1596 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Two Cantos of Mutabilitie.

The Faerie Queene, disposed into XII. Bookes, fashioning Twelve Morall Vertues.

Edmund Spenser


Two additional cantos, and a fragment of a third, undated and posthumously published in 1609. The title is given as, "Two Cantos of Mutabilitie: which, both Forme and Matter, appear to be parcell of some following Booke of the Faerie Queene, under the Legend of Constancie. Never before imprinted. Book VII. Canto VI."

John Upton: "In this Edition I have found some readings, different from any in the former editions, that must come originally from the poet himself. 'Tis highly probable that he had finished three other books, which he called The third part of the Fairy Queen; and one of those books contained the Legend of Constancie: and that these were lost, all excepting the two Cantos above mentioned, either when his house was plundered by the rebels under Tyrone; or by the negligence of his own servant, to whom ('tis said) he had given them in charge to be carried into England, before his own arrival thither" Faerie Queene (1758) 1:xxxix.



Proud Change (not pleas'd, in mortal Things
Beneath the Moon, to reign)
Pretends, as well of Gods, as Men,
To be the Sovereign.

What Man that sees the ever-whirling Wheel
Of Change, the which all mortal things doth sway,
But that thereby doth find, and plainly feel,
How MUTABILITY in them doth play
Her cruel Sports, to many Mens decay?
Which that to all may better yet appear,
I will rehearse that whylom I heard say,
How she at first her self began to real;
Gainst all the Gods, and th' Empire sought from them to bear.

But first, here falleth fittest to unfold
Her antique Race and Linage antient,
As I have found it register'd of old,
In Fairy Land mongst Records permanent:
She was, to weet, a Daughter by descent
Of those old Titans, that did whylome strive
With Saturn's Son for Heaven's Regiment.
Whom, though high Jove of Kingdom did deprive,
Yet many of their Stem long after did survive.

And many of them afterwards obtain'd
Great Power of Jove, and high Authority;
As Hecate, in whose Almighty Hand
He plac'd all Rule and Principality,
To be by her disposed diversly,
To Gods, and Men, as she them list divide:
And drad Bellona, that doth sound on high
Wars and Alarums unto Nations wide,
That makes both Heaven and Earth to tremble at her Pride.

So likewise did this Titaness aspire,
Rule and Dominion to her self to gain;
That as a Goddess, Men might her admire,
And heavenly Honours yield, as to them twain.
And first, on Earth she sought it to obtain;
Where she such Proof and sad Examples shew'd
Of her great Power, to many one's great pain,
That not Men only (whom she soon subdu'd)
But eke all other Creatures, her bad doings ru'd.

For, she the Face of earthly Things so chang'd,
That all with Nature had establisht first
In good Estate, and in meet Order rang'd,
She did pervert, and all their Statutes burst:
And all the World's fair Frame (which none yet durst
Of Gods or Men to alter or misguide)
She alter'd quite, and made them all accurst
That God had blest; and did at first provide
In that still happy State for ever to abide.

Ne she the Laws of Nature only broke,
But eke of Justice, and of Policy;
And Wrong of Right, and Bad of Good did make,
And Death for Life exchangeth foolishly
Since which, all living Wights have learn'd to die,
And all this World is woxen daily worse.
O piteous Work of MUTABILITY!
By which, we all are subject to that Curse,
And Death instead of Life have sucked from our Nurse.

And now, when all the Earth she thus had brought
To her Behest, and thralled to her Might,
She 'gan to cast in her ambitious Thought,
T' attempt th' Empire of the Heaven's hight,
And Jove himself to shoulder from his Right.
And first, she past the Region of the Air,
And of the Fire, whose Substance thin and slight
Made no resistance, ne could her contrair,
But ready passage to her pleasure did prepair.

Thence, to the Circle of the Moon she clamb,
Where Cynthia reigns in everlasting Glory,
To whose bright shining Palace straight she came,
All fairly deckt with Heaven's goodly story;
Whose silver Gates (by which there sate an hoary
Old aged Sire, with Hower-glass in hand,
Hight Time) she entred, were he liefe or sorry:
Ne staid till she the highest Stage had scan'd,
Where Cynthia did sit, that never still did stand.

Her sitting on an Ivory Throne she found,
Drawn of two Steeds, th' one black, the other white;
Environ'd with ten thousand Stars around,
That duely her attended Day and Night;
And by her side, there ran her Page, that hight
Vesper, whom we the Evening-Star intend:
That with his Torch, still twinkling like Twylight,
Her lighten'd all the way where she should wend,
And Joy to weary wandring Travellers did lend.

