1596
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Faerie Queene. Book VI. Canto XII.

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 XII. (41 stanzas). — Setting out now on the last stage of his journey, in company with the Knight of Courtesy, the poet begins: — 'Like as a ship, that through the ocean wide | Directs her course unto one certain coast, | Right so it fares with me in this long way, | Whose course is often stayed, yet never is astray'....

"All that has for so long delayed Sir Calidore from his proper quest, 'though out of course, yet hath not been mis-said,' for it has shown his courtesy 'even unto the lowest and the least;' but now we return to his pursuit and final conquest of the Blatant Beast, who has been all this while ranging about, with none to stop or to restrain him. First, however, he brings Pastorella to the castle of Belgard, the seat of his friend the good Sir Bellamour; 'Who whilome was, in his youth's freshest flower, | A lusty knight as ever wielded spear, | And had endured many a dreadful stour | In bloody battle for a lady dear, | The fairest lady then of all that living were.'

"The name of this lady was Claribel; her father, the lord of many islands, and renowned both for his riches and still more for his might, had designed to marry his daughter to his neighbour the Prince of Pictland; but she, bound in heart to Bellamour, married him secretly, upon which her father, seizing both, had them laid in separate dungeons, yet had not been able to prevent Sir Bellamour from obtaining occasional access to his love, who at length brought forth a maiden child, which, to save its life, she gave to her female attendant to be brought up without the knowledge of its parents, and which that trusty damsel took away into the open fields, and, laying it down on the ground, withdrew a little space, and watched behind some bushes till she saw a shepherd, drawn by its cries, come and take it up. But, ere she left the little babe, she had unwrapped it in the full light, and, looking upon it with watery eyes, 'Upon the little breast, like crystal bright, | She mote perceive a little purple mould, | That like a rose her silken leaves did fair unfold.'

"The shepherd carried the infant home to his wife, and the high-born foundling was brought up as their child, and bore their name. Meanwhile, after years had passed away, the fortunes of Bellamour and Claribel had suddenly changed from storm to sunshine: the death of Claribel's father had not only released them from durance, but given them the inheritance of all his wealth; and, when Calidore now came to visit them with Pastorella, they had long been living in peace and freedom, as well as in undiminished affection. Calidore and Bellamour had long ago been companions in fight; or perhaps the expression, 'they twain long since had fought in field,' may mean that they had proved their prowess against each other, and become friends after having been foes; nor does a less strong affection draw Claribel to Pastorella, so that they all greatly enjoy themselves together, till, Pastorella now beginning to wax well and strong, Calidore, leaving her in their charge, departs to resume his pursuit of the Blatant Beast.

"He has not been absent long when Pastorella is found to be the lost daughter of her host and hostess. This discovery is made by Claribel's old handmaid Melissa, who, having now been appointed to attend upon Pastorella, one morning... 'Chanced to espy upon her ivory chest | The rosy mark, which she remembered well | That little infant had, which forth she kest | The daughter of her Lady Claribell, | The which she bore the whiles in prison she did dwell.'

"Running to her lady in extreme agitation, 'My lief,' that is 'My dear,' she exclaims, — 'ye know that long ago, | Whilst ye in durance dwelt, ye to me gave | A little maid, the which ye childed tho: | The same again if now ye list to have, | The same is yonder lady, whom High God did save.' On her breast she has with these eyes seen 'the little purple rose which thereon grew' — 'whereof,' says she, 'her name ye then to her did give.' Her countenance and her years, besides, go to confirm the proof. The mother flies and, tearing open Pastorella's dress, also recognizes the mark, and folds her daughter to her bosom: 'And livest thou, my daughter, now again? | And art thou yet alive, whom dead I long did fain?' And again, 'A thousand times she her embraced near, | With many a joyful kiss and many a melting tear.' But only she who 'is the mother of one child, which having thought long dead she finds alive' could describe this mother's joy. Finally, Bellamour also, having all the facts recounted to him, readily and gladly acknowledges fair Pastorella for his own.

