1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book I. Canto X.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto X. (68 stanzas) — Una now perceives that it is necessary her knight's relaxed frame should he strengthened and cherished for a time 'with diets daint;' for which purpose she determines to conduct him to 'an ancient house not far away,' called the House of Holiness. This house is governed 'through wisdom of a matron grave and hoar,' named Dame Celia, who is the mother of three daughters, the two eldest, Fidelia and Speranza (Faith and Hope), virgins; the younger, Charissa (Charity), linked to a husband, by whom she has many 'pledges dear.' On their arrival they find the door locked fast; but, when they knocked, 'The porter opened unto them straightway....' Inside they find a spacious court, and are there met by 'a franklin fair and free' named Zeal, and by a gentle squire, Reverence, who leads them to the Lady of the place. By her Una is very graciously received, and, after the knight has been presented, they are both entertained by the ancient dame with all courtesy — 'ne wanted ought to shew her bounteous or wise.'

"In a short conversation that ensues it is mentioned that the third sister, Charissa, is still laid aside in consequence of a recent confinement. The knight is then conducted to his lodging by a groom called Meek Obedience; and the next morning he is taken into her school by Fidelia, and by her instructed in — 'her sacred book, with blood ywrit, | That none could read except she did them teach....' Afterwards the knight is taken in hand, first by Speranza, then by a leech or doctor called Patience: — 'And bitter Penance, with an yorn whip, | Was wont him once to disple every day....'

"He is now brought to Una, who, 'joyous of his cured conscience, | Him dearly kissed,' — and then he is presented by her to Charissa, who by this time was 'woxen strong,' and had 'left her fruitful nest....' By Charissa the knight is instructed 'in every good behest | Of love, and righteousness, and well to done;' and then is delivered to an ancient matron named Mercy, who leads him forth by a narrow and thorny way, bearing him up as a careful nurse does her child, till she brings him to a neighbouring hospital, inhabited by seven beadmen — the seven heads or branches into which the virtue of Charity is distributed by the scholastic theologians — who had vowed all their life to the service of heaven, and severally officiate as steward, almoner, wardrobe-keeper, redeemer of prisoners, attend ant upon the sick, burier of the dead, and provider for widows and orphans. After staying with him here for some time, she next conducts him to a chapel and a hermitage on the top of a high and steep hill, where dwells the 'aged holy man,' Heavenly Contemplation....

"On being informed by Mercy that Fidelia, by whom have been committed to him the keys of 'that most glorious house' the way to which leads right from hence, desires that the knight should be taken thither, the hermit answers, — 'Since thou bidst, thy pleasure shall be done. | Then come, thou Man of Earth! and see the way | That never yet was seen of Fairy's son....'

"From this he is shown the 'little path that was both steep and long' leading to the Celestial city.... The hermit informs him that what he beholds is the New Jerusalem.... In answer to his inquiries touching his lineage, he is afterwards told that he is sprung from the ancient race of the Saxon kings of Britain; that he was carried off in infancy, while he slept, by a Fairy, who left 'her base elfin brood' in his stead; that by her he was brought 'unto this Fairy Land,' and hid 'in an heaped furrow,' where he was found by a ploughman, and by him brought up to the same state, whence his name Georgos (signifying a tiller of the ground), until incited by inborn courage and strength he had come to Fairy Court, there to seek for fame, and prove his skill in arms. He then returns to Una, and they take their departure together from 'Celia and her daughters three'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:169-75.



Her faithful Knight fair Una brings
To House of Holiness;
Where he is taught Repentance, and
The way to Heavenly Bless.

What Man is he, that boast of fleshly Might,
And vain assurance of Mortality,
Which all so soon as it doth come to fight
Against spiritual Foes, yields by and by,
Or from the Field most cowardly doth fly?
Ne let the Man ascribe it to his Skill,
That thorough Grace hath gained Victory.
If any strength we have, it is to Ill:
But all the Good is God's, both Power and eke Will.

By that which lately happen'd, Una saw
That this her Knight was feeble, and too faint;
And all his Sinews woxen weak and raw,
Through long Imprisonment, and hard Constraint,
Which he endured in his late Restraint,
That yet he was unfit for bloody Fight:
Therefore to cherish him with Diet's daint,
She cast to bring him, where he chearen might,
Till he recovered had his late decayed plight.

