1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book I. Canto IX.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: Canto IX. (54 stanzas). — This is another great canto. The first part of it is taken up with the history of Prince Arthur, which, so far as he knows it, the prince himself relates to Una, at her request, before they set out from Orgoglio's castle in quest of fresh adventures. His sire and lineage he is ignorant of: as soon as he was born he had been taken front his mother's lap and delivered to a fairy knight, who forthwith brought him to old Timon, to be by him instructed in all martial arts and exercises, — old Timon, whom youth was in warlike feats the expertest of living men, and is yet the wisest of the inhabitants of the earth: — 'His dwelling is, low in a valley green, | Under the foot of Rauran mossy hore' — that is Rawran-Vaur hill in Merioneth. Hither the great magician Merlin often came to see the boy; and by him he was assured that he was son and heir to a king. But what adventure, asks Una, hath brought you hither into Fairy Land? And, when the prince, in answer, drops an allusion to some hidden sorrow rankling in his riven breast, 'Ah! courteous knight, quoth she, what secret wound | Could ever find to grieve the gentlest heart on ground?' On this he tells how in his commencing youth he had often been warned by Timon of the dangers and miseries of love, and how 'that idle name of love, and lover's life,' he had ever scorned....

"Then, after some further discourse, Arthur leaves them to pursue his inquiry through the world after his love, giving the Redcross Knight at parting a box of diamond containing a few drops of a liquor able in an instant to heal any wound, and receiving from him in return 'A book wherein his Saviour's Testament | Was writ with golden letters rich and brave.' Una and her knight continue their way at a slow pace. 'So as they traveled, lo! they gan espy | An armed knight towards them gallop fast....'

"To the anxious request of the Redcross Knight that he would tell the cause of his extraordinary perturbation, 'He answered nought at all; but adding new | Fear to his first amazement...' it is not till after being repeatedly questioned that his 'faltering tongue at last these words seemed forth to shake; | For God's dear love, sir knight, do me not stay, | For lo! he comes, he comes fast after me.' It is only by force that he is prevented from continuing his flight; but at last he relates how he lately chanced to keep company with a knight called Sir Terwin....

"One day returning together sad and comfortless from this haughty beauty, they met that villain, the cursed wight from whom he has just made his escape: — 'A man of hell, that calls himself Despair;' who, having accosted them, soon, 'creeping close as snake in hidden weeds,' discovered the depressed state of their minds, and then, 'with wounding words' plucking from them all hope of relief, set himself to persuade them both to end all sorrow in death — for which end he gave one the rope he still has about his neck, the other a rusty knife. With the latter instrument Sir Terwin had without delay 'a wide way made to let forth living breath;' he himself had, 'more fearful or more lucky wight, | Dismayed with that deformed dismal sight, | Fled fast away, half dead with dying fear?' 'God you never let,' he exclaims to the Redcross Knight, 'his charmed speeches hear!'

"Of course this dissuasion has no effect; and Trevisan (such is the name of the frightened knight) reluctantly consents to ride back so far as to show the other where the villain is to be found. 'Ere long they come, where that same wicked wight | His dwelling has, low in an hollow cave....' Infuriated by the sight of the body of the self-murdered Sir Terwin, the Redcross Knight assails the wretch with indignant words. 'What frantic fit,' he answers, 'hath thus distraught thee? Nought else drove this despairing man to death but his own guilty deserving mind.... 'Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas, | Ease after war, death after life, does greatly please.'

"The knight, though much wondering 'at his sudden wit,' nevertheless ventures to argue with him, and observes that the term of life is appointed by God, who gave it, and that a soldier may not move from his station till his captain bid. 'No,' replies Despair; — 'he that points the sentinel his room | Doth license him depart at sound of morning drum;' and then he proceeds to reason that whatever is done in heaven or earth must be the doing of the Creator, not of man, who is merely his instrument; that whatever has been made has evidently been made to die; that the longer life, the greater sin; that — 'he that once hath missed the right way, | The further he doth go, the further he doth stray;' that life at the best is full of sorrows, and has little or nothing to make it be loved by a wise man; and he ends with a strong appeal to the knight to consider his own particular ease, and to say whether he has not already endured wretchedness and committed sin and folly enough.

