1596
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book IV. Canto X.

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 X. (58 stanzas). — Sir Scudamore commences his narrative as follows: — 'True he it said, whatever man it said, | That love with gall and honey doth abound; | But, if the one be with the other weighed, | For every dram of honey therein found | A pound of gall doth over it redound'.... It will be a long story, he goes on to observe, to tell the long toil by which he had won the Shield of Love which he carries (and from which he has his name — 'Scutum Amoris,' or 'Scudo d' Amore) but, since the company desire it, it shall be done. 'Then, hark,' he adds, 'ye gentle knights and ladies free, | My hard mishaps that ye may learn to shun; | For, though sweet love to conquer glorious be, | Yet is the pain thereof much greater than the fee.' This address, it will be perceived, must include Amoret, for she is the only lady present, besides Britomart. His knowledge of her presence is still clearer from what follows, where he states that from the time when the report of this famous prize, namely the Shield, first flew abroad, he had been possessed with the thought that he was the man destined to carry it off, adding — 'And that both shield and she whom I behold | Might be my lucky lot, sith all by lot we hold.'

"So forth he proceeded on the adventure, and soon made his way to 'the place of peril,' an ancient, beautiful, and renowned temple of Venus — much more famous than either that in Paphos or that in Cyprus (Spenser seems to have forgotten that Paphos was merely the town in the isle of Cyprus where the principal temple of Venus stood), both built long subsequently, — 'Though all the pillars of the one were gilt, | And all the other's pavement were with ivory spilt.' This temple of the goddess to which Scudamore repaired stood in an island so strongly fortified by nature, that there was only one passage by which access was possible. 'It was a bridge ybuilt in goodly wise | With curious corbs and pendants graven fair, | And, arched all with porches, did arise | On stately pillars framed after the Doric guise.' At the farther end was built a strong and fair castle, in which were placed twenty valiant and experienced knights. And, continues Sir Scudamore, 'Before that castle was an open plain, | And in the midst thereof a pillar placed; | On which this shield, of many sought in vain, | THE SHIELD or LOVE, whose guerdon me hath graced, | Was hanged on high with golden ribands laced.... | Straight forth issued a knight all armed to proof, | And bravely mounted to his most mishap: | Who, staying nought to question from aloof, | Ran fierce at me, that fire glanced from his horse's hoof.'

"He boldly encountered this fiery champion, and soon unseated him; then two others, who sprung out upon him together, met with the same fate; in short, all the twenty were left groaning on the plain; and the victor, advancing to the pillar, and reading aloud the inscription, took down the shield, and bore it away with him. All this is modestly told by Scudamore in a single stanza. He then proceeds: — 'So forth without impediment I passed, | Till to the bridge's utter gate I came; | The which I found sure locked and chained fast. | I knocked, but no man answered me by name.... | Till at the last I spied within the same | Where one stood peeing through a crevice small, | To whom I called aloud, half angry therewithall'.... As soon as Doubt, looking through the chink, perceived the shield, he immediately knew it, opened the gate wide, and, the knight having passed in, closed it again. Delay now caught hold of him, trying to stay him with much prating and many foolish pretences, and to steal from him time, that precious treasure, whose smallest minute lost no riches may restore.

"'But,' continues Scudamore, 'by no means my way I would forslow | For aught that ever she could do or say; | But from my lofty steed dismounting low | Passed forth on foot.... | But in the porch did evermore abide | An hideous giant, dreadful to behold.... | His name was Danger, dreaded over all'.... Scudamore disdained either to stoop to him, or to creep between his legs; but, advancing his enchanted shield, began to lay about him with all his might; on which Danger immediately lowered his sword, and allowed him to pass freely on. Looking back, he now perceived that worse lay concealed behind the Giant than what appeared in front of him; for there lay lurking in ambush Hatred, Murder, Treason, Despite, and many more such foes, ready to entrap whosoever did not protect himself against them with vigilant circumspection. He was now fairly within the island; 'the which,' he says, 'did seem, unto my simple doom, | The only pleasant and delightful place'.... 'Unto that purposed place I did me draw, | Whereas my love was lodged day and night, | The temple of great Venus'.... The hymn or prayer to Venus that follows is a free translation of the exquisitely beautiful invocation with which Lucretius opens his great poem: — 'Great Venus! Queen of Beauty and of Grace, | The joy of gods and men, that under sky | Dost fairest shine, and most adorn thy place'....

