Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Faerie Queene
Book VI. The Legend of Sir Calidore
Canto II
        Calidore sees young Tristram slay
  A proud, discourteous knight:
He makes him squire, and of him learnes
  His state and present plight.

WHAT vertue is so fitting for a knight,
Or for a ladie whom a knight should love,
As curtesie, to beare themselves aright
To all of each degree, as doth behove?
For whether they be placed high above,        5
Or low beneath, yet ought they well to know
Their good, that none them rightly may reprove
Of rudenesse, for not yeelding what they owe:
Great skill it is such duties timely to bestow.
Thereto great helpe Dame Nature selfe doth lend:
For some so goodly gratious are by kind,
That every action doth them much commend,
And in the eyes of men great liking find;
Which others, that have greater skill in mind,
Though they enforce themselves, cannot attaine.        15
For everie thing, to which one is inclin’d,
Doth best become, and greatest grace doth gaine:
Yet praise likewise deserve good thewes, enforst with paine.
That well in courteous Calidore appeares,
Whose every deed and word that he did say        20
Was like enchantment, that through both the eares
And both the eyes did steale the hart away.
He now againe is on his former way,
To follow his first quest, when as he spyde
A tall young man from thence not farre away,        25
Fighting on foot, as well he him deseryde,
Against an armed knight, that did on horsebacke ryde.
And them beside, a ladie faire he saw,
Standing alone on foot, in foule array:
To whom himselfe he hastily did draw,        30
To weet the cause of so uncomely fray,
And to depart them, if so be he may.
But ere he came in place, that youth had kild
That armed knight, that low on ground he lay;
Which when he saw, his hart was inly child        35
With great amazement, and his thought with wonder fild.
Him stedfastly he markt, and saw to bee
A goodly youth of amiable grace,
Yet but a slender slip, that searse did see
Yet seventeene yeares, but tall and faire of face,        40
That sure he deem’d him borne of noble race.
All in a woodmans jacket he was clad
Of Lincolne greene, belayd with silver lace;
And on his head an hood with aglets sprad,
And by his side his hunters horne he hanging had.        45
Buskins he wore of costliest cordwayne,
Pinckt upon gold, and paled part per part,
As then the guize was for each gentle swayne;
In his right hand he held a trembling dart,
Whose fellow he before had sent apart;        50
And in his left he held a sharpe borespeare,
With which he wont to launch the salvage hart
Of many a lyon and of many a beare,
That first unto his hand in chase did happen neare.
Whom Calidore a while well having vewed,
At length bespake: ‘What meanes this, gentle swaine?
Why hath thy hand too bold it selfe embrewed
In blood of knight, the which by thee is slaine,
By thee no knight; which armes impugneth plaine?’
‘Certes,’ said he, ‘loth were I to have broken        60
The law of armes; yet breake it should againe,
Rather then let my selfe of wight be stroken,
So long as these two armes were able to be wroken.
‘For not I him, as this his ladie here
May witnesse well, did offer first to wrong,        65
Ne surely thus unarm’d I likely were;
But he me first, through pride and puissance strong
Assayld, not knowing what to armes doth long.’
‘Perdie, great blame,’ then said Sir Calidore,
‘For armed knight a wight unarm’d to wrong.        70
But then aread, thou gentle chyld, wherefore
Betwixt you two began this strife and sterne uprore.’
‘That shall I sooth,’ said he, ‘to you declare.
I whose unryper yeares are yet unfit
For thing of weight, or worke of greater care,        75
Doe spend my dayes and bend my carelesse wit
To salvage chace, where I thereon may hit
In all this forrest and wyld wooddie raine:
Where, as this day I was enraunging it,
I chaunst to meete this knight, who there lyes slaine,        80
Together with this ladie, passing on the plaine.
‘The knight, as ye did see, on horsebacke was,
And this his ladie, (that him ill became,)
On her faire feet by his horse side did pas
Through thicke and thin, unfit for any dame.        85
Yet not content, more to increase his shame,
When so she lagged, as she needs mote so,
He with his speare, that was to him great blame,
Would thumpe her forward, and inforce to goe,
Weeping to him in vaine, and making piteous woe.        90
‘Which when I saw, as they me passed by,
Much was I moved in indignant mind,
And gan to blame him for such cruelty
Towards a ladie, whom with usage kind
He rather should have taken up behind.        95
Wherewith he wroth, and full of proud disdaine,
Tooke in foule scorne, that I such fault did find,
And me in lieu thereof revil’d againe,
Threatning to chastize me, as doth t’ a chyld pertaine.