"Finally, he exclaims, 'Is it not better to the willingly, | Than linger till the glass be all outrun? | Death is the end of woes: die soon, O Fairy's son.' This address, we are told, pierced through the knight's heart like a sword — 'That all his manly powers it did disperse, | As he were charmed with enchanted rhymes, | That oftentimes he quaked, and fainted oftentimes.' The villain goes on to urge him with additional temptations, and at last takes 'a dagger sharp and keen' and puts it in his hand ... but here Una, who, it appears, had accompanied them, interposes, and, snatching out of his hand 'the cursed knife,' throws it to the ground, and, much enraged, upbraids the faint-hearted knight with having so far forgotten the great object of his life, the subjugation of the dragon; and, exclaiming, 'Come, come away, frail, feeble, fleshly wight!' calls upon him instantly to arise and leave the fatal place" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:162-69.



His Loves and Linage Arthur tells,
The Knights knit friendly Bands:
Sir Trevisan flies from Despair,
Whom Red-cross Knight withstands.

O Goodly golden Chain, wherewith yfere
The Vertues linked are in lovely wise;
And noble Minds of yore allied were,
In brave pursuit of chevalrous Emprise:
That none did other's Safety despise,
Nor Aid envy to him, in need that stands,
But friendly each did other's Praise devise
How to advance with favourable Hands,
As this good Prince redeem'd the Redcross Knight from bands.

Who when their Powers, empair'd thro Labour long,
With due repast they had recured well,
And that weak captive Wight now wexed strong,
Them list no longer there at leisure dwell,
But forward fare, as their Adventures fell;
But e'er they parted, Una fair besought
That Stranger Knight his Name and Nation tell;
Lest so great Good, as he for her had wrought,
Should die unknown, and buried be in thankless Thought.

Fair Virgin (said the Prince) ye me require
A thing without the Compass of my Wit;
For both the Linage and the certain Sire
From which I sprung, from me are hidden yet.
For all so soon as Life did me admit
Into this World, and shewed Heaven's Light,
From Mother's Pap I taken was unfit,
And straight deliver'd to a Fairy Knight,
To be up-brought in gentle Thewes and Martial Might.

Unto old Timon he me brought bylive,
Old Timon, who in youthly Years hath been
In warlike Feats th' expertest Man alive,
And is the wisest now on Earth I ween;
His dwelling is low in a Valley green,
Under the foot of Rauran mossie hore,
From whence the River Dee, as Silver clean,
His tumbling Billows rolls with gentle rore:
There all my Days he train'd me up in vertuous lore.

Thither the great Magician Merlin came,
As was his use, oft-times to visit me:
For he had charge my Discipline to frame,
And Tutor's nouriture to oversee.
Him oft and oft I ask'd in privity,
Of what Loins and what Linage I did spring:
Whose aunswer bad me still assured be
That I was Son and Heir unto a King,
As time in her just term the Truth to light would bring.

Well worthy Imp, said then the Lady gent,
And Pupil fit for such a Tutor's hand.
But what Adventure, or what high intent
Hath brought you hither into Fairy-Land?
Aread, Prince Arthur, Crown of Martial Band.
Full hard it is (quoth he) to read alight
The course of heavenly Cause, or understand
The secret meaning of th' eternal Might,
That rules Mens Ways, and rules the Thoughts of living Wight.

For, whether he through fatal deep Foresight
Me hither sent, for Cause to me unguest,
Or that fresh bleeding Wound, which Day and Night
Whilom doth rankle in my riven Breast,
With forced Fury following his Behest,
Me hither brought by ways yet never found;
You to have help'd, I hold my self yet bless'd.
Ah curteous Knight (quoth she) what secret Wound
Could ever find, to grieve the gentlest Heart on ground?

Dear Dame (quoth he) your sleeping Sparks awake,
Which troubled once, into huge Flames will grow,
Ne ever will their fervent Fury slake,
Till living Moisture into Smoke do flow,
And wasted Life do lie in Ashes low.
Yet sithence Silence lesseneth not my fire
(But told, it flames; and hidden, it does glow)
I will reveal what ye so much desire:
Ah Love, lay down thy Bow, the whiles I may respire.

It was in freshest Flower of youthly Years,
When Courage first does creep in manly Chest;
Then first the Coal of kindly Heat appears
To kindle Love in every living Breast:
But me had warn'd old Timon's wise behest,
Those creeping Flames by Reason to subdue,
Before their Rage grew to so great unrest,
As miserable Lovers use to rue,
Which still wex old in Woe, whiles Woe still wexeth new.

That idle name of Love, and Lovers Life,
As Loss of Time, and Vertue's Enemy
I ever scorn'd, and joy'd to stir up Strife;
In middest of their mournful Tragedy,
Ay wont to laugh, when them I heard to cry,
And blow the fire, which them to Ashes brent:
Their God himself, griev'd at my Liberty,
Shot many at me with fierce intent,
But I them warded all with wary Government.

