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 IV
        Calepine by a salvage man
  From Turpine reskewed is;
And whylest an infant from a beare
  He saves, his love doth misse.

LIKE as a ship with dreadfull storme long tost,
Having spent all her mastes and her ground-hold,
Now farre from harbour likely to be lost,
At last some fisher barke doth neare behold,
That giveth comfort to her courage cold:        5
Such was the state of this most courteous knight,
Being oppressed by that faytour bold,
That he remayned in most perilous plight,
And his sad ladie left in pitifull affright.
Till that by fortune, passing all foresight,
A salvage man, which in those woods did wonne,
Drawne with that ladies loud and piteous shright,
Toward the same incessantly did ronne,
To understand what there was to be donne.
There he this most discourteous craven found,        15
As fiercely yet as when he first begonne
Chasing the gentle Calepine around,
Ne sparing him the more for all his grievous wound.
The salvage man, that never till this houre
Did taste of pittie, neither gentlesse knew,        20
Seeing his sharpe assault and cruell stoure,
Was much emmoved at his perils vew,
That even his ruder hart began to rew,
And feele compassion of his evill plight,
Against his foe that did him so pursew:        25
From whom he meant to free him, if he might,
And him avenge of that so villenous despight.
Yet armes or weapon had he none to fight,
Ne knew the use of warlike instruments,
Save such as sudden rage him lent to smite.        30
But naked, without needfull vestiments
To clad his corpse with meete habiliments,
He cared not for dint of sword nor speere,
No more then for the stroke of strawes or bents:
For from his mothers wombe, which him did beare,        35
He was invulnerable made by magicke leare.
He stayed not t’ advize, which way were best
His foe t’ assayle, or how himselfe to gard,
But with fierce fury and with force infest
Upon him ran; who being well prepard,        40
His first assault full warily did ward,
And with the push of his sharp-pointed speare
Full on the breast him strooke, so strong and hard
That forst him backe recoyle, and reele areare;
Yet in his bodie made no wound nor bloud appeare.        45
With that the wyld man more enraged grew,
Like to a tygre that hath mist his pray,
And with mad mood againe upon him flew,
Regarding neither speare, that mote him slay,
Nor his fierce steed, that mote him much dismay:        50
The salvage nation doth all dread despize.
Tho on his shield he griple hold did lay,
And held the same so hard, that by no wize
He could him force to loose, or leave his enterprize.
Long did he wrest and wring it to and fro,
And every way did try, but all in vaine:
For he would not his greedie grype forgoe,
But hayld and puld with all his might and maine,
That from his steed him nigh he drew againe.
Who having now no use of his long speare,        60
So nigh at hand, nor force his shield to straine,
Both speare and shield, as things that needlesse were,
He quite forsooke, and fled himselfe away for feare.
But after him the wyld man ran apace,
And him pursewed with importune speed,        65
(For he was swift as any bucke in chace)
And had he not in his extreamest need,
Bene helped through the swiftnesse of his steed,
He had him overtaken in his flight.
Who ever, as he saw him nigh succeed,        70
Gan cry aloud with horrible affright,
And shrieked out, a thing uncomely for a knight.
But when the salvage saw his labour vaine,
In following of him that fled so fast,
He wearie woxe, and backe return’d againe        75
With speede unto the place whereas he last
Had left that couple, nere their utmost cast.
There he that knight full sorely bleeding found,
And eke the ladie fearefully aghast,
Both for the perill of the present stound,        80
And also for the sharpnesse of her rankling wound.
For though she were right glad, so rid to bee
From that vile lozell which her late offended,
Yet now no lesse encombrance she did see,
And perill, by this salvage man pretended;        85
Gainst whom she saw no meanes to be defended,
By reason that her knight was wounded sore.