There was an antient House not far away,
Renown'd throughout the World for sacred Lore,
And pure unspotted Life so well they say
It govern'd was, and guided evermore
Through Wisdom of a Matron grave and hore;
Whose only Joy was to relieve the Needs
Of wretched Souls, and help the hapless Poor:
All Night she spent in bidding of her Beads,
And all the Day in doing good and godly Deeds.

Dame Coelia Men did her call, as thought
From Heaven to come, or thither to arise,
The Mother of three Daughters well upbrought
In goodly Thews, and godly Exercise:
The eldest two most sober, chaste, and wise,
Fidelia and Speranza, Virgins were,
Tho spous'd, yet wanting Wedlocks solemnize;
But fair Charissa to a lovely Feer
Was linked, and by him had many Pledges dear.

Arrived there, the Door they find fast lockt;
For it was warely watched night and day,
For fear of many Foes: but when they knockt,
The Porter open'd unto them straitway.
He was an aged Sire, all hoary gray,
With Looks full lowly cast, and Gate full slow,
Wont on a Staff his feeble Steps to stay,
Hight Humilta. They pass in, stooping low;
For strait and narrow was the way, which he did show.

Each goodly thing is hardest to begin:
But entred in, a spacious Court they see,
Both plain and pleasant to be walked in,
Where them does meet a Franklin fair and free,
And entertains with comely courteous Glee;
His Name was Zeal, that him right well became:
For, in his Speeches and Behaviour he
Did labour lively to express the same,
And gladly did them guide, till to the Hall they came.

There fairly them receives a gentle Squire
Of mild Demeanure, and rare Courtesy,
Right cleanly clad in comely sad Attire;
In Word and Deed that shew'd great Modesty,
And knew his Good to all of each degree,
Hight Reverence. He them with Speeches meet
Does fair entreat; no courting Nicety,
But simple, true, and eke unfeigned sweet,
As might become a Squire so great Persons to greet.

And afterwards them to his Dame he leads,
That aged Dame, the Lady of the Place:
Who all this while was busy at her Beads:
Which done, she up arose with seemly Grace,
And toward them full matronly did pace.
Where, when that fairest Una she beheld,
Whom well she knew to spring from heavenly Race,
Her Heart with Joy unwonted inly swell'd,
As feeling wondrous Comfort in her weaker Eld.

And her embracing, said, O happy Earth,
Whereon thy innocent feet do ever tread,
Most vertuous Virgin, born of heavenly Birth,
That to redeem thy woful Parents Head,
From Tyrant's Rage, and ever-dying Dread,
Hast wandred thro the World now long a-day;
Yet ceasest not thy weary Soles to lead,
What Grace hath thee now hither brought this way?
Or done thy feeble Feet unweeting hither stray?

Strange thing it is an errant Knight to see
Here in this place, or any other Wight,
That hither turns his Steps. So few there be
That chuse the narrow Path, or seek the right:
All keep the broad High-way, and take delight
With many rather for to go astray,
And be partakers of their evil Plight,
Than with a few to walk the rightest way:
O foolish Men! why haste ye to your own Decay?

Thy self to see, and tired Limbs to rest,
O Matron sage (quoth she) I hither came,
And this good Knight his way with me addrest,
Led with thy Praises and broad-blazed Fame,
That up to Heaven is blown. The antient Dame,
Him goodly greeted in her modest Guise,
And entertain'd them both, as best became,
With all the Court'sies that she could devise,
Ne wanted ought, to shew her bounteous or wise.

Thus as they 'gan of sundry things devise,
Lo! two most goodly Virgins came in place,
Ylinked arm in arm in lovely wise,
With Countenance demure, and modest Grace,
They numbred even Steps, and equal Pace:
Of which the eldest, that Fidelia hight,
Like sunny Beams threw from her crystal Face,
That could have daz'd the rash Beholder's Sight,
And round about her Head did shine like Heaven's Light.

She was arrayed all in lilly White,
And in her right Hand bore a Cup of Gold,
With Wine and Water fill'd up to the height,
In which a Serpent did himself enfold,
That Horrour made to all that did behold;
But she no Whit did change her constant Mood:
And in her other Hand she fast did hold
A Book, that was both sign'd and seal'd with Blood,
Wherein dark things were writ, hard to be understood.

Her younger Sister, that Speranza hight,
Was clad in blue, that her beseemed well;
Not all so chearful seemed she of Sight,
As was her Sister: whether Dread did dwell,
Or Anguish in her Heart, is hard to tell.
Upon her Arm a silver Anchor lay,
Whereon she leaned ever, as befel;
And ever up to Heav'n, as she did pray,
Her stedfast Eyes were bent, ne swerved other way.