But all in vain: no Fort can be so strong,
Ne fleshly Breast can armed be so sound,
But will at last be won with Battery long,
Or unawares at disadvantage found;
Nothing is sure, that grows on earthly Ground:
And who most trusts in Arms of fleshly Might,
And boasts, in Beauty's Chain not to be bound,
Doth soonest fall in disadventrous Fight,
And yields his caitive Neck to Victor's most despight.

Ensample make of him your hapless Joy,
And of my self now mated, as ye see;
Whose prouder Vaunt, that proud avenging Boy
Did soon pluck down, and curb'd my Liberty.
For, on a Day, prick'd forth with Jollity
Of looser Life, and Heat of Hardiment,
Ranging the Forest wide on Courser free,
The Fields, the Floods, the Heavens with one Consent
Did seem to laugh on me, and favour mine intent.

Fore-wearied with my Sports, I did alight
From lofty Steed, and down to sleep me laid;
The verdant Grass my Couch did goodly dight,
And Pillow was my Helmet fair display'd:
Whiles every Sense the Humour sweet embay'd,
And slumbring soft my Heart did steal away,
Me seemed by my Side a Royal Maid
Her dainty Limbs full softly down did lay:
So fair a fair Creature yet saw never sunny day.

Most goodly Glee and lovely Blandishment
She to me made, and bade me love her dear;
For, dearly sure her Love was to me bent,
As when just Time expired should appear.
But, whether Dreams delude, or true it were,
Was never Heart so ravish'd with Delight,
Ne living Man like words did ever hear,
As she to me deliver'd all that Night;
And at her parting said, She Queen of Faires hight.

When I awoke, and found her place devoid,
And nought but pressed Grass where she had lyen,
I sorrowed all so much, as east I joy'd,
And washed all her place with watry Eyne.
From that day forth I lov'd this face divine;
From that day forth I cast in careful Mind,
To seek her out with Labour and long Tine,
And never vow to rest, till her I find,
Nine Months I seek in vain, yet ni'll that Vow unbind.

Thus as he spake, his Visage wexed pale,
And change of Hew great Passion did bewray;
Yet still he strove to cloak his inward bale,
And hide the Smoke that did his Fire display,
Till gentle Una thus to him 'gan say
O happy Queen of Fairies, that hast found
'Mongst many, one that with his Prowess may
Defend thine Honour, and thy Foes confound:
True Loves are often sown, but seldom grow on ground.

Thine, O then said the gentle Red-cross Knight,
Next to that Lady's Love shall be the place,
O fairest Virgin, full of heavenly Light,
Whose wondrous Faith, exceeding earthly Race,
Was firmest fix'd in mine extreamest case.
And you, my Lord, the Patron of my Life,
Of that great Queen may well gain worthy Grace:
For, only worthy you, through Prowess prief
If living Man mote worthy be, to be her Lief.

So, diversly discoursing of their Loves,
The golden Sun his glistring Head 'gan shew,
And sad remembrance now the Prince amoves,
With fresh desire his Voyage to pursue;
Als Una earn'd her Travel to renew.
Then those two Knights, fast Friendship for to bind,
And love establish each to other true,
Gave goodly Gifts, the signs of grateful Mind
And eke the Pledges firm, right Hands together join'd.

Prince Arthur gave a Box of Diamond sure,
Embow'd with Gold and gorgeous Ornament,
Wherein were clos'd few Drops of Liquor pure,
Of wondrous Worth, and Vertue excellent,
That any Wound could heal incontinent:
Which to requite, the Red-cross Knight him gave
A Book, wherein his Saviour's Testament
Was writ with golden Letters rich and brave;
Work of wondrous Grace, and able Souls to save.

Thus been they parted, Arthur on his way
To seek his Love, and th' other for to fight
With Una's Foe, that all her Realm did prey.
But she now weighing the decayed Plight,
And shrunken Sinews of her chosen Knight,
Would not a while her forward Course pursue,
Ne bring him forth in face of dreadful fight,
Till he recover'd had his former Hue:
For, him to be yet weak and weary, well she knew.

So as they travel'd, lo, they 'gan espy
An armed Knight towards them gallop fast,
That seemed from some feared Foe to fly,
Or other griesly thing, that him aghast.
Still as he fled, his Eye was backward cast,
As if his Fear still follow'd him behind;
Als flew his Steed, as he his Bands had brast,
And with his winged Heels did tread the Winds
As he had been a Foal of Pegasus his kind.

