The Faerie Queene. Book VI. Canto IV.

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. 2 vols.

Edmund Spenser

George L. Craik: "Canto IV. (40 stanzas). — The chance that effects the rescue of Calepine is the approach of 'a salvage man' who dwells in the neighbouring forest, drawn to the place by Serena's piteous shrieks. The salvage, though he has never till this hour tasted of pity or known gentleness, is yet moved by the furious and insatiable cruelty of Turpin, still 'Chasing the gentle Calepine around, | Ne sparing him the more for all his grievous wound;' and he resolves to deliver the unhappy knight if he may. 'Yet arms or weapon had he none to fight, | Ne knew the use of warlike instruments, | Save such as sudden rage him lent to smite'....

"Instantly, without stopping to consider anything, he rushes upon Turpin, who, being prepared for his assault, 'with the push of his sharp-pointed spear' meets him with a stroke 'so strong and hard full on the breast,' that he forces him to 'recoil and reel arear;' yet neither blood nor wound follows. The only effect is to infuriate the wild man still more, so that he flies again upon him with the madness of a tiger that has missed his prey — 'Regarding neither spear that mote him slay, | Nor his fierce steed that mote him much dismay: | The salvage nation doth all dread despise.' Seizing hold of his shield, he clings to it with so firm a grasp that all the knight's efforts are vain to wrest it from him; he is almost pulled from his steed in the struggle; and, having also now in this close encounter no use of his long spear, he has nothing for it but to relinquish both spear and shield, and to betake himself to flight....

"The salvage man then, seeing his labour vain, returns to Calepine and his lady. Poor Serena, suffering from her own wounds, with her knight now also bleeding and disabled, and further alarmed by this new danger, — that their deliverer may prove anything but a deliverer in the end, — against which she has no defence, can only recommend herself to God, and him implore 'To send her succour, being of all hope forlore.' The wild man, however, comes up to her 'creeping like a fawning hound,' and showing his compassion by kissing his hands and other signs; for all the language he has is a confused murmur of words without sense. Approaching likewise to the bleeding Calepine, he makes 'great moan after his salvage mood,' and then runs into the forest and procures an herb, the juice of which being poured into the wound soon staunches it. Then, taking up Turpin's shield and spear, he leads the way to where he has his dwelling: — 'Far in the forest, by a hollow glade | Covered with mossy shrubs, which spreading broad | Did underneath them make a gloomy shade, | Where foot of living creature never trode, | No scarce wild beasts durst come, there was this wight's abode'....

"Here, therefore, they remain for some space: — 'During which time that wild man did apply | His best endeavour and his daily pain | In seeking all the woods both far and nigh | For herbs to dress their wounds; still seeming fain | When ought he did, that did their liking gain.' The knight's wound is soon healed; but the lady's no herb can be found that will cure, seeing that it is 'inwardly unsound.'

"One day, after Calepine has become quite strong again, he goes abroad unarmed 'to take the air, and hear the thrush's song,' when he is startled by a sight of pity and horror — an infant borne away in the bloody jaws of a bear, and piercing the air with its shrieks. He is instantly after the savage beast, and is all the better for being without the burthen of his arms.... When the bear is overtaken he drops his prey, and turns upon his pursuer; but the bold knight snatching up a stone, thrusts it into his gaping throat and nearly chokes him, and then, closing with him, squeezes him to death. When he takes up the babe and examines it, he finds, to his surprise, that it is unwounded and unhurt; but, looking about for a path by which to return, he can descry none. Turning now in one direction, now in another, he spends the whole day in wandering about to no purpose, the infant also evermore crying for food, to his infinite perplexity. At last, about sunset, he makes his way out of the forest into the open country; and now he hears 'under the forest's side | A voice, that seemed of some womankind, | Which to herself lamenting loudly cried, | And oft complained of fate, and fortune oft defied.'

"Coming up to her, Calepine entreats her to tell him the cause of her distress. Even if he cannot aid her, he observes, it may relieve her only to communicate her grief; and, besides, who can tell? 'Oftimes it haps that sorrows of the mind | Find remedy unsought, which seeking cannot find.' On this she proceeds to relate her story. Her name is Matilde, and she is the wife of bold Sir Bruin, who has lately conquered the country where they are from the giant Cormorant, whom, however, he has not slain, although he has so daunted him by three great overthrows that there is no danger of his giving any further disturbance while his conqueror lives. But with these happy fortunes the fates have mingled one evil: the heavens have not vouchsafed to grant to Sir Bruin and his spouse 'the gladful blessing of posterity,' so that it is probable that after his death all will again return into the possession of the giant. Her lord in particular, Matilde adds, grieves and laments on this account; yet it has been prophesied that — 'there should to him a son | Be gotten, not begotten; which should drink | And dry up all the water which doth run | In the next brook, by whom that fiend should be fordone.'