They seeing Una, towards her 'gan wend,
Who them encounters with like Courtesy;
Many kind Speeches they between them spend,
And greatly joy each other well to see:
Than to the Knight, with shamefac'd Modesty,
They turn themselves, at Una's meek Request,
And him salute with well-beseeming Glee;
Who fair them quites, as him beseemed best,
And goodly can discourse of many a noble Gest.

Then Una thus: But she your Sister dear,
The dear Charissa, where is she become?
Or wants she Health, or busy is elsewhere?
All no, said they, but forth she may not come;
For she of late is lightned of her Womb,
And hath encreas'd the World with one Son more,
That her to see should be but troublesome.
Indeed (quoth she) that should be trouble sore,
But thank'd be God, and her encrease so evermore.

Then said the aged Coelia, Dear Dame,
And you, good Sir, I wote that of your Toil,
And Labours long, thro which ye hither came,
Ye both forwearied be; therefore a while
I read you rest, and to your Bowers recoil.
Then called she a Groom, that forth him led
Into a goodly Lodg, and 'gan despoil
Of puissant Arms, and laid in easy Bed;
His Name was meek Obedience rightfully ared.

Now when their weary Limbs with kindly Rest,
And Bodies were refresh'd with due Repast,
Fair Una 'gan Fidelia fair request
To have her Knight into her School-house plac'd,
That of her Heavenly Learning he might taste,
And hear the Wisdom of her Words Divine.
She granted, and that Knight so much agrac'd,
That she him taught celestial Discipline,
And opened his dull Eyes, that Light mote in them shine.

And that her sacred Book, with Blood ywrit,
That none could read, except she did them teach,
She unto him disclosed every whit,
And heavenly Documents thereout did preach,
That weaker Wit of Man could never reach;
Of God, of Grace, of Justice, of Free-will,
That wonder was to hear her goodly Speech:
For she was able with her Words to kill,
And raise again to Life the Heart that she did thrill.

And when she list pour out her larger Spright,
She would command the hasty Sun to stay,
Or backward turn his Course from Heaven's height;
Sometimes great Hosts of Men she could dismay:
Dry-shod to pass, she parts the Floods in sway;
And eke huge Mountains from their native Seat
She would command themselves to bear away
And throw in raging Sea with roaring Threat.
Almighty God her gave such Power, and Puissance great.

The faithful Knight now grew in little space,
By hearing her, and by her Sister's Lore,
To such Perfection of all heavenly Grace,
That wretched World he 'gan for to abhor,
And mortal Life 'gan loath, as thing forlore,
Griev'd with Remembrance of his wicked Ways,
And prick'd with Anguish of his Sins so sore.
That he desir'd to end his wretched Days:
So much the Dart of sinful Guilt the Soul dismays.

But wise Speranza gave him Comfort sweet
And taught him how to take assured hold
Upon her silver Anchor, as was meet;
Else had his Sins, so great and manifold,
Made him forget all that Fidelia told.
In this distressed doubtful Agony,
When him his dearest Una did behold,
Disdaining Life, desiring leave to die,
She found her self assail'd with great Perplexity.

And came to Coelia to declare her Smart:
Who, well acquainted with that commune Plight,
Which sinful Horror works in wounded Heart.
Her wisely comforted all that she might?
With goodly Counsel and Advisement right;
And straitway sent with careful Diligence
To fetch a Leach, the which had great insight
In that Disease of grieved Conscience,
And well could cure the same; his Name was Patience.

Who, coming to that Soul-diseased Knight,
Could hardly him intreat to tell his Grief:
Which known, and all that 'noy'd his heavy Spright
Well-search'd eftsoons he 'gan apply Relief
Of Salves and Med'cines, which had passing Prief,
And thereto added Words of wondrous Might;
By which to ease he him recured brief,
And much assuag'd the Passion of his Plight,
That he his Pain endur'd, as seeming now more light.

But yet the Cause and Root of all his Ill,
Inward Corruption, and infected Sin,
Not purg'd nor heal'd, behind remained still,
And festring sore, did rankle yet within,
Close creeping 'twixt the Marrow and the Skin
Which to extirpe, he laid him privily
Down in a darksome lowly Place far in,
Whereas he meant his Corrosives t' apply,
And with streict Diet tame his stubborn Malady.