Tho when the hardy Titaness beheld
The goodly Building of her Palace bright,
Made of the Heaven's Substance, and up-held
With thousand Crystal Pillors of huge hight,
She 'gan to burn in her ambitious Spright,
And e' envy her that in such Glory reign'd.
Eftsoons she cast by Force and tortious Might,
Her to displace; and to her self t' have gain'd
The Kingdom of the Night, and Waters by her wain'd.

Boldly she bid the Goddess down descend,
And let her self into that Ivory Throne;
For, she her self more worthy thereof wend,
And better able it to guide alone:
Whether to Men, whose Fall she did bemoan,
Or unto Gods, whose State she did malign,
Or to th' infernal Powers, her need give Loan
Of her fair Light, and Bounty most benign,
Her self of all that Rule she deemed most condign.

But she that had to her that Sovereign Seat
By highest Jove assign'd, therein to bear
Night's burning Lamp, regarded not her Threat,
Ne yielded ought for Favour or for Fear;
But with stern Countenance and disdainful Chear,
Bending her horned Brows, did put her back:
And boldly blaming her for coming there,
Bade her attonce from Heaven's Coast to pack,
Or at her peril bide the wrathful Thunder's wrack.

Yet nathemore the Giantess forbare:
But boldly pressing-on, raught forth her hand
To pluck her down perforce from off her Chair;
And there-with lifting up her golden Wand,
Threatned to strike her if she did withstand.
Where-at the Stars, which round about her blaz'd,
And eke the Moon's bright Wagon, still did stand,
All being with so bold Attempt amaz'd,
And on her uncouth Habit and stern Look still gaz'd.

Mean-while, the lower World, which nothing knew
Of all that chaunced here, was darkned quite;
And eke the Heavens, and all the heavenly Crew
Of happy Wight, now unpurvaid of Light,
Were much afraid, and wondred at that sight;
Fearing lest Chaos broken had his Chain,
And brought again on them eternal Night:
But chiefly Mercury, that next doth reign,
Ran forth in haste, unto the King of Gods to 'plain.

All ran together with a great Out-cry,
To Jove's fair Palace, fixt in Heavens hight;
And beating at his Gates full earnestly,
'Gan call to him aloud with all their Might,
To know what meant that suddain lack of Light.
The Father of the Gods when this he heard,
Was troubled much at their so strange affright,
Doubting left Typhon were again uprear'd,
Or other his old Foes, that once him sorely fear'd.

Eftsoons the Son of Maia forth he sent
Down to the Circle of the Moon, to know
The cause of this so strange Astonishment,
And why she did her wonted Course forslow;
And if that any were on Earth below
That did with Charms or Magick her molest,
Him to attach, and down to Hell to throw:
But, if from Heaven it were, then to arrest
The Author, and him bring before his presence prest.

The wing'd-foot God, so fast his Plumes did beat,
That soon he came where-as the Titaness
Was striving with fair Cynthia for her Seat:
At whose strange sight, and haughty Hardiness,
He wondred much, and feared her no less.
Yet laying Fear aside to do his charge,
At last, he bade her (with bold stedfastness)
Cease to molest the Moon to walk at large,
Or come before high Jove, her doings to discharge.

And there-with-all, he on her shoulder laid
His snaky-wreathed Mace, whose aweful Power
Doth make both Gods and hellish Fiends affraid:
Where-at the Titaness did sternly lour,
And stoutly answer'd, that in evil Hour
He from his Jove such Message to her brought,
To bid her leave fair Cynthia's silver Bower;
Sith she his Jove and him esteemed nought,
No more than Cynthia's self; but all their Kingdoms sought.

The Heaven's Herald staid not to reply
But past away, his doings to relate
Unto his Lord; who now in th' highest Sky,
Was placed in his principal Estate,
With all the Gods about him congregate:
To whom when Hermes had his Message told,
It did them an exceedingly amate,
Save Jove; who, changing nought his Count'nance bold,
Did unto them at length these Speeches wise unfold.

Harken to me awhile, ye heavenly Powers;
Ye may remember since th' Earth's cursed Seed
Sought to assail the Heaven's eternal Towers,
And to us all exceeding Fear did breed:
But how we then defeated all their Deed,
Ye all do know, and them destroyed quite;
Yet not so quite, but that there did succeed
An Off-spring of their Blood, which did alite
Upon the fruitful Earth, which doth us yet despise.

Of that bad Seed is this bold Woman bred,
That now with bold Presumption doth aspire
To thrust fair Phoebe from her silver Bed,
And eke our selves from Heaven's high Empire,
If that her Might were match to her Desire:
Wherefore, it now behoves us to advise
What way is best to drive her to retire;
Whether by open, Force, or Counsel wise,
Areed ye Sons of God, as best ye can devise.

