Faerie Queene. Book IV. Canto II.

The Faerie Queene. Disposed into Twelve Bookes, fashioning XII. morall Vertues. The Second Part of the Faerie Queene. Containing the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Bookes.

Edmund Spenser

George L. Craik: "Canto II. (54 stanzas). — 'Firebrand of hell, first tined (or kindled) in Phlegethon by a thousand furies,' exclaims the poet in commencing this stanza, 'is wicked Discord' — 'whose small sparks once blown | None but a god or godlike man can slake: | Such as was Orpheus, that, when strife was grown | Amongst those famous imps of Greece, did take | His silver harp in hand and shortly friends them make.'

"When the story is resumed we find ourselves in company of Blandamour and Paridel, and their two female fellow-travellers — 'the one a fiend, the other an incarnate devil.' It may be remembered that in the Eighth Canto of the last Book the snowy lady formed after the likeness of Florimel, after falling into the hands of Braggadoccio, was carried off from that vaunting dastard by a knight who is there left unnamed. This knight, who, we are now informed, is called the bold Sir Ferraugh, is the next person whom the four encounter, riding along in high delight with his fair-seeming prize. He is attacked and overthrown by Blandamour, and the false Florimel passes to a new proprietor. She is more expert than Blandamour himself in every subtile sleight, and, although he 'by his false allurements' wily draft | Had thousand women of their love beraft,' yet he is now completely deceived and taken in, and every day becomes more enamoured and enslaved.

"Ate, however, after a time stirs up Paridel to demand his share of the lady, according to a covenant which he says they had made to divide between them whatever spoil or prey should he taken by either. A long and desperate fight ensues, which the poet supposes might have gone on till this day, if there had not come up by chance another notable personage of the last Book, the Squire of Dames, who, well knowing them both of old, prevails upon the two combatants, though not without difficulty, to suspend their animosity. The Squire is greatly delighted to see the snowy lady — 'for none alive but joyed in Florimel,' and he, as well as all others, had thought her dead or lost. He tells them that Satyrane having found her girdle, which he had ever since worn for her sake, had on that account excited the envy and displeasure of many other knights; to put an end to which he had lately proclaimed a solemn feast and tournay, 'to which,' he adds, 'all knights with them their ladies are to bring:' 'And of them all she that is fairest found | Shall have that golden girdle for reward; | And of those knights who is most stout on ground | Shall to that fairest lady be prefard'....

"This prospect reunites the two, for the present at least, so that they ride along in outward harmony as before, though their friendship, as indeed it always had been, is but hollow and precarious. Thus proceeding, they overtake two knights riding close beside each other as if in intimate converse, with their two ladies similarly associated not far behind them and the Squire being sent forward to ascertain who they are, comes back with the intelligence that they are 'two of the prowest knights in Fairy Land,' Cambel and Triamond, and that the ladies are Canace and Cambin 'their two lovers dear.' The poet now prepares himself for what he is about to relate by invocation of his greatest English predecessor: — 'As that renowmed poet them compiled | With warlike numbers and heroic sound, | Dan Chaucer, well of English undefiled, | On fame's eternal beadroll worthy to be filed'.... The allusion is to the unfinished Tale of the Squire in the Canterbury Tales, the last lines of which are, 'And after wol I speak of Cambale, | That fought in listes with the brethren two | For Canace, ere that he might her win, | And there I left I wol again begin.'

"Cambalo, Camballo, Camballus, Cambello, or Cambel, — for all these transformations the name is made to undergo according to the exigences of the measure and the rhyme — was the brother of Canace; and she 'was the learnedst lady in her days, | Well seen in every science that mote be, | And every secret work of nature's ways; | In witty riddles; and in wise soothsays'.... Many lords and knights loved her, and the more she refused to return the affection of any one of them, 'so much the more she loved was and sought.' At last, their contention having produced many bloody fights, one day, having assembled all the troop of warlike wooers, Cambel, who was both stout and wise, proposed to them that they should each in succession fight for her with himself, and that whoever should conquer him should carry off his sister. 'Bold was the challenge, as himself was bold;' but what chiefly gave him confidence was not so much his own strength and hardihood as a ring provided for him by his sister, one of many virtues of which was that it 'had power to staunch all wounds that mortally did bleed.'

