The first, three-book installment of Spenser's magnum opus was published with the letter to Raleigh and several commendatory poems.
Ralph Church: "The very small number of Errata (comparatively speaking) which were then noted, and the gross blunders which were overlooked, must convince every one that our Poet could have had no concern in correcting that impression. Some years after, viz. in 1596, Spenser republished those three Books in a Volume of the same size with the former, and with several valuable Amendments both in the Words and Phrases; and particularly with an Alteration at the Close of the third Book" Faerie Queene (1758) 1:iii.
Joseph Spence owned a copy of this volume; see A. N. L. Munby, Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons (1971-75) 2:156.
George L. Craik: "The poem, and the First Book, entitled The Legend of the Knight of the Red Cross, or of Holiness, are introduced by the following invocation to Clio, Cupid, Venus, Mars, and Queen Elizabeth: — 'Lo! I, the man whose Muse whilome did mask, | As time her taught, in lowly shepherd's weeds....' And then commences the story.
"Canto I. (55 stanzas). — The moral subject designed to be shadowed forth in this Canto is the victory of Holiness over Error, and the manner in which that virtue was afterwards for a time deceived and entrapped by Hypocrisy. It opens as follows: — 'A gentle knight was pricking on the plain....' Seeking to return after the storm has passed, they cannot find the path by which they entered the forest, but are involved in a confusion of ways which quite bewilder them. At length, pushing right forward, they come to 'a hollow cave amid the thickest woods.' The knight dismounts, and will not he dissuaded by either the lady or the dwarf, — who tells him that 'This is the Wandering Wood, this Error's Den, | A monster vile, whom God and man does hate,' from entering the cave. There — 'his glistening armour made | A little glooming light, much like a shade....' We give the battle that ensues as one specimen of Spenser's power of painting in this style, his command of which is not generally suspected by those to whom his poetry is known only by reputation, and also as the first of the long succession of allegoric inventions in the Fairy Queen: — 'Their dam upstart out of her den afraid, | And rushed forth, hurling her hideous tail....'
"They now soon find a path which takes them out of the wood, and they travel forward for a long way as before, without any adventure. 'At length they chanced to meet upon the way | An aged sire, in long black weeds yclad....' The old hermit, as he professes to be, informs the knight of a strange wicked man, who, he says, wastes all the neighbouring country far and near, and who has his dwelling in a wasteful wilderness inaccessible to living wight. In the prospect of a new adventure which this account holds out, the knight is easily persuaded to agree to take up his inn with 'the godly father' for that night; and so they all accompany him to his home.
"When darkness comes on he gets them all to bed in their several apartments, and then, — 'when all drowned in deadly sleep he finds, | He to his study goes; and there amids | His magic books, and arts of sundry kinds, | He seeks out mighty charms to trouble sleepy minds....' The god, however, is roused at last, and the spirit communicates his message, an order from Archimago that he would send him 'a fit false Dream, that can delude the sleeper's scent' (or senses). 'The god obeyed; and, calling forth straightway | A divers Dream out of his prison dark, Delivered it to him....'
"The 'idle Dream' he bids fly at the knight, and 'with false shews abuse his fantasy:' — 'And that new creature, born without her due, | Full of the maker's guile, with usage sly | He taught to imitate that lady true, | Whose semblance she did carry under feigned hue.' The Dream places itself upon 'the hardy head' of the knight; the lady by his side.... When in the agitation into which he is thus thrown he starts up from his sleep, — 'Lo, there before his face his lady is, | Under black stole hiding her baited hook..,,' Dismayed and enraged, in his first heat he thinks to slay her; but, weeping and 'wringing her hands in women's piteous wise,' she throws the blame of all on fate and 'the blind god;' and, perplexed as he is, he deems it best to quiet her with mild and gentle words, by which at last she is prevailed upon to depart" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:110-21.
