The Faerie Queene. Book VI. Canto IX.

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 IX. (46 stanzas). — We have heard nothing of Calidore, although it is to his adventures that the present Book professes to be dedicated, since he rescued Serena from the Blatant Beast, as related in the Third Canto. To him the poet now returns, with the following exordium, addressed, we presume, to Cupid, as the chief guide of his song, invoked by him as such in the prelude to the First Book: — 'Now turn again my team, thou jolly swain, | Back to the furrow which I lately left; | I lately left a furrow one or twain | Unploughed, the which my coulter had not cleft'....

"Many toils and perils has Calidore undergone, pursuing the Blatant Beast, day and night, with only such rest as nature absolutely requires, 'through hills, through dales, through forests, and through plains'.... Here one day he falls upon a company of shepherds, playing on their pipes and carolling, while their flocks feed beside them among the budded brooms. To his inquiry if they have seen such a beast as he describes, which he says has fled from him in the direction of where they are, they answer that none such has been seen by them, nor any other evil thing, that might disturb or endanger their happy peace; 'But if that such there were (as none they kenned) | They prayed high God them far from them to send.'

"Then one of them, seeing him perspiring with fatigue, offers him drink and also somewhat to eat if he be hungry. He, nothing nice where is no need, accepts their gentle offer; so they pray him to sit down, and place before him a homely meal, of which he feeds his full. And now the poet, who throughout this book has never yet ventured far into the air, spreads his wings for one of his long flights. The strain of unbroken music that follows is of great though quiet beauty. Calidore, looking up, sees close by — 'a fair damsel, which did wear a crown | Of sundry flowers with silken ribands tied, | Yclad in home-made green that her own hands had dyed'....

"He concludes by intimating that he does not mean either to be chargeful to his host, or that his being with them shall make any change in their way of living; their humble food shall be his daily feast, and this their cabin both his bower, or chamber, and hall; but the old man thrusts away his offered gold: if he covet to try 'this simple sort of life that shepherds lead,' he is welcome to make their cottage his own. 'So there that night Sir Calidore did dwell, | And long while after, whilst him list remain, | Daily beholding the fair Pastorel, | And feeding on the bait of his own bane'....

"All this irritates the jealousy of Corydon, who complains to the other shepherds of Pastorella's loving a stranger more than she does him, and whenever he finds himself in company with Calidore shows his ill humour and impatience in every look and gesture. The knight, on the other hand, so far from feeling any such malice, or grudging him his fair opportunities, does all he can to grace his rival with the object of their common affection.... 'He would commend his gift, and make the best: | Yet she no whit his presents did regard, | Ne him could find to fancy in her breast: | This new-come shepherd had his market marred. | Old love is little worth when new is more prefarred.'

"One day when they are met to hold their merry sports, 'As they are wont in fair sunshiny weather, | The whiles their flocks in shadows shrouded be,' they fall to dance, and it is agreed that Colin Clout shall pipe, 'as one most fit,' and that Calidore shall lead the ring, as standing highest in Pastorella's favour: 'Thereat frowned Corydon, and his lip closely bit.' But the courteous Calidore takes his rival, who has been accustomed to lead the dance, and sets him in his place; and when Pastorella, taking a garland of flowers from her own head, places it on that of the knight, he transfers that too to Corydon, who thereupon suddenly waxes quite frolic from seeming to have no life in him at all. Another time when Corydon challenges him to a wrestling match, Pastorella being appointed judge, and a garland being the meed of victory, he gives the aspiring shepherd such a fall as all but breaks his neck; 'Then was the oaken crown by Pastorel | Given to Calidore as his due right; | But he, that did in courtesy excel, | Gave it to Corydon, and said he won it well.' In this way does the gentle knight, rising above the untaught clowns about him in all his deeds, not only establish himself in their good will and favour, but at last succeed in sowing the seeds of true love in the mind of the rustic beauty that has won his heart. 'Thus Calidore continued there long time | To win the love of the fair Pastorel'....

"It is strange that the editors of the Fairy Queen should not have perceived that Pastorella is Frances Walsingham, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, whom Sir Philip Sidney, who is Calidore, married. Sir Francis Walsingham appears also as Melibee, or Melibae, in another of Spenser's poems, The Ruins of Time, to be afterwards noticed. The character here given to the old shepherd is exactly suitable to Sir Francis, who, for all his great employments, died (6th April, 1590) so poor that his friends had to bury him privately in the night to prevent his body being seized by his creditors. Lord Henry Howard (afterwards Earl of Northampton), in a dedication addressed to Walsingham in 1583, declares, 'that the sweetness of his disposition, the frankness of his mind, the credit of his place, the level of his long experience, and the depth of his judgment, were means sufficient and strong enough to draw the minds of all persons well disposed both to love and honour him.' His daughter, and only child, two or three years after Sidney's death became the wife of the Earl of Essex, Elizabeth's celebrated favourite, who was thought in marrying her to descend below his rank. Accordingly, she is here represented as of an apparently humble condition, though, as we shall find, it is afterwards made to appear that she is really of high descent. This is the poet's way of hinting that as the daughter of Walsingham, although he was only a simple knight, she was a match for any nobleman. Her name, Pastorella, carries an obvious allusion to the Arcadia" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 3:64-74.