Nigh as he drew, they might perceive his Head
To be unarm'd, and curl'd uncombed Hairs
Upstaring stiff, dismay'd with uncouth dread;
Nor drop of Blood in all his Face appears,
Nor Life in Limb: and to increase his Fears,
In foul reproach of Knighthood's fair Degree,
About his Neck an hempen Rope he wears,
That with his glistring Arms does ill agree:
But he of Rope or Arms has now no Memory.

The Red-cross Knight toward him crossed fast,
To weet what mister Wight was so dismay'd:
There him he finds all sensless and aghast,
That of himself he seem'd to be afraid;
Whom hardly he from flying forward staid,
Till he these words to him deliver might:
Sir Knight, aread who hath ye thus array'd,
And eke from whom make ye this hasty flight:
For, never Knight I saw in such misseeming Plight.

He answer'd nought at all; but adding new
Fear to his first Amazement, staring wide
With stony Eyes, and heartless hollow Hue,
Astonish'd stood, as one that had espy'd
Infernal Furies, with their Chains unty'd.
Him yet again, and yet again bespake
The gentle Knight; who nought to him reply'd,
But trembling, every Joint did inly quake,
And foltring Tongue at last these words seem'd forth to shake.

For God's dear love, Sir Knight, do me not stay;
For lo, he comes, he comes fast after me.
Eft looking back, would fain have run away;
But he him forc'd to stay, and tellen free
The secret Cause of his perplexity;
Yet nathemore by his bold hearty Speech,
Could his blood-frozen Heart emboldned be;
But through his Boldness rather Fear did reach:
Yet forc'd, at last he made through silence suddain Breach.

And am I now in Safety sure (quoth he)
From him, that would have forced me to die?
And is the point of Death now turn'd from me,
That I may tell this hapless History?
Fear nought (quoth he) no danger now is nigh.
Then shall I you recount a rueful case
(Said he) the which with this unlucky Eye
I late beheld; and had not greater Grace
Me reft from it, had been partaker of the place.

I lately chaunc'd (would I had never chaunc'd)
With a fair Knight to keepen Company,
Sir Terwin hight, that well himself advaunc'd
In all Affairs, and was both bold and free,
But not so happy as mote happy be:
He lov'd, as was his Lot, a Lady gent,
That him again lov'd in the least degree;
For, she was proud, and of too high intent,
And joy'd to see her Lover languish and lament.

From whom returning sad and comfortless,
As on the way together we did fare,
We met that Villain (God from him me bless)
That cursed Wight, from whom I 'scap'd whylear,
A Man of Hell, that calls himself Despair;
Who first us greets, and after fair areeds
Of Tydings strange, and of Adventures rare:
So creeping close, as Snake in hidden Weeds,
Inquireth of our States, and of our knightly Deeds.

Which when he knew, and felt our feeble Hearts
Emboss'd with Bale, and bitter biting Grief,
Which Love had launced with his deadly Dart,
With wounding Words and Terms of foul Reprief,
He pluck'd from us all hope of due Relief,
That earst us held in love of lingring Life;
Then hopeless, heartless, 'gan the cunning Thief
Persuade us die, to stint all further Strife:
To me he lent this Rope, to him a rusty Knife.

With which sad Instrument of hasty Death,
That woful Lover, loathing lenger Light,
A wide way made to let forth living Breath.
But I more fearful, or more lucky Wight,
Dismay'd with that deformed dismal sight,
Fled fast away, half dead with dying fear;
Ne yet assur'd of Life by you, Sir Knight,
Whose like Infirmity like chaunce may bear:
But God you never let his charmed Speeches hear.

How may a Man (said he) with idle Speech
Be won, to spoil the Castle of his Health?
I wote (quoth he) whom trial late did teach,
That like would not for all this worldes Wealth:
His subtle Tongue, like dropping Honey, melt'h
Into the Heart, and searcheth every Vein,
That ere one be aware, by secret Stealth
His Power is reft, and Weakness doth remain
O! never, Sir, desire to try his guileful Train.

Certes (said he) hence shall I never rest,
Till I that Treachour's Art have heard and try'd;
And you, Sir Knight, whose Name mote I request,
Of Grace do me unto his Cabin guide.
I that hight Trevisan (quoth he) will ride
(Against my liking) back, to do you grace:
But not for Gold nor Glee will I abide
By you, when ye arrive in that same place;
For liefer had I die, than see his deadly Face.