Lo, I the Man, whose Muse whileom did mask,
As time her taught, in lowly Shepherds weeds,
Am now enforc't a far unfitter Task,
For Trumpets stern to change mine oaten Reeds,
And sing of Knights, and Ladies gentle Deeds;
Whose Praises having slept in silence long,
Me, all too mean, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broad, amongst her learned Throng:
Fierce Warres, and faithful Loves, shall moralize my Song.
Help then, O holy Virgin, chief of nine,
Thy weaker Novice to perform thy Will:
Lay forth out of thine everlasting Scrine
The antique Rolls, which there lie hidden still,
Of Fairy Knights, and fairest Tanaquill,
Whom that most noble Briton Prince so long
Sought through the World, and suffer'd so much Ill,
That I must rue his undeserved Wrong:
O! help thou my weak Wit, and sharpen my dull Tongue.
And thou, most dreaded Imp of highest Jove,
Fair Venus' Son, that with thy cruel Dart
At that good Knight so cunningly didst rove,
That glorious Fire it kindled in his Heart;
Lay now thy deadly Heben Bowe apart,
And with thy Mother mild come to mine ayd:
Come both, and with you bring triumphant Mart,
In Loves and gentle Jollities arrayd,
After his murdrous Spoiles and bloody Rage allayd.
And with them eke, O Goddess heavenly bright,
Mirrour of Grace and Majesty Divine,
Great Lady of the greatest Isle, whose Light
Like Phoebus' Lamp throughout the World doth shine,
Shed thy fair Beames into my feeble Eyne,
And raise my Thoughts, too humble, and too vile,
To think of that too glorious Type of thine,
The Argument of mine afflicted Stile:
The which to hear, vouchsafe, O dearest Dread, a-while.
The Patron of true Holiness
Foul Error doth defeat:
Hypocrisy him to entrap,
Doth to his Home entreat.
A Gentle Knight was pricking on the Plain,
Yclad in mightie Arms and silver Shield,
Wherein old dints of deep Wounds did remain,
The cruel Marks of many a bloodie Field;
Yet Arms till that time did he never wield:
His angry Steed did chide his foming Bit;
As, much disdaining to the Curb to yield:
Full jolly Knight he seem'd, and fair did sit,
As one for Knightly Giusts and fierce Encounters fit.
But on his Breast a bloody Cross he bore,
The dear Remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious Badge he wore,
And dead (as living ) ever him ador'd:
Upon his Shield the like was also scor'd,
For soveraign Hope, which in his help he had:
Right faithful true he was in Deed and Word;
But of his Cheere did seem too solemn sad:
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad.
Upon a great Adventure he was bond,
That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
That greatest glorious Queen of Fairy Lond,
To win him Worship, and her Grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did crave;
And ever as he rode, his Heart did earn
To prove his Puissance in Battle brave
Upon his Foe, and his new force to learn;
Upon his Foe, a Dragon horrible and stearn.
A lovely Lady rode him fair beside,
Upon a lowly Asse more white than Snow;
Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide
Under a Veil, that wimpled was full low,
And over all a black Stole she did throw,
As one that inly mournd: so was she sad,
And heavie sat upon her Palfrey slow;
Seemed in heart some hidden care she had,
And by her in a line a milk-white Lamb she lad.
So pure an Innocent, as that same Lamb,
She was in Life and every vertuous Lore,
And by Descent from Royall Lynage came
Of ancient Kings and Queens, that had of yore
Their Scepters stretcht from East to Western Shore,
And all the World in their Subjection held;
Till that infernal Fiend with foul uprore
Forewasted all their Land, and them expeld:
Whom to avenge, she had this Knight from far compeld.
Behind her farr away a Dwarf did lag,
That lazie seem'd in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her Bag
Of Needments at his Back. Thus as they past,
The Day with Clouds was suddain overcast,
And angry Jove an hideous Storm of Rain
Did pour into his Leman's Lap so fast,
That every Wight to shroud it did constrain,
And this fair Couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.