Calidore hostes with Melibee,
And loves fair Pastorel;
Coridon envies him, yet he
For ill rewards him well.

Now turn again my Team, thou jolly Swain,
Back to the Furrow which I lately left;
I lately left a Furrow, one or twain
Unplough'd, the which my Coulter hath not cleft:
Yet seem'd the Soil both fair and fruitful eft,
As I it past; that were too great a Shame,
That so rich Fruit should be from us bereft;
Besides the great Dishonour and Defame,
Which should befal to Calidore's immortal Name.

Great Travel hath the gentle Calidore
And Toil endured, sith I left him last
Suing the Blatant Beast; which I forbore
To finish then, for other present Haste.
Full many Paths, and Perils he hath past,
Thro Hills, thro Dales, thro Forests, and thro Plains,
In that same Quest, which Fortune on him cast;
Which he atchieved to his own great Gains,
Reaping eternal Glory of his restless Pains.

So sharply he the Monster did pursue,
That day nor night he suffer'd him to rest:
Ne rested he himself (but Nature's Due)
For Dread of Danger not to be redress'd,
If he for Sloth forslack'd so famous Quest.
Him first from Court he to the Cities cours'd,
And from the Cities to the Towns him press'd,
And from the Towns into the Country forc'd,
And from the Country back to private Farms he scors'd.

From thence into the open Fields he fled,
Whereas the Herds were keeping of their Neat,
And Shepherds singing to their Flock, that fed,
Lays of sweet Love and Youth's delightful Heat:
Him thither eke (for all his fearful Threat)
He follow'd fast, and chaced him so nigh,
That to the Folds, where Sheep at night do fear,
And to the little Cotes, where Shepherds lie
In Winter's wrathful time, he forced him to fly.

There on a day as he pursu'd the Chace,
He chaunc'd to spy a sort of Shepherd Grooms,
Playing on Pipes, and caroling apace,
The whiles their Beasts there in the budded Brooms
Beside them fed, and nipt the tender Blooms:
For other worldly Wealth they cared nought.
To whom Sir Calidore yet sweating comes,
And them to tell him courteously besought,
If such a Beast they saw, which he had thither brought.

They answer'd him, that no such Beast they saw,
Nor any wicked Fiend, that mote offend
Their happy Flocks, nor Danger to them draw:
But if that such there were (as none they ken'd)
They pray'd high God him far from them to fend.
The one of them him seeing so to sweat,
After his rustick wise (that well he ween'd)
Offer'd him Drink, to quench his thirsty Heat,
And if he hungry were, him offer'd eke to eat.

The Knight was nothing nice, where was no need,
And took their gentle Offer: so adown
They pray'd him sit, and gave him for to feed
Such homely what, as serves the simple Clown,
That doth despise the Dainties of the Town.
Tho, having fed his fill, he there beside
Saw a fair Damsel, which did wear a Crown
Of sundry Flow'rs, with silken Ribbands ty'd,
Yclad in home-made Green that her own Hands had dy'd.

Upon a little Hillock she was plac'd
Higher than all the rest, and round about
Environ'd with a Girlond, goodly grac'd,
Of lovely Lasses: and them all without
The lusty Shepherd Swains sate in a Rout,
The which did pipe and sing her Praises due,
And oft rejoice, and oft for Wonder shout,
As if some Miracle of heavenly Hue
Were down to them descended in that earthly View.

And soothly sure she was full fair of Face,
And perfectly well shap'd in ev'ry Limb;
Which she did more augment with modest Grace,
And comely Carriage of her Count'nance trim,
That all the rest like lesser Lamps did dim:
Who her admiring as some heavenly Wight,
Did for their sovereign Goddess her esteem,
And caroling her Name both day and night,
The fairest Pastorella her by Name did hight.

Ne was there Herd, ne was there Shepherd's Swain
But her did honour, and eke many a one
Burnt in her Love, and with sweet pleasing Pain
Full many a Night for her did sigh and groan:
But most of all the Shepherd Coridon
For her did languish, and his dear Life spend;
Yet neither she for him, nor other none
Did care a whit, ne any liking lend:
Though mean her Lot, yet higher did her Mind ascend.

