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 VI
        The hermite heales both squire and dame
  Of their sore maladies;
He Turpine doth defeate, and shame
  For his late villanies.

NO wound, which warlike hand of enemy
Inflicts with dint of sword, so sore doth light
As doth the poysnous sting, which infamy
Infixeth in the name of noble wight:
For by no art, nor any leaches might,        5
It ever can recured be againe;
Ne all the skill, which that immortall spright
Of Podalyrius did in it retaine,
Can remedy such hurts; such hurts are hellish paine.
Such were the wounds the which that Blatant Beast
Made in the bodies of that squire and dame;
And being such, were now much more increast,
For want of taking heede unto the same,
That now corrupt and curelesse they became.
Howbe that carefull hermite did his best,        15
With many kindes of medicines meete, to tame
The poysnous humour, which did most infest
Their ranckling wounds, and every day them duely drest.
For he right well in leaches craft was seene,
And through the long experience of his dayes,        20
Which had in many fortunes tossed beene,
And past through many perillous assayes,
He knew the diverse went of mortall wayes,
And in the mindes of men had great insight;
Which with sage counsell, when they went astray,        25
He could enforme, and them reduce aright,
And al the passions heale, which wound the weaker spright.
For whylome he had bene a doughty knight,
As any one that lived in his daies,
And proved oft in many perillous fight,        30
Of which he grace and glory wonne alwaies,
And in all battels bore away the baies.
But being now attacht with timely age,
And weary of this worlds unquiet waies,
He tooke him selfe unto this hermitage,        35
In which he liv’d alone, like carelesse bird in cage.
One day, as he was searching of their wounds,
He found that they had festred privily,
And ranckling inward with unruly stounds,
The inner parts now gan to putrify,        40
That quite they seem’d past helpe of surgery,
And rather needed to be disciplinde
With holesome reede of sad sobriety,
To rule the stubborne rage of passion blinde:
Give salves to every sore, but counsell to the minde.        45
So taking them apart into his cell,
He to that point fit speaches gan to frame,
As he the art of words knew wondrous well,
And eke could doe, as well as say, the same,
And thus he to them sayd: ‘Faire daughter dame,        50
And you, faire sonne, which here thus long now lie
In piteous languor, since ye hither came,
In vaine of me ye hope for remedie,
And I likewise in vaine doe salves to you applie.
‘For in your selfe your onely helpe doth lie,
To heale your selves, and must proceed alone
From your owne will to cure your maladie.
Who can him cure, that will be cur’d of none?
If therefore health ye seeke, observe this one.
First learne your outward sences to refraine        60
From things that stirre up fraile affection;
Your eies, your eares, your tongue, your talke restraine
From that they most affect, and in due termes containe.
‘For from those outward sences, ill affected,
The seede of all this evill first doth spring,        65
Which at the first, before it had infected,
Mote easie be supprest with little thing:
But being growen strong, it forth doth bring
Sorrow, and anguish, and impatient paine
In th’ inner parts, and lastly, scattering        70
Contagious poyson close through every vaine,
It never rests, till it have wrought his finall bane.
‘For that beastes teeth, which wounded you tofore,
Are so exceeding venemous and keene,
Made all of rusty yron, ranckling sore,        75
That where they bite, it booteth not to weene
With salve, or antidote, or other mene,
It ever to amend: ne marvaile ought;
For that same beast was bred of hellish strene,
And long in darksome Stygian den upbrought,        80
Begot of foule Echidna, as in bookes is taught.
‘Echidna is a monster direfull dred,
Whom gods doe hate, and heavens abhor to see;
So hideous is her shape, so huge her hed,
That even the hellish fiends affrighted bee        85
At sight thereof, and from her presence flee:
Yet did her face and former parts professe
A faire young mayden, full of comely glee;
But all her hinder parts did plaine expresse
A monstrous dragon, full of fearefull uglinesse.        90
‘To her the gods, for her so dreadfull face,
In fearefull darkenesse, furthest from the skie,
And from the earth, appointed have her place
Mongst rocks and caves, where she enrold doth lie
In hideous horrour and obscurity,        95
Wasting the strength of her immortall age.
There did Typhaon with her company,
Cruell Typhaon, whose tempestuous rage
Make th’ heavens tremble oft, and him with vowes asswage.
