1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book I. Canto V.

The Faerie Queene. Disposed into Twelve Books, fashioning XII. Morall Vertues.

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto V. (53 stanzas). — The first part of this Canto is occupied with the combat between the Redcross Knight and Sansjoy. It takes place in the presence of Queen Lucifera, and with all forms and observances appointed for such mortal arbitrements. The result is that, when, after a world of striking and hacking, the Pagan is about to receive his death-blow from the Christian knight, he is saved from destruction by being suddenly enveloped by the friendly infernal powers in a cloud, after the same fashion in which the heroes of the Iliad escape on several occasions. The queen returns to the palace with the victor by her side — 'Whom all the people follow with great glee, | Shouting and clapping all their hands on height, | That all the air it fills, and flies to heaven bright.'

"When he has been laid in bed, with many skilful leeches about him to tend upon his still bleeding wounds, Duessa, like 'a cruel crafty crocodile,' weeps over him until even-tide; and then goes forth and hies her to the place where the heathen knight still lies in a swoon and covered with the enchanted cloud. Not, however, lingering there to wail, she 'to the eastern coast of heaven makes speedy way,' — 'Where grisly Night, with visage deadly sad, | That Phoebus' cheerful face durst never view....' Amazed and half-frightened at the blaze of the gold and jewels with which the witch is decked, the goddess is about to retire into her cave, when Duessa addresses her — 'O thou, most ancient grandmother of all, | More old than Jove, whom thou at first didst breed...' and requires her to come with all speed to the aid of her nephew (that is, her grandson) Sansjoy, now sleeping in the shade of death. The Queen of Darkness hesitates at first, but on the witch telling her that she is Duessa, daughter of Deceit and Shame, she recognises her own descendant, and, welcoming with a kiss a member of her family whom she had often longed to see, intimates her readiness to go with her.... Coming to the place where the Paynim lay, they lift him up softly and place him in the chariot of the goddess.... Turning back, and shooting through the air in silence, they soon reach the 'yawning gulf of deep Avernus' hole' — the smoky and sulphureous descent to hell, patent for egress as well as ingress only to furies and damned sprites.... Here Night alighting carries the wounded Sansjoy to Aesculapius, who, not without some little difficulty, is prevailed upon to undertake the case.

"Leaving Aveugle's son in the great leech's care, the goddess and Duessa return to earth, the former to perform her wonted nightly course, the latter to rejoin the Redcross Knight and the rest of the company she had left in the Palace of Pride. But when she arrives there she finds the Fairy Knight gone. His wary dwarf had discovered lying in a deep dungeon of the building huge numbers of 'caitive wretched thralls, that wailed night and day' — 'a rueful sight as could be seen with eye' — and had learned enough from them to convince him that the sooner he and his master could withdraw themselves the better.... 'There was that great proud king of Babylon, | That would compel all nations to adore....' Many women were also there — 'proud women, vain, forgetful of their yoke' — the bold Semiramis, fair Sthenobaea, — 'High-minded Cleopatra, that with stroke | Of aspes sting herself did stoutly kill' with thousands more. And most of all those, it is added, who — 'in that dungeon lay, | Fell from high princes' courts or ladies' bowers.' It is with considerable difficulty that, after having made their escape before dawn through a privy postern, the knight and the dwarf can find footing for their horses among the corses of murdered men that he strewed and heaped on all sides around the castle" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:141-46.



The faithful Knight in equal Field
Subdues his faithless Foe:
Whom False Duessa saves, and for
His Cure in Hell does go.

The noble Heart, that harbours vertuous Thought,
And is with child of glorious great Intent,
Can ne'er rest, until it forth have brought
Th' eternal Brood of Glory excellent:
Such restless Passion did all Night torment
The flaming Courage of that Fairy Knight,
Devising how that doughty Turnament
With greatest Honour he atchieven might;
Still did he wake, and still did watch for dawning Light.

At last, the golden Oriental Gate
Of greatest Heaven 'gan to open fair,
And Phoebus fresh, as Bridegroom to his Mate,
Came dauncing forth, shaking his dewy Hair:
And hurles his glistring Beams through gloomy Air.
Which when the wakeful Wife perceiv'd, straightway
He started up, and did himself prepare,
In Sun-bright Arms, and battailous array:
For with that Pagan proud he combat will that day.