Her whiles Sir Calidore there viewed well,
And mark'd her rare Demeanure, which him seem'd
So far the Mean of Shepherds to excel,
As that he in his Mind her worthy deem'd,
To be a Prince's Paragone esteem'd,
He was unwares surpriz'd in subtil Bands
Of the blind Boy, ne thence could be redeem'd
By any Skill out of his cruel Hands,
Caught like the Bird, which gazing still on others stands.

So stood he still long gazing thereupon,
He any will had thence to move away,
Altho his Quest were far afore him gone;
But after he had fed, yet did he stay,
And sate there still, until the flying Day
Was far-forth spent, discoursing diversly
Of sundry things, as fell to work Delay;
And evermore his Speech he did apply
To th' Herds, but meant them to the Damsel's Fantasy.

By this, the moisty Night approaching fast,
Her dewy Humour 'gan on th' Earth to shed,
That warn'd the Shepherds to their Homes to haste
Their tender Flocks, now being fully fed,
For fear of wetting them before their Bed.
Then came to them a good old aged Sire,
Whose silver Locks bedeck'd his Beard and Head,
With Shepherd's Hook in hand, and fit Attire,
That will'd the Damsel rise; the Day did now expire.

He was to weet by common Voice esteem'd
The Father of the fairest Pastorel,
And of her self in very Deed so deem'd;
Yet was not so, but as old Stories tell
Found her by Fortune, which to him befel,
In th' open Fields an Infant left alone
And taking up brought home, and nursed well
As his own Child; for other he had none,
That the in Tract of Time accounted was his own.

She at his bidding meekly did arise;
And straight unto her little Flock did fare:
Then all the rest about her rose likewise,
And each his sundry Sheep with several Care
Gather'd together, and them homeward bare:
Whilst every one with helping Hands did strive
Among themselves, and did their Labours share,
To help fair Pastorella home to drive
Her fleecy Flock; but Coridon most help did give.

But Melibee (so hight that good old Man)
Now seeing Calidore left all alone,
And Night arrived hard at hand, began
Him to invite unto his simple Home;
Which though it were a Cottage clad with Lome,
And all things therein mean, yet better so
To lodge, than in the salvage Fields to roam.
The Knight full gladly soon agreed thereto,
Being his Heart's own Wish, and home with him did go.

There he was welcom'd of that honest Sire,
And of his aged Beldame homely well;
Who him besought himself to disattire,
And rest himself, till Supper-time befel;
By which, home came the fairest Pastorel,
After her Flock she in their Fold had ty'd:
And, Supper ready dight, they to it fell
With small ado, and Nature satisfy'd,
The which doth little crave, contented to abide.

Tho, when they had their Hunger slaked well,
And the fair Maid the Table ta'en away;
The gentle Knight, as he that did excel
In Courtesy, and well could do and say,
For so great Kindness as he found that day,
'Gan greatly thank his Host and his good Wife;
And drawing thence his Speech another way,
'Gan highly to commend the happy Life
Which Shepherds lead, without Debate or bitter Strife.

How much, said he, more happy is the State,
In which ye, Father, here do dwell at ease,
Leading a Life so free and fortunate,
From all the Tempests of these worldly Seas,
Which toss the rest in dangerous Disease?
Where Wars, and Wrecks, and wicked Enmity
Do them afflict, which no Man can appease;
That certes I your Happiness envy,
And wish my Lot were plac'd in such Felicity.

Surely my Son (then answer'd he again)
If happy, then it is in this Intent,
That having small, yet do I not complain
Of Want, ne wish for more it to augment,
But do my self, with that I have, content;
So taught of Nature, which doth little need
Of foreign Helps to Life's due Nourishment:
The Field's my Food, my Flock my Rayment breed;
No better do I wear, no better do I feed.

Therefore I do not any one envy,
Nor am envy'd of any one therefore;
They that have much, fear much to lose thereby,
And Store of Cares do follow Riches Store.
The little that I have grows daily more
Without my Care, but only to attend it:
My Lambs do every Year increase their Score,
And my Flock's Father daily doth amend it.
What have I, but to praise th' Almighty, that doth send it?

To them that list, the World's gay Shows I leave,
And to great ones such Follies do forgive,
Which oft thro Pride do their own Peril weave,
And thro Ambition down themselves do drive
To sad Decay, that might contented live.
Me no such Cares nor combrous Thoughts offend,
Ne once my Mind's unmoved Quiet grieve;
But all the Night in silver Sleep I spend,
And all the Day, to what I list, I do attend.

