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 III
        Calidore brings Priscilla home;
  Pursues the Blatant Beast;
Saves Serena, whilest Calepine
  By Turpine is opprest.

TRUE is, that whilome that good poet sayd,
The gentle minde by gentle deeds is knowne:
For a man by nothing is so well bewrayd
As by his manners, in which plaine is showne
Of what degree and what race he is growne.        5
For seldome seene, a trotting stalion get
An ambling colt, that is his proper owne:
So seldome seene, that one in basenesse set
Doth noble courage shew, with curteous manners met.
But evermore contrary hath bene tryde,
That gentle bloud will gentle manners breed;
As well may be in Calidore descryde,
By late ensample of that courteous deed
Done to that wounded knight in his great need,
Whom on his backe he bore, till he him brought        15
Unto the castle where they had decreed.
There of the knight, the which that castle ought,
To make abode that night he greatly was besought.
He was to weete a man of full ripe yeares,
That in his youth had beene of mickle might,        20
And borne great sway in armes amongst his peares:
But now weake age had dimd his candle light.
Yet was he courteous still to every wight,
And loved all that did to armes incline;
And was the father of that wounded knight,        25
Whom Calidore thus carried on his chine;
And Aldus was his name, and his sonnes Aladine.
Who, when he saw his sonne so ill bedight
With bleeding wounds, brought home upon a beare
By a faire lady and a straunger knight,        30
Was inly touched with compassion deare,
And deare affection of so dolefull dreare,
That he these words burst forth: ‘Ah, sory boy!
Is this the hope that to my hoary heare
Thou brings? aie me! is this the timely joy,        35
Which I expected long, now turnd to sad annoy?
‘Such is the weakenesse of all mortall hope;
So tickle is the state of earthly things,
That ere they come unto their aymed scope,
They fall too short of our fraile reckonings,        40
And bring us bale and bitter sorrowings,
In stead of comfort, which we should embrace:
This is the state of keasars and of kings.
Let none therefore, that is in meaner place,
Too greatly grieve at any his unlucky case.’        45
So well and wisely did that good old knight
Temper his griefe, and turned it to cheare,
To cheare his guests, whom he had stayd that night,
And make their welcome to them well appeare:
That to Sir Calidore was easie geare;        50
But that faire lady would be cheard for nought,
But sigh’d and sorrow’d for her lover deare,
And inly did afflict her pensive thought,
With thinking to what case her name should now be brought.
For she was daughter to a noble lord,
Which dwelt thereby, who sought her to affy
To a great pere; but she did disaccord,
Ne could her liking to his love apply,
But lov’d this fresh young knight, who dwelt her ny,
The lusty Aladine, though meaner borne        60
And of lesse livelood and hability,
Yet full of valour, the which did adorne
His meanesse much, and make her th’ others riches scorne.
So having both found fit occasion,
They met together in that luckelesse glade;        65
Where that proud knight in his presumption
The gentle Aladine did earst invade,
Being unarm’d and set in secret shade.
Whereof she now bethinking, gan t’ advize,
How great a hazard she at earst had made        70
Of her good fame, and further gan devize,
How she the blame might salve with coloured disguize.
But Calidore with all good courtesie
Fain’d her to frolicke, and to put away
The pensive fit of her melancholie;        75
And that old knight by all meanes did assay
To make them both as merry as he may.
So they the evening past, till time of rest,
When Calidore in seemly good array
Unto his bowre was brought, and, there undrest,        80
Did sleepe all night through weary travell of his quest.
But faire Priscilla (so that lady hight)
Would to no bed, nor take no kindely sleepe,
But by her wounded love did watch all night,
And all the night for bitter anguish weepe,        85
And with her teares his wounds did wash and steepe.