"For a time Sir Bruin had drawn from this prophecy a hope that he should yet have a son who would quite annihilate the giant; but now the latter, concludes Matilde, 'gins to despise | The good Sir Bruin growing far in years, | Who thinks from me his sorrow all doth rise. | Lo! this my cause of grief to you appears; | For which I thus do mourn, and pour forth ceaseless tears.' Calepine is greatly touched by this relation; but after a few moments it occurs to him that he has it in his power to remedy what the fair lady complains of. Assuring her that, whatever she may think of his proposal, it is at least well meant, he proceeds: — 'And, certes, it hath oftentimes been seen, | That of the like, whose lineage was unknown, | More brave and noble knights have raised been | (As their victorious deeds have often shown, | Being with fame through many nations blown), | Than those which have been dandled in the lap'.... Matilde, 'hearkening to his senseful speech,' considers the scheme to be a very reasonable one; so she gladly accepts the babe, 'And, having over it a little wept, | She bore it thence, and ever as her own it kept'....

"Upton suspects that in this episode of the infant rescued from the bear, Spenser designed an allusion to the fabulous origin assigned by the Irish to the Macmahons, whose name is said to signify sons of a bear, and to have been given to them as descended from the noble English family of the Fitzursulas. He has mentioned the English descent of the Macmahons in his View of the State of Ireland. As for the deeds of the rescued infant, after he became a famous knight, being shown or told elsewhere, that intimation must be supposed to refer to some future portion of the Fairy Queen" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 3:28-34.

Calepine, by a salvage Man,
From Turpine rescu'd is;
And whilst an Infant from a Bear
He saves, his Love doth miss.

Like as a Ship with dreadful Storm long toss'd,
Having spent all her Masts, and her Ground-hold;
Now far from Harbour likely to be lost,
At last some Fisher-Bark doth near behold,
That giveth Comfort to her Courage cold:
Such was the State of this most courteous Knight,
Being oppressed by that Faytour bold,
That he remained in most per'lous Plight,
And his sad Lady left in pitiful Affright:

Till that by Fortune, passing all Foresight,
A salvage Man, which in those Woods did wonne,
Drawn with that Lady's loud and piteous Shright,
Toward the same incessantly did run,
To understand what there was to be done.
There he this most discourteous Craven found,
As fiercely yet, as when he first begun,
Chasing the gentle Calepine around,
Ne sparing him the more for all his grievous Wound.

The salvage Man, that never till this Hour
Did taste of Pity, neither Gentless knew,
Seeing his sharp Assault and cruel Stour,
Was much emmoved at his Peril's View;
That even his ruder Heart began to rue,
And fed Compassion of his evil Plight,
Against his Foe, that did him so pursue:
From whom he meant to free him, if he might,
And him avenge of that so villainous Despight.

Yet Arms or Weapon had he none to fight,
Ne knew the Use of warlike Instruments,
Save such as sudden Rage him lent to smite;
But naked without needful Vestiments,
To clad his Corpse with meet Habiliments,
He cared not for Dint of Sword nor Spear,
No more than for the Strokes of Straws or Bents:
For from his Mother's Womb, which him did bear,
He was invulnerable made by Magick Lear.

He stay'd not to advise, which way were best
His Foe t' assail, or how himself to guard,
But with fierce Fury and with Force infest
Upon him ran; who, being well prepar'd,
His first Assault full warily did ward,
And with the Push of his sharp-pointed Spear
Full on the Breast him strook, so strong and hard,
That forc'd him back recoil, and reel arear;
Yet in his Body made no Wound nor Blood appear.

With that, the wild Man more enraged grew,
Like to a Tyger that hath mist his Prey,
And with mad Mood again upon him flew,
Regarding neither Spear that mote him slay,
Nor his fierce Steed, that mote him much dismay.
The savage Nation doth all Dread despise:
Tho on his Shield he griple hold did lay,
And held the same so hard, that by no wise
He could him force to loose, or leave his Enterprise.