"Now, 'Amongst those knights there were three brethren bold, | Three bolder brethren never were yborn, | Born of one mother in one happy mould, | Born at one burden in one happy morn'.... Their mother was a fairy, their father a young and noble knight, into whose hands she had one day fallen in a forest, 'As she sate careless by a crystal flood, | Combing her golden locks.' As they grew up their love of arms and adventures so alarmed their mother that to relieve her anxiety she had betaken her, in order to learn their destiny, to the house of the Three Fatal Sisters.... After having saluted them she sate by them for a while in silence, 'beholding how the threads of life they span;' then, trembling and pale, she told them her object: — 'To whom fierce Atropos: Bold fay, that durst | Come see the secret of the life of man, | Well worthy thou to he of Jove accurst | And eke thy children's threads to be asunder burst!' Clotho, however, consented to show her her children's threads, and much distressed she was to see them as thin as those spun by spiders, and also so short that they seemed already almost at an end. She besought them 'to draw them longer out, and better twine;' but the inexorable Lachesis answered that that was impossible — 'Fond dame! that deem'st of things divine | As of humane, that they may altered be, | And changed at pleasure for those imps of thine: | Not so; for what the Fates do once decree, | Not all the gods can change, nor Jove himself can free!'

"She then made a last request: 'Grant this; that when ye shred with fatal knife | His line which is the eldest of the three, | Which is of them the shortest, as I see, | Eftsoons his life may pass into the next'.... This they granted; upon which she departed in content. When she came home she concealed from her sons what she had learned; 'But evermore, when she fit time could find, | She warned them to tend their safeties well, | And love each other dear, whatever them befell.' This counsel they duly followed, no discord ever dividing them; and now, to add to their mutual affection, they were all three united in love of Canace. Out of this state of things arose the great battle to be related in the next Canto" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 2:91-96.

Blandamore wins false Florimel,
Paridel for her strives;
They are accorded: Agape
Doth lengthen her Sons Lives.

Firebrand of Hell, first tin'd in Phlegeton,
By thousand Furies, and from thence out-thrown
Into this World, to work Confusion,
And set it all on fire (by Force unknown)
Is wicked Discord; whose small Sparks; once blown,
None but a God, or God-like Man can slake:
Such as was Orpheus, that when Strife was grown
Amongst those famous Imps of Greece, did take
His silver Harp in hand, and shortly Friends them make.

Or such as that celestial Psalmist was,
That when the wicked Fiend his Lord tormented,
With heavenly Notes, that did all other pass,
The Out-rage of his furious Fit relented.
Such Musick is wise Words with Time concented,
To moderate stiff Minds, dispos'd to strive;
Such as that prudent Roman well invented,
What time his People into parts did rive,
Them reconcil'd again, and to their Homes did drive.

Such us'd wise Glauce to that wrathful Knight,
To calm the Tempest of his troubled Thought:
Yet Blandamore, with Terms of foul Despite,
And Paridel her scorn'd, and set at nought,
As old and crooked, and not good for ought.
Both they unwise, and wareless of the Evil,
That by themselves unto themselves is wrought,
Through that false Witch, and that foul aged Drevil,
The one a Fiend, the other an incarnate Devil.

With whom, as they thus rode accompany'd,
They were encountred of a lusty Knight,
That had a goodly Lady by his side,
To whom he made great Dalliance and Delight.
It was to weet the bold Sir Ferraugh hight,
He that from Braggadochio whilom reft
The snowy Florimel, whose Beauty bright
Made him seem happy for so glorious Theft;
Yet was it in due trial but a wandring Weft.

