Faerie Queene. Book IV. Canto VII.

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 VII. (47 stanzas). — 'Great God of Love,' exclaims the poet in now proceeding with the story of Amoret, 'Great God of Love, that with thy cruel darts | Dost conquer greatest conquerors on ground, | And set'st thy kingdom in the captive hearts | Of kings and kesars to thy service bound'.... It seems that, when Britomart fell asleep, Amoret had amused herself by taking a walk through the wood, and in the course of her ramble had been suddenly fallen upon and snatched up by a personage who is thus engagingly painted: — 'It was to weet a wild and salvage man; | Yet was no man, but only like in shape, | And eke in stature higher by a span | All overgrown with hair, that could awhape | An hardy heart; and his wide month did gape | With huge great teeth, like to a tusked boar'.... The hideous monster rushed away with her through the briars and bushes to his cave, and there throwing her in left her more dead than alive.

"When she came to herself she heard in the darkness some one sighing and sobbing near her; this was one of her own sex, another of the wretch's victims, who had been already twenty days in the cavern, and in that time had seen 'seven women by him slain and eaten clean,' that being his regular mode of finishing his atrocities as soon as his amorous fit was over. Only she and an old woman, besides Amoret, remained; 'and of us three,' said she, 'to-morrow he will sure eat one.' She then told her own story. The daughter of a great lord, she had loved a squire of low degree — who yet was fit, if her eyes did not deceive her, 'by any lady's side for leman to have lain.' Having resolved for his sake to abandon sire, and friends, and all for ever, she one day, left her home to meet him at a place they had agreed upon between them, and was caught by this 'shame of men and plague of womankind,' who, said she, — 'trussing me, as eagle doth his prey, | Me hither brought with him as swift as wind; | Where yet untouched till this present day, | I rest his wretched thrall, the sad Aemilia.'

"While they are discoursing the villain himself returns to the cave. Horrified at his proceedings, Amoret soon breaks away in desperation, and (taking advantage, apparently, of his having neglected to replace the stone which closed the entrance) rushes forth screaming, while he runs after her. 'Full fast she flies, and far afore him goes | Ne feels the thorns and thickets prick her tender toes'.... It must be supposed that this is the same forest in which Florimel was seen flying from the foster in the First Canto of the preceding Book, and in which Timias, the prince's gentle squire, was found in the Fifth Canto of that Book by Belphoebe and conveyed by her to her pavilion. It chances that that lady is at this very time, as is her wont, hunting here the leopards and the bears with her sister wood-nymphs and 'that lovely boy;' and it is the fortune of Timias to come up just as the cursed caitiff has again caught Amoret, and, grinning in self-gratulation, is bearing her off under his arm.

"For some time he wards off the squire's blows by using the captive lady as a buckler; 'And if it chanced (as needs it must in fight), | Whilst he on him was greedy to be wroke, | That any little blow on her did light, | Then would he laugh aloud, and gather great delight.' At last, however, Timias succeeds in thrusting his spear through the villain's hand; on which 'A stream of coal-black blood thence gushed amain, | That all her silken garments did with blood bestain;' and, throwing his burthen on the earth, he falls upon the squire with such a storm of blows that the latter is compelled to give ground. Luckily the noise attracts Belphoebe, 'Whom when that thief approaching nigh espied | With bow in hand and arrows ready bent, | He by his former combat would not bide, | But fled away with ghastly dreariment, | Well knowing her to be his death's sole instrument.' She, however, pursues, 'with winged feet, as nimble as the wind,' and with such success that, just as he is entering his hellish den, 'She sent an arrow forth with mighty draught, | That in the very door him overcaught, | And, in his nape arriving, through it thrilled | His greedy throat'.... On this Aemilia comes forth, all trembling, and after her the hag, her fellow prisoner, a foul and loathsome wretch — 'leman fit for such a lover dear.' They all three then return together to the place where she had left Timias with Amoret: — 'There she him found by that new lovely mate, | Who lay the whiles in swoon, full sadly set, | From her fair eyes wiping the dewy wet.... | Which when she [Belphoebe] saw with sudden glancing eye, | Her noble heart, with sight thereof, was filled | With deep disdain and great indignity'....

