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 VIII
        Prince Arthure and Sir Artegall
  Free Samient from feare:
They slay the Soudan, drive his wife
  Adicia to despaire.

NOUGHT under heaven so strongly doth allure
The sence of man, and all his minde possesse,
As beauties lovely baite, that doth procure
Great warriours oft their rigour to represse,
And mighty hands forget their manlinesse;        5
Drawne with the powre of an heart-robbing eye,
And wrapt in fetters of a golden tresse,
That can with melting pleasaunce mollifye
Their hardned hearts, enur’d to bloud and cruelty.
So whylome learnd that mighty Jewish swaine,
Each of whose lockes did match a man in might,
To lay his spoiles before his lemans traine:
So also did that great Oetean knight
For his loves sake his lions skin undight:
And so did warlike Antony neglect        15
The worlds whole rule for Cleopatras sight.
Such wondrous powre hath wemens faire aspect,
To captive men, and make them all the world reject.
Yet could it not sterne Artegall retaine,
Nor hold from suite of his avowed quest,        20
Which he had undertane to Gloriane;
But left his love, albe her strong request,
Faire Britomart, in languor and unrest,
And rode him selfe uppon his first intent:
Ne day nor night did ever idly rest;        25
Ne wight but onely Talus with him went,
The true guide of his way and vertuous government.
So travelling, he chaunst far off to heed
A damzell, flying on a palfrey fast
Before two knights, that after her did speed        30
With all their powre, and her full fiercely chast
In hope to have her overhent at last:
Yet fled she fast, and both them farre outwent,
Carried with wings of feare, like fowle aghast,
With locks all loose, and rayment all torent;        35
And ever as she rode, her eye was backeward bent.
Soone after these he saw another knight,
That after those two former rode apace,
With speare in rest, and prickt with all his might:
So ran they all, as they had bene at bace,        40
They being chased, that did others chase.
At length he saw the hindmost overtake
One of those two, and force him turne his face;
How ever loth he were his way to slake,
Yet mote he algates now abide, and answere make.        45
But th’ other still pursu’d the fearefull mayd;
Who still from him as fast away did flie,
Ne once for ought her speedy passage stayd,
Till that at length she did before her spie
Sir Artegall, to whom she streight did hie        50
With gladfull hast, in hope of him to get
Succour against her greedy enimy:
Who, seeing her approch, gan forward set,
To save her from her feare, and him from force to let.
But he like hound full greedy of his pray,
Being impatient of impediment,
Continu’d still his course, and by the way
Thought with his speare him quight have overwent.
So both together, ylike felly bent,
Like fiercely met. But Artegall was stronger,        60
And better skild in tilt and turnament,
And bore him quite out of his saddle, longer
Then two speares length: so mischiefe overmatcht the wronger.
And in his fall misfortune him mistooke;
For on his head unhappily he pight,        65
That his owne waight his necke asunder broke,
And left there dead. Meane while the other knight
Defeated had the other faytour quight,
And all his bowels in his body brast:
Whom leaving there in that dispiteous plight,        70
He ran still on, thinking to follow fast
His other fellow Pagan, which before him past.
In stead of whom finding there ready prest
Sir Artegall, without discretion
He at him ran, with ready speare in rest:        75
Who, seeing him come still so fiercely on,
Against him made againe. So both anon
Together met, and strongly either strooke
And broke their speares; yet neither has forgon
His horses backe, yet to and fro long shooke,        80
And tottred like two towres, which through a tempest quooke.
But when againe they had recovered sence,
They drew their swords, in mind to make amends
For what their speares had fayld of their pretence.
Which when the damzell, who those deadly ends        85
Of both her foes had seene, and now her frends
For her beginning a more fearefull fray,
She to them runnes in hast, and her haire rends,
Crying to them their cruell hands to stay,
Untill they both doe heare what she to them will say.        90
They stayd their hands, when she thus gan to speake:
‘Ah! gentle knights, what meane ye thus unwise
Upon your selves anothers wrong to wreake?