So having said, he ceast; and with his Brow
(His black Eye brow, whose doomful dreaded Beck
Is wont to wield the World unto his Vow,
And even the highest Powers of Heaven to check)
Made sign to them in their degrees to speak:
Who straight 'gan cast their Counsel grave and wise.
Mean-while, th' Earth's Daughter, tho she nought did reck
Of Hermes' Message; yet 'gan now advise,
What Course were best to take in this her bold Emprize.

Eftsoons she thus resolv'd; that whilst the Gods
(After return of Hermes' Embassy)
Were troubled, and amongst themselves at odds,
Before they could new Counsels re-ally,
To set upon them in that extasy;
And take what Fortune, Time and Place would lend:
So, forth she rose, and through the purest Sky
To Jove's high Palace straight cast to ascend,
To prosecute her Plot: Good On-set boads good End.

She there arriving, boldly in did pass;
Where all the Gods she found in counsel close,
All quite unarm'd, as then their manner was.
At sight of her they suddain all arose
In great amaze, ne wist what way to chose.
But Jove, all fearless, forc'd them to aby;
And in his sovereign Throne 'gan straight dispose
Himself more full of Grace and Majesty,
That mote enchear his Friends, and Foes mote terrify.

That, when the haughty Titaness beheld,
All were she fraught with Pride and Impudence,
Yet with the sight thereof was almost quell'd;
And fully quaking, seem'd as reft of Sense,
And void of Speech in that drad Audience;
Until that Jove himself, her self bespake:
Speak thou frail Woman, speak with confidence,
Whence art thou, and what dost thou here now make?
What idle Errand hast, Earth's Mansion to forsake?

She, half confused with his great Command,
Yet gathering Spirit of her Nature's Pride,
Him boldly answer'd thus to his Demand:
I am a Daughter by the Mother's side,
Of her that is Grand-mother magnify'd
Of all the Gods, great Earth, great Chaos' Child:
But by the Father's (be it not envy'd)
I greater am in Blood (whereon I build)
Than all the Gods, though wrongfully from Heaven exil'd.

For, Titan (as ye all acknowledg must)
Was Saturn's elder Brother by Birth-right;
Both, Sons of Uranus: but by unjust
And guileful Means, through Corybante's Slight,
The younger thrust the elder from his Right:
Since which, thou Jove, injuriously hast held
The Heaven's Rule from Titan's Sons by Might;
And them to hellish Dungeons down hast feld:
Witness ye Heavens the truth of all that I have teld.

Whilst she thus spake, the Gods that gave good ear
To her bold Words, and marked well her Grace,
Being of Stature tall as any there
Of all the Gods, and beautiful of Face,
As any of the Goddesses in place,
Stood all astonied, like a sort of Steers,
Mongst whom, some Beast of strange and foreign Race,
Unwares is chaunc'd, far straying from his Peers:
So did their ghastly Gaze bewray their hidden Fears.

Till having paus'd awhile, Jove thus bespake;
Will never mortal Thoughts cease to aspire,
In this bold sort, to Heaven claim to make,
And touch celestial Seats with earthly Mire?
I would have thought, that bold Procrustes' Hire,
Or Typhon's Fall, or proud Ixion's Pain,
Or great Prometheus, tasting of our Ire,
Would have suffic'd, the rest for to restrain;
And warn'd all Men by their Example to refrain:

But now, this Off-scum of that cursed Fry,
Dare to renew the like bold Enterprize,
And challenge th' Heritage of this our Sky;
Whom what should hinder, but that we likewise
Should handle as the rest of her Allies,
And thunder-drive to Hell? With that he shook
His Nectar-dewed Locks, with which the Skies
And all the World beneath for terror quook,
And eft his burning Levin-brond in hand he took.

But, when he looked on her lovely Face,
In which fair Beams of Beauty did appear,
That could the greatest Wrath soon turn to Grace
(Such sway doth Beauty even in Heaven bear)
He staid his Hand: and having chang'd his Chear,
He thus again in milder wise began;
But ah! if Gods should strive with Flesh yfere,
Then shortly would the Progeny of Man
Be rooted out, if Jove should do still what he can.

But thee fair Titan's Child, I rather ween,
Through some vain Error or Enducement light,
To see that mortal Eyes have never seen;
Or through Ensample of thy Sister's Might,
Bellona, whose great Glory thou dost spight,
Since thou hast seen her dreadful Power below,
Mongst wretched Men (dismay'd with her affright)
To bandy Crowns, and kingdoms to bestow:
And sure thy Worth, no less than hers doth seem to show.