"Upton has a fancy, in which possibly there may be something, that Belgard Castle is Belvoir Castle, the seat of the Earls (now Dukes) of Rutland, and that even the name Bell-amour may contain an allusion to the name of that noble family, Manners, or in French 'Moeurs.' He conceives the descent of the family of Manners from the House of York, through the first earl's grandmother Anne Plantagenet, Duchess of Exeter, a sister of King Edward IV., to be pointed at in the description of Claribel's father; and the Prince of Pictland, to whom he wished to marry her, to be the king of Scotland. The said prince is called the neighbour of Claribel's father; and it may be noticed that the first Earl of Rutland, the favourite of Henry VIII., was Warden of the Scotish Marches. Another of this noble family, Upton observes — meaning Roger, the fifth earl — married the daughter of Sir Philip Sidney; 'but how far,' he adds, 'the story told of Pastorella, who found her parents in Belvoir (Belgard?) Castle, may allude to this alliance I neither affirm nor deny.' Upton's last conjecture, however, would carry more appearance of probability if Sidney had married a daughter of the Earl of Rutland instead of the earl marrying his daughter. It is true, indeed, as Upton remarks, that 'in these kind of historical allusions Spenser usually perplexes the subject; he leads you on, and then designedly misleads you: for he is writing a fairy poem, not giving you the detail of an historian.'

"All this while Calidore has without ever resting been pursuing through all places the Blatant Beast, tracking it by the spoliation it makes wheresoever it comes. He finds that the monster has passed through all other estates, and is now at last come to the clergy, among whom he is making such havoc as 'endless were to tell.' The elfin knight, having left no other place unsearched, at length finds him in a monastery tearing down and destroying with might and main. He has broken into the cloisters, through which he is chasing the monks into their gloomy dormitories, and searching all their cells and other secret places, in which what heaps of filth he comes upon were irksome to report. Nothing regarding either religion or their holy office, the more of their corruptions he discovers the more he tears and tosses away, ransacking all their dens from the greatest to the least. Thence he breaks into the church, and robs the chancel, and overthrows the desks, and befouls the altars, and casts to the ground the images, 'for all their goodly hue.' Here, however, seeing Calidore after him, he starts off with a speed inspired by his recollection of their former encounter; but the knight pursues with still swifter footstep. And at last 'Him in a narrow place he overtook, | And fierce assailing forced him turn again'....

"Calidore beats the monster back as he attempts to bite him, at the same time — 'spitting forth the poison of his spite, | That foamed all about his bloody jaws.' Then rearing aloft his front feet, he ramps or rises up upon him as if to rend him with his claws; but the knight advances his shield, and, putting forth all his strength, forces him backward till he gets him upon the ground, and there he holds him down, even as a bullock which has been felled by the butcher is held down till he be thoroughly subdued. It is in vain that he rages and roars and foams out blood in his struggles to raise himself: — 'He grinned, he bit, he scratched, he venom threw, | And fared like a fiend right horrible in hue'....

"When he finds force will avail him nothing, he sets his hundred tongues agoing, reviling and railing at his adversary with every sharpest and bitterest term of reproach — 'Oft interlacing many a forged lie, | Whose like he never once did speak, nor hear, | Nor ever thought thing so unworthily:' but for all this Calidore only strains him the tighter. At last, when he has almost choked him, he takes 'a muzzle strong of surest iron made with many a link,' and therewith shuts up his mouth and his blasphemous tongue, 'For never more defaming gentle knight, | Or unto lovely lady doing wrong;' and, thereunto attaching a great long chain, draws him after him.... 'Yet greatly did the beast repine at those | Strange bands, whose like till then he never bore, | Ne ever any durst till then impose'....

"Long, the poet adds in conclusion, did the monster remain thus suppressed and tamed by the mastering might of doughty Calidore; but unfortunately he broke his chain and regained his liberty at last; and 'Thenceforth more mischief and more scathe he wrought | To mortal men than he had done before... | Ne may this homely verse, of many meanest, | Hope to escape his venomous despite, | More than my former writs, all were they cleanest | From blameful blot, and free from all that wite | With which some wicked tongues did it backbite, | And bring into a mighty peer's displeasure, | That never so deserved to endite'.... The 'mighty peer' here spoken of is understood to be the Lord Treasurer Burghley; the poet's former writings that had brought him into Burghley's displeasure were probably those parts of the Shepherd's Calendar in which he had reflected on Bishop Aylmer, and the proceedings of the government in the suspension of Archbishop Grindal" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 3:88-96.