I am the wrong’d, whom ye did enterprise
Both to redresse, and both redrest likewise:        95
Witnesse the Paynims both, whom ye may see
There dead on ground. What doe ye then devise
Of more revenge? if more, then I am shee
Which was the roote of all; end your revenge on mee.’
Whom when they heard so say, they lookt about,
To weete if it were true, as she had told;
Where when they saw their foes dead out of doubt,
Eftsoones they gan their wrothfull hands to hold,
And ventailes reare, each other to behold.
Tho, when as Artegall did Arthure vew,        105
So faire a creature, and so wondrous bold,
He much admired both his heart and hew,
And touched with intire affection, nigh him drew,
Saying: ‘Sir knight, of pardon I you pray,
That all unweeting have you wrong’d thus sore,        110
Suffring my hand against my heart to stray:
Which if ye please forgive, I will therefore
Yeeld for amends my selfe yours evermore,
Or what so penaunce shall by you be red.’
To whom the Prince: ‘Certes, me needeth more        115
To crave the same, whom errour so misled,
As that I did mistake the living for the ded.
‘But sith ye please that both our blames shall die,
Amends may for the trespasse soone be made,
Since neither is endamadg’d much thereby.’        120
So can they both them selves full eath perswade
To faire accordaunce, and both faults to shade,
Either embracing other lovingly,
And swearing faith to either on his blade,
Never thenceforth to nourish enmity,        125
But either others cause to maintaine mutually.
Then Artegall gan of the Prince enquire,
What were those knights, which there on ground were layd,
And had receiv’d their follies worthy hire,
And for what cause they chased so that mayd.        130
‘Certes, I wote not well,’ the Prince then sayd,
‘But by adventure found them faring so,
As by the way unweetingly I strayd,
And lo the damzell selfe, whence all did grow,
Of whom we may at will the whole occasion know.’        135
Then they that damzell called to them nie,
And asked her, what were those two her fone,
From whom she earst so fast away did flie;
And what was she her selfe so woe begone,
And for what cause pursu’d of them attone.        140
To whom she thus: ‘Then wote ye well, that I
Doe serve a queene, that not far hence doth wone,
A princesse of great powre and majestie,
Famous through all the world, and honor’d far and nie.
‘Her name Mercilla most men use to call;
That is a mayden queene of high renowne,
For her great bounty knowen over all,
And soveraine grace, with which her royall crowne
She doth support, and strongly beateth downe
The malice of her foes, which her envy,        150
And at her happinesse do fret and frowne:
Yet she her selfe the more doth magnify,
And even to her foes her mercies multiply.
‘Mongst many which maligne her happy state,
There is a mighty man, which wonnes here by,        155
That with most fell despight and deadly hate
Seekes to subvert her crowne and dignity,
And all his powre doth thereunto apply:
And her good knights, of which so brave a band
Serves her as any princesse under sky,        160
He either spoiles, if they against him stand,
Or to his part allures, and bribeth under hand.
‘Ne him sufficeth all the wrong and ill,
Which he unto her people does each day,
But that he seekes by traytrous traines to spill        165
Her person, and her sacred selfe to slay:
That, O ye heavens, defend, and turne away
From her unto the miscreant him selfe,
That neither hath religion nor fay,
But makes his god of his ungodly pelfe,        170
And idols serves; so let his idols serve the elfe.
‘To all which cruell tyranny, they say,
He is provokt, and stird up day and night
By his bad wife, that hight Adicia,
Who counsels him, through confidence of might,        175
To breake all bonds of law and rules of right.