But wote thou this, thou hardy Titaness,
That not the Worth of any living Wight
May challenge ought in Heaven's Interest;
Much less the Tide of old Titan's Right:
For, we by Conquest of our sovereign Might,
And by eternal Doom of Fate's Decree,
Have won the Empire of the Heavens bright;
Which to our selves we hold, and to whom we
Shall worthy deem Partakers of our Bliss to be.

Then cease thy idle Claim thou foolish Girl,
And seek by Grace and Goodness to obtain
That place from which by Folly Titan fell;
There-to thou may'st perhaps, if so thou fain
Have Jove thy Gracious Lord and Sovereign.
So, having said, she thus to him reply'd;
Cease Saturn's Son, to seek by Proffers vain
Of idle Hopes t' allure me to thy side,
For to betray my Right, before I have it try'd.

But thee, O Jove, no equal Judg I deem
Of my Desert, or of my dueful Right;
That in thine own behalf may'st partial seem:
But to the highest Him, that is behight
Father of Gods and Men by equal Might;
To weet, the God of Nature, I appeal.
There-at Jove wexed wroth, and in his Spright
Did inly grudge, yet did it well conceal;
And bade Dan Phoebus Scribe her Appellation seal.

Eftsoons the time and place appointed were,
Where all, both heavenly Powers, and earthly Wights,
Before great Nature's Presence should appear.
For trial of their Titles and best Rights:
That was, to weet, upon the highest hights
Of Arlo-hill (who knows not Arlo-hill?)
That is the highest Head (in all Mens sight)
Of my old Father Mole, whom Shepheards Quill
Renowned hath with Hymns fit for a rural Skill.

And, were it not ill fitting for this File,
To sing of Hills and Woods, mongst Wars and Knights,
I would abase the Sternness of my Stile,
Mongst these stern Stounds to mingle soft Delights;
And tell how Arlo through Diana's Spights
(Being of old the best and fairest Hill
That was in all this Holy-Island's hights)
Was made the most unpleasant, and most ill.
Mean while, O Clio, lend Calliope, thy Quill.

Whylome, when IRELAND flourished in Fame
Of Wealth and Goodness, far above the rest
Of all that bear the British Islands Name,
The Gods then us'd (for Pleasure and for Rest)
Oft to resort there-to, when seem'd them best;
But none of all there-in more pleasure found,
Than Cynthia; that is sovereign Queen profest
Of Woods and Forests, which therein abound,
Sprinkled with wholesom Waters, more than most on ground.

But mongst them all, as fittest for her Game,
Either for Chase of Beasts with Hound or Bow,
Or for to shroud in Shade from Phoebus' flame,
Or bathe in Fountains that do freshly flow,
Or from high Hills, or from the Dales below,
She chose this Arlo, where she did resort
With all her Nymphs enranged on a row,
With whom the woody Gods did oft consort:
For, with the Nymphs, the Satyrs love to play and sport.

Amongst the which, there was a Nymph that hight Molanna; Daughter of old Father Mole,
And Sister unto Mulla, fair and bright:
Unto whose Bed false Bregog whylome stole,
That Shepheard Colin dearly did condole,
And made her luckless Loves well known to be.
But this Molanna, were she not so shole,
Were no less fair and beautiful than she:
Yet as she is, a fairer Flood may no Man see.

For, first, she springs out of two marble Rocks,
On which, a Grove of Oaks high mounted grows,
That as a Girlond seems to deck the Locks
Of some fair Bride, brought forth with pompous Shows
Out of her Bower, that many Flowers strows:
So, through the flowry Dales she tumbling down,
Through many Woods, and shady Coverts flows
(That on each side her silver Channel crown)
Till to the Plain she come, whose Valleys she doth drown.

In her sweet Streams, Diana used oft
(After her sweaty Chace and toilsome Play)
To bathe her self, and after, on the soft
And downy Grass, her dainty Limbs to lay
In covert shade, where none behold her may:
For, much she hated sight of living Eye.
Foolish God Faunus, though full many a day
He saw her clad, yet longed foolishly
To see her naked mongst her Nymphs in privily.

No way he found to compass his Desire,
But to corrupt Molanna, this her Maid,
Her to discover for some secret Hire:
So, her with flattering Words he first assay'd;
And after, pleasing Gifts for her purvay'd,
Queen-Apples, and red Cherries from the Tree,
With which he her allured and betray'd,
To tell what time he might her Lady see
When she her self did bathe, that he might secret be.