"In this very remarkable passage there can be no doubt that the real incident alluded to is Raleigh's amour with Elizabeth Throgmorton, one of Elizabeth's maids of honour, by which he is understood to have drawn down upon himself for a time the passionate displeasure of his royal mistress. The circumstance appears to have happened in the year 1592, and Raleigh afterwards made all the reparation in his power by marrying the lady. The reader will admire not only the ingenuity of the allegory, but the singular combination which it presents of boldness in the conception and the highest delicacy in the execution.

"The story goes on to relate, that one day Prince Arthur, seeking adventures, chanced to come to the cabin in which Timias thus abode, 'spending his days in dolour and despair,' and never suspected who he was. When the prince addressed him, and expressed pity for his miserable state, 'to his speech he answered no whit, | But stood still mute, as if he had been dumb'.... Greatly wondering, the prince yet was led to think he had in former days been conversant with arms and knightliness, both by secret signs of a gentler nature which were discernible even through all that rudeness of demeanour, and by observing him handle his naked sword and try its edge; 'And eke by that he saw on every tree | How he the name of one engraven had | Which likely was his liefest love to be, | From whom he now so sorely was bestad; | Which was by him Belphoebe rightly rad: | Yet who was that Belphoebe he ne wist; | Yet saw he often how he wexed glad | When he it heard, and how the ground he kist | Wherein it written was, and how himself he blist.' Nothing that Arthur can do, however, is of any avail to soothe his dejection and wretchedness; and he at last leaves him, for time, which alone can, to work his restoration" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 2:124-30.

Amoret, rap'd by greedy Lust,
Belphoebe saves from Dread:
The Squire her loves, and being blam'd,
His Days in Doole doth lead.

Great God of Love, that with thy cruel Darts
Dost conquer greatest Conquerers on ground,
And set'st thy Kingdom in the captive Hearts
Of Kings and Caesars, to thy Service bound,
What Glory, or what Guerdon hast thou found
In feeble Ladies tyranning so sore;
And adding Anguish to the bitter Wound,
With which their Lives thou launcedst long afore,
By heaping Storms of Trouble on them daily more?

So whilom didst thou to fair Florimel,
And so unto the noble Britomart:
So dost thou now to her, of whom I tell,
The lovely Amoret; whose gentle Heart
Thou martyrest with Sorrow and with Smart,
In salvage Forests, and in Desarts wide,
With Bears and Tygers taking heavy part,
Withouten Comfort, and withouten Guide;
That pity is to hear the Perils which the try'd.

So soon as she, with that brave Britoness,
Had left that Turneyment for Beauty's Prize,
They travel'd long; that now for Weariness,
Both of the way and warlike Exercise,
Both thro a Forest riding, did devise
T' alight, and rest their weary Limbs awhile.
There heavy Sleep the Eye-lids did surprise
Of Britomart after long tedious Toil,
That did her passed Pains in quiet Rest assoil.

The whiles fair Amoret (of nought affeard)
Walk'd thro the Wood for Pleasure, or for Need;
When suddenly behind her back she heard
One rushing forth out of the thickest Weed:
That e'er she back could turn to taken heed,
Had unawares her snatch'd up from the Ground.
Feebly she shriek'd; but so feebly indeed,
That Britomart heard not the shrilling Sound,
There where thro weary Travel she lay sleeping sound.

It was to weet, a wild and salvage Man;
Yet was no Man, but only like in Shape,
And eke in Stature higher by a Span,
All over-grown with Hair, that could awhape
An hardy Heart; and his wide Mouth did gape
With huge great Teeth, like to a tusked Boar:
For he liv'd all on Ravin and on Rape
Of Men and Beasts; and fed on fleshly Gore,
The Sign whereof yet stain'd his bloody Lips afore.

His neather Lip was not like Man nor Beast,
But like a wide deep Poke, down hanging low,
In which he wont the Relicks of his Feast
And cruel Spoil, which he had spar'd, to stow:
And over it his huge great Nose did grow.
Full dreadfully empurpled all with Blood;
And down both Sides, two wide long Ears did glow,
And raught down to his Waste, when up he stood,
More great than th' Ears of Elephants by Indus' Flood.