For she her selfe professeth mortall foe
To Justice, and against her still doth fight,
Working to all that love her deadly woe,
And making all her knights and people to doe so.        180
‘Which my liege lady seeing, thought it best,
With that his wife in friendly wise to deale,
For stint of strife and stablishment of rest
Both to her selfe and to her common weale,
And all forepast displeasures to repeale.        185
So me in message unto her she sent,
To treat with her, by way of enterdeale,
Of finall peace and faire attonement,
Which might concluded be by mutuall consent.
‘All times have wont safe passage to afford
To messengers that come for causes just:
But this proude dame, disdayning all accord,
Not onely into bitter termes forth brust,
Reviling me, and rayling as she lust,
But lastly, to make proofe of utmost shame,        195
Me like a dog she out of dores did thrust,
Miscalling me by many a bitter name,
That never did her ill, ne once deserved blame.
‘And lastly, that no shame might wanting be,
When I was gone, soone after me she sent        200
These two false knights, whom there ye lying see,
To be by them dishonoured and shent:
But thankt be God, and your good hardiment,
They have the price of their owne folly payd.’
So said this damzell, that hight Samient,        205
And to those knights, for their so noble ayd,
Her selfe most gratefull shew’d, and heaped thanks repayd.
But they now having throughly heard, and seene
Al those great wrongs, the which that mayd complained
To have bene done against her lady queene        210
By that proud dame, which her so much disdained,
Were moved much thereat, and twixt them fained
With all their force to worke avengement strong
Uppon the Souldan selfe, which it mayntained,
And on his lady, th’ author of that wrong,        215
And uppon all those knights that did to her belong.
But thinking best by counterfet disguise
To their deseigne to make the easier way,
They did this complot twixt them selves devise:
First, that Sir Artegall should him array        220
Like one of those two knights which dead there lay;
And then that damzell, the sad Samient,
Should as his purchast prize with him convay
Unto the Souldans court, her to present
Unto his scornefull lady, that for her had sent.        225
So as they had deviz’d, Sir Artegall
Him clad in th’ armour of a Pagan knight,
And taking with him, as his vanquisht thrall,
That damzell, led her to the Souldans right.
Where soone as his proud wife of her had sight,        230
Forth of her window as she looking lay,
She weened streight it was her Paynim knight,
Which brought that damzell as his purchast pray;
And sent to him a page, that mote direct his way.
Who bringing them to their appointed place,
Offred his service to disarme the knight;
But he refusing him to let unlace,
For doubt to be discovered by his sight,
Kept himselfe still in his straunge armour dight.
Soone after whom the Prince arrived there,        240
And sending to the Souldan in despight
A bold defyance, did of him requere
That damzell, whom he held as wrongfull prisonere.
Wherewith the Souldan all with furie fraught,
Swearing and banning most blasphemously,        245
Commaunded straight his armour to be brought,
And mounting straight upon a charret hye,
(With yron wheeles and hookes arm’d dreadfully,
And drawne of cruell steedes, which he had fed
With flesh of men, whom through fell tyranny        250
He slaughtred had, and ere they were halfe ded,
Their bodies to his beasts for provender did spred,)
So forth he came, all in a cote of plate,
Burnisht with bloudie rust; whiles on the greene
The Briton Prince him readie did awayte,        255
In glistering armes right goodly well beseene,
That shone as bright as doth the heaven sheene;
And by his stirrup Talus did attend,
Playing his pages part, as he had beene
Before directed by his lord; to th’ end        260
He should his flale to finall execution bend.
Thus goe they both together to their geare,
With like fieroe minds, but meanings different:
For the proud Souldan, with presumpteous cheare,
And countenance sublime and insolent,        265
Sought onely slaughter and avengement:
But the brave Prince for honour and for right,
Gainst tortious powre and lawlesse regiment,
In the behalfe of wronged weake did fight:
More in his causes truth he trusted then in might.        270
Like to the Thracian tyrant, who, they say,
Unto his horses gave his guests for meat,
Till he himselfe was made their greedie pray,
And torne in peeces by Alcides great:
So thought the Souldan in his follies threat,        275
Either the Prince in peeces to have torne
With his sharpe wheeles, in his first rages heat,
Or under his fierce horses feet have borne,
And trampled downe in dust his thoughts disdained scorne.
