1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book I. Canto VII.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto VII. (52 stanzas). — Meanwhile the Redcross Knight has been overtaken by Duessa, who, resolved not to lose 'her hoped prey,' had, as soon as she found he was gone, left the Palace of Pride in quest of him. 'Ere long she found, where as he weary sate | To rest himself, foreby a fountain side, | Disarmed all of iron-coated plate....' It had so chanced that, the nymph of this fountain having one day incurred the displeasure of Diana for getting tired in following the chase, the goddess deemed that all who should hereafter drink the water should 'faint and feeble grow.'

"This effect the Redcross Knight now experiences after taking a draught of the crystal stream. He is lying outstretched on the grassy ground, and in neither a holy nor heroic frame of mind, when suddenly he hears a sound that seems to make the very earth shake and the trees tremble for terror. Starting up, he snatches his unready weapons — 'But ere he could his armour on him dight, | Or get his shield, his monstrous enemy | With sturdy steps came stalking in his sight....' This giant is the son of Earth and Aeolus God of the Winds.... With this tremendous weapon he attacks the unfortunate knight.... He would in fact have been battered to dust had not Duessa interfered, and besought Orgoglio rather to save his life and make him his bond-slave for ever, adding, 'And me, thy worthy meed, unto thy leman take.' To this proposal Orgoglio assents: carrying the knight to his castle, he throws him into a dungeon, and 'From that day forth Duessa was his dear, | And highly honoured in his haughty eye....'

"Meanwhile the dwarf, who, on the fall of his master, had taken up his silver shield and his spear, and set out with them to proclaim his great distress through the world, has not ridden far before he is lucky enough to meet with Una, flying from Sansloy. But when she sees the armour, which confirms, as she thinks, the account she had heard of her dear knight's fate, she falls breathless to the earth. 'The messenger of so unhappy news | Would fain have died; dead was his heart within;' but at last he succeeds in restoring her to her senses — which, however, is only to a sense of her misery.... Thrice she swoons away, and thrice she is revived by the faithful and affectionate dwarf, who then relates to her all the knight's adventures from the time of their separation in the house of Archimago down to 'The luckless conflict with the giant stout, | Wherein captived, of life or death he stood in doubt.' After this they set out together, and wander long over hill and dale. And now is introduced the principal hero of the poem, or the personage who at least was to have figured as such if the author had completed his design: — 'At last site chanced by good hap to meet | A goodly knight, fair marching by the way, | Together with his squire, arrayed meet....'

"Prince Arthur, for it is he, entreats the sorrowing lady to tell him the cause of her grief. Mishaps, he observes, are mastered by discreet advice: — 'And counsel mitigates the greatest smart: | Found never help, who never would his hurts impart....' Prevailed upon at last by his 'well-guided speech' to relate her story, she informs him that she is the only daughter of a king and queen whose rule extended through all the territories 'Which Phison and Euphrates floweth by, | And Gehon's golden waves do wash continually.' But after a time came a huge dragon which, after wasting all the kingdom, had compelled the king and queen to take refuge in a strong castle, within whose brazen wall he has now kept them four years besieged. Many knights have attempted to subdue the monster, but all have been defeated. As last, led by fame, she had herself sped to Cleopolis, the capital of the kingdom of Gloriane, to endeavour to procure a champion in one of the doughty knights of 'that noble order hight of Maidenhead;' and there it was her fortune to find 'a fresh unproved knight' — him, namely, of the Redcross, with the rest of whose history the reader is already acquainted..." Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:151-58.



The Red-cross Knight is Captive made,
By Giant proud oppress'd:
Prince Arthur meets with Una, Great-
ly with those News distress'd.

What Man so wise, what earthly Wit so ware,
As to descry the crafty cunning Train,
By which Deceit doth mask in Vizor fair,
And cast her Colours dyed deep in Grain,
To seem like Truth, whose Shape she well can feign,
And fitting Gestures to her purpose frame,
The guiltless Man with Guile to entertain?
Great Mistress of her Art was that false Dame,
The false Duessa, cloked with Fidessa's name.