Sometimes I hunt the Fox, the vowed Foe
Unto my Lambs, and him dislodge away;
Sometimes the Fawn I practise from the Doe,
Or from the Goat her Kid how to convey;
Another while I Baits and Nets display,
The Birds to catch, or Fishes to beguile:
And when I weary am, I down do lay
My Limbs in every Shade, to rest from Toil,
And drink of every Brook, when Thirst my Throat doth boil.

The time was once, in my first Prime of Years,
When Pride of Youth forth pricked my Desire,
That I disdain'd amongst mine equal Peers
To follow Sheep and Shepherds base Attire:
For further Fortune then I would enquire;
And leaving Home, to Royal Court I sought,
Where I did sell my self for yearly Hire,
And in the Prince's Garden daily wrought:
There I beheld such Vainness, as I never thought.

With sight whereof soon cloy'd, and long deluded
With idle Hopes, which them do entertain,
After I had ten Years my self excluded
From native Home, and spent my Youth in vain,
I 'gan my Follies to my self to plain,
And this sweet Peace, whose lack did then appear.
Tho, back returning to my Sheep again,
I from thenceforth have learn'd to love more dear
This lowly quiet Life, which I inherit here.

Whilst thus he talk'd, the Knight with greedy Care
Hong still upon his melting Mouth attent;
Whose senseful Words empierc'd his Heart so near,
That he was wrapt with double Ravishment,
Both of his Speech, that wrought him great Content,
And also of the Object of his View,
On which his hungry Eye was always bent;
That 'twixt his pleasing Tongue, and her fair Hue,
He lost himself, and like one half entranced grew.

Yet to occasion Means to work his Mind,
And to insinuate his Heart's Desire,
He thus reply'd; Now surely, Sire, I find,
That all this World's gay Shows, which we admire,
Be but vain Shadows to this safe Retire
Of Life, which here in Lowliness ye lead,
Fearless of Foes, or Fortune's wreckful Ire,
Which tosseth States, and under foot doth tread
The mighty ones, afraid of every Change's Dread.

That even I, which daily do behold
The Glory of the Great, 'mongst whom I wonne;
And now have prov'd, what Happiness ye hold
In this small Plot of your Dominion,
Now loath great Lordship and Ambition;
And wish the Heavens so much had graced me,
As grant me live in like Condition;
Or that my Fortunes might transposed be
From Pitch of higher Place, unto this low Degree.

In vain, said then old Melibee, do Men
The Heavens of their Fortune's Fault accuse;
Sith they know best, what is the best for them:
For they to each such Fortune do diffuse,
As they do know each can most aptly use.
For not that which Men covet most, is best,
Nor that thing worst, which Men do most refuse:
But fittest is, that all contented rest
With that they hold: each hath his Fortune in his Breast.

It is the Mind that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch or happy, rich or poor:
For some, that hath abundance at his Will,
Hath not enough, but wants in greatest Store;
And other, that hath little, asks no more,
But in that little is both rich and wise:
For Wisdom is most Riches; Fools therefore
They are, which Fortunes do by Vows devize,
Sith each unto himself his Life may fortunize.

Since then in each Man's self, said Calidore,
It is, to fashion his own Life's Estate,
Give leave awhile, good Father, in this Shore
To rest my Bark, which hath been beaten late
With Storms of Fortune and tempestuous Fate,
In Seas of Troubles and of toilsom Pain;
That whether quite from them for to retreat
I shall resolve, or back to turn again,
I may here with your self some small Repose obtain.

Not that the Burden of so bold a Guest
Shall chargeful be, or change to you at all;
For your mean Food shall be my daily Feast,
And this your Cabin both my Bow'r and Hall.
Besides, for Recompence hereof, I shall
You well reward, and golden Guerdon give,
That may perhaps you better much withall,
And in this Quiet make you safer live.
So forth he drew much Gold, and toward him it drive.

But the Good-man, nought tempted with the Offer
Of his rich Mould, did thrust it far away,
And thus bespake; Sir Knight, your bounteous Proffer
Be far from me, to whom ye ill display
That mucky Mass, the cause of Mens Decay,
That mote empair my Peace with Danger's Dread.
But if ye algates covet to assay
This simple sort of Life that Shepherds lead,
Be it your own: our Rudeness to your self aread.

So there that Night Sir Calidore did dwell,
And long while after, whilst him list remain,
Daily beholding the fair Pastorel,
And feeding on the Bait of his own Bane.
During which time he did her entertain
With all kind Courtesies he could invent;
And every day, her Company to gain,
When to the Field she went, he with her went:
So for to quench his Fire, he did it more augment.

