Faerie Queene. Book V. Canto III.

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 III. (40 stanzas). — We now come at last to the marriage of Marinel and Florimel.... She was brought by Marinel to Fairy Land, there to be made his joyous bride: 'The time and place was blazed far and wide, | And solemn feasts and jousts ordained therefore, | To which there did resort from every side | Of lords and ladies infinite great store;' but we are not to expect all that took place to be recounted. That, the poet warns us, is more than either his knowledge or his subject warrants him to undertake: — 'To tell the glory of the feast that day, | The goodly service, the deviceful sights'.... The feast being over, all prepare for the jousting; and first Sir Marinel issues forth, accompanied by six other knights, all ready to maintain in fight against all comers that the beauty of Florimel excels that of all other women.

"Against them come many 'from every coast and country under sun;' and many passages of arms take place; yet after all on this first day little is either lost or won; but the name that gains the greatest glory is that of Marinel. And so it is likewise on the second day. On the third also the redoubted Lord of the Precious Strand 'through the thickest like a lion flew, | Rashing off helms, and riving plates asunder; | That every one his danger did eschew: | So terribly his dreadful strokes did thunder, | That all men stood amazed, and at his might did wonder.'

"But, venturing in his impetuous courage too far among the thick of his enemies, he is overpowered, and, having been bound by them, is about to be carried away captive, forsaken by all, when unexpected succour arrives. Sir Artegal comes into the tilt-yard, accompanied by Braggadoccio and the snowy lady, whom he has chanced to meet as he rode along. As soon as he learns what has befallen Marinel, not wishing to be known, he desires Braggadoccio to change shields with him; and then, rushing among the captors of Marinel, soon rescues him, although he has first to overcome fifty knights by whom his onset is opposed, and then to get the prisoner out of the hands of as many more who have staid behind to guard him. When Marinel is unbound and at liberty, he and Artegal turn round, and quickly drive the whole force of the enemy from the field. Artegal then restores his borrowed shield to its owner.

"It now falls to be determined to whom the prize of valour for the day belongs; all call for the strange knight, with the shield 'which bore the sun broad blazed in a golden field;' Braggadoccio comes forward; and to him the honour is adjudged by acclamation — the trumpets three times shrilly sounding the name of Don Braggadoccio, and goodly greetings and a thousand thanks being bestowed upon him by the lips of the fairest Florimel herself. But she is confounded with astonishment and shame when the boaster, instead of the usual courteous acknowledgment, answers her rudely and scornfully, that what he has done that day he has done not for her but for his own dear lady's sake, whom he will at his peril maintain to excel in beauty both her and all others whatsoever. And then he brings forth his snowy Florimel, who has been standing by all this while in charge of Trompart, and covered with a veil, which is now uplifted.

"The crowd are stupified with amazement; some say it is surely the true Florimel, others declare that Florimel herself is not so fair — 'so feeble skill of perfect things the vulgar has.' 'Which whenas Marinel beheld likewise, | He was therewith exceedingly dismayed; | Ne wist he what to think, or to devise; | But, like as one whom fiends had made afraid, | He long astonished stood, ne ought he said'.... Artegal, however, now steps forward. 'Thou losel base,' he begins, addressing the Boaster, 'That hast with borrowed plumes thyself endued, | And other's worth with leasings dost deface, | When they are all restored thou shalt rest in disgrace. | That shield, which thou dost bear, was it indeed | Which this day's honour saved to Marinel; | But not that am, nor thou the man, I read, | Which didst that service unto Florimel:' He then calls upon him to show the marks of fight either upon his sword or upon his person; — proceeding 'But this the sword which wrought those cruel stounds, | And this the arm the which that shield did bear, | And these the signs, (so shewed forth his wounds,) | By which that glory gotten doth appear.' As for the lady, he believes her, he declares, to be only 'some fair franion,' or light character, 'fit for such a fere,' or companion, who has chanced to fall into his hands. And for proof he desires that Florimel may be called.... 'Then did he set her by that snowy one, | Like the true saint beside the image set; | Of both their beauties to make paragon | And trial, whether should the honour get. | Straightway, so soon as both together met, | The enchanted damsel vanished into nought'....