His Waste was with a Wreath of Ivy green
Engirt about, ne other Garment wore:
For all his Hair was like a Garment seen;
And in his Hand a tall young Oak he bore,
Whose knotty Snags were sharpen'd all afore,
And beath'd in fire for Steel to be in sted.
But whence he was, or of what Womb ybore,
Of Beasts, or of the Earth, I have not red:
But certes was with Milk of Wolves and Tygers fed.

This ugly Creature in his Arms her snatch'd,
And thro the Forest bore her quite away,
With Briars and Bushes all to rent and scratch'd;
Ne Care he had, ne Pity of the Prey,
Which many a Knight had sought so many a day.
He stayed not, but in his Arms her bearing,
Ran till he came to th' end of all his way,
Unto his Cave, far from all People's hearing,
And there he threw her in, nought feeling, ne nought fearing.

For she (dear Lady) all the way was dead,
Whilst he in Arms her bore; but when she felt
Her self down sous'd, she waked out of Dread
Strait into Grief, that her dear Heart nigh swelt,
And eft 'gan into tender Tears to melt.
Then when she look'd about, and nothing found
But Darkness and drad Horrour where she dwelt,
She almost fell again into a Swound;
Ne wist whether above she were, or under ground.

With that, she heard some one close by her side
Sighing and sobbing sore, as if the Pain
Her tender Heart in pieces would divide:
Which she long listning, softly ask'd again
What mister Wight it was that so did plain?
To whom thus answer'd was: Ah! wretched Wight,
That seeks to know another's Grief in vain,
Unweeting of thine own like hapless Plight:
Self to forget to mind another, is ore-sight.

Ay me! said she, where am I, or with whom?
Emong the Living, or emong the Dead?
What shall of me, unhappy Maid! become?
Shall Death be th' end, or ought else worse, aread.
Unhappy Maid! then answer'd she, whose Dread
Untry'd, is less than when thou shalt it try:
Death is to him that wretched Life doth lead,
Both Grace and Gain; but he in Hell doth lie,
That lives a loathed Life, and wishing cannot die.

This dismal Day hath thee a Caitive made,
And Vassal to the vilest Wretch alive;
Whose cursed Usage and ungodly Trade
The Heavens abhor, and into Darkness drive:
For on the Spoil of Women he doth live,
Whose Bodies chaste, whenever in his pow'r
He may them catch, unable to gain-strive,
He with his shameful Lust doth first deflow'r,
And afterwards themselves doth cruelly devour.

Now twenty Days (by which the Sons of Men
Divide their Works) have past thro Heaven sheen,
Since I was brought into this dooleful Den;
During which space, these sory Eyes have seen
Seven Women by him slain, and eaten clean.
And now no more for him but I alone,
And this old Woman here remaining been,
Till thou cam'st hither to augment our Moan;
And of us three, to morrow he will sure eat one.

Ah! dreadful Tidings which thou dost declare,
Quoth she, of all that ever hath been known;
Full many great Calamities and rare
This feeble Breast endured hath, but none
Equal to this, wherever I have gone.
But what are you, whom like unlucky Lot
Hath link'd with me in the same Chain attone?
To tell, quoth she, thee which ye see, needs not;
A woeful wretched Maid, of God and Man forgot.

But what I was, it irks me to rehearse;
Daughter unto a Lord of high Degree,
That joy'd in happy Peace, till Fates perverse
With guileful Love did secretly agree,
To overthrow my State and Dignity.
It was my Lot to love a gentle Swain,
Yet was he but a Squire of low Degree;
Yet was he meet, unless mine Eye did fain,
By any Lady's Side for Leman to have lain.

But for his Meanness and Disparagement,
My Sire (who me too dearly well did love)
Unto my Choice by no means would assent,
But often did my Folly foul reprove.
Yet nothing could my fixed Mind remove,
But whether will'd or nilled Friend or Foe,
I me resolv'd the utmost End to prove;
And rather than my Love abandon so,
Both Sire, and Friends, and all for ever to forgo.