Who, when returning from the dreary Night,
She found not in that perilous House of Pride,
Where she had left the noble Red-cross Knight,
Her hoped Prey; she would no longer bide,
But forth she went, to seek him far and wide.
Ere long she found whereas he weary sate
To rest himself, foreby a Fountain side,
Disarmed all of iron-coated plate,
And by his side his Steed the grassy Forage ate.

He feeds upon the cooling Shade, and bays
His sweaty Forehead in the breathing Wind,
Which through the trembling Leaves full gently plays,
Wherein the chearful Birds of sundry kind
Do chaunt sweet Musick, to delight his Mind:
The Witch approaching, 'gan him fairly greet,
And with Reproach of carelesness unkind
Upbraid, for leaving her in Place unmeet,
With foul Words tempting fair, sour Gall with hony sweet.

Unkindness past, they 'gan of Solace treat,
And bathe in pleasaunce of the joyous Shade,
Which shielded them against the boiling Heat,
And with green Boughs decking a gloomy Glade,
About the Fountain, like a Garland made;
Whose bubbling Wave did ever freshly well,
Ne ever would through fervent Summer fade:
The sacred Nymph, which therein wont to dwell,
Was out of Dian's Favour, as it then befel.

The cause was this: One day when Phoebe fair
With all her Band was following the Chace,
This Nymph, quite tir'd with Heat of scorching Air,
Sat down to rest in middest of the Race.
The Goddess wroth, 'gan foully her disgrace,
And bade the Waters, which from her did flow,
Be such as she her self was then in place.
Thenceforth her Waters waxed dull and slow,
And all that drunk thereof, did faint and feeble grow.

Hereof this gentle Knight unweeting was,
And lying down upon the sandy Grail,
Drunk of the Stream, as clear as crystal Glass:
Eftsoons his manly Forces 'gan to fail,
And mighty Strong was turn'd to feeble Frail.
His changed Powers at first themselves not felt,
Till crudled cold his Courage 'gan assail,
And cheerful Blood in Faintness chill did melt,
Which like a Fever-fit through all his Body swelt.

Yet goodly court he made still to his Dame,
Pour'd out in Looseness on the grassy Ground,
Both careless of his Health, and of his Fame:
Till at the last he heard a dreadful Sound,
Which through the Wood loud bellowing did rebound,
That all the Earth for Terror seem'd to shake,
And Trees did tremble. Th' Elf there-with astoun'd,
Upstarted lightly from his looser make,
And his unready Weapons 'gan in hand to take.

But ere he could his Armour on him dight,
Or get his Shield, his monstrous Enemy
With sturdy Steps came stalking in his light,
An hideous Giant, horrible and high,
That with his Tallness seem'd to threat the Sky:
The Ground eke groned under him for dread;
His living like saw never living Eye,
Ne durst behold: his Statue did exceed
The height of three the tallest Sons of mortal Seed.

The greatest Earth his uncouth Mother was,
And blustring Aeolus his boasted Sire,
Who with his Breath, which through the World doth pass,
Her hollow Womb did secrecy inspire,
And fill'd her hidden Caves with stormy Ire,
That she conceiv'd; and trebling the due time
In which the Wombs of Women do expire,
Brought forth this monstrous Masse of earthly Slime,
Puff'd up with empty Wind, and fill'd with sinful Crime.

So growen great through arrogant Delight
Of th' high Descent, whereof he was yborn,
And through presumption of his matchless [dight,
All other Powers and Knighthood he did scorn.
Such now he marcheth to this Man forlorn,
And left to loss: his stalking Steps are staid
Upon a snaggy Oak, which he had torn
Out of his Mother's Bowels, and it made
His mortal Mace, wherewith his Foe-men he dismay'd.

That when the Knight he spy'd, he 'gan advaunce
With huge Force and insupportable Main,
And towards him with dreadful Fury praunce;
Who hapless, and eke hopeless, all in vain
Did to him pass, sad Battle to darrain;
Disarm'd, disgrac'd, and inwardly dismay'd,
And eke so faint in every Joint and Vein,
Through that frail Fountain, which him feeble made,
That scarcely could he weeld his bootless single Blade.