Fair Pastorella, by great hap,
Her Parents understands:
Calidore doth the Blatant Beast
Subdue, and bind in Bands.

Like as a Ship, that though the Ocean wide
Directs her Course unto one certain Coast,
Is met of many a counter Wind and Tide,
With which her winged Speed is lett and crost,
And she her self in stormy Surges tost;
Yet making many a Bord, and many a Bay,
Still winneth way, ne hath her Compass lost:
Right so it fares with me in this long way,
Whose Course is often staid, yet never is astray.

For, all that hitherto hath long delaid
This gentle Knight from suing his first Quest,
Though out of course, yet hath not been mis-said,
To shew the Courtesy by him profest,
Even unto the lowest and the least.
But now I come into my Course again,
To his Atchivement of the Blatant Beast;
Who all this while at will did range and reign,
Whilst none was him to stop, nor none him to restrain.

Sir Calidore, when thus he now had raught
Fair Pastorella from those Brigants Power,
Unto the Castle of Belgard her brought;
Whereof was Lord the good Sir Bellamoure;
Who whylom was in his Youth's freshest Flower
A lusty Knight, as ever wielded Spear,
And had endur'd many a dreadful Stour
In bloody Battel for a Lady dear,
The fairest Lady then of all that living were.

Her Name was Claribel: whose Father hight
The Lord of Many Islands, far renown'd
For his great Riches, and his greater Might.
He, through the Wealth wherein he did abound,
This Daughter thought in Wedlock to have bound
Unto the Prince of Picteland, bordering near;
But she, whose Sides before with secret Wound
Of love to Bellamoure empearced were,
By all means shun'd to match with any foreign Feer.

And Bellamoure again so well her pleas'd
With daily Service and Attendance due,
That of her Love he was intirely seiz'd,
And closely did her wed, but known to few.
Which when her Father understood, he grew
In so great rage, that them in Dungeon deep
Without Compassion cruelly he threw;
Yet did so straightly them asunder keep,
That neither could to Company of th' other creep.

Nath'less, Sir Bellamoure, whether through Grace
Or secret Gifts, so with his Keepers wrought,
That to his Love sometimes he came in place;
Whereof her Womb, unwist to Wight, was fraught,
And in due time a Maiden Child forth brought.
Which she straightway (for dread lest if her Sire
Should know thereof, to slay he would have sought)
Deliver'd to her Handmaid, that (for hire)
She should it cause be fostred under strange Attire.

The trusty Damsel, bearing it abroad
Into the empty Fields, where living Wight
Mote not bewray the Secret of her Load,
She forth 'gan lay unto the open Light
The little Babe, to take thereof a sight.
Whom, whilst she did with watry Eyne behold,
Upon the little Breast (like Crystal bright)
She mote perceive a little purple Mold,
That like a Rose, her silken Leaves did fair unfold.

Well she it markt, and pitied the more,
Yet could not remedy her wretched Case;
But closing it again like as before,
Bedew'd with Tears there left it in the place:
Yet left not quite, but drew a little space
Behind the Bushes, where she her did hide,
To weet what mortal Hand, or Heaven's Grace
Would for the wretched Infant's Help provide,
For which it loudly call'd, and pitifully cry'd.

At length, a Shepheard, which there-by did keep
His fleecy Flock upon the Plains around,
Led with the Infant's Cry, that loud did weep,
Came to the place; where when he wrapped found
Th' abandon'd Spoil, he softly it unbound
And seeing there that did him pity sore,
He took it up, and in his Mantle wound;
So, home unto his honest Wife it bore,
Who as her own it nurst, and named evermore.