Thenceforth I sought by secret means to work
Time to my Will; and from his wrathful Sight
To hide th' Intent, which in my Heart did lurk,
Till I thereto had all things ready dight.
So on a day, unweeting unto Wight,
I with that Squire agreed away to flit,
And in a privy place, betwixt us hight,
Within a Grove appointed him to meet;
To which I boldly came upon my feeble Feet.

But ah! unhappy Hour me thither brought:
For in that place, where I him thought to find,
There was I found, contrary to my Thought,
Of this accursed Carle of hellish kind;
The Shame of Men, and Plague of Woman-kind:
Who trussing me, as Eagle doth his Prey,
Me hither brought with him, as swift as Wind,
Where yet untouched till this present day,
I rest his wretched Thrall, the sad Aemylia.

Ah! sad Aemylia, then said Amoret,
Thy rueful Plight I pity as mine own.
But read to me, by what Devise or Wit,
Hast thou in all this time, from him unknown,
Thine Honour sav'd, tho into Thraldom thrown?
Thro Help, quoth she, of this old Woman here
I have so done, as she to me hath shown;
For ever when he burnt in lustful Fire,
She in my stead supply'd his bestial Desire.

Thus of their Evils as they did discourse,
And each did other much bewail and moan;
Lo! where the Villain self, their Sorrow's Sourse,
Came to the Cave; and rolling thence the Stone,
Which wont to stop the Mouth thereof, that none
Might issue forth, came rudely rushing in;
And spreading over all the Floor alone,
'Gan dight himself unto his wonted Sin:
Which ended, then his bloody Banquet should begin.

Which, when-as fearful Amoret perceiv'd,
She staid not th' utmost End thereof to try,
But like a gastly Gelt, whose Wits are reav'd,
Ran forth in haste with hideous Outcry,
For Horrour of his shameful Villany;
But after her full lightly he up-rose,
And her pursu'd as fast as she did fly:
Full fast she flies, and far afore him goes,
Ne feels the Thorns and Thickets prick her tender Toes.

Nor Hedg, nor Ditch, nor Hill, nor Dale she stays,
But overleaps them all, like Roebuck light,
And thro the Thickets makes her nighest ways;
And evermore, when with regardful Sight
She looking back, espies that griesly Wight
Approaching nigh, she 'gins to mend her Pace,
And makes her Fear a Spur to haste her Flight;
More swift than Myrrh' or Daphne in her Race,
Or any of the Thracian Nymphs in salvage Chace.

Long so she fled, and so he follow'd long;
Ne living Aid for her on Earth appears,
But if the Heavens help to redress her Wrong,
Moved with Pity of her plenteous Tears.
It fortuned Belphoebe with her Peers
The woody Nymphs, and with that lovely Boy,
Was hunting then the Libbards and the Bears
In these Wild Woods, as was her wonted Joy,
To banish Sloth, that oft doth noble Minds annoy.

It so befel (as oft it falls in Chace)
That each of them from other sundred were,
And that same gentle Squire arriv'd in place
Where this same cursed Caitive did appear,
Pursuing that fair Lady full of Fear:
And now he her quite over-taken had,
And now he her away with him did bear
Under his Arm, as seeming wondrous glad,
That by his grinning Laughter mote far off be rad.

Which drery Sight the gentle Squire espying,
Doth haste to cross him by the nearest way,
Led with that woeful Lady's piteous crying,
And him assails with all the Might he may:
Yet will not he the lovely Spoil down lay,
But with his craggy Club in his right Hand,
Defends himself, and saves his gotten Prey.
Yet had it been right hard him to withstand,
But that he was full light and nimble on the Land.

There-to the Villain used Craft in Fight;
For ever when the Squire his Javelin shook,
He held the Lady forth before him right,
And with her Body, as a Buckler, broke
The Puissance of his intended Stroke.
And if it chaunc'd (as needs it must in Fight)
Whilst he on him was greedy to be wroke,
That any little Blow on her did light,
Then would he laugh aloud, and gather great Delight.

