1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book I. Canto VI.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: Canto VI. (48 stanzas). — The Redcross Knight is represented as sad that he had been forced to leave the fair Duessa behind; but he is yet more sad to think of the 'unkind treason' wherewith, as he imagines, his dear Una had stained her truth. Yet that peerless virgin had in fact wandered after him 'from one to other Ind,' till she had, as already related, fallen into the hands of Sansloy. By that fierce paynim she has been carried away into a forest wild, where he first courts her with fawning words and other gentle ways; 'But words, and looks, and sighs she did abhor, | As rock of diamond stedfast evermore.' When he resorts to measures of another kind, the miserable maid can only importune the skies with her loud plaints and thrilling shrieks; 'The molten stars do drop like weeping eyes;' but it is from the earth that help and rescue are sent to her: — 'Eternal Providence, exceeding thought, | Where none appears can make herself a way!... | A troop of fauns and satyrs far away | Within the wood were dancing in a round.... Drawn in haste from their rural merriment by Una's voice of distress, their 'rude, misshapen, monstrous rabblement' affrights the Saracen, and, mounting his ready steed, he rides off, and leaves the lady for them to seize. Astonished and softened, 'the salvage nation' lay aside the horror of their frowning foreheads, and, gently grinning, try to comfort her.... Seeing this, she yields to the extremity, and, rising from the ground with a fearless air and heart, she walks on whither they guide or invite her....

"Among this kind people of the forest Una remains for a long time, hoping to teach them the truth, and to wean them, among other errors, from their idolatry of herself; — 'But when their bootless zeal she did restrain | From her own worship, they her ass would worship fain.' At last there arrives in the forest' a noble, warlike knight — plain, faithful, true, and enemy of shame' — one who — 'ever loved to fight for ladies' right, | But in vain-glorious frays he little did delight.'

"He is the son of fair Thyamis, the daughter of Labride and wife of Therion, by a Satyr, and had been both horn and brought up in the forest, — nousled, or nursed, under the care of his savage father, — 'in life and manners wild, | Amongst wild beasts and woods, from laws of men exiled....' Having remained in the forest till there walked there no beast of name whom he had not taught to fear his force, he had then — 'far abroad for strange adventures sought, | In which his might was never overthrown, | But through all Fairy Land his famous worth was blown.' It had always, however, been his custom, after long labours and adventures, to return to his native woods to see his old father and other relations; and coming thither with that intent he unexpectedly finds the fairest Una, 'Teaching the Satyrs, which her sate around, | True sacred love, which from her sweet lips did redound.'

"He becomes her scholar, and they grow very intimate; but Una, 'all vowed unto the Redcross Knight,' cannot take delight in this new acquaintance; all her thoughts are occupied in thinking how she may make her escape; and at last she reveals her wish to Satyrane, who, glad of an occasion of gaining her favour, readily agrees to aid her.

"He soon finds an opportunity of carrying her off; and, having got out of the wood, they are travelling along in the open country, when they see at a distance "a weary wight forwandering by the way," up to whom they ride, in the chance of learning some tidings of the Redcross Knight. He seems, however, anxious to avoid them: — 'A silly man, in simple weeds foreworn, | And soiled with dust of the long dried way....' They overtake him at last, and, on inquiring if he knows anything of the Redcross Knight, they are told by the man, to poor Una's unutterable agony, that his own eyes have seen that knight lying dead. He had been present when he was slain in fight by a paynim, who is now washing his wounds in a fountain not far off. On hastily proceeding to the place Satyrane espies Sansloy resting himself 'in secret shadow by a fountain side.' They rush against each other with passionate words and clashing blades; and the canto finishes while they are still continuing their long, often-renewed fight, in the midst of which Una has 'fled far away, of that proud paynim sore afraid,' and is pursued by old Archimago, for he was indeed 'that false pilgrim which that leasing told,' as the reader, now accustomed to the arch enchanter's stratagems and disguises, has no doubt surmised" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:146-51.