Thus long continu'd Claribel a Thrall,
And Bellamoure in Bands, till that her Sire
Departed Life, and left unto them all.
Then all the Storms of Fortune's former Ire
Were turn'd, and they to Freedom did retire.
Thence-forth, they joy'd in Happiness together,
And lived long-in Peace and Love entire,
Without disquiet, or dislike of either,
Till time that Calidore brought Pastorella thither.

Both whom they goodly well did entertain;
For, Bellamoure knew Calidore right well,
And loved for his Prowess, sith they twain
Long since had fought in Field. Als Claribel
No less did tender the fair Pastorel,
Seeing her weak and wan, through Durance long.
There they awhile together thus did dwell
In much Delight, and many Joys among,
Until the Damsel 'gan to wex more sound and strong.

Tho, 'gan Sir Calidore him to advise
Of his first Quest, which he had long before;
Asham'd to think, how he that Enterprise,
The which the Fairy-Queen had long afore
Bequeath'd to him, forslacked had so sore;
That much be feared, lest reproachful Blame,
With foul Dishonour him more blot therefore;
Besides the loss of so much Praise and Fame,
As through the World there by should glorify his Name.

Therefore resolving to return in haste
Unto so great Atchievement, he bethought
To leave his Love, now peril being past,
With Claribel, whilst he that Monster sought
Throughout the World, and to Destruction brought.
So, taking leave of his fair Pastorel
(Whom to recomfort, all the means he wrought)
With thanks to Bellamoure and Claribel,
He went forth on his quest, and did that him befel.

But first, e'er I do his Adventures tell
In this Exploit, me needeth to declare
What did betide to the fair Pastorel,
During his absence left in heavy care,
Through daily Mourning, and nightly Misfare:
Yet did that auntient Matron all she might,
To cherish her with all things choice and rare;
And her own Hand-maid, that Melissa hight,
Appointed to attend her duely day and night.

Who, in a Morning, when this Maiden fair
Was dighting her (having her snowy Breast
As yet not laced, nor her golden Hair
Into their comely Tresses duely drest)
Chaunc't to espy upon her Ivory Chest
The rosy Mark, which she remember'd well
That little Infant had, which forth she kest,
The Daughter of her Lady Claribel,
The which she bore, the whiles in Prison she did dwell.

Which well avizing, straight she 'gan to cast
In her conceitful Mind, that this fair Maid
Was that same Infant, which so long since past
She in the open Fields had loosely laid
To Fortune's Spoil, unable it to aid.
So, full of Joy, straight forth she ran in haste
Unto her Mistress, being half dismay'd,
To tell her, how the Heavens had her grac'd,
To save her Child, which in Misfortune's mouth was plac'd.

The sober Mother, seeing such her mood
(Yet knowing not what meant that suddain Throw)
Askt her, how mote her Words be understood,
And what the matter was that mov'd her so.
My Liefe, said she, ye know that long ygo,
Whilst ye in durance dwelt, ye to me gave
A little Maid, the which ye childed tho;
The same again if now ye list to have,
The same is yonder Lady, whom high God did save.

Much was the Lady troubled at that speech,
And 'gan to question straight how she it knew.
Most certain marks, said she, do me it teach;
For, on her Breast I with these Eyes did view
The little purple Rose, which thereon grew,
Whereof her Name ye then to her did give.
Besides, her Countenance, and her likely Hue,
Matched with equal Years, do surely prieve,
That yond same is your Daughter sure, which yet doth live.

The Matron staid no lenger to enquire,
But forth in haste ran to the stranger Maid;
Whom catching greedily for great desire,
Rent up her Breast, and Bosom open laid;
In which that Rose she plainly saw display'd.
Then her embracing 'twixt her Armes twain,
She long so held, and softly weeping said;
And livest thou my Daughter now again?
And art thou yet alive, whom dead I long did fain?

Tho, further asking her of sundry things,
And Times comparing with their Accidents,
She found at last, by very certain signs
And speaking marks of passed Monuments,
That this young Maid, whom Chance to her presents,
Is her own Daughter, her own Infant dear.
Tho, wondring long at those so strange Events,
A thousand times she her embraced near,
With many a joyful Kiss, and many a melting Tear.