"While all are transfixed with astonishment, and Braggadoccio in particular stands 'like a lifeless curse immoveable,' Artegal taking up the golden belt, Florimel's own girdle, presents it to her, and she puts it about her tender waist, which, in evidence of her perfect purity, it perfectly fits. Another claimant upon Braggadoccio's borrowed plumes now comes forward, our old friend Sir Guyon, the champion of Temperance, the appropriation of whose horse by the losel was, it will be remembered, the exploit which first introduced him to our notice, in the Third Canto of the Second Book. It is the same upon which he is still mounted; and Guyon, seizing with one hand on the golden bit, with the other draws his sword and is going to kill the thief at once. He is however held back; and 'Thereof great hotly burly moved was | Throughout the hall for that same warlike horse;' that is to say, apparently, there is a general desire among the knights to get possession of the noble animal, as well as a strong disposition to retain him on the part of Braggadoccio. As, however, that boasting coward will not accept Guyon's challenge to try his right in arms, Artegal asks Guyon if he can mention any private mark about the horse by which he knows him to be his. 'If that, said Guyon, may you satisfy, | Within his mouth a black spot doth appear, | Shaped like a horse's shoe, who list to seek it there.'

"The first that attempts to look into his mouth the horse settles by such a kick in the ribs that he never speaks more; another, who, with more caution, takes hold of him 'by the bright embroidered headstall,' he rids himself of as effectually by biting him through the shoulder-bone. Nor will he allow any one to approach him till Guyon himself speaks to him, and calls him by his name, Brigadore; as soon as he hears that well-known voice he stands as still as a stake, 'And, whenas he him named, for joy he brake | His bands, and followed him with gladful glee, | And frisked, and flung aloft, and looted low on knee.' Artegal now pronounces judgment; the steed is made over to Sir Guyon, arrayed in golden saddle as he stands; and Braggadoccio is commanded to be gone, and 'fare on foot till he an horse have gained.'

"But the proud boaster still reclaims with foul and insolent language against Artegal's decision. The latter is so incensed that he thrice lays his hand on his sword to kill him, and is only prevented by the interference of Guyon. Talus, however, takes him up by the back, and, carrying him forth, inflicts on him a suitable chastisement; — 'First he his beard did shave, and foully shent; | Then from him reft his shield, and it renversed, | And blotted out his arms with falsehood blent; | And himself baffled, and his arms unhersed; | And broke his sword in twain, and all his armour spersed.' Trompart too, although he has taken to his heels, the inevitable iron man catches, and gives him a whipping. And 'now,' says the poet, concluding the Canto, 'when these counterfeits were thus uncased | Out of the foreside of their forgery, | And in the sight of all men clean disgraced, | All gan to jest and gibe full merrily'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 2:196-202.

The Spousals of fair Florimel,
Where turney many Knights:
There Braggadochio is uncas'd,
In all the Ladies sights.

After long Storms and Tempests over-blown,
The Sun at length his joyous Face doth clear;
So when-as Fortune all her Spight hath shown,
Some blissful Hours at last must needs appear;
Else would afflicted Wights oft-times despair.
So comes it now to Florimel by turn,
After long Sorrows suffered whileare,
In which captiv'd she many Months did mourn,
To taste of Joy, and to wont Pleasures to return.

Who being freed from Proteus' cruel Band
By Marinel, was unto him affy'd,
And by him brought again to Fairy-Land;
Where he her spous'd, and made his joyous Bride.
The Time and Place was blazed far and wide;
And solemn Feasts and Giusts ordain'd therefore:
To which there did resort from every side
Of Lords and Ladies infinite great Store;
Ne any Knight was absent that brave Courage bore.

To tell the Glory of the Feast that day,
The goodly Service, the deviseful Sights,
The Bridegroom's State, the Bride's most rich Array,
The Pride of Ladies, and the Worth of Knights,
The royal Banquets, and the rare Delights,
Were Work fit for an Herald, not for me:
But for so much as to my Lot here lights,
That with this present Treatise doth agree,
True Vertue to advance, shall here recounted be.

When all Men had with full Satiety
Of Meats and Drinks their Appetites suffic'd,
To Deeds of Arms and Proof of Chevalry
They 'gan themselves address, full rich aguis'd,
As each one had his Furnitures devis'd.
And first of all issu'd Sir Marinel,
And with him six Knights more, which enterpriz'd
To challenge all in Right of Florimel,
And to maintain, that she all others did excel.

The first of them was hight Sir Orimont,
A noble Knight, and try'd in hard Assays:
The second had to name Sir Bellisont,
But second unto none in Prowess' Praise;
The third was Brunel, famous in his Days;
The fourth Ecastor, of exceeding Might;
The fifth Armeddan, skill'd in lovely Lays:
The sixth was Lansacke, a redoubled Knight:
All six well seen in Arms, and prov'd in many a Fight.