‘Which I no lesse disdayning, backe returned
His scornefull taunts unto his teeth againe,
That he streight way with haughtie choler burned,
And with his speare strooke me one stroke or twaine;
Which I enforst to beare, though to my paine,
Cast to requite, and with a slender dart,        105
Fellow of this I beare, throwne not in vaine,
Strooke him, as seemeth, underneath the hart,
That through the wound his spirit shortly did depart.’
Much did Sir Calidore admyre his speach
Tempred so well, but more admyr’d the stroke        110
That through the mayles had made so strong a breach
Into his hart, and had so sternely wroke
His wrath on him that first occasion broke.
Yet rested not, but further gan inquire
Of that same ladie, whether what he spoke        115
Were soothly so, and that th’ unrighteous ire
Of her owne knight had given him his owne due hire.
Of all which when as she could nought deny,
But cleard that stripling of th’ imputed blame,
Sayd then Sir Calidore: ‘Neither will I        120
Him charge with guilt, but rather doe quite clame:
For what he spake, for you he spake it, dame;
And what he did, he did him selfe to save:
Against both which that knight wrought knightlesse shame.
For knights and all men this by nature have,        125
Towards all womenkind them kindly to behave.
‘But sith that he is gone irrevocable,
Please it you, ladie, to us to aread,
What cause could make him so dishonourable,
To drive you so on foot, unfit to tread        130
And lackey by him, gainst all womanhead?’
‘Certes, sir knight,’ sayd she, ‘full loth I were
To rayse a lyving blame against the dead:
But since it me concernes, my selfe to clere,
I will the truth discover, as it chaunst whylere.        135
‘This day, as he and I together roade
Upon our way, to which we weren bent,
We chaunst to come foreby a covert glade
Within a wood, whereas a ladie gent
Sate with a knight in joyous jolliment        140
Of their franke loves, free from all gealous spyes:
Faire was the ladie sure, that mote content
An hart not carried with too curious eyes,
And unto him did shew all lovely courtesyes.
‘Whom when my knight did see so lovely faire,
He inly gan her lover to envy,
And wish that he part of his spoyle might share.
Whereto when as my presence he did spy
To be a let, he bad me by and by
For to alight: but when as I was loth        150
My loves owne part to leave so suddenly,
He with strong hand down from his steed me throw’th,
And with presumpteous powre against that knight streight go’th.
‘Unarm’d all was the knight, as then more meete
For ladies service and for loves delight,        155
Then fearing any foeman there to meete:
Whereof he taking oddes, streight bids him dight
Himselfe to yeeld his love, or else to fight.
Whereat the other starting up dismayd,
Yet boldly answer’d, as he rightly might,        160
To leave his love he should be ill apayd,
In which he had good right gaynst all that it gainesayd.
‘Yet since he was not presently in plight
Her to defend, or his to justifie,
He him requested, as he was a knight,        165
To lend him day his better right to trie,
Or stay till he his armes, which were thereby,
Might lightly fetch. But he was fierce and whot,
Ne time would give, nor any termes aby,
But at him flew, and with his speare him smot;        170
From which to thinke to save himselfe it booted not.
‘Meane while his ladie, which this outrage saw,
Whilest they together for the quarrey strove,
Into the covert did her selfe withdraw,
And closely hid her selfe within the grove.        175
My knight hers soone, as seemes, to daunger drove
And left sore wounded: but when her he mist,
He woxe halfe mad, and in that rage gan rove
And range through all the wood, where so he wist
She hidden was, and sought her so long as him list.        180
‘But when as her he by no meanes could find,
After long search and chauff, he turned backe
Unto the place where me he left behind:
There gan he me to curse and ban, for lacke
Of that faire bootie, and with bitter wracke        185
To wreake on me the guilt of his owne wrong.
Of all which I yet glad to beare the packe,
Strove to appease him, and perswaded long:
But still his passion grew more violent and strong.
‘Then as it were t’ avenge his wrath on mee,
When forward we should fare, he flat refused
To take me up (as this young man did see)
Upon his steed, for no just cause accused,
But forst to trot on foot, and foule misused,
Pounching me with the butt end of his speare,        195
In vaine complayning to be so abused;
For he regarded neither playnt nor teare,
But more enforst my paine, the more my plaints to heare.
‘So passed we, till this young man us met,
And being moov’d with pittie of my plight,        200
Spake, as was meet, for ease of my regret:
Whereof befell what now is in your sight.’
‘Now sure,’ then said Sir Calidore, ‘and right
Me seemes, that him befell by his owne fault:
Who ever thinkes through confidence of might,        205
Or through support of count’nance proud and hault,
To wrong the weaker, oft falles in his owne assault.’