Which subtile Slight did him encumber much,
And made him oft, when he would strike, forbear;
For hardly could he come the Carle to touch,
But that he her must hurt, or hazard near;
Yet he his Hand so carefully did bear,
That at the last he did himself attain,
And therein left the Pike-head of his Spear.
A Stream of cole-black Blood thence gush'd amain,
That all her silken Garments did with Blood bestain.

With that, he threw her rudely on the Floor,
And laying both his Hands upon his Glave,
With dreadful Strokes let drive at him so sore,
That forc'd him fly aback, himself to save:
Yet he there-with so felly still did rave,
That scarce the Squire his Hand could once up-rear,
But (for Advantage) ground unto him gave,
Tracing and traversing, now here, now there;
For bootless thing it was to think such Blows to bear.

Whilst thus in Battel they embusy'd were,
Belphoebe (raunging in that Forest wide)
The hideous Noise of their huge Strokes did hear,
And drew there-to, making her Ear her Guide.
Whom when that Thief approaching nigh espy'd,
With Bow in hand, and Arrows ready bent,
He by his former Combat would not bide,
But fled away with ghastly Dreriment,
Well knowing her to be his Death's sole Instrument.

Whom seeing fly, she speedily pursu'd
With winged Feet, as nimble as the Wind;
And ever in her Bow she ready shew'd
The Arrow, to his deadly Mark design'd:
As when Latona's Daughter, cruel kind,
In Vengement of her Mother's great Disgrace,
With fell Despight her cruel Arrows tin'd
'Gainst woeful Niobe's unhappy Race,
That all the Gods did moan her miserable Case.

So well she sped her, and so far she venter'd,
That e'er unto his hellish Den he raught,
Even as he ready was there to have enter'd,
She sent an Arrow forth with mighty Draught,
That in the very Door him over-caught,
And in his Nape arriving, thro it thrill'd
His greedy Throat, there-with in two distraught,
That all his vital Spirits thereby spill'd,
And all his hairy Breast with gory Blood was fill'd.

Whom, when on ground she groveling saw to roll,
She ran in haste his Life to have bereft:
But e'er she could him reach, the sinful Soul,
Having his carion Corse quite sensless left,
Was fled to Hell, surcharg'd with Spoil and Theft.
Yet over him she there long gazing stood,
And oft admir'd his monstrous Shape, and eft
His mighty Limbs, whilst all with filthy Blood
The Place there overflown, seem'd like a sudden Flood.

Thence-forth she past into his dreadful Den,
Where nought but darksom Dreriness she found,
Ne Creature saw, but harkned now and then
Some tattle Whisp'ring, and soft groaning Sound.
With that, she ask'd, what Ghosts there under ground
Lay hid in Horrour of eternal Night?
And bade them, if so be they were not bound,
To come and shew themselves before the Light,
Now freed from Fear and Danger of that dismal Wight.

Then forth the sad Aemylia issu'd,
Yet trembling every Joint thro former Fear;
And after her the Hag, there with her mew'd,
A foul and loathsom Creature did appear;
A Leman fit for such a Lover dear.
That mov'd Belphoebe her no less to hate,
Than for to rue the other's heavy Chear;
Of whom she 'gan enquire of her Estate:
Who all to her at large, as happen'd, did relate.

Thence she them brought, toward the place where late
She left the gentle Squire with Amoret:
There she him found by that new lovely Mate,
Who lay the whiles in Swoun, full sadly set,
From her fair Eyes wiping the dewy wet,
Which softly still'd, and kissing them atween,
And handling soft the Hurts which she did get.
For of that Carle she sorely bruis'd had been,
Als of his own rash Hand one Wound was to be seen.

Which when she saw, with sudden glauncing Eye,
Her noble Heart with sight thereof was fill'd
With deep Disdain, and great Indignity,
That in her Wrath she thought them both have thrill'd
With that self Arrow, which the Carle had kill'd:
Yet held her wrathful Hand from Vengeance sore,
But drawing nigh, e'er he her well beheld;
Is this the Faith? she said, and said no more,
But turn'd her Face, and fled away for evermore.