Who-ever is the Mother of one Child,
Which having thought long dead, she finds alive,
Let her by proof of that which she hath fil'd
In her own Breast, this Mother's Joy descrive:
For, other none such Passion can contrive
In perfect Form, as this good Lady felt,
When she so fair a Daughter saw survive,
As Pastorella was, that nigh she swelt
For passing Joy, which did all into Pity melt.

Thence running forth unto her loved Lord,
She unto him recounted all that fell:
Who, joining Joy with her in one accord,
Acknowledg'd for his own fair Pastorel.
There leave we them in Joy, and let us tell
Of Calidore; who seeking all this while
That monstrous Beast by final Force to quell,
Through every place, with restless pain and toil
Him follow'd, by the track of his outrageous Spoil.

Through all Estates he found that he had past,
In which he many Massacres had left,
And to the Clergy now was come at last;
In which such spoil, such havock, and such theft
He wrought, that thence all Goodness he bereft
That endless were to tell. The Elfin Knight,
Who now no place besides unsought had left,
At length into a Monastere did light,
Where he him found despoiling all with Main and Might.

Into their Cloysters now he broken had,
Through which the Monks he chaced here and there,
And them pursu'd into their Dortours sad,
And searched all their Cells and Secrets near;
In which, what Filth and Ordure did appear,
Were irksome to report: yet that foul Beast,
Nought sparing them, the more did toss and tear,
And ransack all their Dens from most to least,
Regarding nought Religion, nor their holy Heast.

From thence, into the sacred Church he broke,
And robb'd the Chancel, and the Desks down threw,
And Altars fouled, and Blasphemy spoke;
And th' Images, for all their goodly Hue,
Did cast to ground, whilst none was them to rue;
So all confounded and disorder'd there.
But seeing Calidore, away he flew,
Knowing his fatal Hand by former Fear;
But he him fast pursuing, soon approached near.

Him in a narrow place he overtook,
And fierce assailing, forc'd him turn again:
Sternly he turn'd again, when he him strook
With his sharp Steel, and ran at him amain
With open Mouth that seemed to contain
A full good Peck within the utmost Brim,
All set with iron Teeth in Ranges twain,
That terrify'd his Foes, and armed him,
Appearing like the Mouth of Orcus, griesly grim.

And therein were a thousand Tongues empight,
Of sundry Kinds, and sundry Quality;
Some were of Dogs, that barked Day and Night;
And some of Cats, that wrawling still did cry;
And some of Bears, that groynd continually;
And some of Tygers, that did seem to gren,
And snar at all, that ever passed by:
But most of them were Tongues of mortal Men,
Which spake reproachfully, nor caring where nor when.

And them amongst, were mingled here and there
The Tongues of Serpents, with three-forked Stings,
That spat out Poison and gore bloody Gere
At all that came within his Ravenings;
And spake licentious Words, and hateful Things
Of good and bad alike, of low and high;
Ne Cesars spared he a whit, nor Kings,
But either blotted them with Infamy,
Or bit them with his baneful Teeth of Injury.

But Calidore, thereof no whit afraid,
Rencounter'd him with so impetuous Might,
That th' Outrage of his Violence he staid,
And bet aback, threatning in vain to bite,
And spetting forth the Poison of his Spight,
That foamed all about his bloody Jaws.
Tho, rearing up his former Feet on hight,
He rampt upon him with his ravenous Paws,
As if he would have rent him with his cruel Claws.

But he, right well aware his Rage to ward,
Did cast his Shield atween; and there-withal,
Putting his Puissance forth, pursu'd so hard,
That backward he enforced him to fall:
And being down, e'er he new help could call,
His Shield he on him threw, and fast down held;
Like as a Bullock, that in bloody Stall
Of Butcher's baleful Hand to ground is fell'd,
Is forcibly kept down, till he be throughly quell'd.