Long did he wrest and wring it to and fro,
And every way did try, but all in vain:
For he would not his greedy Gripe forgo,
But hall'd and pull'd with all his might and main,
That from his Steed him nigh he drew again.
Who having now no use of his long Spear
So nigh at hand, nor force his Shield to strain,
Both Spear and Shield, as things that needless were,
He quite forsook, and fled himself away for fear.

But after him the Wild-man ran apace,
And him pursued with importune Speed:
(For he was swift as any Buck in Chace)
And had he not in his extremest Need,
Been helped through the Swiftness of his Steed,
He had him o'ertaken in his Flight.
Who, ever as he saw him nigh succeed,
'Gan cry aloud with horrible Affright,
And shrieked out; a thing uncomely for a Knight.

But when the Salvage saw his Labour vain,
In following of him, that fled so fast,
He weary woxe, and back return'd again
With speed unto the Place, whereas he last
Had left that Couple, near their utmost Cast.
There he that Knight full sorely bleeding found,
And eke the Lady fearfully aghast,
Both for the Peril of the present Stound,
And also for the Sharpness of her rankling Wound.

For though she were right glad, so rid to be
From that vile Lozel, which her late offended;
Yet now no less Encumbrance she did see,
And Peril by this salvage Man pretended;
'Gainst whom she saw no means to be defended,
By reason that her Knight was wounded sore.
Therefore her self she wholly recommended
To God's sole Grace, whom she did oft implore
To send her Succour, being of all Hope forlore.

But the Wild-man, contrary to her Fear,
Came to her, creeping like a fawning Hound,
And by rude Tokens made to her appear
His deep Compassion of her doleful Stound,
Kissing his Hands, and crouching to the Ground;
For other Language had he none nor Speech,
But a soft Murmur, and confused Sound
Of senseless Words, which Nature did him teach,
T' express his Passions, which his Reason did empeach.

And coming likewise to the wounded Knight,
When he beheld the Streams of purple Blood
Yet flowing fresh; as moved with the Sight,
He made great Moan, after his salvage mood:
And running straight into the thickest Wood,
A certain Herb from thence unto him brought,
Whose Virtue he by Use well understood;
The Juice whereof into his Wound he wrought,
And stopt the bleeding streight, e'er he it stanched thought.

Then taking up that Recreant's Shield and Spear,
Which earst he left, he Signs unto them made,
With him to wend unto his Wonning near:
To which he easily did them persuade.
Far in the Forest by a hollow Glade,
Cover'd with mossy Shrubs, which spreading broad,
Did underneath them make a gloomy Shade;
Where Foot of living Creature never trod,
Ne scarce wild Beasts durst come, there was this Wight's Abode.

Thither he brought these unacquainted Guests;
To whom fair Semblance, as he could, he show'd
By Signs, by Looks, and all his other Gests.
But the bare Ground, with hoary Moss bestrow'd,
Must be their Bed, their Pillow was unsow'd,
And the Fruits of the Forest was their Feast:
For their bad Steward neither plough'd nor sow'd,
Ne fed on Flesh, ne ever of wild Beast
Did taste the Blood, obeying Nature's first Beheast.

Yet howsoever base and mean it were,
They took it well, and thanked God for all;
Which had them fre'ed from that deadly Fear,
And sav'd from being to that Caitive thrall.
Here they of force (as Fortune now did fall)
Compelled were themselves awhile to rest,
Glad of that Easement though it were but small;
That having there their Wounds awhile redrest,
They mote the abler be to pass unto the rest.

During which time, that Wild man did apply
His best Endeavour, and his daily Pain,
In seeking all the Woods both far and nigh
For Herbs to dress their Wounds; still seeming fain,
When ought he did, that did their Liking gain.
So as e'er long he had that Knightes Wound
Recured well, and made him whole again:
But that same Lady's Hurt no Herb he found,
Which could redress, for it was inwardly unsound.

Now whenas Calepine was woxen strong,
Upon a day he cast abroad to wend,
To take the Air, and hear the Thrush's Song,
Unarm'd, as fearing neither Foe nor Friend,
And without Sword his Person to defend.
There him befel, unlooked for before,
An hard Adventure with unhappy End;
A cruel Bear, the which an Infant bore
Betwixt his bloody Jaws, besprinkled all with Gore.