But the bold child that perill well espying,
If he too rashly to his charet drew,
Gave way unto his horses speedie flying,
And their resistlesse rigour did eschew.
Yet, as he passed by, the Pagan threw
A shivering dart with so impetuous force,        285
That, had he not it shun’d with heedfull vew,
It had himselfe transfixed, or his horse,
Or made them both one masse withouten more remorse.
Oft drew the Prince unto his charret nigh,
In hope some stroke to fasten on him neare;        290
But he was mounted in his seat so high,
And his wingfooted coursers him did beare
So fast away, that ere his readie speare
He could advance, he farre was gone and past.
Yet still he him did follow every where,        295
And followed was of him likewise full fast,
So long as in his steedes the flaming breath did last.
Againe the Pagan threw another dart,
Of which he had with him abundant store,
On every side of his embatteld cart,        300
And of all other weapons lesse or more,
Which warlike uses had deviz’d of yore.
The wicked shaft, guyded through th’ ayrie wyde
By some bad spirit, that it to mischiefe bore,
Stayd not, till through his curat it did glyde,        305
And made a griesly wound in his enriven side.
Much was he grieved with that haplesse throe,
That opened had the welspring of his blood;
But much the more that to his hatefull foe
He mote not come, to wreake his wrathfull mood.        310
That made him rave, like to a lyon wood,
Which, being wounded of the huntsmans hand,
Can not come neare him in the covert wood,
Where he with boughes hath built his shady stand,
And fenst himselfe about with many a flaming brand.        315
Still when he sought t’ approch unto him ny,
His charret wheeles about him whirled round,
And made him backe againe as fast to fly;
And eke his steedes, like to an hungry hound,
That hunting after game hath carrion found,        320
So cruelly did him pursew and chace,
That his good steed, all were he much renound
For noble courage and for hardie race,
Durst not endure their sight, but fled from place to place.
Thus long they trast and traverst to and fro,
Seeking by every way to make some breach,
Yet could the Prince not nigh unto him goe,
That one sure stroke he might unto him reach,
Whereby his strengthes assay he might him teach.
At last from his victorious shield he drew        330
The vaile which did his powrefull light empeach;
And comming full before his horses vew,
As they upon him prest, it plaine to them did shew.
Like lightening flash, that hath the gazer burned,
So did the sight thereof their sense dismay,        335
That backe againe upon themselves they turned,
And with their ryder ranne perforce away:
Ne could the Souldan them from flying stay
With raynes, or wonted rule, as well he knew.
Nought feared they what he could do or say,        340
But th’ onely feare that was before their vew;
From which, like mazed deare, dismayfully they flew.
Fast did they fly as them their feete could beare,
High over hilles, and lowly over dales,
As they were follow’d of their former feare.        345
In vaine the Pagan bannes, and sweares, and rayles,
And backe with both his hands unto him hayles
The resty raynes, regarded now no more:
He to them calles and speakes, yet nought avayles;
They heare him not, they have forgot his lore,        350
But go which way they list; their guide they have forlore.
As when the firie-mouthed steeds, which drew
The sunnes bright wayne to Phaetons decay,
Soone as they did the monstrous Scorpion vew,
With ugly craples crawling in their way,        355
The dreadfull sight did them so sore affray,
That their well knowen courses they forwent,
And leading th’ ever-burning lampe astray,
This lower world nigh all to ashes brent,
And left their scorched path yet in the firmament.        360
Such was the furie of these head-strong steeds,
Soone as the infants sunlike shield they saw,
That all obedience both to words and deeds
They quite forgot, and scornd all former law:
Through woods, and rocks, and mountaines they did draw        365
The yron charet, and the wheeles did teare,
And tost the Paynim, without feare or awe;
From side to side they tost him here and there,
Crying to them in vaine, that nould his crying heare.