So well she washt them, and so well she wacht him,
That of the deadly swound, in which full deepe
He drenched was, she at the length dispacht him,
And drove away the stound which mortally attacht him.        90
The morrow next, when day gan to uplooke,
He also gan uplooke with drery eye,
Like one that out of deadly dreame awooke:
Where when he saw his faire Priscilla by,
He deepely sigh’d, and groaned inwardly,        95
To thinke of this ill state in which she stood,
To which she for his sake had weetingly
Now brought her selfe, and blam’d her noble blood:
For first, next after life, he tendered her good.
Which she perceiving, did with plenteous teares
His care more then her owne compassionate,
Forgetfull of her owne, to minde his feares:
So both conspiring, gan to intimate
Each others griefe with zeale affectionate,
And twixt them twaine with equall care to cast,        105
How to save hole her hazarded estate;
For which the onely helpe now left them last
Seem’d to be Calidore: all other helpes were past.
Him they did deeme, as sure to them he seemed,
A courteous knight, and full of faithfull trust:        110
Therefore to him their cause they best esteemed
Whole to commit, and to his dealing just.
Earely, so soone as Titans beames forth brust
Through the thicke clouds, in which they steeped lay
All night in darkenesse, duld with yron rust,        115
Calidore, rising up as fresh as day,
Gan freshly him addresse unto his former way.
But first him seemed fit, that wounded knight
To visite, after this nights perillous passe,
And to salute him, if he were in plight,        120
And eke that lady, his faire lovely lasse.
There he him found much better then he was,
And moved speach to him of things of course,
The anguish of his paine to overpasse:
Mongst which he namely did to him discourse        125
Of former daies mishap, his sorrowes wicked sourse.
Of which occasion Aldine taking hold,
Gan breake to him the fortunes of his love,
And all his disadventures to unfold;
That Calidore it dearly deepe did move.        130
In th’ end, his kyndly courtesie to prove,
He him by all the bands of love besought,
And as it mote a faithfull friend behove,
To safeconduct his love, and not for ought
To leave, till to her fathers house he had her brought.        135
Sir Calidore his faith thereto did plight,
It to performe: so after little stay,
That she her selfe had to the journey dight,
He passed forth with her in faire array,
Fearelesse, who ought did thinke or ought did say,        140
Sith his own thought he knew most cleare from wite.
So as they past together on their way,
He can devize this counter-cast of slight,
To give faire colour to that ladies cause in sight.
Streight to the carkasse of that knight he went,
The cause of all this evill, who was slaine
The day before by just avengement
Of noble Tristram, where it did remaine:
There he the necke thereof did cut in twaine,
And tooke with him the head, the signe of shame.        150
So forth he passed thorough that daies paine,
Till to that ladies fathers house he came,
Most pensive man, through feare, what of his childe became.
There he arriving boldly, did present
The fearefull lady to her father deare,        155
Most perfect pure, and guiltlesse innocent
Of blame, as he did on his knighthood sweare,
Since first he saw her, and did free from feare
Of a discourteous knight, who her had reft,
And by outragious force away did beare:        160
Witnesse thereof he shew’d his head there left,
And wretched life forlorne for vengement of his theft.
Most joyfull man her sire was, her to see,
And heare th’ adventure of her late mischaunce;
And thousand thankes to Calidore for fee        165
Of his large paines in her deliveraunce
Did yeeld; ne lesse the lady did advaunce.
Thus having her restored trustily,
As he had vow’d, some small continuaunce
He there did make, and then most carefully        170
Unto his first exploite he did him selfe apply.
So as he was pursuing of his quest,
He chaunst to come whereas a jolly knight
In covert shade him selfe did safely rest,
To solace with his lady in delight:        175
His warlike armes he had from him undight;
For that him selfe he thought from daunger free,
And far from envious eyes that mote him spight.