The little Babe did loudly shriek and squall,
And all the Woods with piteous Plaints did fill,
As if his Cry did mean for Help to call
To Calepine, whose Ears those Skrieches shrill
Piercing his Heart with Pity's Point did thrill;
That after him, he ran with zealous Haste,
To rescue th' Infant, e'er he did him kill:
Whom though he saw now somewhat overpast,
Yet by the Cry he follow'd, and pursued fast.

Well then him chaunc'd his heavy Arms to want,
Whose Burden mote impeach his needful Speed,
And hinder him from Liberty to pant:
For having long time, as his daily Weed,
Them wont to wear, and wend on foot for need,
Now wanting them, he felt himself so light,
That like an Hawk, which feeling her self freed
From Bells and Jesses, which did lett her Flight,
Him seem'd his Feet did fly, and in their speed delight.

So well he sped him, that the wary Bear
E'er long he overtook, and forc'd to stay;
And without Weapon him assailing near,
Compell'd him soon the Spoil adown to lay.
Wherewith the Beast enrag'd to lose his Prey,
Upon him turned, and with greedy Force
And Fury, to be crossed in his way,
Gaping full wide, did think without Remorse
To be aveng'd of him, and to devour his Corse.

But the bold Knight no whit thereat dismay'd,
But catching, up in hand a ragged Stone,
Which lay thereby (so Fortune him did aid)
Upon him ran, and thrust it all attone
Into his gaping Throat, that made him groan
And gasp for Breath, that he nigh choaked was,
Being unable to digest that Bone;
Ne could it upward come, nor downward pass:
Ne could he brook the Coldness of the stony Mass.

Whom whenas he thus cumbred did behold,
Striving in vain, that nigh his Bowels brast,
He with him clos'd; and laying mighty Hold
Upon his Throat, did gripe his Gorge so fast,
That wanting Breath, him down to ground he cast;
And then oppressing him with urgent Pain,
E'er long enforc'd to breathe his utmost Blast,
Gnashing his cruel Teeth at him in vain,
And threatning his sharp Claws, now wanting Pow'r to strain.

Then took he up betwixt his Armes twain
The little Babe, sweet Relicks of his Prey;
Whom pitying to hear so sore complain,
From his soft Eyes the Tears he wip'd away,
And from his Face the Filth that did it ray:
And every little Limb he search'd around,
And every Part, that under Sweath-bands lay,
Lest that the Beast's sharp Teeth had any Wound
Made in his tender Flesh; but whole them all he found.

So having all his Bands again up-ty'd,
He with him thought back to return again;
But when he look'd about on every side,
To weet which way were best to entertain,
To bring him to the Place where he would fain,
He could no Path nor Track of Foot descry,
Ne by inquiry learn, nor guess by aim;
For nought but Woods and Forests far and nigh,
That all about did close the Compass of his Eye.

Much was he then encomber'd, ne could tell
Which way to take: now West he went awhile,
Then North; then neither, but as Fortune fell.
So up and down he wander'd many a Mile,
With weary Travel and uncertain Toil,
Yet nought the nearer to his Journey's end;
And evermore his lovely little Spoil
Crying for Food, did greatly him offend:
So all that Day in wandring vainly he did spend.

At last, about the setting of the Sun,
Himself out of the Forest he did wind,
And by Good-fortune the plain Champain won:
Where looking all about, where he mote find
Some place of Succour to content his Mind,
At length he heard under the Forest's side
A Voice, that seemed of some Woman-kind,
Which to her self lamenting, loudly cry'd,
And oft complain'd of Fate, and Fortune oft defy'd.

To whom approaching, whenas she perceiv'd
A Stranger Wight in place, her Plaint she stay'd,
As if she doubted to have been deceiv'd,
Or loth to let her Sorrows be bewray'd.
Whom whenas Calepine saw so dismay'd,
He to her drew, and with fair Blandishment
Her chearing up, thus gently to her said;
What be you, woeful Dame, which thus lament?
And for what Cause declare, so mote ye not repent.

To whom she thus; What need me, Sir, to tell
That which your self have earst ared so right?
A woeful Dame ye have me termed well;
So much more woeful, as my woeful Plight
Cannot redressed be by living Wight.
Nath'less, quoth he, if Need do not you bind,
Do it disclose, to ease your grieved Spright:
Oft-times it haps, that Sorrows of the Mind
Find Remedy unsought, which seeking cannot find.