In Ashes and sackcloth he did array
His dainty Corse, proud Humours to abate,
And dieted with Fasting every Day,
The swelling of his Wounds to mitigate,
And made him pray both early and eke late:
And ever as superfluous Flesh did rot,
Amendment ready still at hand did wait,
To pluck it out with Pincers fiery hot,
That soon in him was left no one corrupted jot.

And bitter Penance, with an iron Whip,
Was wont him once to dis'ple every day;
And sharp Remorse his Heart did prick and nip,
That Drops of Blood thence like a Well did play:
And sad Repentance used to embay,
His Body in salt Water smarting sore,
The filthy Blots of Sin to wash away.
So in short space they did to Health restore
The Man that would not live, but earst lay at death's door.

In which his Torment often was so great,
That like a Lion he would cry and roar,
And rend his Flesh, and his own Sinews eat.
His own dear Una hearing evermore
His rueful Shrieks and Groanings, often tore
Her guiltless Garments, and her golden Hair,
For pity of his Pain and Anguish sore;
Yet all with Patience wisely she did bear;
For well she will, his Crime could else be never clear.

Whom thus recover'd by wise Patience,
And true Repentance they to Una brought:
Who joyous of his cured Conscience,
Him dearly kiss'd, and fairly eke besought
Himself to cherish, and consuming Thought
To put away out of his careful Breast.
By this, Charissa, late in Child-bed brought,
Was waxen strong, and left her fruitful Nest;
To her fair Una brought this unacquainted Guest.

She was a Woman in her freshest Age,
Of wondrous Beauty, and of Bounty rare,
With goodly Grace and comely Personage,
That was on Earth not easy to compare;
Full of great Love, but Cupid's wanton Snare
As Hell she hated, chaste in Work and Will;
Her Neck and Breasts were ever open bare
That aye thereof her Babes might suck their fill
The rest was all in yellow Robes arrayed still.

A Multitude of Babes about her hung,
Playing their Sports, that joy'd her to behold,
Whom still she fed, whiles they were weak and young,
But thrust them forth still, as they wexed old
And on her Head she wore a Tire of Gold,
Adorn'd with Gems and Owches wondrous fair,
Whose passing Price uneath was to be told;
And by her side there sate a gentle Pair
Of turtle Doves, she sitting in an ivory Chair.

The Knight and Una entring, fair her greet,
And bid her joy of that her happy Brood;
Who them requites with Court'sies seeming meet,
And entertains with friendly cheerful Mood.
Then Una her besought to be so good,
As in her vertuous Rules to school her Knight,
Now after all his Torment well withstood,
In that sad House of Penance, where his spright
Had pass'd the Pains of Hell, and long-enduring Night.

She was right joyous of her just Request,
And taking by the Hand that Fairy's Son,
'Gan him instruct in every good Behest,
Of Love and Righteousness, and well to done,
And Wrath and Hatred warily to shun,
That drew on Men God's Hatred and his Wrath,
And many Souls in Dolours had fordone:
In which, when him she well instructed hath,
From thence to Heaven she teacheth him the ready Path.

Wherein his weaker wandring Steps to guide,
An antient Matron she to her does call,
Whose sober Looks her Wisdom well descry'd;
Her Name was Mercy, well known over all,
To be both gracious, and eke liberal:
To whom the careful Charge of him she gave,
To lead aright, that he should never fall
In all his Ways thro this wide Worldes Wave,
That Mercy in the end his righteous Soul might save.

The godly Matron by the Hand him bears
Forth from her Presence, by a narrow Way,
Scatter'd with bushy Thorns, land ragged Briars,
Which still before him she remov'd away,
That nothing might his ready Passage stay:
And ever when his Feet encombred were,
Or 'gan to shrink, or from the right to stray,
She held him fast, and firmly did upbear,
As careful Nurse her Child from falling oft does rear.

Eftsoons unto an holy Hospital,
That was fore by the way, she did him bring,
In which seven Bead-men, that had vowed all
Their Life to Service of high Heaven's King,
Did spend their Days in doing godly thing:
Their Gates to all were open evermore,
That by the weary way were travelling,
And one sate waiting ever them before,
To call in Comers-by, that needy were and poor.

The first of them, that eldest was and best,
Of all the House had Charge and Government,
As Guardian and Steward of the rest:
His Office was to give Entertainment
And Lodging unto all that came and went;
Not unto such as could him feast again,
And double 'quite for that he on them spent,
But such as want of Harbour did constrain:
Those for God's sake his Duty was to entertain.