From lawless Lust by wondrous Grace
Fair Una is releast:
Whom salvage Nation does adore,
And learns her wise Beheast.

As when a Ship, that flies fair under Sail
An hidden Rock escaped hath unwares,
That lay in wait her Wrack for to bewail,
The Mariner yet half amazed stares
At peril past, and yet it doubt ne dares
To joy at his fool-happy Oversight:
So doubly is distress'd 'twixt Joy and Cares
The dreadless Courage of This Elfin Knight,
Having escap'd so sad Ensamples in his sight.

Yet sad he was that his too hasty Speed
The fair Duess' had forc'd him leave behind;
And yet more sad, that Una his dear Dreed
Her Truth had stain'd with Treason so unkind;
Yet Crime in her could never Creature find,
But for his Love, and for her own self-sake,
She wander'd had from one to other Ind',
Him for to seek, ne ever would forsake
Till her unwares the fierce Sans-loy did overtake.

Who, after Archimago's foul Defeat,
Led her away into a Forest wild,
And turning wrathful Fire to lustful Heat,
With beastly Sin thought her to have defil'd,
And made the Vassal of his Pleasures vild.
Yet first he cast by Treaty, and by Trains
Her to persuade, that stubborn Fort to yield:
For greater Conquest of hard Love he gains,
That works it to his will, than he that it constrains.

With fawning words he courted her awhile,
And looking lovely, and oft sighing sore,
Her constant Heart did tempt with divers Guile:
But Words, and Looks, and Sighs, she did abhor,
As Rock of Diamond, stedfast evermore.
Yet for to feed his fiery lustful Eye,
He snatch'd the Veil, that hung her Face before:
Then 'gan her Beauty shine, as brightest Sky,
And burnt his beastly Heart t' efforce her Chastity.

So when he saw his flatt'ring Arts to fail,
And subtile Engines bet from Battery,
With greedy force he 'gan the Fort assail,
Whereof he ween'd possessed soon to be,
And with rich Spoil of ransack'd Chastity.
Ah Heavens! that do this hideous Act behold,
And heavenly Virgin thus outraged see,
How can ye Vengeance just so long with-hold,
And hurle not flashing Flames upon that Paynim bold?

The piteous Maiden, careful, comfortless,
Does throw out thrilling Shrieks, and shrieking Cries,
The last vain help of Womens great Distress,
And with loud Plaints importuneth the Skies,
That molten Stars do drop like weeping Eyes:
And Phoebus flying so most shameful sight,
His blushing Face in foggy Cloud implies,
And hides for Shame. What Wit of mortal Wight
Can now devise to quit a Thrall from such a Plight?

Eternal Providence, exceeding Thought,
Where none appears, can make her self away;
A wondrous way it for this Lady wrought,
From Lion's Claws to pluck the griped Prey.
Her shrill Out-cries and Shrieks so loud did bray,
That all the Woods and Forests did resound;
A Troop of Fauns and Satyrs far away
Within the Wood were dauncing in a Round,
Whiles old Sylvanus slept in shady Arbour found

Who, when they heard that piteous strained Voice,
In haste forsook their rural Meriment,
And ran towards the far rebounded Noise,
To weet what Wight so loudly did lament.
Unto the Place they come incontinent:
Whom when the raging Sarazin espy'd,
A rude, mishapen, monstrous Rabblement,
Whose like he never saw, he durst not bide,
But got his ready Steed, and fast away 'gan ride.

The wild Wood-Gods arrived in the Place,
There find the Virgin doleful desolate,
With ruffled Raiments, and fair blubbred Face,
As her outrageous Foe had left her late,
And trembling yet through fear of former hate:
All stand amazed at so uncouth sight,
And 'gin to pity her unhappy State;
All stand astonied at her Beauty bright,
In their rude Eyes unworthy of so woful Plight.