‘Of that commixtion they did then beget
This hellish dog, that hight the Blatant Beast;
A wicked monster, that his tongue doth whet
Gainst all, both good and bad, both most and least,
And poures his poysnous gall forth to infest
The noblest wights with notable defame:        105
Ne ever knight, that bore so lofty creast,
Ne ever lady of so honest name,
But he them spotted with reproch, or secrete shame.
‘In vaine therefore it were, with medicine
To goe about to salve such kynd of sore,        110
That rather needes wise read and discipline,
Then outward salves, that may augment it more.’
‘Aye me!’ sayd then Serena, sighing sore,
‘What hope of helpe doth then for us remaine,
If that no salves may us to health restore?’        115
‘But sith we need good counsell,’ sayd the swaine,
‘Aread, good sire, some counsell, that may us sustaine.’
‘The best,’ sayd he, ‘that I can you advize,
Is to avoide the occasion of the ill:
For when the cause, whence evill doth arize,        120
Removed is, th’ effect surceaseth still.
Abstaine from pleasure, and restraine your will,
Subdue desire, and bridle loose delight,
Use scanted diet, and forbeare your fill,
Shun secresie, and talke in open sight:        125
So shall you soone repaire your present evill plight.’
Thus having sayd, his sickely patients
Did gladly hearken to his grave beheast,
And kept so well his wise commaundements,
That in short space their malady was ceast,        130
And eke the biting of that harmefull beast
Was throughly heal’d. Tho when they did perceave
Their wounds recur’d, and forces reincreast,
Of that good hermite both they tooke their leave,
And went both on their way, ne ech would other leave;        135
But each the other vow’d t’ accompany:
The lady, for that she was much in dred,
Now left alone in great extremity;
The squire, for that he courteous was indeed,
Would not her leave alone in her great need.        140
So both together traveld, till they met
With a faire mayden clad in mourning weed,
Upon a mangy jade unmeetely set,
And a lewd foole her leading thorough dry and wet.
But by what meanes that shame to her befell,
And how thereof her selfe she did acquite,
I must a while forbeare to you to tell;
Till that, as comes by course, I doe recite
What fortune to the Briton Prince did lite,
Pursuing that proud knight, the which whileare        150
Wrought to Sir Calepine so foule despight;
And eke his lady, though she sickely were,
So lewdly had abusde, as ye did lately heare.
The Prince, according to the former token,
Which faire Serene to him delivered had,        155
Pursu’d him streight, in mynd to bene ywroken
Of all the vile demeane, and usage bad,
With which he had those two so ill bestad:
Ne wight with him on that adventure went,
But that wylde man, whom though he oft forbad,        160
Yet for no bidding, nor for being shent,
Would he restrayned be from his attendement.
Arriving there, as did by chaunce befall,
He found the gate wyde ope, and in he rode,
Ne stayd, till that he came into the hall:        165
Where soft dismounting like a weary lode,
Upon the ground with feeble feete he trode,
As he unable were for very neede
To move one foote, but there must make abode;
The whiles the salvage man did take his steede,        170
And in some stable neare did set him up to feede.
Ere long to him a homely groome there came,
That in rude wise him asked, what he was,
That durst so boldly, without let or shame,
Into his lords forbidden hall to passe.        175
To whom the Prince, him fayning to embase,
Mylde answer made, he was an errant knight,
The which was fall’n into this feeble case
Through many wounds, which lately he in fight
Received had, and prayd to pitty his ill plight.        180
But he, the more outrageous and bold,
Sternely did bid him quickely thence avaunt,
Or deare aby, forwhy his lord of old
Did hate all errant knights, which there did haunt,
Ne lodging would to any of them graunt;        185
And therefore lightly bad him packe away,
Not sparing him with bitter words to taunt;
And therewithall rude hand on him did lay,
To thrust him out of dore doing his worst assay.
Which when the salvage, comming now in place,
Beheld, eftsoones he all enraged grew,
And running streight upon that villaine base,
Like a fell lion at him fiercely flew,
And with his teeth and nailes, in present vew,
Him rudely rent, and all to peeces tore:        195
So miserably him all helpelesse slew,
That with the noise, whilest he did loudly rore,
The people of the house rose forth in great uprore.