Yet still the Prince pursew’d him close behind,
Oft making offer him to smite, but found
No easie meanes according to his mind.
At last they have all overthrowne to ground,
Quite topside turvey, and the Pagan hound
Amongst the yron hookes and graples keene        375
Torne all to rags, and rent with many a wound,
That no whole peece of him was to be seene,
But scattred all about, and strow’d upon the greene.
Like as the cursed sonne of Theseus,
That, following his chace in dewy morne,        380
To fly his stepdames loves outrageous,
Of his owne steedes was all to peeces torne,
And his faire limbs left in the woods forlorne;
That for his sake Diana did lament,
And all the wooddy nymphes did wayle and mourne:        385
So was this Souldan rapt and all to-rent,
That of his shape appear’d no litle moniment.
Onely his shield and armour, which there lay,
Though nothing whole, but all to-brusd and broken,
He up did take, and with him brought away,        390
That mote remaine for an eternall token
To all mongst whom this storie should be spoken,
How worthily, by Heavens high decree,
Justice that day of wrong her selfe had wroken,
That all men which that spectacle did see,        395
By like ensample mote for ever warned bee.
So on a tree, before the tyrants dore,
He caused them be hung in all mens sight,
To be a moniment for evermore.
Which when his ladie from the castles hight        400
Beheld, it much appald her troubled spright:
Yet not, as women wont, in dolefull fit
She was dismayd, or faynted through affright,
But gathered unto her her troubled wit,
And gan eftsoones devize to be aveng’d for it.        405
Streight downe she ranne, like an enraged cow,
That is berobbed of her youngling dere,
With knife in hand, and fatally did vow
To wreake her on that mayden messengere,
Whom she had causd be kept as prisonere        410
By Artegall, misween’d for her owne knight,
That brought her backe. And comming present there,
She at her ran with all her force and might,
All flaming with revenge and furious despight.
Like raging Ino, when with knife in hand
She threw her husbands murdred infant out;
Or fell Medea, when on Colchicke strand
Her brothers bones she scattered all about;
Or as that madding mother, mongst the rout
Of Bacchus priests, her owne deare flesh did teare.        420
Yet neither Ino, nor Medea stout,
Nor all the Mœnades so furious were,
As this bold woman, when she saw that damzell there.
But Artegall, being thereof aware,
Did stay her cruell hand, ere she her raught,        425
And as she did her selfe to strike prepare,
Out of her fist the wicked weapon caught:
With that, like one enfelon’d or distraught,
She forth did rome, whether her rage her bore,
With franticke passion and with furie fraught;        430
And breaking forth out at a posterne dore,
Unto the wyld ranne, her dolours to deplore.
As a mad bytch, when as the franticke fit
Her burning tongue with rage inflamed hath,
Doth runne at randon, and with furious bit        435
Snatching at every thing, doth wreake her wrath
On man and beast that commeth in her path.
There they doe say that she transformed was
Into a tygre, and that tygres scath
In crueltie and outrage she did pas,        440
To prove her surname true, that she imposed has.
Then Artegall himselfe discovering plaine,
Did issue forth gainst all that warlike rout
Of knights and armed men, which did maintaine
That ladies part, and to the Souldan lout:        445
All which he did assault with courage stout,
All were they nigh an hundred knights of name,
And like wyld goates them chaced all about,
Flying from place to place with cowheard shame,
So that with finall force them all he overcame.        450
Then caused he the gates be opened wyde,
And there the Prince, as victour of that day,
With tryumph entertayn’d and glorifyde,
Presenting him with all the rich array
And roiall pompe, which there long hidden lay,        455
Purchast through lawlesse powre and tortious wrong
Of that proud Souldan, whom he earst did slay.
So both, for rest there having stayd not long,
Marcht with that mayd, fit matter for another song.

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