Which, when as BIandamore (whose fancy light
Was always flitting, as the wavering Wind,
After each Beauty that appear'd in sight)
Beheld, eftsoons it prick'd his wanton Mind
With Sling of Lust, that Reason's Eye did blind,
That to Sir Paridel these words he sent:
Sir Knight, why ride ye dumpish thus behind,
Since so good Fortune doth to you present
So fair a Spoil, to make you joyous Merriment?

But Paridel, that had too late a trial
Of the bad Issue of his Counsel vain,
List not to hark, but made this fair denial:
Last Turn was mine, well proved to my pain
This now be yours, God send you better Gain.
Whose scoffed Words he taking half in Scorn,
Fiercely forth prick'd his Steed, as in Disdain
Against that Knight, e'er he him well could turn;
By means whereof, he hath him lightly over-borne.

Who, with the sudden Stroke astonish'd sore,
Upon the Ground awhile in Slumber lay;
The whiles, his Love away the other bore,
And shewing her, did Paridel upbray:
Lo! sluggish Knight, the Victor's happy Prey:
So Fortune friends the Bold. Whom Paridel
Seeing so fair indeed (as he did say)
His Heart with secret Envy 'gan to swell,
And inly grudg at him, that he had sped so well.

Nath'les, proud Man himself the other deem'd,
Having so peerless Paragon ygot:
For, sure the fairest Florimel him seem'd
To him was fallen for his happy Lot,
Whose like alive on Earth he weened not:
Therefore he her did court, did serve, did woo,
With humblest Suit that he imagine mot,
And all things did devise, and all things do,
That might her Love prepare, and Liking win thereto.

She, in regard thereof, him recompens'd
With golden Words, and goodly Countenance,
And such fond Favours sparingly dispens'd:
Sometimes him blessing with a light Eye-glance,
And coy Looks tempring with loose Dalliance,
Some-times estranging him in sterner wise,
That having cast him in a foolish Trance,
He seemed brought to Bed in Paradise,
And prov'd himself most Fool, in what he seem'd most wise.

So great a Mistress of her Art she was,
And perfectly practis'd in Woman's Craft,
That though therein himself he thought to pass,
And by his false Allurements wylie draft,
Had thousand Women of their Love beraft,
Yet now he was surpriz'd: For, that false spright,
Which that same Witch had in this Form engraft,
Was so expert in every subtle Slight,
That it could over-reach the wisest earthly Wight.

Yet he to her did daily Service more,
And daily more deceived was thereby;
Yet Paridel him envied therefore,
As seeming plac'd in sole Felicity:
So blind is Lust, false Colours to descry.
But Ate soon discovering his Desire,
And finding now fit Opportunity
To stir up Strife, twixt Love, and Spite, and Ire,
Did privily put Coals unto his secret Fire.

By sundry means there-to she prick'd him forth;
Now with Remembrance of those spiteful Speeches,
Now with Opinion of his own more Worth,
Now with recounting of like former Breaches
Made in their Friendship, as that Hag him teaches:
And ever when his Passion is allay'd,
She it revives, and new occasion reaches;
That on a time, as they together way'd,
He made him open Challenge, and thus boldly said:

Too boastful Blandamore, too long I bear
The open Wrongs thou dost me day by day:
Well know'st thou, when we Friendship first did swear,
The Covenant was, that every Spoil or Prey
Should equally be shar'd betwixt us tway:
Where is my Part then of this Lady bright,
Whom to thy self thou takest quite away?
Render therefore therein to me my Right,
Or answer for thy Wrong, as shall fall out in Fight.

Exceeding wroth thereat was Blandamore,
And 'gan this bitter Answer to him make;
Too foolish Paridel, that fairest Flower
Would'st gather fain, and yet no Pains would'st take;
But not so easy will I her forsake;
This Hand her won, this Hand shall her defend.
With that, they 'gan their shivering Spears to shake,
And deadly Points at either's Breast to bend,
Forgetful each to have been ever other's Friend.