"'And in the midst of them a goodly Maid | (Even in the lap of Womanhood) there sate, | The which was all in lily-white arrayed.... | Whom soon as I beheld, my heart gan throb | And weighed in doubt what best were to be done: | For sacrilege me seemed the church to rob'.... Upon this, Womanhood sharply rebuked him for being overbold in presuming to lay hands upon a virgin dedicated to the service of Venus. Scudamore replied in a few honest words, and at the same time disclosed his shield, which he had kept hidden ever since he entered the temple; at the sight on which, of Cupid emblazoned with his bow and shafts, the matron, awed, said no more. Meantime the knight all the while had kept hold of the fair virgin's hand, resolved for no entreaty to 'forego so glorious spoil;' having his eye also evermore fixed upon the face of the goddess, 'whom,' he says, 'when I saw with amiable grace | To laugh on me, and favour my pretence, | I was emboldened with more confidence.... | But evermore my shield did me defend | Against the storm of every dreadful stour: | Thus safely with my love I thence did wend.' 'And so,' says the poet, 'ended he his tale, where I this Canto end'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 2:145-58.



Scudamore doth his Conquest tell,
Of vertuous Amoret:
Great Venus' Temple is describ'd,
And Lover's Life forth set.

True he it said, what-ever Man it said,
That Love with Gall and Hony doth abound:
But if the one be with the other weigh'd,
For every Dram of Hony therein found,
A Pound of Gall doth over it redound.
That I too true by trial have approv'd:
For, since the day that first with deadly Wound
My Heart was launc'd and learned to have lov'd
I never joyed hour, but still with Care was mov'd.

And yet such Grace is given them from above,
That all the Cares and Evil which they meet,
May nought at all their settled Minds remove,
But seem 'gainst common Sense to them most sweet;
As boasting in their Martyrdom unmeet.
So all that ever yet I have endur'd,
I count as nought, and tread down under feet,
Sith of my Love at length I rest assur'd,
That to Disloyalty she will not be allur'd.

Long were to tell the Travel and long Toil,
Through which this Shield of Love I late have Won,
And purchased this peerless Beauty's Spoil,
That harder may be ended, than begun.
But since ye so desire, your Will be done.
Then hark, ye gentle Knights and Ladies free,
My hard Mishaps, that ye may learn to shun;
For, though sweet Love to conquer glorious be,
Yet is the Pain thereof much greater than the Fee.

What Time the Fame of this renowned Prise
Flew first abroad, and all Mens Ears possest,
I having Arms then taken, 'gan avise
To win me Honour by some noble Gest,
And purchase me some place among the best.
I boldly thought (so young Mens thoughts are bold)
That this same brave Emprize for me did rest,
And that both Shield and She whom I behold,
Might be my lucky Lot; sith all by Lot we hold.

So, on that hard Adventure forth I went,
And to the place of peril shortly came:
That was a Temple fair and auncient,
Which of great Mother Venus bare the name,
And far renowned through exceeding Fame;
Much more than that, which was in Paphos built,
Or that in Cyprus, both long since this same,
Though all the Pillours of the one were gilt,
And all the other's Pavement were with Ivory spilt.

And it was seated in an Island strong,
Abounding all with Delices most rare,
And wall'd by Nature 'gainst Invaders Wrong.
That none mote have access, nor inward fare,
But by one way, that Passage did prepare.
It was a Bridge ybuilt in goodly wise,
With curious Corbs, and Pendants graven fair,
And (arched all with Porches) did arise
On stately Pillours, fram'd after the Dorick Guise.

And for Defence thereof, on th' other end
There reared was a Castle fair and strong,
That warded all which in or out did wend,
And flanked both the Bridge's Sides along,
'Gainst all that would it fain to force or wrong,
And therein wonned twenty valiant Knights;
All twenty try'd in War's Experience long;
Whose office was, against all manner Wights,
By all means to maintain that Castle's auncient Rights.