And eke the lady was full faire to see,
And courteous withall, becomming her degree.        180
To whom Sir Calidore approaching nye,
Ere they were well aware of living wight,
Them much abasht, but more him selfe thereby,
That he so rudely did uppon them light,
And troubled had their quiet loves delight.        185
Yet since it was his fortune, not his fault,
Him selfe thereof he labour’d to acquite,
And pardon crav’d for his so rash default,
That he gainst courtesie so fowly did default.
With which his gentle words and goodly wit
He soone allayd that knights conceiv’d displeasure,
That he besought him downe by him to sit,
That they mote treat of things abrode at leasure;
And of adventures, which had in his measure
Of so long waies to him befallen late.        195
So downe he sate, and with delightfull pleasure
His long adventures gan to him relate,
Which he endured had through daungerous debate.
Of which whilest they discoursed both together,
The faire Serena (so his lady hight)        200
Allur’d with myldnesse of the gentle wether,
And pleasaunce of the place, the which was dight
With divers flowres distinct with rare delight,
Wandred about the fields, as liking led
Her wavering lust after her wandring sight,        205
To make a garland to adorne her hed,
Without suspect of ill or daungers hidden dred.
All sodainely out of the forrest nere
The Blatant Beast forth rushing unaware,
Caught her thus loosely wandring here and there,        210
And in his wide great mouth away her bare,
Crying aloud in vaine, to shew her sad misfare
Unto the knights, and calling oft for ayde,
Who with the horrour of her haplesse care
Hastily starting up, like men dismayde,        215
Ran after fast to reskue the distressed mayde.
The Beast, with their pursuit incited more,
Into the wood was bearing her apace
For to have spoyled her, when Calidore,
Who was more light of foote and swift in chace,        220
Him overtooke in middest of his race:
And fiercely charging him with all his might,
Forst to forgoe his pray there in the place,
And to betake him selfe to fearefull flight;
For he durst not abide with Calidore to fight.        225
Who nathelesse, when he the lady saw
There left on ground, though in full evill plight,
Yet knowing that her knight now neare did draw,
Staide not to succour her in that affright,
But follow’d fast the monster in his flight:        230
Through woods and hils he follow’d him so fast,
That he nould let him breath nor gather spright,
But forst him gape and gaspe, with dread aghast,
As if his lungs and lites were nigh a sunder brast.
And now by this, Sir Calepine (so hight)
Came to the place, where he his lady found
In dolorous dismay and deadly plight,
All in gore bloud there tumbled on the ground,
Having both sides through grypt with griesly wound.
His weapons soone from him he threw away,        240
And stouping downe to her in drery swound,
Uprear’d her from the ground, whereon she lay,
And in his tender armes her forced up to stay.
So well he did his busie paines apply,
That the faint sprite he did revoke againe        245
To her fraile mansion of mortality.
Then up he tooke her twixt his armes twaine,
And setting on his steede, her did sustaine
With carefull hands, soft footing her beside,
Till to some place of rest they mote attaine,        250
Where she in safe assuraunce mote abide,
Till she recured were of those her woundes wide.
Now when as Phœbus with his fiery waine
Unto his inne began to draw apace,
Tho, wexing weary of that toylesome paine,        255
In travelling on foote so long a space,
Not wont on foote with heavy armes to trace,
Downe in a dale forby a rivers syde,
He chaunst to spie a faire and stately place,
To which he meant his weary steps to guyde,        260
In hope there for his love some succour to provyde.
But comming to the rivers side he found
That hardly passable on foote it was:
Therefore there still he stood as in a stound,
Ne wist which way he through the foord mote pas.        265
Thus whilest he was in this distressed case,
Devising what to doe, he nigh espyde
An armed knight approaching to the place,
With a faire lady lincked by his syde,
The which themselves prepard thorough the foord to ride.        270
Whom Calepine saluting (as became)
Besought of courtesie, in that his neede,
For safe conducting of his sickely dame
Through that same perillous foord with better heede,
To take him up behinde upon his steed:        275
To whom that other did this taunt returne:
‘Perdy, thou peasant knight, mightst rightly reed
Me then to be full base and evill borne,
If I would beare behinde a burden of such scorne.