Their fiery Steeds, with so untamed Force,
Did bear them both to fell Avenge's end,
That both their Spears with pitiless Remorse,
Through Shield and Mail, and Haberjeon did wend,
And in their Flesh a griesly Passage rend,
That with the Fury of their own Affret,
Each other Horse and Man to ground did send;
Where lying still awhile, both did forget
The perilous present Stound, in which their Lives were set.

As when two warlike Brigandines at Sea.
With murdrous Weapons arm'd to cruel Fight,
Do meet together on the watry Lea,
They stem each other with so fell Despite,
That with the Shock of their own heedless Might,
Their wooden Ribs are shaken nigh asunder;
They which from Shore behold the dreadful fight
Of flashing Fire, and hear the Ordnance thunder,
Do greatly stand amaz'd at such unwonted Wonder.

At length, they both upstarted in amaze;
As Men awaked rashly out of Dream,
And round about themselves awhile did gaze,
Till seeing her, that Florimel did seem,
In doubt to whom she Victory should deem
There-with their dulled Sprights they edg'd anew;
And drawing both their Swords with Rage extreme,
Like two mad Mastiffs, each on other flew,
And Shields did share, and Mails did rash, and Helms did hew.

So furiously each other did assail,
As if their souls they would at once have rent
Out of their Breasts, that streams of Blood did rail
Adown, as if their Springs of Life were spent;
That all the Ground with purple Blood was sprent,
And all their Armours stain'd with bloody Gore:
Yet scarcely once to breathe would they relent;
So mortal was their Malice and so sore
Become of feigned Friendship which they vow'd afore.

And that which is for Ladies most befitting,
To stint all Strife, and foster friendly Peace,
Was from those Dames so far and so unfitting,
As that instead of praying them surcease,
They did much more their Cruelty encrease;
Bidding them fight for Honour of their Love,
And rather die than Lady's Cause release.
With which vain Terms so much they did them move,
That both resolv'd the last Extremities to prove.

There they (I ween) would fight until this day,
Had not a Squire (even he the Squire of Dames)
By great Adventure travelled that way;
Who seeing both bent to so bloody Games,
And both of old well knowing by their names,
Drew nigh, to weet the cause of their Debate:
And first, laid on those Ladies thousand blames,
That did not seek t' appease their deadly Hate,
But gazed on their Harms, not pitying their Estate.

And then, those Knights he humbly did beseech
To stay their Hands, till he awhile had spoken;
Who look'd a little up at that his Speech,
Yet would not let their Battle so be broken,
Both greedy fierce on other to be wroken.
Yet he to them so earnestly did call,
And them conjured by some well known Token,
That they at last, their wrathful Hands let fall,
Content to hear him speak, and glad to rest withal.

First, he desir'd their Cause of Strife to see:
They said, it was for Love of Florimel.
Ah! gentle Knights, quoth he, how may that be,
And she so far astray, as none can tell?
Fond Squire, full angry then said Paridel,
Seest not the Lady there before thy Face?
He looked back, and her avising well,
Ween'd, as he said, by thee her outward Grace,
That fairest Florimel was present there in place.

Glad Man was he to see that joyous sight
(For, none alive but joy'd in Florimel)
And lowly to her louting, thus behight:
Fairest of Fair, that Fairness dost excel,
This happy day I have to greet you well,
In which you safe I see, whom thousand late
Misdoubted lost through Mischief that befel;
Long may you live in Health and happy State.
She little aunswer'd him, but lightly did aggrate.

Then, turning to those Knights, he 'gan anew;
And you Sir Blandamore and Paridel,
That for this Lady present in your view,
Have rais'd this cruel War and Out-rage fell,
Certes (me seems) be not advised well:
But rather ought in Friendship for her sake
To join your force, their Forces to repel
That seek perforce her from you both to take;
And of your gotten Spoil, their own Triumph to make.