Then thus began the lamentable Dame;
Sith then ye needs will know the Grief I hoord,
I am th' unfortunate Matilde by Name,
The Wife of bold Sir Bruin, who is Lord
Of all this Land, late conquer'd by his Sword
From a great Giant, called Cormoraunt;
Whom he did overthrow by yonder Ford,
And in three Battles did so deadly daunt,
That he dare not return for all his daily Vaunt.

So is my Lord now seiz'd of all the Land,
As in his Fee, with peaceable Estate,
And quietly doth hold it in his hand,
Ne any dares with him for it debate.
But to those happy Fortunes, cruel Fate
Hath join'd one Evil, which doth overthrow
All these our Joys, and all our Bliss abate;
And like in time to further Ill to grow,
And all this Land with endless Loss to overflow.

For th' Heavens, envying our Prosperity,
Have not vouchsaf'd to grant unto us twain
The gladful Blessing of Posterity,
Which we might see after our selves remain
In th' Heritage of our unhappy Pain:
So that for want of Heirs it to defend,
All is in time like to return again
To that foul Fiend, who daily doth attend
To leap into the same after our Lives end.

But most my Lord is grieved herewithall,
And makes exceeding Moan, when he does think
That all this Land unto his Foe shall fall,
For which he long in vain did sweat and swink,
That now the same he greatly doth for-think.
Yet was it said, there should to him a Son
Be gotten, not begotten, which should drink
And dry up all the Water, which doth run
In the next Brook, by whom that Fiend should be fordone.

Well hop'd he then, when this was prophesy'd,
That from his Side some noble Child should rise,
The which through Fame should far be magnify'd,
And this proud Giant should with brave Emprise
Quite overthrow; who now 'gins to despise
The good Sir Bruin, growing far in years,
Who thinks from me his Sorrow all doth rise.
Lo! this my Cause of Grief to you appears;
For which I thus do mourn, and pour forth ceaseless Tears.

Which when he heard, he inly touched was
With tender Ruth for her unworthy Grief;
And when he had devized of her Case,
He 'gan in Mind conceive a fit Relief
For all her Pain, if please her make the prief.
And having cheared her, thus said: Fair Dame,
In Evils, Counsel is the Comfort chief;
Which though I be not wise enough to frame,
Yet as I well it mean, vouchsafe it without Blame.

If that the Cause of this, your Languishment
Be lack of Children, to supply your Place;
Lo! how good Fortune doth to you prefer:
This little Babe, of sweet and lovely Face,
And spotless Spirit, in which ye may enchace
Whatever Forms ye list thereto apply,
Being now soft and fit them to embrace;
Whether ye list him train in Chevalry,
Or noursle up in Lore of learn'd Philosophy.

And certes it hath oftentimes been seen,
That of the like whose Lineage was unknown
More brave and noble Knights have raised been
(As their victorious Deeds have often shown,
Being with Fame through many Nations blown)
Than those which have been dandled in the Lap:
Therefore some thought, that those brave Imps were sown
Here by the Gods, and fed with heavenly Sap,
That made them grow so high t' all honourable Hap.

The Lady, hearkning to his senseful Speech,
Found nothing that he said, unmeet nor geason,
Having oft seen it try'd, as he did teach.
Therefore inclining to his goodly Reason,
Agreeing well both with the Place and Season,
She gladly did of that same Babe accept,
As of her own by Livery and Seisin;
And having over it a little wept,
She bore it thence, and ever as her own it kept.

Right glad was Calepine to be so rid
Of his young Charge, whereof he skilled nought:
Ne she less glad; for she so wisely did,
And with her Husband under hand so wrought;
That when that Infant unto him she brought,
She made him think it surely was his own,
And it in goodly Thews so well up-brought,
That it became a famous Knight well known,
And did right noble Deeds, the which elsewhere are shown.

But Calepine, now being left alone
Under the Green-wood's side in sorry plight,
Withouten Arms or Steed to ride upon,
Or House to hide his Head from Heaven's spight,
Albe that Dame (by all the means she might)
Him oft desired home with her to wend,
And offer'd him (his Court'sy to require)
Both Horse and Arms, and whatso else to lend;
Yet he them all refus'd, though thank'd her as a Friend.

And for exceeding Grief which inly grew,
That he his Love so luckless now had lost,
On the cold Ground, maugre, himself he threw,
For fell Despight, to be so sorely cross'd,
And there all night himself in Anguish toss'd;
Vowing, that never he in Bed again
His Limbs would rest, ne lig in Ease emboss'd,
Till that his Lady's Sight he mote attain,
Or understand that she in Safety did remain.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:900-10]