And them against came all that list to giust,
From every Coast, and Country under Sun:
None was debarr'd, but all had leave that lust.
The Trumpets sound; then all together run:
Full many Deeds of Arms that day were done,
And many Knights unhors'd, and many wounded,
As Fortune fell; yet little lost or won:
But all that day the greatest Praise redounded
To Marinel, whose Name the Heralds loud resounded.

The second Day, so soon as morrow Light
Appear'd in Heav'n, into the Field they came,
And there all day continu'd cruel Fight,
With diverse Fortune fit for such a Game,
In which all strove with Peril to win Fame.
Yet whether side was Victor, no'te be guest:
But at the last, the Trumpets did proclaim
That Marinel that day deserved best.
So they disparted were, and all Men went to rest.

The third Day came, that should due Trial lend
Of all the rest, and then this warlike Crew
Together met, of all to make an end.
There Marinel great Deeds of Arms did shew;
And through the thickest like a Lion flew,
Rashing off Helms, and riving Plates asunder,
That every one his Danger did eschew:
So terrible his dreadful Strokes did thunder,
That all Men stood amaz'd, and at his Might did wonder.

But what on Earth can always happy stand?
The greater Prowess greater Perils find.
So far he past amongst his Enemy's Band,
That they have him enclosed so behind,
As by no means he can himself out-wind.
And now perforce they have him Pris'ner taken;
And now they do with captive Bands him bind;
And new they lead him thence, of all forsaken,
Unless some Succour had in time him overtaken.

It fortun'd, whilst they were thus ill beset,
Sir Arthegal into the Tilt-yard came
With Braggadochio, whom he lately met
Upon the way, with that his snowy Dame.
Where, when he understood by common Fame,
What evil hap to Marinel betid,
He much was mov'd at so unworthy Shame,
And straight that Boaster pray'd, with whom he rid,
To change his Shield with him, to be the better hid.

So forth he went, and soon them over-hent,
Where they were leading Marinel away,
Whom he assail'd with dreadless Hardiment,
And forc'd the Burden of their Prize to stay.
They were an hundred Knights of that Array;
Of which th' one half upon himself did set,
Th' other stay'd behind to guard the Prey.
But he e'er long the former fifty bet;
And from the other Fifty soon the Prisoner set.

So back he brought Sir Marinel again;
Whom having quickly arm'd again anew,
They both together joined might and main,
To set afresh on all the other Crew.
Whom with sore Havock soon they overthrew,
And chaced quite out of the Field, that none
Against them durst his Head to Peril shew.
So were they left Lords of the Field alone:
So Marinel by him was rescu'd from his Fone.

Which when he had perform'd, he back again
To Braggadochio did his Shield restore:
Who all this while behind him did remain,
Keeping there close with him in precious Store
That his false Lady, as ye heard afore.
Then did the Trumpets sound, and Judges rose,
And all these Knights, which that day Armour bore,
Came to the open Hall, to listen whose
The Honour of the Prize should be adjudg'd by those.

And thither also came in open sight
Fair Florimel, into the common Hall,
To greet his Guerdon unto every Knight,
And best to him, to whom the best should fall.
Then for that Stranger Knight they loud did call,
To whom that day they should the Girlond yield;
Who came not forth: but for Sir Arthegal
Came Braggadochio, and did shew his Shield,
Which bore the Sun, broad blazed in a golden Field.

The Sight whereof did all with Gladness fill:
So unto him they did addeem the Prize
Of all that Triumph. Then the Trumpets shrill
Don Braggadochio's Name resounded thrice:
So Courage lent a Cloak to Cowardice.
And then to him came fairest Florimel,
And goodly 'gan to greet his brave Emprise,
And thousand Thanks him yield, that had so well
Approv'd that Day, that she all others did excel.

To whom the Boaster, that all Knights did blot,
With proud Disdain did scornful Aunswer make;
That what he did that Day, he did it not
For her, but for his own dear Lady's sake,
Whom on his Peril he did undertake,
Both her, and eke all others to excel:
And further did uncomely Speeches crake.
Much did his Words the gentle Lady quell,
And turn'd aside for Shame to hear what he did tell.

Then forth he brought his snowy Florimel,
Whom Trompart had in keeping there beside,
Cover'd from Peoples Gazement with a Veil.
Whom when discover'd they had throughly ey'd,
With great Amazement they were stupefy'd
And said, that surely Florimel it was,
Or if it were not Florimel so try'd,
That Florimel her self she then did pass:
So feeble Skill of perfect things the Vulgar has.