Ere long they come, where that same wicked Wight
His dwelling has, low in an hollow Cave,
Far underneath a craggy Clift ypight,
Dark, doleful, dreary, like a greedy Grave,
That still for carrion Carcasses doth crave:
On top whereof as dwelt the ghastly Owl,
Shrieking his baleful Note, which ever crave
Far from that haunt all other chearful Fowl;
And all about it wandring Ghosts did wall and howl.

And all about, old stocks and Stubs of Trees,
Whereon nor Fruit, nor Leaf was ever seen,
Did hang upon the ragged rocky Knees;
On which had many Wretches hanged been,
Whose Carasses were scattered on the Green,
And thrown about the Clifts. Arrived there,
That bare-head Knight, for dread and doleful teen,
Would fain have fled, ne durst approachen near:
But th' other forc'd him stay, and comforted in fear.

That darksom Cave they enter, where they find
That cursed Man, low sitting on the ground,
Musing full sadly in his sullen Mind;
His greazy Locks, long growen, and unbound,
Disordred hung about his Shoulders round,
And hid his Face; through which his hollow Eyne
Look'd deadly dull, and stared as astoun'd;
His raw-bone Cheeks, through Penury and Pine,
Were shrunk into his Jaws, as he did never dine.

His Garment, nought but many ragged Clouts,
With Thorns together pinn'd and patched was,
The which his naked Sides he wrap'd abouts;
And him beside there lay upon the Grass
A dreary Corse, whose Life away did pass,
All wallow'd in his own yet luke-warm Blood,
That from his Wound yet welled fresh, alas;
In which a rusty Knife fast fixed stood,
And made an open Passage for the gushing Flood.

Which piteous Spectacle, approving true
The woful Tale that Trevisan had told,
When as the gentle Red-cross Knight did view,
With fiery zeal he burnt in Courage bold,
Him to avenge, before his Blood were cold:
And to the Villain said; Thou damned Wight,
The Author of this Fact, we here behold,
What Justice can but judg against thee right,
With thine own Blood to price his Blood, here shed in sight.

What frantick Fit (quoth he) hath thus distraught
Thee, foolish Man, so rash a Doom to give?
What Justice ever other Judgment taught,
But he should die, who merits not to live?
None else to Death this Man despairing drive,
But his own guilty Mind deserving Death.
Is then unjust to each his Due to give?
Or let him die, that loatheth living Breath?
Or let him die at ease, that liveth here uneath?

Who travels by the weary wandring way,
To come unto his wished Home in haste,
And meets a Flood, that doth his Passage stay,
Is not great Grace to help him over-past,
Or free his Feet, that in the Mire stick fast?
Most envious Man, that grieves at Neighbour's good,
And fond, that joyest in the Woe thou hast,
Why wilt not let him pass, that long hath stood
Upon the Bank, yet wilt thy self not pass the Flood?

He there does now enjoy eternal Rest
And happy Ease, which thou dost want and crave,
And further from it daily wanderest:
What if some little Pain the Passage have,
That makes frail Flesh to fear the bitter Wave?
Is not short Pain well born, that brings long Ease,
And lays the Soul to sleep in quiet Grave?
Sleep after Toil, Port after stormy Seas,
Ease after War, Death after Life, does greatly please.

The Knight much wondred at his sudden Wit,
And said; The term of Life is limited,
Ne may a Man prolong, nor shorten it:
The Soldier may not move from watchful sted,
Nor leave his stand, until his Captain bed.
Who Life did limit by almighty Doom
(Quoth he) knows best the Terms established;
And he, that points the Centinel his room,
Doth license him depart at sound of morning Droom.

Is not his Deed, what ever thing is done,
In Heaven and Earth? Did not he all create
To die again? All ends that was begun;
Their Times in his eternal Book of Fate
Are written sure, and have their certain date.
Who then can strive with strong Necessity,
That holds the World in his still changing State,
Or shun the Death ordain'd by Destiny?
When Hour of Death is come, let none ask whence, nor why.

The longer Life, I wote the greater Sin,
The greater Sin, the greater Punishment;
All those great Battels which thou boasts to win,
Through Strife, and Bloodshed, and Avengement,
Now prais'd, hereafter dear thou shalt repent:
For, Life must Life, and Blood must Blood repay.
Is not enough thy evil Life forespent?
For he, that once hath missed the right way,
The further he doth go, the further he doth stray.