Enforc't to seek some Covert nigh at hand
A shadie Grove not farr away they spide,
That promist Aid the Tempest to withstand:
Whose lofty Trees, yclad with Summer's Pride,
Did spread so broad, they Heaven's Light did hide,
Not perceable with power of any Starr:
And all within were Paths and Alleys wide,
With footing worne, and leading inward farr:
Fair Harbour, that them seems; so in they entred are.
And forth they pass, with Pleasure forward led,
Joying to hear the Birds sweet Harmony,
Which therein shrouded from the Tempest dread,
Seem'd in their Song to scorn the cruel Sky.
Much 'gan they praise the Trees so straight and high,
The sailing Pine, the Cedar proud and tall,
The Vine-prop Elm, the Poplar never dry,
The builder Oak, sole King of Forrests all,
The Aspine good for Staves, the Cypress Funeral.
The Laurel, Meed of mighty Conquerors
And Poets sage, the Firr that weepeth still,
The Willow, worn of forlorn Paramours,
The Ewe, obedient to the Bender's will,
The Birch for Shafts, the Sallow for the Mill,
the Mirrhe, sweet bleeding in the bitter Wound,
The warlike Beech, the Ash for nothing ill,
The fruitful Olive, and the Platane round,
The Carver Holme, the Maple seldom inward sound.
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Until the blustring Storm is over-blown;
When weening to return whence they did stray,
They cannot find that Path which first was shown,
But wander to and fro in ways unknown,
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween,
That makes them doubt their Wits be not their own:
So many Paths, so many Turnings seen,
That which of them to take in diverse doubt they been.
At last resolving forward still to fare,
Till that some End they find or in or out,
That Path they take, that beaten seem'd most bare,
And like to lead the Labyrinth about;
Which when by Track they hunted had throughout,
At length it brought them to a hollow Cave,
Amid the thickest Woods. The Champion stout
Eftsoons dismounted from his Courser brave,
And to the Dwarf awhile his needless Spear he gave.
Be well aware, quoth then that Lady mild,
Lest sudden Mischief ye too rash provoke:
The Danger hid, the Place unknown and wild,
Breeds dreadful Doubts: Oft Fire is without Smoke,
Peril without show: therefore your hardy stroke,
Sir Knight, with-hold till further trial made.
Ah Lady (said he) Shame were to revoke
The forward footing for an hidden Shade:
Vertue gives her self Light, through Darkness for to wade.
Yea, but (quoth she) the Peril of this Place
I better wot than you, tho now too late,
To wish you back return with foul Disgrace;
Yet Wisdom warns, whilst Foot is in the Gate,
To stay the Step, ere forced to retreat.
This is the wandring Wood, this Error's Den,
A Monster vile, whom God and Man does hate:
Therefore I reed, beware. Fly, fly (quoth then
The tearful Dwarf) this is no place for living Men.
But full of Fire and greedy Hardiment,
The youthful Knight could not for ought be staid,
But forth unto the darksome Hole he went,
And looked in: His glistring Armour made
A little glooming Light, much like a Shade,
By which he saw the ugly Monster plain,
Half like a Serpent horribly displaid,
But th' other half did Woman's Shape retain,
Most loathsom, filthy, foul, and full of vile Disdain.
And as she lay upon the dirty Ground,
Her huge long Tail her Den all overspred,
Yet was in Knots and many Boughtes upwound,
Pointed with mortal Sting. Of her there bred
A thousand young ones, which she daily fed,
Sucking upon her poisonous Dugs, each one
Of sundry Shapes, yet all ill favoured:
Soon as that uncouth Light upon them shone,
Into her Mouth they crept, and sudden all were gone.
Their Dam upstart, out of her Den effraide,
And rushed forth, hurling her hideous Tail
About her cursed Head; whose Folds display'd,
Were stretch'd now forth at length without Entrail.
She look'd about, and seeing one in Mail
Armed to point, sought back to turn again;
For Light she hated as the deadly bale,
Ay wont in defers Darkness to remain,
Where plain none might her see, nor she see any plain.