There-at, Sir Blandamore, with Count'nance stern,
All full of Wrath, thus fiercely him bespake;
Aread, thou Squire, that I the Man may learn,
That dare from me think Florimel to take.
Not one, quoth he, but many do partake
Herein, as thus: It lately so befel,
That Satyrane a Girdle did up-take,
Well known to appertain to Florimel;
Which for her sake he wore, as him beseemed well.

But, when as she her self was lost and gone,
Full many Knights, that loved her like Dear,
Thereat did greatly grudg, that he alone
That lost fair Lady's Ornament should wear,
And 'gan therefore close Spite to him to bear:
Which he to shun, and stop vile Envy's Sting,
Hath lately caus'd to be proclaim'd each where
A solemn Feast, with publick Turneying,
To which all Knights with them their Ladies are to bring.

And of them all, she that is fairest found,
Shall have that golden Girdle for Reward;
And of those Knights who is most stout on ground,
Shall to that fairest Lady be prefer'd.
Sith therefore she her self is now your Ward,
To you that Ornament of hers pertains,
Against all those that challenge it to guard
And save her Honour with your ventrous Pains;
That shall you win more Glory, than ye here find Gains.

When they the reason of his Words had heard,
They 'gan abate the Rancour of their Rage,
And with their Honours and their Loves Regard,
The furious Flames of Malice to assuage.
Tho, each to other did his Faith engage,
Like faithful Friends thence-forth to join in one
With all their Force, and Battle strong to wage
'Gainst all those Knights, as their professed Fone,
That challeng'd ought in Florimel, save they alone.

So well accorded, forth they rode together
In friendly sort, that lasted but awhile;
And of all old Dislikes they made fair Weather:
Yet all was forg'd, and spred with golden Foil,
That under it hid Hate and hollow Guile.
Ne certes can that Friendship long endure,
How-ever gay and goodly be the Stile,
That doth in Cause or evil End enure:
For, Vertue is the Band that bindeth Hearts most sure.

Thus, as they marched all in close Disguise
Of feigned Love, they chaunc'd to over-take
Two Knights, that linked rode in lovely wise,
As if they secret Counsels did partake;
And each not far behind him had his Make,
To weet, two Ladies of most goodly Hue,
That 'twixt themselves did gentle purpose make,
Unmindful both of that discordful Crew,
The which with speedy Pace did after them pursue.

Who, as they now approached nigh at hand,
Deeming them Doughty as they did appear,
They sent that Squire afore, to understand
What mote they be: who viewing them more near,
Returned ready News, that those same were
Two of the prowest Knights in Fairy Lond;
And those two Ladies their two Lovers dear,
Courageous Cambel, and stout Triamond,
With Canacee and Cambine, link'd in lovely Bond.

Whilom, as antique Stories tellen us,
Those two were Foes, the fellonest on Ground,
And Battle made, the draddest dangerous
That ever shrilling Trumpet did resound:
Though now their Acts be no where to be found,
As that renowned Poet them compil'd,
With warlike Numbers, and Heroick Sound,
Dan Chaucer (Well of English undefil'd)
On Fame's eternal Bead-roll worthy to be fil'd.

But wicked Time, that all good Thoughts doth waste,
And works of noblest Wits to nought out-wear,
That famous Monument hath quite defac'd,
And robb'd the World of Threasure endless dear,
The which mote have enriched all us here.
O cursed Eld! the Canker-worm of Writs;
How may these Rhymes (so rude as doth appear)
Hope to endure, sith Works of heavenly Wits
Are quite devour'd, and brought to nought by little Bits?

Then pardon, O most sacred happy Spirit,
That I thy Labours lost may thus revive,
And steal from thee the Meed of thy due Merit,
That none durst ever whilst thou wast alive,
And being dead, in vain yet many strive:
Ne dare I like, but through Infusion sweet
Of thine own Spirit (which doth in me survive)
I follow here the footing of thy Feet,
That with thy meaning so I may the rather meet.