The second was an Alm'ner of the Place
His Office was the Hungry for to feed,
And Thirsty give to drink, a Work of Grace:
He fear'd not once himself to be in need,
Ne car'd to hoard for those, whom he did breed.
The Grace of God he laid up still in Store,
Which as a Stock he left unto his Seed;
He had enough, what need him care for more?
And had he less, yet some he would give to the Poor.

The third had of their Wardrobe custody,
In which were not rich Tires, nor Garments gay,
The Plumes of Pride, and Wings of Vanity,
But Clothes meet to keep keen Cold away
And naked Nature seemly to array:
With which, bare wretched Wights he daily clad
The Images of God in earthly Clay;
And if that no spare Clothes to give he had,
His own Coat he would cut, and it distribute glad.

The fourth appointed by his Office was,
Poor Prisoners to relieve with gracious Aid,
And Captives to redeem with Price of Brass,
From Turks and Sarazins, which them had staid,
And tho they faulty were, yet well he weigh'd,
That God to us forgiveth every hour,
Much more than that why they in Bands were laid;
And he that harrow'd Hell with heavy Stowr,
The faulty Souls from thence brought to his heavenly Bower.

The fifth had charge sick Persons to attend,
And comfort those in point of Death which lay;
For them most needeth Comfort in the end,
When Sin, and Hell, and Death do most dismay
The feeble Soul departing hence away.
All is but lost, that living we bestow,
If not well ended at our dying Day.
O Man! have mind of that last bitter Throw;
For as the Tree does fall, so lies it ever low.

The Sixth had charge of them now being dead,
In seemly sort their Corses to engrave,
And deck with dainty Flowers their bridal Bed,
That to their heavenly Spouse, both sweet and brave,
They might appear, when he their Souls shall save.
The wondrous Workmanship of God's own Mould,
Whose Face he made all Beasts to fear, and gave
All in his hand, even dead we honour should.
Ah dearest God me grant, I dead be not defoul'd.

The seventh, now after Death and Burial done,
Had charge the tender Orphans of the Dead,
And Widows aid, lest they should be undone:
In face of Judgment he their Right would plead,
Ne ought the Power of mighty Men did dread
In their Defence, nor would for Gold or Fee
Be won their rightful Causes down to tread;
And when they stood in most necessity,
He did supply their Want, and gave them ever free.

There when the Elfin Knight arrived was,
The first and chiefest of the Seven, whose care
Was Guests to welcome, towards him did pass;
Where, seeing Mercy, that his Steps up-bare,
And always led, to her with Reverence rare
He humbly louted in meek Lowliness,
And seemly welcome for her did prepare.
For, of their Order, she was Patroness,
Albe Charissa were their chiefest Founderess.

There she awhile him stays, himself to rest,
That to the rest more able he might be;
During which time, in every good behest,
And godly work of Alms and Charity,
She him instructed with great Industry:
Shortly therein so perfect he became,
That from the first unto the last degree,
His mortal Life he learned had to frame
In holy Righteousness, without Rebuke or Blame.

Thence forward, by that painful way they pass;
Forth to an Hill that was both steep and high;
On top whereof, a sacred Chappel was,
And eke a little Hermitage thereby,
Wherein an aged holy Man did lie,
That Day and Night said his Devotion,
Ne other worldly Business did apply;
His Name was heavenly Contemplation;
Of God and Goodness was his Meditation.

Great Grace that old Man to him given had,
For God he often saw from Heaven's height.
All were his earthly Eyen both blunt and bad,
And through great Age had lost their kindly Sight,
Yet wondrous quick and pierceant was his Spright,
As Eagle's Eye, that can behold the Sun.
That Hill they scale with all their Power and Might,
That his frail Thighs, nigh weary and fordone,
Gan fail; but by her help the top at last he won.

There they do find that godly aged Sire,
With snowy Locks adown his shoulders shed,
As hoary Frost with Spangles doth attire
The mossy Branches of an Oak half dead.
Each Bone might through his Body well be red,
And every Sinew seen through his long fast:
For, nought he car'd his Carcass long unfed;
His Mind was full of spiritual repast,
And pin'd his Flesh, to keep his Body low and chaste.