Therefore her selfe she wholy recommended
To Gods sole grace, whom she did oft implore
To send her succour, being of all hope forlore.        90
But the wyld man, contrarie to her feare,
Came to her creeping like a fawning hound,
And by rude tokens made to her appeare
His deepe compassion of her dolefull stound,
Kissing his hands, and crouching to the ground;        95
For other language had he none, nor speach,
But a soft murmure, and confused sound
Of senselesse words, which Nature did him teach,
T’ expresse his passions, which his reason did empeach.
And comming likewise to the wounded knight,
When he beheld the streames of purple blood
Yet flowing fresh, as moved with the sight,
He made great mone after his salvage mood,
And running streight into the thickest wood,
A certaine herbe from thence unto him brought,        105
Whose vertue he by use well understood:
The juyce whereof into his wound he wrought,
And stopt the bleeding straight, ere he it staunched thought.
Then taking up that recreants shield and speare,
Which earst he left, he signes unto them made,        110
With him to wend unto his wonning neare:
To which he easily did them perswade.
Farre in the forrest, by a hollow glade,
Covered with mossie shrubs, which spredding brode
Did underneath them make a gloomy shade:        115
Where foot of living creature never trode,
Ne scarse wyld beasts durst come, there was this wights abode.
Thether he brought these unacquainted guests;
To whom faire semblance, as he could, he shewed
By signes, by lookes, and all his other gests.        120
But the bare ground, with hoarie mosse bestrowed,
Must be their bed, their pillow was unsowed,
And the frutes of the forrest was their feast:
For their bad stuard neither plough’d nor sowed,
Ne fed on flesh, ne ever of wyld beast        125
Did taste the bloud, obaying Natures first beheast.
Yet howsoever base and meane it were,
They tooke it well, and thanked God for all,
Which had them freed from that deadly feare,
And sav’d from being to that caytive thrall.        130
Here they of force (as fortune now did fall)
Compelled were themselves a while to rest,
Glad of that easement, though it were but small;
That having there their wounds awhile redrest,
They mote the abler be to passe unto the rest.        135
During which time, that wyld man did apply
His best endevour and his daily paine,
In seeking all the woods both farre and nye
For herbes to dresse their wounds; still seeming faine,
When ought he did that did their lyking gaine.        140
So as ere long he had that knightes wound
Recured well, and made him whole againe:
But that same ladies hurt no herbe he found
Which could redresse, for it was inwardly unsound.
Now when as Calepine was woxen strong,
Upon a day he cast abrode to wend,
To take the ayre and heare the thrushes song,
Unarm’d, as fearing neither foe nor frend,
And without sword his person to defend.
There him befell, unlooked for before,        150
An hard adventure with unhappie end,
A cruell beare, the which an infant bore
Betwixt his bloodie jawes, besprinckled all with gore.
The litle babe did loudly scrike and squall,
And all the woods with piteous plaints did fill,        155
As if his cry did meane for helpe to call
To Calepine, whose eares those shrieches shrill,
Percing his hart, with pities point did thrill;
That after him he ran with zealous haste,
To rescue th’ infant, ere he did him kill:        160
Whom though he saw now somewhat overpast,
Yet by the cry he follow’d, and pursewed fast.
Well then him chaunst his heavy armes to want,
Whose burden mote empeach his needfull speed,
And hinder him from libertie to pant:        165
For having long time, as his daily weed,
Them wont to weare, and wend on foot for need,
Now wanting them he felt himselfe so light,
That like an hauke, which feeling her selfe freed
From bels and jesses, which did let her flight,        170
Him seem’d his feet did fly, and in their speed delight.
So well he sped him, that the wearie beare
Ere long he overtooke, and forst to stay,
And without weapon him assayling neare,
Compeld him soone the spoyle adowne to lay.        175
Wherewith the beast, enrag’d to loose his pray,
Upon him turned, and with greedie force
And furie, to be crossed in his way,
Gaping full wyde, did thinke without remorse
To be aveng’d on him, and to devoure his corse.        180
But the bold knight, no whit thereat dismayd,
But catching up in hand a ragged stone,
Which lay thereby (so Fortune him did ayde)
Upon him ran, and thrust it all attone
Into his gaping throte, that made him grone        185
And gaspe for breath, that he nigh choked was,
Being unable to digest that bone;
Ne could it upward come, nor downward passe,
Ne could he brooke the coldnesse of the stony masse.