The Giant strook so mainly merciless,
That could have overthrown a stony Tower;
And were not heavenly Grace, that him did bless,
He had been poudred all, as thin as Flower.
But he was weary of that deadly stower,
And lightly leap'd from underneath the Blow:
Yet so exceeding was the Villain's Power,
That with the Wind it did him overthrow,
And all his Senses stoun'd, that still he lay full low.

As when that devilish iron Engine wrought
In deepest Hell, and fram'd by Furies Skill,
With windy Nitre and quick Sulphur fraught,
And ram'd with Bullet round, ordain'd to kill,
Conceiveth fire, the Heavens it doth fill
With thundring Noise, and all the Air doth choke,
That none can breathe, nor see, nor hear at will,
Through smouldry Cloud of duskish stinking Smoke,
That th' only Breath him daunts, who hath escap'd the Stroke.

So daunted when the Giant saw the Knight,
His heavy Hand he heaved up on high,
And him to Dust thought to have battred quite,
Until Duessa loud to him 'gan cry;
O great Orgoglio, greatest under Sky,
O hold thy mortal Hand for Lady's sake,
Hold for my sake, and do him not to die;
But, vanquish'd, thine eternal Bond-slave make,
And me thy worthy Meed unto thy Leman take.

He harkned, and did stay from further Harms,
To gain so goodly Guerdon, as she spake;
So willingly she came into his Arms,
Who her as willingly to grace did take,
And was possessed of his new-found make.
Then up he took the slumbred sensless Corse,
And ere he could out of his Swoon awake,
Him to his Castle brought with hasty Force,
And in a Dungeon deep him threw without Remorse.

From that day forth Duessa was his Dear,
And highly honour'd in his haughty Eye;
He gave her Gold, and purple Pall to wear,
And triple Crown set on her Head full high
And her endow'd with Royal Majesty:
Then, for to make her dreaded more of Men,
And People's Hearts with awful Terror tie,
A monstrous Beast ybred in filthy Fen
He chose, which he had kept long time in darksom Den.

Such one it was, as that renowned Snake
Which great Alcides in Stremona new,
Long fostred in the Filth of Lerna Lake,
Whose many Heads out budding ever new,
Did breed him endless Labour to subdue:
But this same Monster much more ugly was;
For seven great Heads out of his Body grew;
An Iron Breast, and Back of scaly Brass,
And all embru'd in Blood, his Eyes did shine as Glass.

His Tail was stretched out in wondrous length,
That to the House of heavenly Gods it raught,
And with extorted Power, and borrow'd Strength,
The ever-burning Lamps from thence it brought,
And proudly threw to ground, as things of nought;
And underneath his filthy Feet did tread
The sacred things, and holy Heasts fore-taught.
Upon this dreadful Beast with sevenfold Head
He set the false Duessa, for more Awe and Dread.

The woful Dwarf, which saw his Maister's Fall,
Whiles he had keeping of his grasing Steed,
And valiant Knight become a Caitive thrall,
When all was past, took up his forlorn Weed,
His mighty Armour, missing most at need;
His silver Shield, now idle maisterless;
His poinant Spear, that many made to bleed,
The rueful Monuments of Heaviness;
And with them all departs, to tell his great Distress.

He had not travel'd long, when on the way
He woful Lady (woful Una) met,
Fast flying from the Paynim's greedy Prey,
Whilst Satyrane him from Pursuit did let:
Who when her Eyes she on the Dwarf had set,
And saw the signs that deadly Tidings spake
She fell to ground for sorrowful Regret,
And lively Breath her sad Breast did forsake,
Yet might her piteous Heart be seen to pant and quake.

The Messenger of so unhappy News,
Would fain have died: dead was his Heart within,
Yet outwardly some little Comfort shews.
At last recovering Heart, he does begin
To rub her Temples, and to chauf her Chin,
And every tender part does toss and turn:
So hardly he the flitted Life does win,
Unto her native Prison to return:
Then 'gins her grieved Ghost thus to lament and mourn.

Ye dreary Instruments of doleful sight,
That do this deadly Spectacle behold,
Why do ye longer feed on loathed Light,
Or liking find to gaze on earthly Mold,
Sith cruel Fates the careful Threads unfold,
The which my Life and Love together ty'd?
How let the stony Dart of sensless Cold
Pierce to my Heart, and pass through every side,
And let eternal Night so sad sight from me hide.