And forth he comes into the common Hall,
Where early wait him many a gazing Eye,
To weet what end to stranger Knights may fall.
There many Minstrels maken Melody,
To drive away the dull Melancholy,
And many Bards, that to the trembling Chord
Can tune their timely Voices cunningly,
And many Chroniclers that can record
Old Loves, and Wars for Ladies doen by many a Lord.

Soon after comes the cruel Sarazin,
In woven Mail all armed warily,
And sternly looks at him, who not a pin
Does care for Look of living Creature's Eye.
They bring them Wines of Greece, and Araby,
And dainty Spices fetch'd from furthest Ind',
To kindle heat of Courage privily:
And in the Wine a solemn Oath they bind
T' observe the sacred Laws of Arms that are assign'd.

At last, forth comes that far renowned Queen,
With Royal Pomp and Princely Majesty;
She is ybrought unto a paled Green,
And placed under stately Canopy,
The warlike Feats of both those Knights to see.
On th' other side, in all Mens open view
Duessa placed is, and on a Tree
Sans-foy his Shield is hang'd with bloody Hue:
Both those the Lawrel Garlands to the Victor due.

A shrilling Trumpet sounded from on high,
And unto Battle bad themselves address:
Their shining Shields about their Wrists they tie,
And burning Blades about their Heads do bless,
The Instruments of Wrath and Heaviness;
With greedy Force Each other doth affair,
And strike so fiercely that they do impress
Deep-dinted Furrows in the battred Mail,
The iron Walls to ward their Blows are weal; and frail.
Vll.
The Sarazin was stout, and wondrous strong,
And heaped Blows like iron Hammers great:
For, after Blood and Vengeance he did long.
The Knight was fierce, and full of youthly Heat?
And doubled strokes, like dreaded Thunders threat:
For, all for Praise and Honour he did fight.
Both striken strike, and beaten both do beat,
That from their Shields forth flieth fiery Light,
And Helmets hewen deep, shew Marks of either's Might.

So th' one for Wrong, the other strives for Right:
As when a Griffon, seized of his Prey,
A Dragon fierce encountreth in his Flight,
Through widest Air making his ydle way,
That would his rightful Ravine rend away:
With hideous Horror both together smite,
And souce so sore that they the Heavens affray.
The wise Soothsayer, seeing so sad fight,
Th' amazed Vulgar tells of Wars and mortal Fight.

So th' one for Wrong, the other strives for Right,
And each to deadly Shame would drive his Foe:
The cruel Steel so greedily doth bite
In tender Flesh, that streams of Blood down flow,
With which the Arms that earst so bright did show,
Into a pure Vermillion now are dy'd.
Great ruth in all the Gazers hearts did grow,
Seeing the gored Wounds to gape so wipe,
That Victory they dare not wish to either side.

At last, the Paynim chaunst to cast his Eye,
His suddain Eye, flaming with wrathful Fire,
Upon his Brother's Shield, which hung thereby:
Therewith redoubled was his raging Ire,
And said, Ah wretched Son of woful Sire,
Doost thou sit wailing by black Stygian Lake,
Whilst here thy Shield is hang'd for Victor's hire,
And sluggish German doost thy Forces slake,
To after-send his Foe, that him may overtake?

Go caitive Elf, him quickly overtake,
And soon redeem from his long wandring Woe;
Go guilty Ghost, to him my Message make,
That I his Shield have quit from dying Foe.
There-with upon his Crest he strook him so,
That twice he reeled, ready twice to fall;
End of the doubtful Battle deemed tho
The lookers on, and loud to him 'gan call
The false Duessa, Thine the Shield, and I, and all.

Soon as the Fairy heard his Lady speak,
Out of his swooning Dream he 'gan awake,
And quickning Faith that earst was woxen weak,
The creeping deadly Cold away did shake:
Tho mov'd with Wrath, and Shame, and Lady's sake,
Of all at once he cast aveng'd to be,
And with so' exceeding Fury at him strake,
That forced him to stoop upon his Knee;
Had he not stooped so, he should have cloven be.