Whom when as he thus combred did behold,
Stryving in vaine that nigh his bowels brast,
He with him closd, and laying mightie hold
Upon his throte, did gripe his gorge so fast,
That, wanting breath, him downe to ground he cast;
And then oppressing him with urgent paine,        195
Ere long enforst to breath his utmost blast,
Gnashing his cruell teeth at him in vaine,
And threatning his sharpe clawes, now wanting powre to straine.
Then tooke he up betwixt his armes twaine
The litle babe, sweet relickes of his pray;        200
Whom pitying to heare so sore complaine,
From his soft eyes the teares he wypt away,
And from his face the filth that did it ray,
And every litle limbe he searcht around,
And every part that under sweathbands lay,        205
Least that the beasts sharpe teeth had any wound
Made in his tender flesh; but whole them all he found.
So having all his bands againe uptyde,
He with him thought backe to returne againe:
But when he lookt about on every syde,        210
To weet which way were best to entertaine,
To bring him to the place where he would faine,
He could no path nor tract of foot descry,
Ne by inquirie learne, nor ghesse by ayme;
For nought but woods and forrests farre and nye,        215
That all about did close the compasse of his eye.
Much was he then encombred, ne could tell
Which way to take: now west he went a while,
Then north; then neither, but as fortune fell.
So up and downe he wandred many a mile,        220
With wearie travell and uncertaine toile,
Yet nought the nearer to his journeys end;
And evermore his lovely litle spoile
Crying for food did greatly him offend.
So all that day in wandring vainely he did spend.        225
At last, about the setting of the sunne,
Him selfe out of the forest he did wynd,
And by good fortune the plaine champion wonne:
Where looking all about, where he mote fynd
Some place of succour to content his mynd,        230
At length he heard under the forrests syde
A voice, that seemed of some woman kynd
Which to her selfe lamenting loudly cryde,
And oft complayn’d of Fate, and Fortune oft defyde.
To whom approching, when as she perceived
A stranger wight in place, her plaint she stayd,
As if she doubted to have bene deceived,
Or loth to let her sorrowes be bewrayd.
Whom when as Calepine saw so dismayd,
He to her drew, and with faire blandishment        240
Her chearing up, thus gently to her sayd:
‘What be you, wofull dame, which thus lament?
And for what cause declare, so mote ye not repent.’
To whom she thus: ‘What need me, sir, to tell
That which your selfe have earst ared so right?        245
A wofull dame ye have me termed well;
So much more wofull, as my wofull plight
Cannot redressed be by living wight.’
‘Nathlesse,’ quoth he, ‘if need doe not you bynd,
Doe it disclose, to ease your grieved spright:        250
Oftimes it haps, that sorrowes of the mynd
Find remedie unsought, which seeking cannot fynd.’
Then thus began the lamentable dame:
‘Sith then ye needs will know the griefe I hoord,
I am th’ unfortunate Matilde by name,        255
The wife of bold Sir Bruin, who is lord
Of all this land, late conquer’d by his sword
From a great gyant, called Cormoraunt;
Whom he did overthrow by yonder foord,
And in three battailes did so deadly daunt,        260
That he dare not returne for all his daily vaunt.