Who when on ground they saw their fellow slaine,
And that same knight and salvage standing by,        200
Upon them two they fell with might and maine,
And on them layd so huge and horribly,
As if they would have slaine them presently.
But the bold Prince defended him so well,
And their assault withstood so mightily,        205
That, maugre all their might, he did repell
And beat them back, whilest many underneath him fell.
Yet he them still so sharpely did pursew,
That few of them he left alive, which fled,
Those evill tidings to their lord to shew.        210
Who hearing how his people badly sped,
Came forth in hast: where when as with the dead
He saw the ground all strow’d, and that same knight
And salvage with their bloud fresh steeming red,
He woxe nigh mad with wrath and fell despight,        215
And with reprochfull words him thus bespake on hight:
‘Art thou he, traytor, that with treason vile
Hast slaine my men in this unmanly maner,
And now triumphest in the piteous spoile
Of these poore folk, whose soules with black dishonor        220
And foule defame doe decke thy bloudy baner?
The meede whereof shall shortly be thy shame,
And wretched end, which still attendeth on her.’
With that him selfe to battell he did frame;
So did his forty yeomen, which there with him came.        225
With dreadfull force they all did him assaile,
And round about with boystrous strokes oppresse,
That on his shield did rattle like to haile
In a great tempest; that, in such distresse,
He wist not to which side him to addresse.        230
And evermore that craven cowherd knight
Was at his backe with heartlesse heedinesse,
Wayting if he unwares him murther might:
For cowardize doth still in villany delight.
Whereof whenas the Prince was well aware,
He to him turnd with furious intent,
And him against his powre gan to prepare;
Like a fierce bull, that being busie bent
To fight with many foes about him ment,
Feeling some curre behinde his heeles to bite,        240
Turnes him about with fell avengement;
So likewise turnde the Prince upon the knight,
And layd at him amaine with all his will and might.
Who when he once his dreadfull strokes had tasted,
Durst not the furie of his force abyde,        245
But turn’d abacke, and to retyre him hasted
Through the thick prease, there thinking him to hyde.
But when the Prince had once him plainely eyde,
He foot by foot him followed alway,
Ne would him suffer once to shrinke asyde,        250
But joyning close, huge lode at him did lay:
Who flying still did ward, and warding fly away.
But when his foe he still so eger saw,
Unto his heeles himselfe he did betake,
Hoping unto some refuge to withdraw:        255
Ne would the Prince him ever foot forsake,
Where so he went, but after him did make.
He fled from roome to roome, from place to place,
Whylest every joynt for dread of death did quake,
Still looking after him that did him chace;        260
That made him evermore increase his speedie pace.
At last he up into the chamber came,
Whereas his love was sitting all alone,
Wayting what tydings of her folke became.
There did the Prince him overtake anone,        265
Crying in vaine to her, him to bemone;
And with his sword him on the head did smyte,
That to the ground he fell in senselesse swone:
Yet whether thwart or flatly it did lyte,
The tempred steele did not into his braynepan byte.        270
Which when the ladie saw, with great affright
She starting up, began to shrieke aloud,
And with her garment covering him from sight,
Seem’d under her protection him to shroud;
And falling lowly at his feet, her bowd        275
Upon her knee, intreating him for grace,
And often him besought, and prayd, and vowd;
That, with the ruth of her so wretched case,
He stayd his second strooke, and did his hand abase.
Her weed she then withdrawing, did him discover,
Who now come to himselfe, yet would not rize,
But still did lie as dead, and quake, and quiver,
That even the Prince his basenesse did despize,
And eke his dame, him seeing in such guize,
Gan him recomfort, and from ground to reare.        285
Who rising up at last in ghastly wize,
Like troubled ghost did dreadfully appeare,
As one that had no life him left through former feare.
Whom when the Prince so deadly saw dismayd,
He for such basenesse shamefully him shent,        290
And with sharpe words did bitterly upbrayd:
‘Vile cowheard dogge, now doe I much repent,
That ever I this life unto thee lent,
Whereof thou, caytive, so unworthie art;
That both thy love, for lacke of hardiment,        295
And eke thy selfe, for want of manly hart,
And eke all knights hast shamed with this knightlesse part.