O lightsom Day, the Lamp of highest Jove,
First made by him, Mens wandring Ways to guide,
When darkness he in deepest Dungeon drove,
Henceforth thy hated Face for ever hide,
And shut up Heaven's Windows shining wide:
For earthly sight can nought but Sorrow breed,
And late Repentance, which shall long abide.
Mine Eyes no more on Vanity shall feed,
But sealed up with death, shall have their deadly Meed.

Then down again she fell unto the ground;
But he her quickly reared up again:
Thrice did she sink adown in deadly Swoond,
And thrice he her reviv'd with busy Pain.
At last, when Life recover'd had the Rein,
And over-wrestled his strong Enemy,
With foltring Tongue, and trembling every Vein,
Tell on (quoth she) the woful Tragedy,
The which these Reliques sad present unto mine Eye.

Tempestuous Fortune hath spent all her Spight,
And thrilling Sorrow thrown his utmost Dart;
Thy sad Tongue cannot tell more heavy Plight
Than that I feel, and harbour in mine Heart:
Who hath endur'd the whole, can bear each part,
If Death it be, it is not the first Wound
That launced hath my Breast with bleeding Smart.
Begin, and end the bitter baleful Round;
If less than that I fear, more Favour I have found.

Then 'gan the Dwarf the whole Discourse declare.
The subtile Trains of Archimago old;
The wanton Loves of false Fidessa fair,
Bought with the Blood of vanquish'd Paynim bold
The wretched Pair transform'd to treen Mold;
The House of Pride, and Perils round about;
The Combat, which he with Sans-joy did hold;
The luckless Conflict with the Giant stout,
Wherein captiv'd, of Life or Death he stood in doubt.

She heard with patience all unto the end,
And strove to maister sorrowful assay;
Which greater grew, the more she did contend,
And almost rent her tender Heart in tway;
And Love fresh Coals unto her Fire did lay:
For, greater Love, the greater is the Loss.
Was never Lady loved dearer day,
Than she did love the Knight of the Red-cross;
For whose dear sake so many Troubles her did toss.

At last, when fervent Sorrow slaked was,
She up arose, resolving him to find
Alive or dead: and forward forth doth pass,
All as the Dwarf the way to her assign'd:
And evermore in constant careful Mind
She fed her Wound with fresh renewed Bale;
Long toss'd with Storms, and bet with bitter Wind,
High over Hills, and low adown the Dale,
She wandred many a Wood, and measur'd many a Vale.

At last, she chaunced by good hap to meet
A goodly Knight, fair marching by the way
Together with his Squire, arrayed meet:
His Glitterand Armour shin'd far away,
Like glauncing Light of Phoebus' brightest Ray;
From top to toe no place appeared bare,
That deadly dint of Steel endanger may:
Athwart his Breast a Bauldrick brave he ware,
That shin'd like twinkling Stars, with Stones most precious rare.

And in the midst thereof, one precious Stone
Of wondrous Worth, and eke of wondrous Mights,
Shap'd like a Lady's Head, exceeding shone,
Like Hesperus emongst the lesser Lights,
And strove for to amaze the weaker Sights;
Thereby his mortal Blade full comely hong
In ivory Sheath, ycarv'd with curious slights;
Whose Hilts were burnish'd Gold, and Handle strong
Of mother Pearl, and buckled with a golden Tong.

His haughty Helmet, horrid all with Gold,
Both glorious Brightness, and great Terror bred;
For all the Crest a Dragon did enfold
With greedy Paws, and over all did spread
His golden Wings: His dreadful hideous Head
Close couched on the Bever, seem'd to throw
From flaming Mouth bright Sparkles fiery red,
That suddain Horror to faint Hearts did show;
And scaly Tail was stretch'd adown his Back full low.

Upon the top of all his lofty Crest,
A bunch of Hairs discolour'd diversly,
With sprinkled Pearl, and Gold full richly dress'd
Did shake, and seem'd to daunce for Jollity,
Like to an Almond-Tree ymounted high
On top of green Selinis all alone,
With Blossoms brave bedecked daintily.
Whose tender Locks do tremble every one
At every little Breath, that under Heaven is blown.