‘So is my lord now seiz’d of all the land,
As in his fee, with peaceable estate,
And quietly doth hold it in his hand,
Ne any dares with him for it debate.        265
But to these happie fortunes cruell fate
Hath joyn’d one evill, which doth overthrow
All these our joyes, and all our blisse abate;
And like in time to further ill to grow,
And all this land with endlesse losse to overflow.        270
‘For th’ heavens, envying our prosperitie,
Have not vouchsaft to graunt unto us twaine
The gladfull blessing of posteritie,
Which we might see after our selves remaine
In th’ heritage of our unhappie paine:        275
So that for want of heires it to defend,
All is in time like to returne againe
To that foule feend, who dayly doth attend
To leape into the same after our lives end.
‘But most my lord is grieved herewithall,
And makes exceeding mone, when he does thinke
That all this land unto his foe shall fall,
For which he long in vaine did sweat and swinke,
That now the same he greatly doth forthinke.
Yet was it sayd, there should to him a sonne        285
Be gotten, not begotten, which should drinke
And dry up all the water which doth ronne
In the next brooke, by whom that feend shold be fordonne.
‘Well hop’t he then, when this was propheside,
That from his sides some noble chyld should rize,        290
The which through fame should farre be magnifide,
And this proud gyant should with brave emprize
Quite overthrow, who now ginnes to despize
The good Sir Bruin, growing farre in yeares;
Who thinkes from me his sorrow all doth rize.        295
Lo! this my cause of griefe to you appeares;
For which I thus doe mourne, and poure forth ceaselesse teares.’
Which when he heard, he inly touched was
With tender ruth for her unworthy griefe,
And when he had devized of her case,        300
He gan in mind conceive a fit reliefe
For all her paine, if please her make the priefe.
And having cheared her, thus said: ‘Faire dame,
In evils counsell is the comfort chiefe;
Which though I be not wise enough to frame,        305
Yet, as I well it meane, vouchsafe it without blame.
‘If that the cause of this your languishment
Be lacke of children to supply your place,
Lo! how good fortune doth to you present
This litle babe, of sweete and lovely face,        310
And spotlesse spirit, in which ye may enchace
What ever formes ye list thereto apply,
Being now soft and fit them to embrace;
Whether ye list him traine in chevalry,
Or noursle up in lore of learn’d philosophy.        315
‘And certes it hath oftentimes bene seene,
That of the like, whose linage was unknowne,
More brave and noble knights have raysed beene,
As their victorious deedes have often showen,
Being with fame through many nations blowen,        320
Then those which have bene dandled in the lap.
Therefore some thought that those brave imps were sowen
Here by the gods, and fed with heavenly sap,
That made them grow so high t’ all honorable hap.’
The ladie, hearkning to his sensefull speach,
Found nothing that he said unmeet nor geason,
Having oft seene it tryde, as he did teach.
Therefore inclyning to his goodly reason,
Agreeing well both with the place and season,
She gladly did of that same babe accept,        330
As of her owne by liverey and seisin,
And having over it a litle wept,
She bore it thence, and ever as her owne it kept.
Right glad was Calepine to be so rid
Of his young charge, whereof he skilled nought:        335
Ne she lesse glad; for she so wisely did,
And with her husband under hand so wrought,
That when that infant unto him she brought,
She made him thinke it surely was his owne,
And it in goodly thewes so well upbrought,        340
That it became a famous knight well knowne,
And did right noble deedes, the which elswhere are showne.
But Calepine now being left alone
Under the greene woods side in sorie plight,
Withouten armes or steede to ride upon,        345
Or house to hide his head from heavens spight,
Albe that dame, by all the meanes she might,
Him oft desired home with her to wend,
And offred him, his courtesie to requite,
Both horse and armes, and what so else to lend,        350
Yet he them all refusd, though thankt her as a frend;
And for exceeding griefe which inly grew,
That he his love so lucklesse now had lost,
On the cold ground, maugre, himselfe he threw,
For fell despight, to be so sorely crost;        355
And there all night himselfe in anguish tost,
Vowing that never he in bed againe
His limbes would rest, ne lig in ease embost,
Till that his ladies sight he mote attaine,
Or understand that she in safetie did remaine.        360

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