Before that Castle was an open Plain,
And in the midst thereof a Pillour plac'd;
On which this Shield, of many sought in vain,
The Shield of Love, whose Guerdon me hath grac'd,
Was hang'd on high, with golden Ribbands lac'd;
And in the marble Stone was written this,
With golden Letters goodly well enchac'd,
Blessed the Man that well can use his Bliss:
Whose-ever be the Shield, fair Amoret be his.

Which when I read, my Heart did inly yearn,
And pant with hope of that Adventure's hap:
Ne stayed further news thereof to learn,
But with my Spear upon the Shield did rap,
That all the Castle ringed with the clap.
Strait forth issu'd a Knight all arm'd to proof,
And bravely mounted to his most mishap;
Who, staring nought to question from aloof,
Ran fierce at me, that Fire glaunst from his Horse's Hoof.

Whom boldly I encountred (as I could)
And by good fortune shortly him unseated.
Eftsoons out sprung two more of equal mould;
But I them both with equal hap defeated:
So all the twenty I likewise entreated,
And left them groaning there upon the Plain.
Then preacing to the Pillour, I repeated
The read thereof for Guerdon of my Pain,
And taking down the Shield, with me did it retain.

So forth without Impediment I past,
Till to the Bridge's outer Gate I came:
The which I found sure lock'd and chained fast.
I knock'd, but no man answer'd me by name;
I call'd, but no Man answer'd to my claim.
Yet I persever'd still to knock and call;
Till at the last I spide within the same,
Where one stood peeping through a Crevis small;
To whom I call'd aloud, half angry there-withal.

That was, to weet, the Porter of the Place,
Unto whose Trust the Charge thereof was lent:
His Name was Doubt, that had a double Face,
Th' one forward looking, th' other backward bent,
Therein resembling Janus auncient,
Which had in Charge the Ingate of the Year:
And evermore his Eyes about him went,
As if some proved Peril he did fear,
Or did mis-doubt some Ill, whose Cause did not appear.

On th' one side he, on th' other sat Delay,
Behind the Gate, that none her might espy;
Whose manner was all Passengers to stay,
And entertain with her Occasions sly;
Thro which some lost great Hope unheedily,
Which never they recover might again;
And others quite excluded forth, did lie
Long languishing there in unpitied Pain,
And seeking often Entrance afterwards in vain.

Me when-as he had privily espy'd,
Bearing the Shield which I had conquer'd late,
He ken'd it strait, and to me open'd wide:
So in I past, and strait he clos'd the Gate.
But being in, Delay in close Await
Caught hold on me, and thought my Steps to stay,
Feigning full many a fond Excuse to prate,
And Time to steal, the Treasure of Man's Day;
Whose smallest Minute lost, no Riches render may.

But by no means my way I would forslow,
For ought that ever she could do or say;
But from my lofty Steed dismounting low,
Past forth on foot, beholding all the way
The goodly Works, and Stones of rich Assay,
Cast into sundry Shapes by wondrous Skill,
(That like on Earth no where I reckon may)
And underneath, the River rolling still
With Murmur soft, that seem'd to serve the Workman's Will.

Thenceforth I passed to the second Gate,
The Gate of good Desert, whose goodly Pride
And costly Frame, were long here to relate.
The same to all stood always open wide:
But in the Porch did evermore abide
An hideous Giant, dreadful to behold,
That stopt the Entrance with his spacious Stride,
And with the Terrour of his Count'nance bold
Full many did affray, that else fain enter would.

His Name was Danger, dradded over all,
Who day and night did watch and duely ward,
From fearful Cowards, Entrance to forstall,
And faint-heart Fools, whom Shew of Peril hard
Could terrify from Fortune's fair Award:
For oftentimes faint Hearts, at first espial
Of his grim Face, were from approaching scar'd;
Unworthy they of Grace, whom one Denial
Excludes from fairest Hope, withouten further Trial.