His warlike Shield all closely cover'd was,
Ne might of mortal Eye be ever seen;
Not made of Steel, nor of enduring Brass,
Such earthly Metals soon consumed been:
But all of Diamond perfect pure and clean
It framed was, one massy entire Mould,
Hewn out of Adamant Rock with Engines keen,
That point of Spear it never piercer could,
Ne dint of direful sword divide the Substance would.

The same to Wight he never wont disclose,
But when as Monsters huge he would dismay,
Or daunt unequal Armies of his Foes,
Or when the flying Heavens he would affray
For so exceeding, shone his glistring Ray,
That Phoebus' golden face it did attaint,
As when a Cloud his Beams doth over-lay;
And silver Cynthia wexed pale and faint,
As when her Face is stain'd with magick Arts constraint.

No magick Arts hereof had any Might,
Nor bloody Words of bold Enchaunters call;
But all that was not such as seem'd in sight
Before that Shield did fade, and suddain fall:
And when him list the rascal Routs appall,
Men into Stones there-with he could transmew,
And Stones to Dust, and Dust to nought at all;
And, when him list the prouder Looks subdue,
He would them gazing blind, or turn to other hue.

Ne let it seem, that credence this exceeds;
For he that made the same, was known right well
To have done much more admirable Deeds;
It Merlin was, which whilom did excel
All living Wights in might of magick Spell.
Both Shield, and Sword, and Armour all he wrought
For this young Prince, when first to Arms he fell;
But when he dy'd, the Fairy-Queen it brought
To Fairy Lond, where yet it might be seen, if sought.

A gentle Youth, his dearly loved Squire,
His Spear of Heben Wood behind him bare,
Whose harmful Head, thrice heated in the Fire,
Had riven many a Breast with Picke-head square;
A goodly Person, and could menage fair
His stubborn Steed with curbed canon Bit,
Who under him did trample as the Air,
And chauf'd, that any on his Back should sit;
The iron Rowels into frothy Fome he bit.

When as this Knight nigh to the Lady drew,
With lovely court he 'gan her entertain;
But when he heard her answers loth, he knew
Some secret Sorrow did her Heart distrain:
Which to allay, and calm her storming Pain,
Fair feeling words he wisely 'gan display,
And for her Humour fitting purpose feign,
To tempt the Cause it self for to bewray;
Wherewith emmov'd, these bleeding words she 'gan to say:

What World's Delight, or Joy of living Speech
Can Heart so plung'd in Sea of Sorrows deep,
And helped with so huge Misfortunes reach?
The careful Cold beginneth for to creep,
And in my Heart his iron Arrow steep,
Soon as I think upon my bitter Bale:
Such helpless Harms it's better hidden keep,
Than rip up Grief, where it may not avail,
My last left Comfort is, my Woes to weep and wail.

Ah Lady dear, quoth then the gentle Knight,
Well may I ween, your Grief is wondrous great:
For wondrous great Grief groneth in my Spright,
Whiles thus I hear you of your Sorrows treat.
But woful Lady, let me you intreat,
For to unfold the Anguish of your Heart:
Mishaps are maistred by advice discreet,
And Counsel mitigates the greatest Smart;
Found never help, who never would his Hunts impart.

O! but (quoth she) great Grief will not be told,
And can more easily be thought, than said.
Right so, (quoth he) but he, that never would,
Could never: Will to Might gives greatest Aid.
But Grief (quoth she) does greater grow display'd,
If then it find not help, and breeds Despair.
Despair breeds not (quoth he) where Faith is stay'd.
No Faith so fast (quoth she) but Flesh does 'pair.
Flesh may empair (quoth he) but Reason can repair.

His goodly Reason, and well-guided Speech,
So deep did settle in her gracious Thought,
That her persuaded to disclose the Breach,
Which Love and Fortune in her Heart had wrought,
And said; Fair Sir, I hope good Hap hath brought
You to inquire the Secrets of my Grief,
Or that your Wisdom will direct my Thought,
Or that your Prowess can me yield Relief:
Then hear the Story sad, which I shall tell you brief.