Full cruelly the Beast did rage and roar,
To be down held, and maistered so with Might,
That he 'gan fret and foam out bloody Gore,
Striving in vain to rear himself up-right.
For, still the more he strove, the more the Knight
Did him suppress, and forcibly subdue;
That made him almost mad for fell despight.
He grin'd, he bit, he scratch'd, he venom threw,
And fared like a Fiend, right horrible in hue.

Or like the Hell-born Hydra, which they feign
That great Alcides whylome overthrew,
After that he had labour'd long in vain,
To crop his thousand Heads, the which still new
Forth budded, and in greater number grew.
Such was the Fury of his hellish Beast,
Whilst Calidore him under him down threw;
Who nathemore his heavy Load releast:
But aye the more he rag'd, the more his Power increast.

Tho, when the Beast saw he mote nought avail
By force, he 'gan his hundred Tongues apply,
And sharply at him to revile and rail,
With bitter Terms of shameful Infamy;
Oft interlacing many a forged Lye,
Whose like he never once did speak, nor hear,
Nor ever thought thing so unworthily:
Yet did he nought, for all that, him forbear,
But strained him so straightly, that he choakt him near.

At last, when as he found his Force to shrink,
And Rage to quail, he took a Muzzel strong
Of surest Iron, made with many a Link;
There-with he mured up his Mouth along,
And therein shut up his blasphemous Tong,
For never more defaming gentle Knight,
Or unto lovely Lady doing wrong:
And there-unto, a great long Chain he tight,
With which he drew him forth, ev'n in his own despight.

Like as whylome that strong Tirynthian Swain,
Brought forth with him the dreadful Dog of Hell,
Against his Will fast bound in iron Chain;
And roaring horribly, did him compel
To see the hateful Sun; that he might tell
To griesly Pluto, what on Earth was done,
And to the other damned Ghosts, which dwell
For aye in Darkness, which Day-light doth shun:
So led this Knight his Captive, with like Conquest won.

Yet greatly did the Beast repine at those
Strange Bands, whose like till then he never bore,
Ne ever any durst till then impose,
And chauffed inly, seeing now no more
Him liberty was left aloud to roar:
Yet durst he not draw back, nor once withstand
The proved Power of noble Calidore,
But trembled underneath his mighty Hand,
And like a fearful Dog him follow'd through the Land.

Him through all Fairy Land he follow'd so,
As if he learned had Obedience long,
That all the People where-so he did go,
Out of their Towns did round about him throng,
To see him lead that Beast in Bondage strong;
And seeing it, much wondred at the sight;
And all such Persons, as he earst did wrong,
Rejoyced much to see his captive plight,
And much admir'd the Beast, but more admir'd the Knight.

Thus was this Monster, by the maistring Might
Of doughty Calidore, supprest and tam'd,
That never more he mote endamage Wight
With his vile Tongue, which many had defam'd,
And many causeless caused to be blam'd:
So did he eke long after this remain,
Until that (whether wicked Fate so fram'd,
Or fault of Men) he broke his iron Chain,
And got into the World at liberty again.

Thence-forth, more Mischief and more Scathe he wrought
To mortal Men, than he had done before;
Ne ever could by any more be brought
Into like Bands, ne maistred any more;
Albe that long time after Calidore,
The good Sir Pelleas him took in hand;
And after him Sir Lamoracke of yore,
And all his Brethren born in Britain Land;
Yet none of them could ever bring him into Band,

So now he raungeth through the World again,
And rageth sore in each Degree and State;
Ne any is, that may him now restrain,
He growen is so great and strong of late,
Barking, and biting all that him do bate,
All be they worthy Blame or clear of Crime:
Ne spareth he most learned Wits to rate,
Ne spareth he the gentle Poet's Rime,
But rends without regard of Person or of Time.

Ne may this homely Verse, of many meanest,
Hope to escape his venomous Despite,
More than my former Writs, all were they cleanest
From blameful Blot, and free from all that Wite
With which some wicked Tongues did it backbite,
And bring into a mighty Peer's Displeasure,
That never so deserved to endite.
Therefore do you, my Rimes, keep better measure,
And seek to please, that now is counted wise Mens Treasure.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:997-1007]