But she that never had acquainted been
With such queint Usage, fit for Queens and Kings,
Ne ever had such knightly Service seen
(But being bred under base Shepherds Wings,
Had ever learn'd to love the lowly things)
Did little whit regard his courteous Guise;
But cared more for Colin's Carolings
Than all that he could do, or e'er devize:
His Lays, his Loves, his Looks, she did them all despise.

Which Calidore perceiving, thought it best
To change the manner of his lofty Look;
And doffing his bright Arms, himself addrest
In Shepherd's Weed, and in his Hand he took,
Instead of Steel-head Spear, a Shepherd's Hook;
That who had seen him then, would have bethought
On Phrygian Parts by Plexippus' Brook,
When he the Love of fair Oenone sought,
What time the golden Apple was unto him brought.

So being clad, unto the Fields he went
With the fair Pastorella every day,
And kept her Sheep with diligent Attent,
Watching to drive the ravenous Wolf away,
The whilst at pleasure she mote sport and play;
And every Evening helping them to fold:
And otherwhiles for need, he did assay
In his strong Hand their rugged Teats to hold,
And out of them to press the Milk: Love so much could.

Which seeing Coridon, who her likewise
Long time had lov'd, and hop'd her Love to gain,
He much was troubled at that Stranger's Guize,
And many jealous Thoughts conceiv'd in vain,
That this of all his Labour and long Pain
Should reap the Harvest, e'er it ripen'd were;
That made him scour, and pout, and oft complain
Of Pastorel to all the Shepherds there,
That she did love a stranger Swain than him more dear.

And ever when he came in Company,
Where Calidore was present, he would lour,
And bite his Lip, and even for Jealousy
Was ready oft his own Heart to devour,
Impatient of any Paramour:
Who on the other side did seem so far
From malicing, or grudging his good Hour,
That all he could, he graced him with her,
Ne ever shewed Sign of Rancour or of Jar.

And oft, when Coridon unto her brought
Or little Sparrows, stolen from their Nest,
Or wanton Squirrels, in the Woods far sought,
Or other dainty thing for her addrest;
He would commend his Gift, and make the best;
Yet she no whit his Presents did regard,
Ne him could find to fancy in her Breast:
This new-come Shepherd had his Market marr'd.
Old Love is little worth, when new is more prefer'd.

One day whenas the Shepherd Swains together
Were met, to make their Sports and merry Glee,
As they are wont in fair Sun-shiny Weather,
The whiles their Flocks in Shadows shrouded be,
They fell to dance: then did they all agree,
That Colin Clout should pipe, as one most fit;
And Calidore should lead the Ring, as he
That most in Pastorella's Grace did fit;
Thereat frown'd Coridon, and his Lip closely bit.

But Calidore, of courteous Inclination,
Took Coridon, and set him in his Place,
That he should lead the Dance, as was his fashion;
For Coridon could dance, and trimly trace.
And whenas Pastorella, him to grace,
Her flowry Garland took from her own Head,
And plac'd on his, he did it soon displace,
And did it put on Coridon's in stead:
Then Coridon woxe frolick, that earst seemed dead.

Another time, whenas they did dispose
To practise Games, and Masteries to try,
They for their Judge did Pastorella chose;
A Garland was the Meed of Victory.
There Coridon, forth stepping openly,
Did challenge Calidore to wrestling Game:
For he through long and perfect Industry,
Therein well practis'd was, and in the same
Thought sure t' avenge his Grudge, and work his Foe great Shame.

But Calidore he greatly did mistake;
For he was strong and mightily stiff pight,
That with one Fall his Neck he almost brake:
And had he not upon him fallen light,
His dearer Joint he sure had broken quite.
Then was the oaken Crown by Pastorel
Given to Calidore, as his due Right;
But he, that did in Courtesy excel,
Gave it to Coridon, and said he won it well.

Thus did the gentle Knight himself abear
Amongst that rustick Rout in all his Deeds,
That even they, the which his Rivals were,
Could not malign him, but commend him needs:
For Courtesy amongst the rudest breeds
Good-will and Favour. So it surely wrought
With this fair Maid, and in her Mind the Seeds
Of perfect Love did sow, that last forth brought
The Fruit of Joy and Bliss, tho long time dearly bought.

Thus Calidore continu'd there long time,
To win the Love of the fair Pastorel;
Which having got, he used without Crime
Or blameful Blot; but menaged so well,
That he of all the rest, which there did well,
Was favoured, and to her Grace commended.
But what strange Fortunes unto him befel,
E'er he attain'd the Point by him intended,
Shall more conveniently in other place be ended.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:960-71]