There-to he promis'd, if she would him pleasure
With this small Boon, to quit her with a better;
To weet, that whereas she had out of measure
Long lov'd the Fanchin, who by nought did set her,
That he would undertake, for this to get her
To be his Love, and of him liked well:
Besides all which, he vow'd to be her Debter
For many moe good turns than he would tell;
The least of which, this little Pleasure should excel.

The simple Maid did yield to him anon;
And eft him placed where he close might view
That never any saw, save only one;
Who, for his Hire to so Fool-hardy due,
Was of his Hounds devour'd in Hunter's Hue.
Tho, as her manner was on sunny Day,
Diana, with her Nymphs about her, drew
To this sweet Spring; where, doffing her Array,
She bath'd her lovely Limbs, for Jove a likely Prey.

There Faunus saw that pleased much his eye,
And made his Heart to tickle in his Breast,
That for great Joy of somewhat he did spy,
He could him not contain in silent rest;
But breaking forth in Laughter loud, profest
His foolish Thought. A foolish Faune indeed,
That couldst not hold thy self so hidden blest,
But wouldest needs thine own Conceit areed:
Babblers unworthy been of so divine a Meed.

The Goddess, all abashed with that noise,
In haste forth started from the guilty Brook;
And running straight where-as she heard his Voice,
Enclos'd the Bush about, and there him took,
Like darred Lark; not daring up to look
On her whose sight before so much he sought.
Thence, forth they drew him by the Horns, and shook
Nigh all to pieces, that they left him nought;
And then into the open light they forth him brought.

Like as an Huswife, that with busy care
Thinks of her Dairy to make wondrous gain,
Finding whereas some wicked Beast unware
That breaks into her Dair'house, there doth drain
Her creaming Pans, and frustrate all her Pain;
Hath in some Snare or Gin set close behind,
Entrapped him, and caught into her train,
Then thinks what Punishment were best assign'd,
And thousand Deaths deviseth in her vengeful Mind:

So did Diana and her Maidens all
Use silly Faunus, now within their Bail:
They mock and scorn him, and him foul miscall;
Some by the Nose him pluck'd, some by the Tail,
And by his goatish Beard some did him hail:
Yet he (poor Soul) with patience all did bear;
For, nought against their wills might countervail;
Ne ought he said whatever he did hear;
But hanging down his Head, did like a Mome appear.

At length when they had flouted him their fill,
They 'gan to cast what Penance him to give.
Some would have gelt him, but that same would spill
The Wood-Gods Breed, which must for ever live:
Others would through the River him have drive,
And ducked deep; but that seem'd Penance light:
But most agreed, and did this Sentence give,
Him in Deer's Skin to clad; and in that Plight,
To hunt him with their Hounds, himself save how he might.

But Cynthia's self more angry than the rest,
Thought not enough, to punish him in sport,
And of her Shame to make a gamesom Jest;
But 'gan examine him in straighter sort,
Which of her Nymphs, or other close Consort,
Him thither brought, and her to him betray'd.
He much afeard, to her confessed short,
That 'twas Molanna which her so bewray'd:
Then all attonce their Hands upon Molanna laid.

But him (according as they had decreed)
With a Deer's Skin they cover'd, and then chac'd
With all their Hounds, that after him did speed;
But he more speedy, from them fled more fast
Than any Deer: so sore him Dread aghast.
They after follow'd all with shrill Outcry,
Shouting as they the Heavens would have brast:
That all the Woods and Dales, where he did fly,
Did ring again, and loud re-eccho to the sky.

So they him follow'd till they weary were;
When back returning to Molann' again,
They by Commandment of Diana, there
Her whelm'd with Stones. Yet Faunus (for her Pain)
Of her beloved Fanchin did obtain,
That her he would receive unto his Bed.
So now her Waves pass through a pleasing Plain,
Till with the Fanchin she her self do wed,
And (both combin'd) themselves in one fair River spred.

Nath'less Diana, full of Indignation,
Thenceforth abandon'd her delicious Brook;
In whose sweet Stream, before that bad Occasion,
So much Delight to bathe her Limbs she took:
Ne only her, but also quite forsook
All those fair Forests about Arlo hid,
And all that Mountain, which doth over-look
The richest Champain that may else be rid,
And the fair Shure, in which are thousand Salmons bred.

Them all, and all that she so dear did weigh,
Thenceforth she left; and parting from the Place,
Thereon an heavy hapless Curse did lay,
To weet, that Wolves, where she was wont to space,
Should harbour'd be, and all those Woods deface,
And Thieves should rob and spoil that Coast around.
Since which, those Woods, and all that goodly Chace,
Doth to this day with Wolves and Thieves abound:
Which too-too true that Land's In-dwellers since have found.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:1009-23]

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