Which when the valiant Elf perceiv'd, he lept
As Lion fierce upon the flying Prey,
And with his trenchant Blade her boldly kept
From turning back, and forced her to stay:
Therewith enrag'd, she loudly 'gan to bray,
And turning fierce, her speckled Tail advaunc'd,
Threatning her angry Sting, him to dismay:
Who nought aghast, his mighty Hand enhaunst;
The stroke down from her Head unto her Shoulder glaunst.
Much daunted with that Dint, her Sense was daz'd,
Yet kindling Rage she her self gathered round,
And all at once her beastly Body rais'd
With doubled Forces high above the Ground:
Tho wrapping up her wreathed Stern around,
Lept fierce upon his Shield, and her huge Train
All suddenly about his Body wound,
That Hand or Foot to stir he strove in vain:
God help the Man so wrapt in Error's endless Train.
His Lady sad,to see his sore constraint,
Cry'd out, Now, now, Sir Knight, shew what ye be,
Add Faith unto your Force, and be not faint:
Strangle her, else she sure will strangle thee.
That when he heard, in great perplexity,
His Gall did grate for Grief and high Disdain,
And knitting all his Force got one Hand free,
Wherewith he grip'd her Gorge with so great Pain,
That soon to loose her wicked Bands did her constrain.
Therewith she spew'd out of her filthy Maw
A flood of Poison horrible and black,
Full of great Lumps of Flesh and Gobbets raw,
Which stunk so vildly, that it forc'd him slack
His grasping hold, and from her turn him back:
Her Vomit full of Books and Papers was,
With loathly Frogs and Toads, which Eyes did lack,
And creeping, sought way in the weedy Grass:
Her filthy Parbreake all the Place defiled has.
As when old Father Nilus 'gins to swell
With timely Pride above th' Aegyptian Vale,
His fatty Waves do fertile Slime outwell,
And overflow each Plain and lowly Dale:
But when his later Ebb 'gins to avail,
Huge heaps of Mud he leaves, wherein there breed
Ten thousand kinds of Creatures, partly Male
And partly Female, of his fruitful Seed;
Such ugly monstrous Shapes elsewhere may no Man reed.
The same so sore annoyed has the Knight,
That well nigh choaked with the deadly stink,
His Forces fail, ne can no longer fight:
Whose Courage when the Fiend perceiv'd to shrink,
She poured forth out of her hellish Sink
Her fruitful cursed Spawn of Serpents small,
Deformed Monsters, foul, and black as ink;
Which swarming all about his Legs did crawll,
And him encumbred sore, but could not hurt at all.
As gentle Shepherd in sweet Even-tide,
When ruddy Phoebus 'gins to welk in West,
High on an Hill, his Flock to vewen wide,
Marks which do bite their hasty Supper best;
A Cloud of combrous Gnats do him molest,
All striving to infix their feeble Stings,
That from their novance he no where can rest,
But with his clownish Hands their tender Wings
He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their Murmurings.
Thus ill bestedd, and fearful more of Shame
Than of the certain Peril he stood in,
Half furious unto his Foe he came,
Resolv'd in mind all suddenly to win,
Or soon to lose, before he once would lin;
And strook at her with more than manly Force,
That from her Body, full of filthy Sin,
He raft her hateful Head without Remorse;
A stream of cole black Blood forth gushed from her Corse.
Her scatter'd Brood, soon as their Parent dear
They saw so rudely falling to the ground,
Groaning full deadly, all with troublous fear,
Gather'd themselves about her Body round,
Weening their wonted Entrance to have found
At her wide Mouth: but being there withstood,
They flocked all about her bleeding Wound
And sucked up their dying Mother's Blood,
Making her Death their Life, and eke her Hurt their Good.
That detestable sight him much amaz'd,
To see th' unkindly Imps of Heaven accurst,
Devour their Dam; on whom while so he gaz'd,
Having all satisfy'd their bloody Thirst,
Their Bellies swoln he saw with fulness burst,
And Bowels gushing forth; well worthy end
Of such as drunk her Life, the which them nurs'd.