Yet many doughty Warriors, often try'd
In greater Perils to be stout and bold,
Durst not the Sternness of his Look abide;
But soon as they his Count'nance did behold,
Began to faint, and feel their Courage cold.
Again, some other, that in hard Assays
Were Cowards known, and little count did hold,
Either thro Gifts, or Guile, or such like ways,
Crept in by stooping low, or stealing of the Keys.

But I, tho meanest Man of many moe,
Yet much disdaining unto him to lout,
Or creep between his Legs, so in to go,
Resolv'd him to assault with Manhood stout,
And either beat him in, or cast him out.
Eftsoons advauncing that enchaunted Shield,
With all my Might I 'gan to lay about:
Which when he saw, the Glaive which he did wield
Ne 'gan forth-with t' avale, and way unto me yield.

So, as I enter'd, I did backward look,
For fear of Harm, that might lie hidden there;
And lo! his Hind-parts (whereof heed I took)
Much more deformed fearful ugly were,
Than all his former Parts did earst appear.
For Hatred, Murder, Treason, and Despight;
With many more, lay in Ambushment there,
Awaiting to entrap the wareless Wight,
Which did not them prevent with vigilant Fore-sight.

Thus having past all Peril, I was come
Within the Compass of that Island's Space;
The which did seem unto my simple Doom,
The only pleasant and delightful Place,
That ever troden was of Footing's Trace.
For all that Nature by her Mother Wit
Could frame in Earth, and form of Substance base,
Was there; and all that Nature did omit,
Art (playing second Nature's Part) supplied it.

No Tree, that is of count, in Green-wood grows,
From lowest Juniper to Cedar tall;
No Flow'r in Field, that dainty Odour throws,
And decks his Branch with Blossoms over all;
But there was planted, or grew natural:
Nor Sense of Man so coy and curious nice,
But there mote find to please it self withall;
Nor Heart could wish for any quaint Device,
But there it present was, and did frail Sense entice.

In such luxurious Plenty of all Pleasure,
It seem'd a second Paradise I ghess,
So lavishly enrich'd with Nature's Treasure,
That if the happy Souls, which do possess
Th' Elysian Fields, and live in lasting Bless,
Should happen this with living Eye to see,
They soon would loath their lesser Happiness,
And wish to Life return'd again to be,
That in this joyous Place they mote have Joyance free.

Fresh Shadows, fit to shroud from sunny Ray;
Fair Lawnds, to take the Sun in Season due;
Sweet Springs, in which a thousand Nymphs did play;
Soft rumbling Brooks, that gentle Slumber drew;
High reared Mounts, the Lands about to view;
Low-looking Dales, disloign'd from common Gaze;
Delightful Bow'rs, to solace Lovers true;
False Labyrinths, fond Runners Eyes to daze:
All which, by Nature made, did Nature's self amaze.

And all without were Walks and Alleys dight
With divers Trees, enrang'd in even Ranks;
And here and there were pleasant Arbors pight,
And shady Seats, and sundry flowring Banks,
To sit and rest the Walkers weary Shanks:
And therein thousand Pairs of Lovers walk'd,
Praising their God, and yielding him great Thanks,
Ne ever ought but of their true Loves talk'd,
Ne ever for Rebuke or Blame of any balk'd.

All these together by themselves did sport
Their spotless Pleasures, and sweet Loves content.
But far away from these, another sort
Of Lovers linked in true Heart's Consent;
Which loved not as these, for like intent,
But on chaste Vertue grounded their Desire,
Far from all Fraud, or feigned Blandishment;
Which in their Spirits kindling zealous Fire,
Brave Thoughts and noble Deeds did evermore inspire.

Such were great Hercules, and Hylas dear;
True Jonathan, and David trusty try'd;
Stout Theseus, and Perithous his Fear;
Pylades, and Orestes by his side;
Mild Titus, and Gesippus without Pride;
Damon and Pythias, whom Death could not sever:
All these, and all that ever had been ty'd
In Bands of Friendship, there did live forever:
Whose lives, although decay'd, yet Loves decayed never.