And to him said, Go now proud Miscreant,
Thy self thy Message do to German dear;
Alone he wandring, thee too long doth want:
Go say, his Foe thy Shield with his doth bear.
There-with his heavy Hand he high 'gan rear,
Him to have slain; when lo, a darksome Cloud
Upon him fell: he no where doth appear,
But vanish'd is. The Elf him calls aloud,
But answer none receives: the Darkness him does shroud.

In haste Duessa from her Place arose,
And to him running said, O prowest Knight,
That ever Lady to her Love did chose,
Let now abate the Terror of your Might,
And quench the Flame of furious Despight,
And bloody Vengeance: Lo, th' infernal Powers,
Covering your Foe with Cloud of deadly Night,
Have borne him hence to Pluto's baleful Bowers;
The Conquest yours, I yours, the Shield and Glory yours.

Not all so satisfy'd, with greedy Eye
He sought all round about, his thirsty Blade
To bathe in Blood of faithless Enemy;
Who all that while lay hid in secret Shade:
He stands amazed, how he thence should fade.
At last the Trumpets, Triumph sound on high,
And running Heralds humble Homage made,
Greeting him goodly with new Victory,
And to him brought the Shield, the Cause of Enmity.

Where-with he goeth to that sovereign Queen;
And falling her before on lowly Knee,
To her makes Present of his Service seen:
Which she accepts, with thanks, and goodly gree,
Greatly advancing his gay Chevalry.
So marcheth home, and by her takes the Knight,
Whom all the People follow with great glee,
Shouting, and clapping all their Hands on height,
That all the Air it fills, and flies to Heaven bright.

Home is he brought, and laid in sumptuous Bed;
Where many skilful Leaches him abide,
To salve his Hurts, that yet still freshly bled:
In Wine and Oil they washen his Wounds wide,
And softly 'gan embalm on every side.
And all the while, most heavenly Melody
About the Bed sweet Musick did divide,
Him to beguile of Grief and Agony:
And all the while Duessa wept full bitterly.

As when a weary Traveller, that strays
By muddy Shore of broad seven-mouthed Nile,
Unweeting of the perilous wandring ways,
Doth meet a cruel crafty Crocodile,
Which in false Grief hiding his harmful Guile,
Doth weep full sore, and sheddeth tender Tears:
The foolish Man, that pities all this while
His mournful Plight, is swallow'd up unwares,
Forgetful of his own, that minds another's Cares.

So wept Duessa until Even-tide,
That shining Lamps in Jove's high House were light;
Then forth she rose, ne longer would abide,
But comes unto the Place, where th' Heathen Knight
In slumbring Swoon nigh void of vital Spright,
Lay cover'd with inchaunted Cloud all day:
Whom when she found, as she him left in Plight,
To wail his woeful Case she would not stay,
But to the Eastern Coast of Heaven makes speedy way.

Where griesly Night, with Visage deadly sad,
That Phoebus' cheerful Face durst never view,
And in a foul black pitchy Mantle clad,
She finds forth coming from her darksome Mew,
Where she all day did hide her hated Hew:
Before the Door her iron Chariot stood,
Already harnessed for Journy new;
And cole-black Steeds yborn of hellish Brood,
That on their rusty Bits did champ, as they were wood.

Who when she saw Duessa sunny bright,
Adorn'd with Gold and Jewels shining clear,
She greatly grew amazed at the sight,
And th' unacquainted Light began to fear:
(For never did such Brightness there appear)
And would have back retired to her Cave,
Until the Witch's Speech she 'gan to hear,
Saying, Yet O thou dreaded Dame, I crave
Abide, till I have told the Message which I have.

She stay'd, and forth Duessa 'gan proceed,
O thou most antient Grandmother of all,
More old than Jove, whom thou at first didst breed,
Or that great House of Gods Celestial,
Which wast begot in Daemogorgon's Hall,
And saw'st the Secrets of the World unmade;
Why suffredst thou thy Nephews dear to fall
With Elfin Sword, most shamefully betray'd?
Lo, where the stout Sans-joy doth sleep in deadly Shade!