‘But as thou hast thy steed forlorne with shame,
So fare on foote till thou another gayne,
And let thy lady likewise doe the same,
Or beare her on thy backe with pleasing payne,
And prove thy manhood on the billowes vayne.’
With which rude speach his lady much displeased,        285
Did him reprove, yet could him not restrayne,
And would on her owne palfrey him have eased,
For pitty of his dame, whom she saw so diseased.
Sir Calepine her thanckt, yet, inly wroth
Against her knight, her gentlenesse refused,        290
And carelesly into the river goth,
As in despight to be so fowle abused
Of a rude churle, whom often he accused
Of fowle discourtesie, unfit for knight;
And strongly wading through the waves unused,        295
With speare in th’ one hand, stayd him selfe upright,
With th’ other staide his lady up with steddy might.
And all the while, that same discourteous knight
Stood on the further bancke beholding him,
At whose calamity, for more despight,        300
He laught, and mockt to see him like to swim.
But when as Calepine came to the brim,
And saw his carriage past that perill well,
Looking at that same carle with count’nance grim,
His heart with vengeaunce inwardly did swell,        305
And forth at last did breake in speaches sharpe and fell:
‘Unknightly knight, the blemish of that name,
And blot of all that armes uppon them take,
Which is the badge of honour and of fame,
Loe! I defie thee, and here challenge make,        310
That thou for ever doe those armes forsake,
And be for ever held a recreant knight,
Unlesse thou dare for thy deare ladies sake,
And for thine owne defence, on foote alight,
To justifie thy fault gainst me in equall fight.’        315
The dastard, that did heare him selfe defyde,
Seem’d not to weigh his threatfull words at all,
But laught them out, as if his greater pryde
Did scorne the challenge of so base a thrall:
Or had no courage, or else had no gall.        320
So much the more was Calepine offended,
That him to no revenge he forth could call,
But both his challenge and him selfe contemned,
Ne cared as a coward so to be condemned.
But he, nought weighing what he sayd or did,
Turned his steede about another way,
And with his lady to the castle rid,
Where was his won; ne did the other stay,
But after went directly as he may,
For his sicke charge some harbour there to seeke;        330
Where he arriving with the fall of day,
Drew to the gate, and there with prayers meeke,
And myld entreaty, lodging did for her beseeke.
But the rude porter, that no manners had,
Did shut the gate against him in his face,        335
And entraunce boldly unto him forbad.
Nathelesse the knight, now in so needy case,
Gan him entreat even with submission base,
And humbly praid to let them in that night:
Who to him aunswer’d, that there was no place        340
Of lodging fit for any errant knight,
Unlesse that with his lord he formerly did fight.
‘Full loth am I,’ quoth he, ‘as now at earst,
When day is spent, and rest us needeth most,
And that this lady, both whose sides are pearst        345
With wounds, is ready to forgo the ghost:
Ne would I gladly combate with mine host,
That should to me such curtesie afford,
Unlesse that I were thereunto enforst.
But yet aread to me, how hight thy lord,        350
That doth thus strongly ward the castle of the ford.’
‘His name,’ quoth he, ‘if that thou list to learne,
Is hight Sir Turpine, one of mickle might
And manhood rare, but terrible and stearne
In all assaies to every errant knight,        355
Because of one that wrought him fowle despight.’
‘Ill seemes,’ sayd he, ‘if he so valiaunt be,
That he should be so sterne to stranger wight:
For seldome yet did living creature see
That curtesie and manhood ever disagree.        360
‘But go thy waies to him, and fro me say,
That here is at his gate an errant knight,
That house-rome craves, yet would be loth t’ assay.
The proofe of battell, now in doubtfull night,
Or curtesie with rudenesse to requite:        365
Yet if he needes will fight, crave leave till morne,
And tell with all the lamentable plight
In which this lady languisheth forlorne,
That pitty craves, as he of woman was yborne.’