Which, when-as I, that never tasted Bliss,
Nor happy Hour, beheld with gazeful Eye,
I thought there was none other Heav'n than this;
And 'gan their endless Happiness envy,
That being free from Fear and Jealousy,
Might frankly there their Love's Desire possess;
Whilst I, through Pains and perlous Jeopardy,
Was forc'd to seek my Life's dear Patroness:
Much dearer be the Things, which come through hard Distress.

Yet all those Sights, and all that else I saw,
Might not my Steps with-hold, but that forth-light
Unto that purpos'd Place I did me draw,
Whereas my Love was lodged day and night:
The Temple of great Venus, that is hight
The Queen of Beauty, and of Love the Mother,
There worshipped of every living Wight;
Whose goodly Workmanship far past all other
That ever were on Earth, all were they set together.

Not that same famous Temple of Diane,
Whose Height all Ephesus did over-see,
And which all Asia sought with Vows profane,
One of the World's seven Wonders said to be,
Might match with this by many a degree:
Nor that, which that wise King of Jewry fram'd,
With endless Cost, to be th' Almighty's See;
Nor all that else through all the World is nam'd
To all the Heathen Gods, might like to this be claim'd.

I, much admiring that so goodly Frame
Unto the Porch approach'd, which open stood;
But therein sat an amiable Dame,
That seem'd to be of very sober Mood,
And in her Semblant shew'd great Womanhood:
Strange was her Tire; for on her Head a Crown
She wore, much like unto a Danisk Hood,
Pouder'd with Pearl and Stone; and all her Gown
Enwoven was with Gold that raught full low adown.

On either side of her two young Men stood,
Both strongly arm'd, as fearing one another;
Yet were they Brethren both of half the Blood,
Begotten by two Fathers of one Mother,
Though of contrary Natures each to other:
The one of them hight Love, the other Hate.
Hate was the elder, Love the younger Brother;
Yet was the younger stronger in his State
Than th' elder, and him maister'd still in all Debate.

Nath'less, that Dame so well them temper'd both,
That she them forced Hand to join in Hand
Albe thee Hatred was thereto full loth,
And turn'd his Face away, as he did stand,
Unwilling to behold that lovely Band.
Yet she was of such Grace and vertuous Might,
That her Commaundment he could not withstand,
But bit his Lip for felonous Despight,
And gnash'd his iron Tusks at that displeasing Sight.

Concord she cleeped was in common Reed,
Mother of blessed Peace, and Friendship true;
They both her Twins, both born of heavenly Seed,
And she herself likewise divinely grew;
The which right well her Works divine did shew:
For Strength, and Wealth, and Happiness she lends,
And Strife, and War, and Anger does subdue;
Of little much, of Foes she maketh Friends,
And to afflicted Minds, sweet Rest and Quiet sends.

By her the Heav'n is in his Course contain'd,
And all the World in State unmoved stands,
As their Almighty Maker first ordain'd,
And bound them with inviolable Bands;
Else would the Waters overflow the Lands,
And Fire devour the Air, and Hell them quite,
But that she holds them with her blessed Hands:
She is the Nurse of Pleasure and Delight,
And undo Venus' Grace the Gate doth open right.

By her I entring, half dismayed was;
But she in gentle wise me entertain'd,
And 'twixt her self and Love did let me pass;
But Hatred would my Entrance have restrain'd,
And with his Club me threatned to have brain'd,
Had not the Lady, with her pow'rful Speech,
Him from his wicked Will uneath refrain'd;
And th' other eke his Malice did empeach,
Till I was throughly past the Peril of his Reach.

Into the inmost Temple thus I came,
Which fuming all with Frankincense I found,
And Odours rising from the Altars Flame.
Upon an hundred Marble Pillors round,
The Roof up high was reared from the Ground,
All deck'd with Crowns, and Chains, and Girlonds gay,
And thousand precious Gifts worth many a Pound,
The which sad Lovers for their Vows did pay;
And all the Ground was strow'd with Flow'rs as fresh as May.

An hundred Altars round about were set
All flaming with their Sacrifice's Fire,
That with the Steam thereof the Temple swet,
Which, roll'd in Clouds, to Heaven did aspire,
And in them bore true Lovers Vows entire:
And eke an hundred brasen Cauldrons bright,
To bathe in Joy and amorous Desire,
Every of which was to a Damsel hight;
For all the Priests were Damsels, in soft Linnen dight.