She more amaz'd in double Dread doth dwell;
And every tender part for fear doth shake:
As when a greedy Wolf through Hunger fell
A silly Lamb far from the Flock does take,
Of whom he means his bloody Feast to make,
A Lion spies fast running towards him,
The innocent Prey in haste he does forsake,
Which quit from Death, yet quakes in every Limb
With change of Fear, to see the Lion look so grim.

Such fearful fit assay'd her trembling Heart,
Ne word to speak, he Joint to move she had:
The salvage Nation feel her secret smart,
And read her Sorrow in her Count'nance sad;
Their frowning Foreheads with rough Horns yclad,
And rustick Horror all aside do lay,
And gently grenning, shew a semblance glad
To comfort her, and Fear to put away,
Their backward bent Knees teach her humbly to obey.

The doubtful Damsel dare not yet commit
Her single Person to their barbarous Truth;
But still through Fear and Hope amaz'd does sit,
Late learn'd what Harm to hasty Trust ensu'th:
They, in Compassion of her tender Youth,
And Wonder of her Beauty sovereign,
Are won with Pity and unwonted Ruth,
And all prostrate upon the lowly Plain,
Do kiss her Feet, and fawn on her with Count'nance fain.

Their Hearts she guesseth by their humble Guise,
And yields her to extremity of Time;
So from the Ground she fearless doth arise,
And walketh forth without suspect of Crime:
They all, as glad as Birds of joyous Prime,
Thence lead her forth, about her dauncing round,
Shouting, and singing all a Shepherds Rime,
And with green Branches strowing all the Ground,
Do worship her, as Queen, with Olive Garland crown'd.

And all the way their merry Pipes they sound,
That all the Woods with double Echo ring,
And with their horned Feet do wear the Ground,
Leaping like wanton Kids in pleasant Spring.
So towards old Sylvanus they her bring;
Who, with the Noise awaked, cometh out
To weet the Cause, his weak Steps governing,
And aged Limbs on Cypress Stadle stout,
And with an Ivy Twine his Waste is girt about.

Far off he wonders, what them makes so glad,
If Bacchus' merry Fruit they did invent,
Or Cybel's frantick Rites have made them mad:
They drawing nigh, unto their God present
That Flower of Faith and Beauty excellent.
The God himself, viewing that Mirror rare,
Stood long amaz'd, and burnt in his intent;
His own fair Driope now he thinks nor fair,
And Pholoe foul, when her to this he doth compare.

She Wood-born People fall before her flat,
And worship her as Goddess of the Wood;
And old Sylvanus' self bethinks not, what
To think of Wight so fair, but gazing stood,
In doubt to deem her born of earthly Brood:
Sometimes Dame Venus self he seems to see;
But Venus never had so sober Mood:
Sometimes Diana he her takes to be,
But misseth Bow, and Shafts, and Buskins to her Knee.

By viewing her he 'ginneth to revive
His antient Love, and dearest Cyparisse,
And calls to mind his Pourtraiture alive,
How fair he was, and yet not fair to this,
And how he flew with glauncing Dart amiss
A gentle Hind, the which the lovely Boy
Did love as Life, above all worldly Bliss;
For Grief whereof the Lad nould after joy,
But pin'd away in Anguish and self-will'd Annoy.

The woody Nymphs, fair Hamadryades,
Her to behold do thither run apace,
And all the Troop of light-foot Naiades
Flock all about to see her lovely Face.
But when they viewed have her heavenly Grace,
They envy her in their malicious Mind,
And fly away for fear of foul Disgrace.
But all the Satyres scorn their woody kind,
And henceforth nothing fair, but her on Earth they find.

Glad of such Luck, the luckless lucky Maid
Did her content to please their feeble Eyes,
And long time with that salvage People stay'd,
To gather Breath in many Miseries.
During which time, her gentle Wit she plies
To teach them Truth, which worship'd her in vain,
And made her th' Image of Idolatries;
But when their bootless Zeal she did restrain
From her own Worship, they her Ass would worship fain.