Then turning backe unto that gentle boy,
Which had himselfe so stoutly well acquit;
Seeing his face so lovely sterne and coy,        210
And hearing th’ answeres of his pregnant wit,
He praysd it much, and much admyred it;
That sure he weend him borne of noble blood,
With whom those graces did so goodly fit:
And when he long had him beholding stood,        215
He burst into these words, as to him seemed good:
‘Faire gentle swayne, and yet as stout as fayre,
That in these woods amongst the nymphs dost wonne,
Which daily may to thy sweete lookes repayre,
As they are wont unto Latonaes sonne,        220
After his chace on woodie Cynthus donne:
Well may I certes such an one thee read,
As by thy worth thou worthily hast wonne,
Or surely borne of some heroicke sead,
That in thy face appeares and gratious goodlyhead.        225
‘But should it not displease thee it to tell,
(Unlesse thou in these woods thy selfe conceale
For love amongst the woodie gods to dwell,)
I would thy selfe require thee to reveale,
For deare affection and unfayned zeale,        230
Which to thy noble personage I beare,
And wish thee grow in worship and great weale.
For since the day that armes I first did reare,
I never saw in any greater hope appeare.’
To whom then thus the noble youth: ‘May be,
Sir knight, that, by discovering my estate,
Harme may arise unweeting unto me;
Nathelesse, sith ye so courteous seemed late,
To you I will not feare it to relate.
Then wote ye that I am a Briton borne,        240
Sonne of a king, how ever thorough fate
Or fortune I my countrie have forlorne,
And lost the crowne which should my head by right adorne.
‘And Tristram is my name, the onely heire
Of good King Meliogras, which did rayne        245
In Cornewale, till that he through lives despeire
Untimely dyde, before I did attaine
Ripe yeares of reason, my right to maintaine.
After whose death, his brother seeing mee
An infant, weake a kingdome to sustaine,        250
Upon him tooke the roiall high degree,
And sent me, where him list, instructed for to bee.
‘The widow queene, my mother, which then hight
Faire Emiline, conceiving then great feare
Of my fraile safetie, resting in the might        255
Of him that did the kingly scepter beare,
Whose gealous dread induring not a peare
Is wont to cut off all that doubt may breed,
Thought best away me to remove somewhere
Into some forrein land, where as no need        260
Of dreaded daunger might his doubtfull humor feed.
‘So taking counsell of a wise man red,
She was by him adviz’d to send me quight
Out of the countrie wherein I was bred,
The which the fertile Lionesse is hight,        265
Into the land of Faerie, where no wight
Should weet of me, nor worke me any wrong.
To whose wise read she hearkning, sent me streight
Into this land, where I have wond thus long,
Since I was ten yeares old, now growen to stature strong.        270
‘All which my daies I have not lewdly spent,
Nor spilt the blossome of my tender yeares
In ydlesse, but, as was convenient,
Have trayned bene with many noble feres
In gentle thewes, and such like seemely leres.        275
Mongst which my most delight hath alwaies been,
To hunt the salvage chace amongst my peres,
Of all that raungeth in the forrest greene;
Of which none is to me unknowne, that ev’r was seene.
‘Ne is there hauke which mantleth her on pearch,
Whether high towring, or accoasting low,
But I the measure of her flight doe search,
And all her pray, and all her diet know.
Such be our joyes, which in these forrests grow:
Onely the use of armes, which most I joy,        285
And fitteth most for noble swayne to know,
I have not tasted yet, yet past a boy,
And being now high time these strong joynts to imploy.
‘Therefore, good sir, sith now occasion fit
Doth fall, whose like hereafter seldome may,        290
Let me this crave, unworthy though of it,
That ye will make me squire without delay,
That from henceforth in batteilous array
I may beare armes, and learne to use them right;
The rather since that fortune hath this day        295
Given to me the spoile of this dead knight,
These goodly gilden armes, which I have won in fight.’
All which when well Sir Calidore had heard,
Him much more now then earst he gan admire,
For the rare hope which in his yeares appear’d,        300
And thus replide: ‘Faire chyld, the high desire
To love of armes, which in you doth aspire,
I may not certes without blame denie;
But rather wish that some more noble hire
(Though none more noble then is chevalrie)        305
I had, you to reward with greater dignitie.’
There him he causd to kneele, and made to sweare
Faith to his knight, and truth to ladies all,
And never to be recreant, for feare
Of perill, or of ought that might befall:        310
So he him dubbed, and his squire did call.