‘Yet further hast thou heaped shame to shame,
And crime to crime, by this thy cowheard feare.
For first it was to thee reprochfull blame,        300
To erect this wicked custome, which I heare
Gainst errant knights and ladies thou dost reare;
Whom, when thou mayst, thou dost of arms despoile,
Or of their upper garment which they weare:
Yet doest thou not with manhood, but with guile,        305
Maintaine this evill use, thy foes thereby to foile.
‘And lastly, in approvance of thy wrong
To shew such faintnesse and foule cowardize
Is greatest shame: for oft it falles, that strong
And valiant knights doe rashly enterprize,        310
Either for fame, or else for exercize,
A wrongfull quarrell to maintaine by fight;
Yet have, through prowesse and their brave emprize,
Gotten great worship in this worldes sight:
For greater force there needs to maintaine wrong then right.        315
‘Yet since thy life unto this ladie fayre
I given have, live in reproch and scorne;
Ne ever armes, ne ever knighthood dare
Hence to professe: for shame is to adorne
With so brave badges one so basely borne;        320
But onely breath, sith that I did forgive.’
So having from his craven bodie torne
Those goodly armes, he them away did give,
And onely suffred him this wretched life to live.
There whilest he thus was setling things above,
Atwence that ladie myld and recreant knight,
To whom his life he graunted for her love,
He gan bethinke him, in what perilous plight
He had behynd him left that salvage wight,
Amongst so many foes, whom sure he thought        330
By this quite slaine in so unequall fight:
Therefore descending backe in haste, he sought
If yet he were alive, or to destruction brought.
There he him found environed about
With slaughtred bodies, which his hand had slaine,        335
And laying yet a fresh, with courage stout,
Upon the rest that did alive remaine;
Whom he likewise right sorely did constraine,
Like scattred sheepe, to seeke for safetie,
After he gotten had with busie paine        340
Some of their weapons which thereby did lie,
With which he layd about, and made them fast to flie.
Whom when the Prince so felly saw to rage,
Approching to him neare, his hand he stayd,
And sought, by making signes, him to asswage:        345
Who them perceiving, streight to him obayd,
As to his lord, and downe his weapons layd,
As if he long had to his heasts bene trayned.
Thence he him brought away, and up convayd
Into the chamber, where that dame remayned        350
With her unworthy knight, who ill him entertayned.
Whom when the salvage saw from daunger free,
Sitting beside his ladie there at ease,
He well remembred that the same was hee
Which lately sought his lord for to displease:        355
Tho all in rage, he on him streight did seaze,
As if he would in peeces him have rent;
And were not that the Prince did him appeaze,
He had not left one limbe of him unrent:
But streight he held his hand at his commaundement.        360
Thus having all things well in peace ordayned,
The Prince himselfe there all that night did rest,
Where him Blandina fayrely entertayned,
With all the courteous glee and goodly feast
The which for him she could imagine best.        365
For well she knew the wayes to win good will
Of every wight, that were not too infest,
And how to please the minds of good and ill,
Through tempering of her words and lookes by wondrous skill.
Yet were her words and lookes but false and fayned,
To some hid end to make more easie way,
Or to allure such fondlings, whom she trayned
Into her trap unto their owne decay:
Thereto, when needed, she could weepe and pray,
And when her listed, she could fawne and flatter;        375
Now smyling smoothly, like to sommers day,
Now glooming sadly, so to cloke her matter;
Yet were her words but wynd, and all her teares but water.
Whether such grace were given her by kynd,
As women wont their guilefull wits to guyde,        380
Or learn’d the art to please, I doe not fynd.
This well I wote, that she so well applyde
Her pleasing tongue, that soone she pacifyde
The wrathfull Prince, and wrought her husbands peace.
Who nathelesse not therewith satisfyde,        385
His rancorous despight did not releasse,
Ne secretly from thought of fell revenge surceasse.
For all that night, the whyles the Prince did rest
In carelesse couch, not weeting what was ment,
He watcht in close awayt with weapons prest,        390
Willing to worke his villenous intent
On him that had so shamefully him shent:
Yet durst he not for very cowardize
Effect the same, whylest all the night was spent.
The morrow next the Prince did early rize,        395
And passed forth, to follow his first enterprize.

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