It fortuned a noble warlike Knight
By just Occasion to that Forest came
To seek his Kindred and the Linage right,
From whence he took his well deserved Name:
He had in Arms abroad won muchel Fame
And fill'd far Lands with Glory of his Might,
Plain, faithful, true, and Enemy of Shame,
And ever lov'd to fight for Ladies right,
But in vain-glorious Frays he little did delight.

A Satyr's Son, yborn in Forest wild,
By strange Adventure as it did betide,
And there begotten of a Lady mild,
Fair Thyamis, the Daughter of Labryde,
That was in sacred Bands of Wedlock ty'd
To Therion, a loose unruly Swain;
Who had more Joy to range the Forest wide,
And chase the salvage Beast with busy Pain,
Than serve his Lady's Love, and waste in Pleasures vain.

The forlorn Maid did with Love's longing burn,
And could not lack her Lover's Company;
But to the Wood she goes, to serve her turn,
And seek her Spouse, that from her still does fly,
And follows other Game and Venery:
A Satyr chaunc'd her wandring for to find
And kindling Coals of Lust in brutish Eye,
The loyal Links of Wedlock did unbind,
And made her Person thrall unto his beastly Kind.

So long in secret Cabin there he held
Her captive to his sensual Desire,
Till that with timely Fruit her Belly swell'd
And bore a Boy unto that salvage Sire:
Then home he suffer'd her for to retire,
For Ransom leaving him the late born Child;
Whom till to riper Years he 'gan aspire,
He noursled up in Life and Manners wild
Emongst wild Beasts and Woods, from Laws of Men exil'd.

For all he taught the tender Imp, was but
To banish Cowardice and bastard Fear;
His trembling Hand he would him force to put
Upon the Lion and the rugged Bear,
And from the She-Bear's Teats her Whelps to tear:
And eke wild roaring Bulls he would him make
To tame, and ride, their Backs not made to bear;
And the Robucks in flight to overtake,
That every Beast for fear of him did fly and quake.

Thereby so fearless, and so fell he grew,
That his own Sire and Maister of his Guise,
Did often tremble at his horrid View,
And oft for dread of Hurt would him advise,
The angry Beasts not rashly to despise,
Nor too much to provoke; for he would learn
The Lion stoop to him in lowly wise,
(A Lesson hard) and make the Libbard stern
Leave roaring, when in Rage he for Revenge did yearn.

And for to make his Power approved more,
Wild Beasts in iron Yokes he would compel:
The spotted Panther, and the tusked Boar,
The Pardale swift, and the Tyger cruel;
The Antelope and Wolf, both fierce and fell;
And them constrain in equal Teme to draw.
Such Joy he had, their stubborn Hearts to quell,
And sturdy Courage tame with dreadful awe,
That his Beheast they feared, as proud Tyrants Law.

His loving Mother came upon a Day
Unto the Woods, to see her little Son;
And chaunc'd unwares to meet him in the way,
After his Sports, and cruel Pastime done,
When after him a Lioness did run,
That roaring all with Rage, did loud requere
Her Children dear, whom he away had won:
The Lion Whelps she saw how he did bear,
And lull in rugged Arms, withouten childish fear.

The fearful Dame all quaked at the sight,
And turning back, 'gan fast to fly away,
Until with Love revok'd from vain Afright,
She hardly yet persuaded was to stay,
And then to him these Womanish words 'gan say;
Ah Satyrane, my Dearling, and my Joy,
For love of me leave off this dreadful play;
To dally thus with Death, is no fit Toy,
Go find some other Play-fellows, mine own sweet Boy.

In these, and like Delights of bloody Game
He trained was, till riper Years he raught;
And there abode, whilst any Beast of Name
Walk'd in that Forest, whom he had not taught
To fear his Force: and then his Courage haught
Desired of foreign Foemen to be known,
And far abroad for strange Adventures sought:
In which his Might was never overthrown,
But through all Fairy-Lond his famous Worth was blown.