Full glad and joyous then young Tristram grew,
Like as a flowre, whose silken leaves small,
Long shut up in the bud from heavens vew,
At length breakes forth, and brode displayes his smyling hew.        315
Thus when they long had treated to and fro,
And Calidore betooke him to depart,
Chyld Tristram prayd that he with him might goe
On his adventure, vowing not to start,
But wayt on him in every place and part.        320
Whereat Sir Calidore did much delight,
And greatly joy’d at his so noble hart,
In hope he sure would prove a doughtie knight:
Yet for the time this answere he to him behight:
‘Glad would I surely be, thou courteous squire,
To have thy presence in my present quest,
That mote thy kindled courage set on fire,
And flame forth honour in thy noble brest:
But I am bound by vow, which I profest
To my dread Soveraine, when I it assayd,        330
That in atchievement of her high behest
I should no creature joyne unto mine ayde;
Forthy I may not graunt that ye so greatly prayde.
‘But since this ladie is all desolate,
And needeth safegard now upon her way,        335
Ye may doe well in this her needfull state
To succour her from daunger of dismay;
That thankfull guerdon may to you repay.’
The noble ympe, of such new service fayne,
It gladly did accept, as he did say.        340
So taking courteous leave, they parted twayne,
And Calidore forth passed to his former payne.
But Tristram, then despoyling that dead knight
Of all those goodly implements of prayse,
Long fed his greedie eyes with the faire sight        345
Of the bright mettall, shyning like sunne rayes;
Handling and turning them a thousand wayes.
And after having them upon him dight,
He tooke that ladie, and her up did rayse
Upon the steed of her owne late dead knight,        350
So with her marched forth, as she did him behight.
There to their fortune leave we them awhile,
And turne we backe to good Sir Calidore;
Who, ere he thence had traveild many a mile,
Came to the place, whereas ye heard afore        355
This knight, whom Tristram slew, had wounded sore
Another knight in his despiteous pryde;
There he that knight found lying on the flore,
With many wounds full perilous and wyde,
That all his garments and the grasse in vermeill dyde.        360
And there beside him sate upon the ground
His wofull ladie, piteously complayning
With loud laments that most unluckie stound,
And her sad selfe with carefull hand constrayning
To wype his wounds, and ease their bitter payning.        365
Which sorie sight when Calidore did vew
With heavie eyne, from teares uneath refrayning,
His mightie hart their mournefull case can rew,
And for their better comfort to them nigher drew.
Then speaking to the ladie, thus he sayd:
‘Ye dolefull dame, let not your griefe empeach
To tell what cruell hand hath thus arayd
This knight unarm’d, with so unknightly breach
Of armes, that if I yet him nigh may reach,
I may avenge him of so foule despight.’        375
The ladie, hearing his so courteous speach,
Gan reare her eyes as to the chearefull light,
And from her sory hart few heavie words forth sight:
In which she shew’d, how that discourteous knight
(Whom Tristram slew) them in that shadow found,        380
Joying together in unblam’d delight,
And him unarm’d, as now he lay on ground,
Charg’d with his speare and mortally did wound,
Withouten cause, but onely her to reave
From him, to whom she was for ever bound:        385
Yet when she fled into that covert greave,
He, her not finding, both them thus nigh dead did leave.
When Calidore this ruefull storie had
Well understood, he gan of her demand,
What manner wight he was, and how yelad,        390
Which had this outrage wrought with wicked hand.
She then, like as she best could understand,
Him thus describ’d, to be of stature large,
Clad all in gilden armes, with azure band
Quartred athwart, and bearing in his targe        395
A ladie on rough waves row’d in a sommer barge.
Then gan Sir Calidore to ghesse streight way,
By many signes which she described had,
That this was he whom Tristram earst did slay,
And to her said: ‘Dame, be no longer sad:        400
For he that hath your knight so ill bestad
Is now him selfe in much more wretched plight;
These eyes him saw upon the cold earth sprad,
The meede of his desert for that despight,
Which to your selfe he wrought, and to your loved knight.        405
‘Therefore, faire lady, lay aside this griefe,
Which ye have gathered to your gentle hart,
For that displeasure; and thinke what reliefe
Were best devise for this your lovers smart,
And how ye may him hence, and to what part,        410
Convay to be recur’d.’ She thankt him deare,
Both for that newes he did to her impart,
And for the courteous care which he did beare
Both to her love and to her selfe in that sad dreare.
Yet could she not devise by any wit,
How thence she might convay him to some place.
For him to trouble she it thought unfit,
That was a straunger to her wretched case;
And him to beare, she thought it thing too base.
Which when as he perceiv’d, he thus bespake:        420
‘Faire lady, let it not you seeme disgrace,
To beare this burden on your dainty backe;
My selfe will beare a part, coportion of your packe.’
So off he did his shield, and downeward layd
Upon the ground, like to an hollow beare;        425
And powring balme, which he had long purvayd,
Into his wounds, him up thereon did reare,
And twixt them both with parted paines did beare,
Twixt life and death, not knowing what was donne.
Thence they him carried to a castle neare,        430
In which a worthy auncient knight did wonne:
Where what ensu’d shall in next canto be begonne.

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