The forlorn Maiden, whom your Eyes have seen
The Laughing-stock of Fortune's Mockeries,
Am th' only Daughter of a King and Queen,
Whose Parents dear, whilst equal Destinies
Did run about, and their Felicities
The favourable Heavens did not envy,
Did spread their Rule through all the Territories
Which Phison and Euphrates floweth by,
And Gebon's golden Waves do wash continually:

Till that their cruel cursed Enemy,
An huge great Dragon horrible in sight,
Bred in the loathly Lakes of Tartary,
With murdrous Ravine, and devouring Might,
Their Kingdom spoil'd, and Country wasted quite:
Themselves, for fear into his Jaws they fall,
He forc'd to Castle strong to take their flight,
Where fast embarr'd in mighty brazen Wall,
He has them now four Years besieg'd to make them thrall.

Full many Knights adventurous and stout,
Have enterpriz'd that Monster to subdue;
From every Coast that Heaven walks about,
Have thither come the noble Martial Crew,
That famous hard Atchievments still pursue:
Yet never any could that Garland win,
But all still shrunk, and still he greater grew;
All they for want of Faith, or Guilt of Sin,
The piteous Prey of his fierce Cruelty have been.

At last, yled with far reported Praise,
Which flying Fame throughout the World had spread,
Of doughty Knights, whom Fairy-Land did raise,
That noble Order hight of Maiden-head,
Forth-with to court of Gloriane I sped;
Of Gloriane, great Queen of Glory bright,
Whose Kingdom's Seat Cleopolis is red,
There to obtain some such redoubled Knight,
That Parents dear from Tyrant's Power deliver might.

It was my Chance (my Chance was fair and good)
There for to find a fresh unproved Knight,
Whose manly Hands imbru'd in guilty Blood
Had never been, ne ever by his Might
Had thrown to ground the unregarded Right:
Yet of his Prowess proof he since hath made
(I witness am) in many a cruel Fight;
The groaning Ghosts of many one dismay'd
Have felt the bitter Dint of his avenging Blade.

And ye the forlorn Reliques of his Power,
His biting Sword and his devouring Spear,
Which have endured many a dreadful Stower
Can speak his Prowess, that did earst you bear,
And well could rule: now he hath left you here,
To be the Record of his rueful Loss,
And of my doleful disadventurous Dear:
O! heavy Record of the good Red-cross,
Where have you left your Lord, that could so well you toss?

Well hoped I, and fair beginnings had,
That he my captive Langour should redeem,
Till all unweeting, an Enchaunter bad
His Sense abus'd, and made him to misdeem
My Loyalty, not such as it did seem;
That rather Death desire, than such Despight.
Be judg ye Heavens, that all things right esteem,
How I him lov'd, and love with all my might;
So thought I eke of him, and think I thought aright.

Thenceforth, me desolate he quite forsook,
To wander where wild Fortune would me lead,
And other By-ways he himself betook,
Where never foot of living Wight did tread,
That brought not back the baleful Body dead;
In which him chaunced false Duessa meet,
Mine only Foe, mine only deadly Dread,
Who with her Witchcraft and misseeming Sweet,
Inveigled him to follow her Desires unmeet.

At last, by subtle Sleights she him betray'd
Unto his Foe, a Giant huge and tall,
Who him disarmed, dissolute, dismay'd,
Unwares surprized, and with mighty Mall,
The Monster merciless him made to fall,
Whose Fall did never Foe before behold;
And now in darksome Dungeon, wretched Thrall,
Remediless, for aye he doth him hold:
This is my Cause of Grief, more great than may be told.

Ere she had ended all, she 'gan to faint;
But he her comforted and fair bespake:
Certes, Madam, ye have great Cause of Plaint,
That stoutest Heart, I ween, could cause to quake.
But be of cheer, and Comfort to you take:
For, till I have acquit your captive Knight,
Assure your self, I will you not forsake.
His cheerful Words reviv'd her cheerless Spright:
So forth they went, the Dwarf them guiding ever right.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 1:101-114]

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