Now needeth him no lenger Labour spend,
His Foes have slain themselves, with whom he should contend.
His Lady seeing all that chaunst, from far,
Approach'd in haste to greet his Victory,
And said, Fair Knight, born under happy Star,
Who see your vanquish'd Foes before you ly,
Well worthy be you of that Armory,
Wherein ye have great Glory won this day,
And prov'd your strength on a strong Enemy,
Your first Adventure: many such I pray
And henceforth ever wish, that like succeed it may.
Then mounted he upon his steed again,
And with the Lady backward sought to wend;
That Path he kept, which beaten was most plain,
Ne ever would to any by-way bend,
But still did follow one unto the end,
The which at fall out of the Wood them brought.
So forward on his way (with God to frend)
He passeth forth, and new Adventure sought;
Long way he travelled, before he heard of ought.
At length they chaunst to meet upon the way
An aged Sire, in long black Weeds yclad,
His Feet all bare, his Beard all hoary Gray,
And by his Belt his Book he hanging had;
Sober he seem'd, and very sagely sad,
And to the Ground his Eyes were lowly bent,
Simple in shew, and void of Malice bad,
And all the way he prayed, as he went
And often knock'd his Breast, as one that did repent.
He fair the Knight saluted, louting low,
Who fair him quited, as that courteous was:
And after asked him, if he did know
Of strange Adventures, which abroad did pass.
Ah my dear Son (quoth he) how should, alas!
Silly old Man, that lives in hidden Cell,
Bidding his Beads all day for his Trespass,
Tydings of War and worldly Trouble tell?
With holy Father fits not with such things to mell.
But if of Danger which hereby doth dwell,
And homebred Evil ye desire to hear,
Of a strange Man I can you Tydings tell,
That wasteth all this Country far and near.
Of such (said he) I chiefly do inquere,
And shall you well reward to shew the Place,
In which that wicked Wight his Days doth wear:
For to all Knighthood it is foul Disgrace,
That such a cursed Creature rises so long a space.
Far hence (quoth he) in wastful Wilderness
His Dwelling is, by which no living Wight
May ever pass, but thorough great Distress.
Now (said the Lady) draweth toward Night,
And well I wote, that of your later Fight
Ye all for wearied be: for what so strong,
But wanting Rest, will also want of Might?
The Sun that measures Heaven all day long,
At Night doth bait his Steeds the Ocean Waves emong.
Then with the Sun take, Sir, your timely Rest,
And with new Day new Work at once begin:
Untroubled Night, they say, gives Counsel best.
Right well, Sir Knight, ye have advised bin,
(Quoth then that aged Man); the way to win
Is wisely to advise: Now Day is spent,
Therefore with me ye may take up your Inn
For this same Night. The Knight was well content:
So with that godly Father to his Home they went.
A little lowly Hermitage it was,
Down in a Dale, hard by a Forests side,
Far from resort of People, that did pass
In Travel to and fro: a little wide
There was an holy Chappel edify'd,
Wherein the Hermit duely wont to say
His holy things each Morn and Even-tyde:
Thereby a Chrystal Stream did gently play,
Which from a sacred Fountain welled forth alway.
Arrived there, the little House they fill,
Ne look for Entertainment where none was:
Rest is their Feast, and all things at their will;
The noblest Mind the best Contentment has.
With fair Discourse the Evening so they pass;
For that old Man of pleasing Words had store,
And well could file his Tongue as smooth as Glass;
He told of Saints and Popes, and evermore
He strow'd an Ave-Mary after and before.
The drooping Night thus creepeth on them fast,
And the sad Humour loading their Eye-lids,
As Messenger of Morpheus on them cast
Sweet slumbring Dew, the which to sleep them bids.