Which when-as Marinel beheld likewise,
He was therewith exceedingly dismay'd;
Ne wist he what to think, or to devise:
But like as one, whom Fiends had made affraid,
He long astonish'd stood: ne ought he said,
Ne ought he did, but with fast fixed Eyes
He gazed still upon that snowy Maid:
Whom-ever as he did the more avize,
The more to be true Florimel he did surmise.

As when two Suns appear in th' azure Sky,
Mounted in Phoebus' Charet fiery bright;
Both darting forth fair Beams to each Man's Eye,
And both adorn'd with Lamps of flaming Light;
All that behold so strange prodigious Sight,
Not knowing Nature's Work, nor what to ween,
Are rapt with Wonder, and with rare Affright:
So stood Sir Marinel, when he had seen
The Semblant of this false, by his fair Beauty's Queen.

All which, when Arthegal (who all this while
Stood in the Press close cover'd) well had view'd,
And saw that Boaster's Pride and graceless Guile,
He could no longer bear, but forth issu'd,
And unto all himself there open shew'd:
And to the Boaster said; Thou Losel base,
That hast with borrow'd Plumes thy self endu'd,
And other's Worth with Leasings dost deface,
When they are all restor'd, thou shalt rest in Disgrace.

That Shield which thou dost bear, was it indeed
Which this Day's Honour sav'd to Marinel;
But not that Arm, nor thou the Man I reed,
Which did that Service unto Florimel.
For Proof, shew forth thy Sword, and let it tell
What Strokes, what dreadful Stour it stir'd this day:
Or shew the Wounds which unto thee befel;
Or shew the Sweat, with which thou diddest sway
So sharp a Battel, that so many did dismay.

But this the Sword, which wrought those cruel Stounds,
And this the Arm, the which that Shield did bear,
And these the Signs (so shewed forth his Wounds)
By which that Glory gotten doth appear.
As for this Lady which he sheweth here,
Is not (I wager) Florimel at all;
But some fair Franion, fit for such a Fear,
That by Misfortune in his Hand did fall:
For proof whereof, he bade them Florimel forth call.

So forth the noble Lady was ybrought,
Adorn'd with Honour and all comely Grace:
Whereto her bashful Shamefac'dness yrought
A great Increase in her fair blushing face;
As Roses did with Lillies interlace.
For of those Words, the which that Boaster threw,
She inly yet conceived great Disgrace.
Whom when-as all the People such did view,
They shouted loud, and Signs of Gladness all did shew.

Then did he set her by that snowy one,
Like the true Saint beside the Image set;
Of both their Beauties to make Paragone,
And Trial, whether should the Honour get.
Straightway so soon as both together met,
Th' enchaunted Damsel vanish'd into nought:
Her snowy Substance melted as with Heat,
Ne of that goodly Hue remained ought,
But th' empty Girdle which about her Waste was wrought.

As when the Daughter of Thaumantes fair,
Hath in a watry Cloud displayed wide
Her goodly Bow, which paints the liquid Air,
That all Men wonder at her Colours Pride;
All suddenly, e'er one can look aside,
The glorious Picture vanisheth away,
Ne any token doth thereof abide:
So did this Lady's goodly Form decay,
And into nothing go, e'er one could it bewray.

Which whenas all, that present were, beheld,
They stricken were with great Astonishment;
And their faint Hearts with sensless Horror quel'd,
To see the thing that seem'd so excellent,
So stolen from their Fancies Wonderment;
That what of it became, none understood.
And Braggadochio's self with Dreriment
So daunted was in his despairing Mood,
That like a lifeless Corse immovable he stood.

But Arthegal that golden Belt up-took,
The which of all her Spoil was only left;
Which was not hers, as many mistook,
But Florimel's own Girdle, from her reft,
While she was flying, like a weary Weft,
From that foul Monster, which did her compel
To Perils great; which he unbuckling eft,
Presented to the fairest Florimel:
Who round about her tender Waste it fitted well.

Full many Ladies often had assay'd,
About their Middles that fair Belt to knit;
And many a one suppos'd to be a Maid:
Yet it to none of all their Loins would fit,
Till Florimel about her fastned it.
Such Pow'r it had, that to no Woman's Waste
By any Skill or Labour it would fit,
Unless that she were continent and chaste,
But it would loose or break, that many had disgrac'd.

Whilst thus they busied were 'bout Florimel,
And boastful Braggadochio to defame,
Sir Guyon (as by fortune then befel)
Forth from the thickest Prease of People came,
His own good Steed, which he had stoln to claim;
And th' one hand seizing on his golden Bit,
With the other drew his Sword: for, with the same
He meant the Thief there deadly to have smit:
And had he not been held, he nought had fail'd of it.