Yet evermore it was his manner fair,
After long Labours and Adventures spent,
Unto those native Woods for to repair,
To see his Sire and Offspring auntient.
And now he thither came for like intent:
Where he unwares the fairest Una found,
Strange Lady, in so strange habiliment,
Teaching the Satyres, which her sat around
True sacred Lore, which from her sweet Lips did redound.

He wondred at her Wisdom heavenly rare,
Whose like in Womens Wit he never knew:
And when her curteous Deeds he did compare,
'Gan her admire, and her sad Sorrows rew,
Blaming of Fortune, which such Troubles threw,
And joy'd to make proof of her Cruelty
On gentle Dame, so hurtless, and so true:
Thenceforth he kept her goodly Company;
And learn'd her Discipline of Faith and Verity.

But she, all vow'd unto the Red-cross Knight,
His wandring Peril closely did lament,
Ne in this new Acquaintance could delight,
But her dear Heart with Anguish did torment,
And all her Wit in secret Counsels spent,
How to escape. At last, in privy wise
To Satyrane she shewed her intent;
Who glad to gain such Favour, 'gan devise,
How with that pensive Maid he best might thence arise.

So, on a day, when Satyres all were gone
To do their Service to Sylvanus old,
The gentle Virgin (left behind alone)
He led away with Courage stout and bold.
Too late it was to Satyres to be told,
Or ever hope recover her again:
In vain he seeks, that having cannot hold.
So fast he carried her with careful pain,
That they the Woods are past, and come now to the Plain.

The better part now of the lingring Day,
They travell'd had, when as they far espy'd
A weary Wight forwandring by the way,
And towards him they 'gan in haste to ride,
To weet of News, that did abroad betide,
Or Tidings of her Knight of the Red-cross.
But he them spying, 'gan to turn aside,
For fear, as seem'd, or for some feigned Loss;
More greedy they of News, fast towards him do cross.

A silly Man, in simple Weeds forworn,
And soil'd with Dust of the long dryed way;
His Sandals were with toilsome Travel torn,
And Face all tann'd with scorching sunny Ray,
As he had travell'd many a Summer's Day,
Through boiling Sands of Araby and Ind';
And in his Hand a Jacob's Staff, to stay
His weary limbs upon: and eke behind,
His Scrip did hang, in which his Needments he did bind.

The Knight approaching nigh, of him inquir'd
Tidings of War, and of Adventures new:
But Wars, nor new Adventures none he heard.
Then Una 'gan to ask, if ought he knew,
Or heard abroad of that her Champion true,
That in his Armour bare a Croslet red.
Aye me, dear Dame (quoth he) well may I rue
To tell the sad fight, which mine Eyes have read:
These Eyes did see that Knight both living and eke dead.

That cruel word her tender Heart so thrill'd,
That sudden Cold did run through every Vein,
And stony Horror all her Senses fill'd
With dying Fit, that down she fell for Pain.
The Knight her lightly reared up again,
And comforted with curteous kind Relief;
Then won from Death, she bad him tellen plain
The further Process of her hidden Grief:
The lesser Pangs can bear, who hath endur'd the chief.

Then 'gan the Pilgrim thus: I chaunc'd this Day,
This fatal Day, that shall I ever rue,
To see two Knights in Travel on my way
(A sorry sight) arrang'd in Battel new,
Both breathing Vengeance, both of wrathful Hue:
My fearful Flesh did tremble at their Strife,
To see their Blades so greedily imbrue,
That drunk with Blood, yet thirsted after Life:
What more? the Red-cross Knight was slain with Paynim Knife.