Cambello's Sister was fair Canacee,
That was the learnedst Lady in her days,
Well seen in every Science that mote be,
And every secret Work of Nature's ways,
In witty Riddles, and in wise Soothsays,
In Power of Herbs, and Tunes of Beasts and Birds:
And (that augmented all her other Praise)
She modest was in all her Deeds and Words,
And wondrous chaste of Life, yet lov'd of Knights and Lords.

Full many Lords, and many Knights her lov'd,
Yet she to none of them her liking lent,
Ne ever was with fond Affection mov'd,
But rul'd her Thoughts with goodly Government,
For dread of Blame, and Honour's Blemishment:
And eke unto her Looks a Law she made,
That none of them once out of Order went;
But like to wary Centinels well stay'd,
Still watch on every side, of secret Foes afraid.

So much the more as she refus'd to love,
So much the more she loved was and sought,
That oftentimes unquiet Strife did move
Amongst her Lovers, and great Quarrels wrought;
That oft for her in bloody Arms they fought:
Which, when-as Cambel (that was stout and wise)
Perceiv'd would breed great Mischief, he bethought
How to prevent the Peril that mote rise,
And turn both him and her to Honour in this wise.

One day, when all that Troop of warlike Wooers
Assembled were, to weet whose she should be;
All mighty Men, and dreadful derring Doers
(The harder it to make them well agree)
Amongst them all this End he did decree:
That of them all which Love to her did make,
They by consent should chuse the stoutest Three,
That with himself should combat for her sake,
And of them all, the Victor should his Sister take.

Bold was the Challenge, as himself was bold,
And Courage full of haughty Hardiment,
Approved oft in Perils manifold,
Which he atchiev'd to his great Ornament:
But yet his Sister's Skill unto him lent
Most Confidence and Hope of happy Speed,
Conceived by a Ring, which she him sent;
That 'mong'st the many Virtues (which we read)
Had Power to staunch all Wounds that mortally did bleed.

Well was that Ring's great Virtue known to all;
That Dread thereof, and his redoubted Might,
Did all that youthly Rout so much appall,
That none of them durst undertake the Fight:
More wise they ween'd to make of Love Delight,
Than Life to hazard for fair Lady's Look;
And yet uncertain by such outward sight
(Though for her sake they all that Peril took)
Whether she would them love, or in her liking brook.

Amongst those Knights, there were three Brethren bold
(Three bolder Brethren never were yborn)
Born of one Mother in one happy Mould,
Born at one Burden in one happy Morn;
Thrice happy Mother, and thrice happy Morn,
That bore three such, three such not to be found:
Her Name was Agape, whose Children werne
All three as one; the first, hight Priamond;
The second, Diamond; the youngest, Triamond.

Stout Priamond, but not so strong to strike;
Strong Diamond, but not so stout a Knight;
But Triamond was stout and strong alike:
On Horse-back used Triamond to fight,
And Priamond on foot had more Delight,
But Horse and Foot knew Diamond to wield:
With Curtax used Diamond to smite,
And Triamond to handle Spear and Shield,
But Spear and Curtax both us'd Priamond in field.

These three did love each other dearly well,
And with so firm Affection were ally'd,
As if but one Soul in them all did dwell,
Which did her Power into three parts divide;
Like three fair Branches budding far and wide,
That from one Root deriv'd their vital Sap:
And like that Root that doth her Life divide,
Their Mother was, and had full blessed Hap,
These three so noble Babes to bring forth at one clap.

Their Mother was a Fay, and had the Skill
Of Secret things, and all the Powers of Nature,
Which she by Art could use unto her Will,
And to her Service bind each living Creature
Through secret Understanding of their Feature.
There-to she was right fair, when-so her Face
She list discover, and of goodly Stature;
But she (as Fayes are wont) in privy Place
Did spend her Days, and lov'd in Forests wild to space.