The groome went streight way in, and to his lord
Declar’d the message, which that knight did move;
Who sitting with his lady then at bord,
Not onely did not his demaund approve,
But both himselfe revil’d, and eke his love;
Albe his lady, that Blandina hight,        375
Him of ungentle usage did reprove,
And earnestly entreated that they might
Finde favour to be lodged there for that same night.
Yet would he not perswaded be for ought,
Ne from his currish will a whit reclame.        380
Which answer when the groome returning brought
To Calepine, his heart did inly flame
With wrathfull fury for so foule a shame,
That he could not thereof avenged bee:
But most for pitty of his dearest dame,        385
Whom now in deadly daunger he did see;
Yet had no meanes to comfort, nor procure her glee.
But all in vaine; forwhy no remedy
He saw, the present mischiefe to redresse,
But th’ utmost end perforce for to aby,        390
Which that nights fortune would for him addresse.
So downe he tooke his lady in distresse,
And layd her underneath a bush to sleepe,
Cover’d with cold, and wrapt in wretchednesse,
Whiles he him selfe all night did nought but weepe,        395
And wary watch about her for her safegard keepe.
The morrow next, so soone as joyous day
Did shew it selfe in sunny beames bedight,
Serena full of dolorous dismay,
Twixt darkenesse dread and hope of living light,        400
Uprear’d her head to see that chearefull sight.
Then Calepine, how ever inly wroth,
And greedy to avenge that vile despight,
Yet for the feeble ladies sake, full loth
To make there lenger stay, forth on his journey goth.        405
He goth on foote all armed by her side,
Upstaying still her selfe uppon her steede,
Being unhable else alone to ride;
So sore her sides, so much her wounds did bleede:
Till that at length, in his extreamest neede,        410
He chaunst far off an armed knight to spy,
Pursuing him apace with greedy speede,
Whom well he wist to be some enemy,
That meant to make advantage of his misery.
Wherefore he stayd, till that he nearer drew,
To weet what issue would thereof betyde:
Tho, whenas he approched nigh in vew,
By certaine signes he plainely him descryde
To be the man that with such scornefull pryde
Had him abusde and shamed yesterday;        420
Therefore misdoubting, least he should misguyde
His former malice to some new assay,
He cast to keepe him selfe so safely as he may.
By this the other came in place likewise,
And couching close his speare and all his powre,        425
As bent to some malicious enterprise,
He bad him stand, t’ abide the bitter stoure
Of his sore vengeaunce, or to make avoure
Of the lewd words and deedes which he had done:
With that ran at him, as he would devoure        430
His life attonce; who nought could do, but shun
The perill of his pride, or else be overrun.
Yet he him still pursew’d from place to place,
With full intent him cruelly to kill,
And like a wilde goate round about did chace,        435
Flying the fury of his bloudy will.
But his best succour and refuge was still
Behinde his ladies backe, who to him cryde,
And called oft with prayers loud and shrill,
As ever he to lady was affyde,        440
To spare her knight, and rest with reason pacifyde.
But he the more thereby enraged was,
And with more eager felnesse him pursew’d,
So that at length, after long weary chace,
Having by chaunce a close advantage vew’d,        445
He over raught him, having long eschew’d
His violence in vaine, and with his spere
Strooke through his shoulder, that the blood ensew’d
In great aboundance, as a well it were,
That forth out of an hill fresh gushing did appere.        450
Yet ceast he not for all that cruell wound,
But chaste him still, for all his ladies cry,
Not satisfyde till on the fatall ground
He saw his life powrd forth dispiteously:
The which was certes in great jeopardy,        455
Had not a wondrous chaunce his reskue wrought,
And saved from his cruell villany:
Such chaunces oft exceed all humaine thought:
That in another canto shall to end be brought.

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