Right in the midst the Goddess' self did stand,
Upon an Altar of some costly Mass,
Whose Substance was uneath to understand:
For neither precious Stone, nor dureful Brass,
Nor shining Gold, nor mouldring Clay it was;
But much more rare and precious to esteem,
Pure in Aspect, and like to crystal Glass,
Yet Glass was not, if one did rightly deem;
But being fair and brickle, likest Glass did seem.

But it in Shape and Beauty did excel
All other Idols which th' Heathen adore,
Far passing that, which by surpassing Skill
Phidias did make in Paphos Isle of yore,
With which that wretched Greek that Life forlore,
Did fall in love: yet this much fairer shin'd,
But cover'd with a slender Veil afore;
And both her Feet and Legs together twin'd
Were with a Snake, whose Head and Tail were fast combin'd.

The Cause why she was cover'd with a Veil,
Was hard to know, for that her Priests the same
From People's Knowledge labour'd to conceal.
But sooth it was not sure for womanish Shame,
Nor any Blemish which the Work mote blame;
But for (they say) she hath both Kinds in one,
Both Male and Female, both under one Name:
She Sire and Mother is her self alone;
Begets, and eke conceives, ne needeth other none.

And all about her Neck and Shoulders flew
A Flock of little Loves, and Sports, and Toys,
With nimble Wings of Gold and Purple Hue;
Whose Shapes seem'd not like to terrestrial Boys,
But like to Angels playing heavenly Toys:
The whilst their elder Brother was away,
Cupid, their eldest Brother; he enjoys
The wide Kingdom of Love with lordly Sway,
And to his Law compels all Creatures to obey.

And all about her Altar, scatter'd lay
Great sorts of Lovers piteously complaining;
Some of their Loss, some of their Love's Delay,
Some of their Pride, some Paragons disdaining,
Some fearing Fraud, some fraudulently feigning,
As every one had cause of Good or Ill.
Amongst the rest, some one through Love's constraining
Tormented sore, could not contain it still,
But thus brake forth, that all the Temple it did fill:

Great Venus, Queen of Beauty and of Grace,
The Joy of Gods and Men, that under Sky
Dost fairest shine, and most adorn thy Place,
That with thy smiling Look dost pacify
The raging Seas, and mak'st the Storms to fly:
Thee Goddess, thee the Winds, the Clouds do fear,
And when thou spred'st thy Mantle forth on high,
The Waters play, and pleasant Lands appear,
And Heavens laugh, and all the World shews joyous Chear.

Then doth the Daedale Earth throw forth to thee
Out of her fruitful Lap aboundant Flow'rs;
And then all living Wights, soon as they see
The Spring break forth out of his lusty Bow'rs,
They all do learn to play the Paramours:
First do the merry Birds, thy pretty Pages,
Privily pricked with thy lustful Pow'rs,
Chirp loud to thee out of their leafy Cages,
And thee, their Mother, call to cool their kindly Rages.

Then do the salvage Beasts begin to play
Their pleasant Frisks, and loath their wonted Food:
The Lions roar, the Tygers loudly bray,
The raging Bulls rebellow through the Wood,
And breaking forth, dare tempt the deepest Flood,
To come where thou dost draw them with Desire.
So all things else, that nourish vital Blood,
Soon as with Fury thou dost them inspire,
In Generation seek to quench their inward Fire.

So all the World by thee at first was made,
And daily yet thou dost the same repair:
Ne ought on Earth that merry is and glad,
Ne ought on Earth that lovely is and fair,
But thou the same for Pleasure didst prepare.
Thou art the Root of all that joyous is,
Great God of Men and Women, Queen of th' air,
Mother of Laughter, and Well-spring of Bliss;
O graunt that of my Love at last I may not miss.

So did he say: but I with Murmur soft,
That none might hear the Sorrow of my Heart
Yet inly groaning deep and sighing oft,
Besought her to grant Ease unto my Smart
And to my Wound her gracious Help impart.
Whilst thus I spake, behold with happy Eye
I spy'd, where at the idol's Feet apart
A Bevy of fair Damsels close did lie,
Waiting when-as the Anthem should be sung on high.