There, on a day, a noble youthly Knight,
Seeking Adventures in the salvage Wood,
Did by great Fortune get of her the sight,
As she sat careless by a crystal Flood,
Combing her golden Locks, as seem'd her good:
And unawares upon her laying hold,
That strove in vain him long to have withstood,
Oppressed her, and there (as it is told)
Got these three lovely Babes, that prov'd three Champions bold.

Which she, with her, long fostred in that Wood,
Till that to ripeness of Man's State they grew:
Then shewing forth signs of their Father's Blood,
They loved Arms, and Knighthood did ensue,
Seeking Adventures where they any knew.
Which when their Mother saw, she 'gan to doubt
Their Safety; lest by searching Dangers new,
And rash provoking Perils all about,
Their Days mote be abridged through their Courage stout.

Therefore, desirous th' end of all their Days
To know, and them t' enlarge with long extent,
By wondrous Skill, and many hidden ways,
To the three fatal Sisters House she went.
Far under Ground from Tract of Living went,
Down in the Bottom of the deep Abyss,
Where Demogorgon in dull Darkness pent,
Far from the View of Gods and Heaven's Bliss,
The hideous Chaos keeps, their dreadful Dwelling is.

There she them found, all sitting round about,
The direful Distaff standing in the mid;
And with unwearied Fingers drawing out
The Lines of Life, from living Knowledg hid.
Sad Clotho held the Rock, the whiles the Thred
By griesly Lachesis was spun with Pain,
That cruel Atropos eftsoons undid
With cursed Knife, cutting the Twist in twain:
Most wretched Men, whose Days depend on Threds so vain.

She them saluting, there by them sate still,
Beholding how the Threds of Life they span:
And when at last she had beheld her fill,
Trembling in Heart, and looking pale and wan,
Her cause of coming she to tell began.
To whom, fierce Atropos; Bold Fay, that durst
Come see the Secret of the Life of Man
Well worthy thou to be of Jove accurs'd,
And eke thy Childrens Threds to be asunder burst.

Where-at she sore afraid, yet her besought
To graunt her Boon, and Rigour to abate,
That she might see her Childrens Threds forth brought,
And know the Measure of their utmost Date,
To them ordained by eternal Fate.
Which Clotho graunting, shewed her the same:
That when she saw, it did her much amate,
To see their Threds so thin, as Spiders frame,
And eke so short, that seem'd their Ends out shortly came.

She then began them humbly to intreat
To draw them longer out, and better twine
That so their Lives might be prolonged late.
But Lachesis thereat 'gan to repine,
And said; Fond Dame, that deem'st of things Divine
As of Human, that they may altred be,
And chang'd at Pleasure for those Imps of thine:
Not so; for, what the Fates do once decree,
Not all the Gods can change, nor Jove himself can free.

Then with, quoth she, the Term of each Man's Life
For nought may lessen'd nor enlarged be,
Graunt this, that when ye shred with fatal Knife
His Line, which is the Eldest of the Three,
Which is of them the shortest as I see,
Eftsoons his Life may pass into the next
And when the next shall likewise ended be,
That both their Lives may likewise be annex'd
Unto the third, that his may so be trebly wex'd.

They graunted it; and then that careful Fay
Departed thence with full contented Mind;
And coming home, in warlike fresh Array
Them found all three according to their Kind:
But unto them what Destiny was assign'd,
Or how their Lives were eck'd, she did not tell
But evermore, when she fit time could find,
She warned them to tend their Safeties well,
And love each other dear, whatever them befel.

So did they surely during all their Days,
And never Discord did amongst them fall;
Which much augmented all their other Praise.
And now t' increase Affection natural,
In Love of Canacee they joined all:
Upon which ground this same great Battle grew
(Great Matter growing of Beginning small;)
The which for length I will not here pursue,
But rather will reserve it for a Canto new.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 3:563-76]