And, him before, I saw with bitter Eyes
The bold Sans-foy shrink underneath his Spear;
And now the Prey of Fowls in Field he lies,
Nor wail'd of Friends, nor laid on groaning Bier,
That whileom was to me too dearly dear.
O! what of Gods then boots it to be born,
If old Aveugle's Sons so evil hear?
Or who shall not great Night's dread Children scorn,
When two of three her Nephews are so foul forlorn?

Up then, up dreary Dame, of Darkness Queen,
Go gather up the Reliques of thy Race,
Or else go them avenge, and let be seen
That dreaded Night in brightest Day hath place,
And can the Children of fair Light deface.
Her feeling Speeches some Compassion mov'd
In Heart, and Change in that great Mother's Face;
Yet Pity in her Heart was never prov'd
Till then: and evermore she hated, never lov'd.

And said, Dear Daughter, rightly may I rue
The fall of famous Children born of me,
And good Successes, which their Foes ensue:
But who can turn the Stream of Destiny,
Or break the Chain of strong Necessity,
Which fast is ty'd to Jove's eternal Seat?
The Sons of Day he favoureth, I see,
And by my Ruins thinks to make than Great:
To make one Great by others Loss, is bad excheat.

Yet shall they not escape so freely all;
For some shall pay the Price of others Guilt:
And he the Man that made Sans-foy to fall,
Shall with his own Blood price that he hath spilt.
But what art thou, that tell'st of Nephews kilt?
I that do seem not I, Duessa am,
(Quoth she) however now in Garments gilt,
And gorgeous Gold array'd I to thee came;
Duessa I, the Daughter of Deceit and Shame.

Then bowing down her aged Back, she kist
The wicked Witch; saying, In that fair Face
The false resemblance of Deceit, I wist,
Did closely lurk; yet so true-seeming Grace
It carried, that I scarce in darksome Place
Could it discern, though I the Mother be
Of Falshood, and Root of Duessa's Race.
O welcome Child, whom I have long'd to see,
And now have seen unwares: Lo, now I go with thee.

Then to her iron Waggon she betakes,
And with her bears the foul well-favour'd Witch:
Through mirksome Air her ready way the makes.
Her twyfold Teme (of which, two black as Pitch,
And two were brown, yet each to each unlich)
Did softly swim away, ne ever stamp,
Unless she chaunc'd their stubborn Mouths to twitch;
Then, foaming Tarre, their Bridles they would champ;
And trampling the fine Element, would fiercely ramp.

So well they sped, that they be come at length
Unto the Place whereas the Paynim lay,
Devoid of outward Sense and native Strength,
Cover'd with charmed Cloud from view of Day,
And sight of Men, since his late luckless Fray.
His cruel Wounds, with cruddy Blood congeal'd,
They binden up so wisely as they may,
And handle softly, till they can be heal'd:
So lay him in her Chariot, close in Night conceal'd.

And all the while ale stood upon the Ground,
The wakeful Dogs did never cease to bay,
As giving warning of th' unwonted Sound,
With which her iron Wheels did them affray,
And her dark griesly Look them much dismay.
The Messenger of Death, the ghastly Owl,
With dreary Shrieks did her also bewray;
And hungry Wolves continually did howl
At her abhorred Face, so filthy and so foul.

Thence turning back in silence soft they stole,
And brought the heavy Corse with easy pace
To yawning Gulf of deep Avernus' Hole.
By that same Hole, an Entrance, dark and base
With Smoke and Sulphur hiding all the Place,
Descends to Hell: there Creature never past,
That back returned without heavenly Grace;
But dreadful Furies, which their Chains have brac'd,
And damned Sprights sent forth to make ill Men aghast.

By that same way the direful Dames do drive
Their mournful Chariot, fill'd with rusty Blood,
And down to Pluto's House are come bilive:
Which passing through, on every side them stood
The trembling Ghosts with sad amazed Mood,
Chattring their Iron Teeth, and staring wide
With stony Eyes; and all the hellish Brood
Of Fiends infernal flock'd on every side,
To gaze on earthly Wight, that with the Night durst ride.

