquish may,
What ever he shall like to doe or say.
Goe streight, and take with thee, to witnesse it,
Sixe of thy fellowes of the best array,
And beare with you both wine and juncates fit,        440
And bid him eate; henceforth he oft shall hungry sit.’
The damzell streight obayd, and putting all
In readinesse, forth to the towne-gate went,
Where sounding loud a trumpet from the wall,
Unto those warlike knights she warning sent.        445
Then Talus, forth issuing from the tent,
Unto the wall his way did fearelesse take,
To weeten what that trumpets sounding ment:
Where that same damzell lowdly him bespake,
And shew’d that with his lord she would emparlaunce make.        450
So he them streight conducted to his lord,
Who, as he could, them goodly well did greete,
Till they had told their message word by word:
Which he accepting well, as he could weete,
Them fairely entertaynd with curt’sies meete,        455
And gave them gifts and things of deare delight.
So backe againe they homeward turnd their feete.
But Artegall him selfe to rest did dight,
That he mote fresher be against the next daies fight.

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