Unto their Lodgings then his Guests he ridds:
Where when all drown'd in deadly sleep he finds,
He to his Study goes, and there amidds
His Magick Books and Arts of sundry kinds,
He seeks out mighty Charms to trouble sleepy Minds.
Then chusing out few words most horrible,
(Let none them read) thereof did Verses frame,
With which, and other Spells like terrible,
He bad awake black Pluto's griesly Dame,
And cursed Heaven, and spake reproachful Shame
Of highest God, the Lord of Life and Light;
A bold bad Man, that dar'd to call by Name
Great Gorgon, Prince of Darkness and dead Night,
At which Cocytus quakes, and Styx is put to flight.
And forth he call'd, out of deep Darkness dread,
Legions of Sprights, the which like little Flies
Fluttring about his ever-damned Head,
Await whereto their Service he applies,
To aid his Friends, or fray his Enemies:
Of those he chose out two, the falsest two,
And fittest for to forge true-seeming Lyes;
The one of them he gave a Message to,
The other by himself staid other Work to do.
He making speedy way through spersed Air,
And through the World of Waters wide and deep,
To Morpheus' House doth hastily repair.
Amid the Bowels of the Earth full steep,
And low, where dawning Day doth never peep,
His dwelling is; there Thetis his wet Bed
Doth ever wash, and Cynthia still doth steep
In silver Dew his ever-drooping Head,
Whiles sad Night over him her Mantle black doth spread.
Whose double Gates he findeth locked fast,
The one fair fram'd of burnish'd Ivory,
The other all with Silver over-cast;
And wakeful Dogs before them far do lie,
Watching to banish Care their Enemy,
Who oft is wont to trouble gentle Sleep.
By them the Sprite doth pass in quietly,
And unto Morpheus comes, whom drowned deep,
In drowsy Fit he finds; of nothing he takes keep.
And more to lull him in his Slumber soft,
A trickling Stream from high Rock tumbling down,
And ever drizling Rain upon the Loft,
Mixt with a murmuring Wind, much like the Sound
Of swarming Bees, did cast him in a Swoon:
No other Noise, nor Peoples troublous Cries,
As still are wont t' annoy the walled Town
Might there be heard: But careless Quiet lies.
Wrapt in eternal Silence, far from Enemies.
The Messenger approching, to him spake,
But his waste words return'd to him in vain:
So found be slept, that nought mought him awake.
Then rudely he him thrust, and push'd with Pain,
Whereat he 'gan to stretch: but he again
Shook him so hard, that forced him to speak.
As one then in a Dream, whose dryer Brain
Is tost with troubled Sights and Fancies weak,
He mumbled soft, but would not all his Silence break.
The Sprite then 'gan more boldly him to wake,
And threatned unto him the dreaded Name
Of Hecate; whereat he 'gan to quake,
And lifting up his lumpish Head, with blame,
Half angry, asked him, For what he came.
Hither (quoth he) me Archimago sent,
He that the stubborn Sprites can wisely tame,
He bids thee to him send, for his intent,
A fit false Dream, that can delude the Sleepers sent.
The God obey'd, and calling forth straight-way
A diverse Dream out of his Prison dark,
Deliver'd it to him, and down did lay
His heavy Head, devoid of careful cark,
Whose Senses all were straight benumb'd and stark.
He back returning by the Ivory Door,
Remounted up as light as chearful Lark,
And on his little Wings the Dream he bore
In haste unto his Lord, where he him left afore.
Who all this while with Charms and hidden Arts,
Had made a Lady of that other Spright,
And fram'd of liquid Air her tender parts
So lively, and so like in all Mens sight,
That weaker Sense it could have ravish'd quite:
The Maker's self, for all his wondrous Wit,
Was nigh beguiled with so goodly sight:
Her all in white he clad, and over it
Cast a black Stole, most like to seem for Una fit.