They pass the bitter Waves of Acheron,
Where many Souls sit wailing wofully,
And come to fiery Flood of Phlegeton,
Whereas the damned Ghosts in Torments fry,
And with sharp shrilling Shrieks do bootless cry,
Cursing high Jove, the which them thither sent.
The House of endless Pain is built thereby,
In which ten thousand sorts of punishment
The cursed Creatures do eternally torment.

Before the Threshold, dreadful Cerberus
His three deformed Heads did lay along,
Curled with thousand Adders venemous,
And lilled forth his bloody flaming Tongue:
At them he 'gan to rear his Bristles strong,
And felly gnarre, until Day's Enemy
Did him appease; then down his Tail he hong,
And suffer'd them to passen quietly:
For she in Hell and Heaven had power equally.

There was Ixion turned on a Wheel,
For daring tempt the Queen of Heaven to sin;
And Sisyphus an huge round Stone did reel
Against an Hill, ne might from Labour lin:
There thirsty Tantalus hung by the Chin;
And Tityus fed a Vulture on his Maw;
Typhaeus' Joints were stretched on a Gin,
Theseus condemn'd to endless Sloth by Law,
And fifty Sisters Water in leak Vessels draw.

They all beholding worldly Wights in place,
Leave off their Work, unmindful of their Smart,
To gaze on them; who forth by them do pass,
Till they be come unto the furthest part:
Where was a Cave ywrought by wondrous Art,
Deep, dark, uneasy, doleful, comfortless,
In which sad Aesculapius far apart
Emprison'd was in Chains remediless,
For that Hippolitus' rent Corse he did redress.

Hippolitus a jolly Huntsman was,
That wont in Chariot chace the foaming Boar;
He all his Peers in Beauty did surpass,
But Ladies Love, as loss of time forbore:
His wanton Step-Dame loved him the more,
But when she saw her offer'd Sweets refus'd,
Her Love she turn'd to Hate, and him before
His Father fierce, of Treason false accus'd,
And with her jealous Terms, his open Ears abus'd.

Who, all in Rage, his Sea-God Sire besought,
Some cursed Vengeance on his Son to cast:
From surging Gulf two Monsters straight were brought,
With Dread whereof his chafing Steeds aghast,
Both Chariot swift and Huntsman overcast.
His goodly Corps on ragged Clifts yrent,
Was quite dismembred, and his Members chaste
Scatter'd on every Mountain, as he went,
That of Hippolitus was left no Monument.

His cruel Step-Dame seeing what was done,
Her wicked Days with wretched Knife did end,
In Death avowing th' Innocence of her Son.
Which hearing, his rash Sire began to rend
His Hair, and hasty Tongue, that did offend:
Who gathering up the Relicks of his Smart
By Dian's means, who was Hippolyt's Friend,
Them brought to Aesculape, that by his Art
Did heal them all again, and joined every part.

Such wondrous Science in Man's Wit to reign
When Jove aviz'd, that could the Dead revive
And Fates expired could renew again,
Of endless Life he might him not deprive,
But unto Hell did thrust him down alive,
With flashing Thunderbolt ywounded sore
Where long remaining, he did always strive
Himself with Salves to Health for to restore,
And slake the heavenly Fire, that raged evermore.

There antient Night arriving, did alight
From her high weary Wain, and in her arms
To Aesculapius brought the wounded Knight:
Whom having softly disarray'd of Arms,
Tho 'gan to him discover all his Harms,
Beseeching him with Prayer, and with Praise,
If either Salves, or Oils, or Herbs, or Charms,
A fordone Wight from Door of Death mote raise,
Be would at her Request prolong her Nephew's Days.

Ah Dame! (quoth he) thou temptest me in vain,
To dare the thing which daily yet I rue,
And the old Cause of my continued Pain
With like Attempt to like end to renew.
Is not enough, that thrust from Heaven due,
Here endless Penance for one Fault I pay,
But that redoubled Crime with Vengeance new
Thou biddest me to eeke? Can Night defray
The Wrath of thundring Jove, that rules both Night and Day?

Not so (quoth she) but sith that Heaven's King
From Hope of Heaven hath thee excluded quight,
Why fearest thou, that canst not hope for thing,
And fearest not, that more thee hurten might,
Now in the Power of everlasting Night
Go to then, O thou far renowned Son
Of great Apollo, shew thy famous Might
In Medicine, that else hath to thee won
Great Pains, and greater Praise, both never to be done.