Ah dearest Lord (quoth she) how might that be,
And he the stoutest Knight that ever won?
Ah dearest Dame (quoth he) how might I see
The thing that might not be, and yet was not done?
Where is (said Satyrane) that Paynim's Son,
That him of Life, and us of Joy hath reft?
Not far away (quoth he) he hence doth won
Foreby a Fountain, where I late him left
Washing his bloody Wounds, that through the Steel were cleft.

There-with the Knight thence marched forth in haste,
Whiles Una with huge Heaviness opprest,
Could not for Sorrow follow him so fast;
And soon he came, as he the Place had guest,
Whereas that Pagan proud himself did rest,
In secret Shadow by a Fountain side:
Even he it was, that earst would have suppress'd
Fair Una: whom when Satyrane espy'd,
With foul reproachful Words he boldly him defy'd.

And said, arise thou cursed Miscreant,
That hast with knightless Guile and treacherous Train,
Fair Knighthood foully shamed, and doost vaunt
That good Knight of the Red-cross to have slain:
Arise, and with like Treason now maintain
Thy guilty Wrong, or else thee guilty yield.
The Sarazin this hearing, rose amain,
And catching up in haste his three-square Shield,
And shining Helmet, soon him buckled to the Field.

And drawing nigh him, said, Ah misborn Elf,
In evil Hour thy Foes thee hither sent,
Another's Wrongs to wreak upon thy self;
Yet ill thou blamest me, for having blent
My name with Guile and traitorous Intent:
That Red-cross Knight, perdie, I never slew;
But had he been, where earst his Arms were lent,
Th' Enchaunter vain his Error should not rue:
But thou his Error shalt, I hope, now proven true.

There-with they 'gan, both furious and fell,
To thunder blows, and fiercely to assail
Each other bent his Enemy to quell,
That with their Force they pierc'd both Plate and Mail,
And made wide Furrows in their Fleshes frail,
That it would pity any living Eye.
Large floods of Blood adown their Sides did rail:
But floods of Blood could not them satisfy;
Both hungred after Death; both chose to win, or die.

So long they fight, and fell Revenge pursue,
That fainting each, themselves to breathen let,
And oft refreshed, Battle oft renew:
As when two Boars with rankling Malice met,
Their gory Sides fresh bleeding fiercely fret,
Till breathless, both themselves aside retire,
Where foaming Wrath, their cruel Tusks they whet,
And trample th' Earth, the whiles they may respire;
Then back to fight again, new breathed and entire.

So fiercely when these Knights had breathed once,
They 'gan to fight return, increasing more
Their puissant Force and cruel Rage at once,
With heaped Strokes, more hugely than before,
That with their dreary Wounds and bloody Gore
They both deformed, scarcely could be known.
By this, sad Una fraught with Anguish sore,
Led with their Noise, which through the Air was thrown,
Arriv'd, where they in Earth their fruitless Blood had sown.

Whom all so soon as that proud Sarazin
Espy'd, he 'gan revive the Memory
Of his leud Lusts, and late attempted Sin,
And left the doubtful Battel hastily,
To catch her, newly offred to his Eye:
But Satyrane with Strokes him turning, stay'd,
And sternly bade him other Business ply,
Than hunt the Steps of pure unspotted Maid:
Where-with he all enrag'd, these bitter Speeches said.

O foolish Fairies Son, what Fury mad
Hath thee incens'd, to haste thy doleful Fate;
Were it not better I that Lady had,
Than that thou hadst repented it too late?
Most sensless Man he, that himself doth hate,
To love another. Lo! then, for thine Aid,
Here take thy Lover's Token on thy Pate.
So they two fight; the whiles the Royal Maid
Fled far away, of that proud Paynim sore afraid.

But that false Pilgrim, which that leasing told,
Being indeed old Archimage, did stay
In secret Shadow, all this to behold,
And much rejoiced in their bloody Fray:
But when he saw the Damsel pass away,
He left his Stond, and her pursu'd apace,
In hope to bring her to her last decay.
But for to tell her lamentable Case,
And eke this Battle's end, will need another place.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 1:88-100]

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