He, seeing her depart, arose upright,
Right sore agrieved at her sharp Reproof,
And follow'd fast: but when he came in sight,
He durst not nigh approach, but kept aloof,
For Dread of her Displeasure's utmost Proof.
And evermore, when he did Grace entreat,
And framed Speeches fit for his Behoof,
Her mortal Arrows she at him did threat,
And forc'd him back with foul Dishonour to retreat.

At last, when long he follow'd had in vain,
Yet found no Ease of Grief, nor Hope of Grace,
Unto those Woods he turned back again,
Full of sad Anguish, and in heavy Case;
And finding there fit solitary Place
For woeful Wight, chose out a gloomy Glade,
Where hardly Eye mote see bright Heaven's Face
For mossy Trees, which cover'd all with Shade
And sad Melancholy: there he his Cabin made.

His wonted war-like Weapons all he broke,
And threw away, with vow to use no more,
Ne thenceforth ever strike in Battel Stroke,
Ne ever word to speak to Woman more;
But in that Wilderness (of Men forlore,
And of the wicked World forgotten quite)
His hard Mishap in Dolour to deplore,
And waste his wretched Days in woeful Plight;
So on himself to wreak his Folly's own Despight.

And eke his Garment, to be there-to meet,
He wilfully did cut and shape anew;
And his fair Locks, that wont with Ointment sweet
To be embalm'd, and sweat out dainty Dew,
He let to grow, and griesly to concrew,
Uncomb'd, uncurl'd, and carelesly unshed;
That in short time his Face they over-grew,
And over all his Shoulders did dispred,
That who he whilom was, uneath was to be read.

There he continu'd in this careful Plight,
Wretchedly wearing out his youthly Years,
Thro wilful Penury consumed quite,
That like a pined Ghost he soon appears.
For other Food than that wild Forest bears,
Ne other Drink there did be never taste
Than running Water, temper'd with his Tears,
The more his weaken'd Body so to waste;
That out of all Mens Knowledge he was worn at last.

For on a day (by Fortune as it fell)
His own dear Lord Prince Arthur came that way,
Seeking Adventures where he mote hear tell;
And as he thro the wandring Wood did stray,
Having espy'd this Cabin far away,
He to it drew, to weet who there did wonne:
Weening therein some holy Hermit lay,
That did Resort of sinful People shun;
Or else some Wood-man shrouded there from scorching Sun.

Arriving there, he found this wretched Man,
Spending his Days in Dolour and Despair;
And thro long fasting woxen pale and wan,
All over-grown with rude and rugged Hair;
That albeit his own dear Squire he were,
Yet he him knew not, ne aviz'd at all;
But like strange Wight, whom he had seen no where,
Saluting him, 'gan into Speech to fall,
And pity much his plight, that liv'd like out-cast Thrall.

But to his Speech he aunswered no whit,
But stood still mute, as if he had been dumb,
Ne Sign of Sense did shew, ne common Wit,
As one with Grief and Anguish over-come,
And unto every thing did answer Mum:
And ever when the Prince unto him spake,
He louted lowly, as did him become,
And humble Homage did unto him make,
Midst Sorrow shewing joyous Semblance for his sake.

At which his uncouth Guise and Usage quaint,
The Prince did wonder much, yet could not guess
The Cause of that his sorrowful Constraint;
Yet ween'd by secret Signs of Manliness,
Which close appear'd in that rude Brutishness,
That he whilom some gentle Swain had been,
Train'd up in Feats of Arms and Knightliness;
Which he observ'd, by that he him had seen
To wield his naked Sword, and try the Edges keen.

And eke by that he saw on every Tree,
How he the Name of one engraver had,
Which likely was his liefest Love to be,
For whom he now so sorely was bestad;
Which was by him BELPHOEBE rightly rad.
Yet who was that Belphoebe, he ne wist;
Yet saw he often how he wexed glad,
When he it heard, and how the Ground he kiss'd,
Wherein it written was, and how himself he blist.

Tho when he long had marked his Demeanor,
And saw that all he said and did, was vain,
Ne ought mote make him change his wonted Tenor,
Ne ought mote ease or mitigate his Pain,
He left him there in Langour to remain,
Till time for him should Remedy provide,
And him restore to former Grace again.
Which, for it is too long here to abide,
I will defer the End until another Tide.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 3:627-38]