Her Words prevail'd: And then the learned Leach
His cunning Hand 'gan to his Wounds to lay,
And all things else, the which his Art did teach:
Which having seen, from thence arose away
The Mother of dread Darkness, and let stay
Aveugle's Son there in the Leach's Cure;
And back returning took her wonted way,
To run her timely Race, whilst Phoebus pure
In Western Waves his weary Waggon did recure.

The false Duessa leaving noyous Night,
Return'd to stately Palace of Dame Pride;
Where when she came, she sound the Fairy Knight
Departed thence, albe his Woundes wide,
Not throughly heal'd, unready were to ride.
Good cause he had to hasten thence away;
For on a Day his wary Dwarf had spy'd,
Where in a Dungeon deep huge Numbers lay,
Of caytive wretched Thralls, that wailed Night and Day.

A rueful Sight, as could be seen with Eye;
Of whom he learned had in secret wise
The hidden Cause of their Captivity,
How mortgaging their Lives to Covetise,
Through wasteful Pride, and wanton Riotise,
They were by Law of that proud Tyranness
Provok'd with Wrath, and Envy's false Surmise,
Condemned to that Dungeon merciless,
Where they should live in Woe, and die in Wretchedness.

There was that great proud King of Babylon,
That would compel all Nations to adore
And him as only God to call upon,
Till thro Celestial Doom thrown out of door;
Into an Ox he was transform'd of yore:
There also was King Croesus, that enhaunst
His Heart too high thro his great Riches Store;
And proud Antiochus, the which advaunc'd
His cursed Hand 'gainst God, and on his Altars daunc'd.

And them long time before, great Nimrod was,
That first the World with Sword and Fire warraid;
And after him, old Ninus far did pass
In Princely Pomp, of all the World obey'd;
There also was that mighty Monarch laid
Low under all, yet above all in Pride,
That Name of native Sire did foul upbraid,
And would as Ammon's Son be magnify'd,
Till scorn'd of God and Man, a shameful Death he dy'd.

All these together in one Heap were thrown,
Like Carcases of Beasts in Butcher's Stall.
And in another Corner wide were strown
The antique Ruins of the Romans Fall:
Great Romulus the Grandsire of them all,
Proud Tarquin, and too lordly Lentulus,
Stout Scipio, and stubborn Hannibal,
Ambitious Sylla, and stern Marius,
High Cesar, great Pompey, and fierce Antonius.

Amongst these mighty Men were Women mix'd,
Proud Women, vain, forgetful of their Yoke:
The bold Semiramis, whose Sides transfix'd
With Son's own Blade, her foul Reproaches spoke;
Fair Sthenoboea, that her self did choke
With wilful Cord, for wanting of her Will;
High-minded Cleopatra, that with Stroke
Of Aspes Sting her self did stoutly kill:
And thousands more the like, that did that Dungeon fill.

Besides the endless Routs of wretched Thralls,
Which thither were assembled day by day,
From all the World after their woful Falls,
Thro wicked Pride, and wasted Wealth's Decay.
But most of all, which in the Dungeon lay,
Fell from high Princes Courts, or Ladies Bowers,
Where they in idle Pomp, or wanton Play,
Consumed had their Goods, and thriftless Hours,
And lastly thrown themselves into these heavy Stowres.

Whose Case when as the careful Dwarf had told,
And made Ensample of their mournful Sight
Unto his Maister, he no longer would
There dwell in peril of like painful plight,
But early rose, and e'er that dawning Light
Discovered had the World to Heaven wide,
He by a privy Postern took his Flight,
That of no envious Eyes he mote be spy'd
For doubtless Death ensu'd, if any him descry'd.

Scarce could he footing find in that foul way
For many Corses, like a great Lay-stall
Of murder'd Men, which therein strowed lay,
Without remorse, or decent Funeral:
Which all through that great Princess' Pride did fall,
And came to shameful end. And them beside
Forth riding underneath the Castle Wall
A Dunghill of dead Carcases he spy'd,
The dreadful Spectacle of that sad House of Pride.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 1:74-87]

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