Thereof great hurry-burly moved was
Throughout the Hall, for that same warlike Horse:
For, Braggadochio would not let him pass;
And Guyon would him algates have perforce,
Or it approve upon his carrion Corse.
Which troublous Stir when Arthegal perceiv'd,
He nigh them drew, to stay th' Avenger's Force;
And 'gan inquire, how was that Steed bereav'd,
Whether by Might extort, or else by Slight deceiv'd.

Who, all that piteous Story, which befel
About that woful Couple which were slain,
And their young bloody Babe to him 'gan tell;
With whom whiles he did in the Wood remain,
His Horse purloined was by subtil Train:
For which he challenged the Thief to fight.
But he for nought could him thereto constrain;
For, as the Death he hated such Despight,
And rather had to lose, than try in Arms his Right.

Which Arthegal well hearing, though no more
By Law of Arms there need one's Right to try,
As was the wont of war-like Knights of yore,
Than that his Foe the Field should him deny;
Yet further Right by Tokens to descry,
He ask'd what privy Tokens he did bear.
If that, said Guyon, may you satisfy,
Within his Mouth a black Spot doth appear,
Shap'd like a Horse's Shoe, who list to seek it there.

Whereof to make due Trial, one did take
The Horse in hand, within his Mouth to look:
But with his Heels so sorely he him strake,
That all his Ribs he quite in pieces broke,
That never word from that day forth he spoke.
Another that would seem to have more Wit,
Him by the bright embroidered Head-stall took;
But by the Shoulder him so sore he bit,
That he him maimed quite, and all his Shoulder split.

Ne he his Mouth would open unto Wight,
Until that Guyon's self unto him spake,
And called Brigadore (so was he hight):
Whose Voice so soon as he did undertake,
Eftsoons he stood as still as any stake,
And suffred all his secret Mark to see:
And when-as he him nam'd, for joy he brake
His Bands, and follow'd him with gladful Glee,
And friskt, and flong aloft, and louted low on Knee.

Thereby Sir Arthegal did plain areed,
That unto him the Horse belong'd, and said;
Lo, there Sir Guyon, take to you the Steed,
As he with golden Saddle is array'd:
And let that Losel, plainly now display'd,
Hence fare on foot, till he an Horse have gain'd.
But the proud Boaster 'gan his Doom upbraid,
And him revil'd, and rated, and disdain'd,
That Judgment so unjust against him had ordain'd.

Much was the Knight incens'd with his leud Word,
To have revenged that his Villany;
And thrice did lay his hand upon his Sword,
To have him slain, or dearly doen aby.
But Guyon did his Choler pacify,
Saying, Sir Knight, it would Dishonour be
To you, that are our Judge of Equity,
To wreak your Wrath on such a Carle as he:
It's punishment enough, that all his Shame do see.

So did he mitigate Sir Arthegal;
But Talus by the Back the Boaster hent,
And drawing him out of the open Hall,
Upon him did inflict this Punishment:
First, he his Beard did shave, and foully shent;
Then from him reft his Shield, and it r'enverst,
And blotted out his Arms with Falshood blent,
And himself baffuld, and his Arms unherst,
And broke his Sword in twain, and all his Armour sperst.

The whiles, his guileful Groom was fled away;
But vain it was to think from him to fly:
Who over-taking him, did disarray,
And all his Face deform'd with Infamy,
And out of Court him scourged openly.
So ought all Faytours, that true Knighthood shame,
And Alms dishonour with base Villany,
From all brave Knights be banish'd with Defame;
For oft their Leudness blotteth good Deserts with Blame.

Now, when these Counterfeits were thus uncas'd
Out of the fore-side of their Forgery,
And in the sight of all Men clean disgrac'd,
All 'gan to jest and gibe full merrily
At the Remembrance of their Knavery:
Ladies 'gan laugh at Ladies, Knights at Knights,
To think with how great Vaunt of Bravery
He them abused, through his subtil Slights,
And what a glorious Shew he made in all their sights.

There leave we them in Pleasure and Repast,
Spending their joyous Days and gladful Nights,
And taking Usury of time fore-past,
With all dear Delices and rare Delights,
Fit for such Ladies and such lovely Knights:
And turn we here to this fair Furrow's end
Our weary Yokes, to gather fresher Sprights,
That when-as time to Arthegal shall tend,
We on his first Adventure may him forward send.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 3:731-41]