How when that idle Dream was to him brought,
Unto that Elfin Knight he bad him fly,
Where he slept soundly void of evil Thought,
And with false shews abuse his fantasy,
In sort as he him schooled privily:
And that new Creature born without her Due,
Full of the Maker's Guile, with Usage fly
He taught to imitate that Lady true,
Whose semblance she did carry under feigned hue.
Thus well instructed, to their work they haste,
And coming where the Knight in slumber lay,
The one upon his hardy Head him plac'd,
And made him dream of Loves and lustful Play,
That nigh his manly Heart did melt away,
Bathed in wanton Bliss and wicked Joy:
Then seemed him his Lady by him lay,
And to him plain'd, how that false winged Boy
Her chaste Heart had subdu'd, to learn Dame Pleasure's Toy.
And she her self, of Beauty soveraign Queen,
Fair Venus, seem'd unto his Bed to bring
Her, whom he waking evermore did ween
To be the chastest Flower that ay did spring
On earthly Bronch, the Daughter of a King,
Now a loose Leman to vile Service bound:
And eke the Graces seemed all to sing
Hymen Io Hymen, dancing all around,
Whilst freshest Flora her with Ivy Garland crown'd.
In this great Passion of unwonted Lust,
Or wonted Fear of doing ought amiss,
He started up, as seeming to mistrust
Some secret ill, or hidden Foe of his:
Lo there before his Face his Lady is,
Under black Stole hiding, her baited Hook,
And as half blushing, offer'd him to kiss,
With gentle Blandishment and lovely Look,
Most like that Virgin true, which for her Knight him took.
All clean dismay'd to see so uncouth sight,
And half enraged at her shameless guise,
He thought t' have slain her in his fierce despight:
But hasty Heat tempering with sufferance wise,
He staid his Hand, and 'gan himself advise
To prove his Sense, and tempt her feigned Truth.
Wringing her Hands in Womens piteous wise,
Tho can she weep, to stir up gentle ruth,
Both for her noble Blood, and for her tender Youth.
And said, Ah, Sir, my Liege Lord and my Love,
Shall I accuse the hidden cruel Fate,
And mighty Causes wrought in Heaven above,
Or the blind God that doth me thus amate,
For hoped love to win me certain Hate?
Yet thus perforce he bids me do, or die.
Die is my Due: yet rue my wretched State
You, whom my hard avenging Destiny
Hath made Judge of my Life or Death indifferently.
Your own dear sake forc'd me at first to leave
My Father's Kingdom: there she stop'd with Tears;
Her swollen Heart her Speech seem'd to bereave,
And then again begun: My weaker Years
Captiv'd to Fortune and frail worldly Fears,
Fly to your Faith for Succour and sure Aid:
Let me not die in Languor and long Tears.
Why Dame (quoth he) what hath ye thus dismay'd?
What frays ye, that were wont to comfort me afraid?
Love of your self, she said, and dear Constraint
Let me not sleep, but waste the weary Night
In secret Anguish and unpitied Plaint,
Whiles you in careless Sleep are drowned quite.
Her doubtful Words made that redoubled Knight
Suspect her Truth: Yet since no' Untruth he knew,
Her fauning Love, with foul disdainful Spite,
He would not shend, but said, Dear Dame I rew,
That for my sake unknown such Grief unto you grew.
Assure your self it fell not all to ground;
For all so dear as Life is to my Heart,
I deem your love, and hold me to you bound;
Ne let vain Fears procure your needless Smart,
Where cause is none, but to your Rest depart.
Not all content, yet seem'd she to appease
Her mournful Plaints, beguiled of her Art,
And fed with Words that could not chuse but please,
So sliding softly forth, she turn'd as to her Ease.
Long after lay he musing at her Mood,
Much griev'd to think that gentle Dame so light,
For whose Defence he was to shed his Blood.
At last dull weariness of former Fight
Having yrock'd asleep his irksome Spright,
That troublous Dream 'gan freshly toss his Brain,
With Bowers, and Beds, and Ladies dear Delight;
But when he saw his Labour all was vain,
With that misformed Spright he back return'd again.
[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 1:21-36]