The first of them did seem of riper Years,
And graver Countenance than all the rest;
Yet all the rest were eke her equal Peers,
Yet unto her obeyed all the best.
Her Name was Womanhood, that she exprest
By her sad Semblant and Demeanure wise:
For stedfast still her Eyes did fixed rest,
Ne rov'd at random after Gazer's Guise,
Whose 'luring Baits oft-times do heedless Hearts entice.

And next to her sate goodly Shamefastness;
Ne ever durst her Eyes from ground up-rear
Ne ever once did look up from her Dess,
As if some Blame of Evil she did fear,
That in her Cheeks made Roses oft appear:
And her against sweet Chearfulness was plac'd,
Whose Eyes like twinkling Stars in Evening clear,
Were deck'd with Smiles, that all sad Humours chac'd,
And darted forth relights, the which her goodly grac'd.

And next to her sate sober Modesty,
Holding her Hand upon her gentle Heart;
And her against sate comely Courtesy,
That unto every Person knew her Part;
And her before was seated over-thwart
Soft Silence, and submiss Obedience,
Both link'd together never to dispart,
Both Gifts of God not gotten but from thence,
Both Girlonds of his Saints against their Foes Offence.

Thus sate they all around in seemly rate:
And in the midst of them a goodly Maid,
Even in the Lap of Womanhood there sate,
The which was all in lilly White array'd,
With silver Streams amongst the Linen stray'd;
Like to the Morn, when first her shining Face
Hath to the gloomy World it self bewray'd:
That same was fairest Amoret in place,
Shining with Beauty's Light, and heavenly Vertue's Grace.

Whom soon as I beheld, my Heart 'gan throb,
And wade in Doubt what best were to be done:
For Sacrilege me seem'd the Church to rob;
And Folly seem'd to leave the thing undone,
Which with so strong Attempt I had begun
Tho, shaking off all Doubt and shamefac'd Fear,
Which Lady's Love I heard had never wan
'Mongst Men of Worth, I to her stepped near,
And by the lilly Hand her labour'd up to rear.

Thereat that formost Matron me did blame,
And sharp rebuke, for being over-bold;
Saying it was to Knight unseemly Shame,
Upon a recluse Virgin to lay hold,
That unto Venus' Services was sold.
To whom I thus; Nay but it fitteth best,
For Cupid's Man with Venus' Maid to hold:
For ill your Goddess' Services are drest
By Virgins, and her Sacrifices let to rest.

With that my Shield I forth to her did show,
Which all that while I closely had conceal'd;
On which when Cupid, with his killing Bow
And cruel Shafts emblason'd she beheld,
At sight thereof she was with Terror quell'd,
And said no more: but I which all that while,
The Pledge of Faith, her Hand engaged held,
Like wary Hind within the weedy Soil,
For no Intreaty would forgo so glorious Spoil.

And evermore upon the Goddess' Face
Mine Eye was fix'd, for fear of her Offence;
Whom when I saw with amiable Grace
To laugh on me, and favour my Pretence,
I was embolden'd with more Confidence;
And nought for Niceness, nor for Envy sparing,
In presence of them all forth led her thence,
All looking on, and like astonish'd staring,
Yet to lay hand on her, not one of all them daring.

She often pray'd, and often me besought,
Sometime with tender Tears to let her go,
Sometime with witching Smiles: but yet for nought,
That ever she to me could say or do,
Could she her wished Freedom from me woo;
But forth I led her through the Temple-gate,
By which I hardly past with much ado:
But that same Lady which me friended late
In Entrance, did me also friend in my Retreat.

No less did Danger threaten me with Dread,
When-as he saw me, maugre all his Pow'r,
That glorious Spoil of Beauty with me lead,
Than Cerberus, when Orpheus did recour
His Leman from the Stygian Prince's Bow'r;
But evermore my Shield did me defend,
Against the Storm of every dreadful Stour:
Thus safely with my Love I thence did wend.
So ended he his Tale, where I this Canto end.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 3:666-680]

[Continue]