Then do no further go, no further stray,
But here lie down, and to thy Rest betake,
Th' Ill to prevent, that Life ensuen may:
For, what hath Life, thee may it loved make,
And gives nor rather cause it to forsake?
Fear, Sickness, Age, Loss, Labour, Sorrow, Strife,
Pain, Hunger, Cold, that makes the Heart to quake;
And ever fickle Fortune rageth rife,
All which, and thousands more, do make a loathsom Life.

Thou, wretched Man, of Death hast greatest need,
If in true Ballance thou wilt weigh thy State;
For, never Knight that dared warlike Deed,
More luckless Disaventures did amate:
Witness the Dungeon deep, wherein of late
Thy Life shut up, for Death so oft did call;
And though good Luck prolonged hath thy Date,
Yet Death then would the like Mishap forestall,
Into the which hereafter thou mayest happen fall.

Why then dost thou, O Man of Sin, desire
To draw thy Days forth to their last degree?
Is not the measure of thy sinful Hire
High heaped up with huge Iniquity,
Against the Day of Wrath, to burden thee?
Is not enough, that to this Lady mild
Thou falsed hast thy Faith with Perjury,
And sold thy self to serve Duessa vild,
With whom in all abuse thou hast thy self defil'd?

Is not he just, that all this doth behold
From highest Heaven, and bears an equal Eye?
Shall he thy sins up in his Knowledg fold,
And guilty be of thine Impiety?
Is not his Law, Let every Sinner die?
Die shall all Flesh? What then must needs be done,
Is it not better to do willingly,
Than linger till the Glass be all out-run?
Death is the end of Woes: die soon, O Fairy's Son.

The Knight was much enmoved with his Speech,
That as a Sword's point through his Heart did pierce,
And in his Conscience made a secret Breach,
Well knowing true all, that he did rehearse,
And to his fresh remembrance did reverse
The ugly view of his deformed Crimes,
That all his manly Powers it did disperse,
As he were charmed with inchaunted Rimes,
That oftentimes he quak'd, and fainted oftentimes.

In which amazement, when the Miscreant
Perceived him to waver weak and frail,
Whiles trembling Horror did his Conscience dant,
And hellish Anguish did his Soul assail;
To drive him to despair, and quite to quail,
He shew'd him painted in a Table plain,
The damned Ghosts, that do in Torments wail,
And thousand Fiends that do them endless pain
With Fire and Brimstone, which for ever shall remain.

The sight whereof so throughly him dismay'd,
That nought but Death before his Eyes he saw,
And ever burning Wrath before him laid,
By righteous Sentence of th' Almighty's Law:
Then 'gan the Villain him to overcraw,
And brought unto him Swords, Ropes, Poison, Fire,
And all that might him to Perdition draw;
And bade him chuse, what Death he would desire:
For Death was due to him, that had provok'd God's Ire.

But when as none of them he saw him take,
He to him raught a Dagger sharp and keen,
And gave it him in hand: his Hand did quake,
And tremble like a Leaf of Aspin green,
And troubled Blood through his pale Face was seen
To come and go; with Tydings from the Heart,
As it a running Messenger had been.
At last, resolv'd to work his final Smart,
He lifted up his Hand, that back again did start.

Which when as Una saw, through every Vein
The crudled Cold ran to her Well of Life,
As in a Swoon: but soon reliev'd again,
Out of his hand she snatch'd the cursed Knife,
And threw it to the ground, enraged rife,
And to him said; Fie, fie, faint-hearted Knight,
What meanest thou by this reproachful Strife?
Is this the Battle, which thou vaunt'st to fight
With that fire-mouthed Dragon, horrible and bright?

Come, come away, frail, silly, fleshly Wight,
Ne let vain words bewitch thy manly Heart,
Ne devilish Thoughts dismay thy constant spright:
In heavenly Mercies hast thou not a part?
Why should'st thou then despair, that chosen art?
Where Justice grows, there grows eke greater Grace,
The which doth quench the Brond of hellish smart,
And that accurs'd hand-writing doth deface:
Arise, Sir Knight, arise, and leave this cursed place.

So up he rose, and thence amounted streight.
Which when the Carl beheld, and saw his Guest
Would safe depart, for all his subtle sleight,
He chose an Halter from among the rest,
And with it hung himself, unbid, unbless'd.
But Death he could not work himself thereby
For thousand times he so himself had dress'd,
Yet natheless it could not do him die,
Till he should die his last, that is eternally.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 1:128-41]

[Continue]