Who, when these two approaching he espy'd,
At their first Presence grew aggrieved sore,
That forc'd him lay his heavenly Thoughts aside:
And had he not that Dame respected more,
Whom highly he did reverence and adore,
He would nor once have moved for the Knight.
They him saluted standing far afore;
Who well them greeting, humbly did requite,
And asked to what end they clomb that tedious Height?

What end (quoth she) should cause us take such pain,
But that same end, which every living Wight
Should make his Mark, high Heaven to attain?
Is not from hence the way, that leadeth right
To that most glorious House, that glistreth bright
With burning Stars, and ever-living Fire,
Whereof the Keys are to thy Hand behight
By wise Fidelia? she doth thee require,
To shew it to this Knight, according his desire.

Thrice happy Man, said then the Father grave,
Whose staggering Steps thy steddy Hand doth lead,
And shews the way his sinful Soul to save:
Who better can the way to Heaven aread,
Then thou thy self, that was both born and bred
In heavenly Throne, where thousand Angels shine?
Thou doost the Prayers of the righteous Seed
Present before the Majesty Divine,
And his avenging Wrath to Clemency incline.

Yet sith thou bidst, thy Pleasure shall be done.
Then come, thou Man of Earth, and see the way
That never yet was seen of Fairy's Son,
That never leads the Traveller astray;
But, after Labours long, and sad Delay,
Brings them to joyous Rest and endless Bliss,
But, first, thou must a season fast and pray,
Till from her Bands the Spright assoiled is,
And have her Strength recur'd from frail Infirmities.

That done, he leads them to the highest Mount;
Such one, as that same mighty Man of God
That blood-red Billows like a walled Front
On either side disparted with his Rod,
Till that his Army dry-foot through them yod,
Dwelt forty Days upon; where, writ in Stone
With bloody Letters by the Hand of God
The bitter Doom of Death and baleful Moan
He did receive, whiles flashing fire about him shone.

Or like that sacred Hill, whose head full high,
Adorn'd with fruitful Olives all around,
Is, as it were for endless Memory
Of that dear Lord, who oft thereon was found
For ever with a flowring Garland crown'd:
Or like that pleasant Mount, that is for ay
Through famous Poets Verse each where renown'd,
On which the thrice three learned Ladies play
Their heavenly Notes, and make full many a lovely Lay.

From thence, far off he unto him did shew
A little Path, that was both steep and long,
Which to a goodly City led his view;
Whose Walls and Towers were builded high and strong
Of Pearl and precious Stone, that earthly Tong
Cannot describe, nor Wit of Man can tell
Too high a Ditty for my simple Song:
The City of the great King hight it well,
Wherein eternal Peace and Happiness doth dwell.

As he thereon stood gazing, he might see
The blessed Angels to and fro descend
From highest Heaven, in gladsome Company,
And with great Joy into that City wend,
As commonly as Friend doth with his friend.
Whereat he wondred much, and 'gan enquire,
What stately Building durst so high extend
Her lofty Towers unto the starry Sphere,
And what unknown Nation there empeopled were.

Fair Knight (quoth he) Hierusalem that is,
The new Hierusalem, that God has built,
For those to dwell in that are chosen his;
His chosen People, purg'd from sinful Guilt,
With piteous Blood, which cruelly was spilt
On cursed Tree, of that unspotted Lamb,
That for the Sins of all the World was kilt:
Now are they Saints in all that City sam,
More dear unto their God, than Younglings to their Dam.

Till now, said then the Knight, I weened well,
That great Cleopolis, where I have been,
In which that fairest Fairy-Queen doth dwell,
The fairest City was, that might be seen;
And that bright Tower all built of Crystal clean,
Panthea, seem'd the brightest thing that was:
But now by proof all otherwise I ween;
For, this great City, that does far surpass,
And this bright Angel's Tower, quite dims that Tower of Glass.

Most true, then said the holy aged Man;
Yet is Cleopolis, for earthly Fame,
The fairest piece that Eye beholden can:
And well beseems all Knights of noble Name,
That covet in th' immortal Book of Fame
To be eternized, that same to haunt,
And doen their Service to that Sovereign Dame,
That glory does to them for Guerdon graunt:
For, she is heavenly born, and Heaven may justly vaunt.

And thou fair Imp, sprung out from English Race,
However now accounted Elfin's Son,
Well worthy dost thy Service for her Grace,
To aid a Virgin desolate foredone.
But, when thou famous Victory hast won,
And high emongst all Knights hast hung thy Shield,
Thence-forth the Suit of earthly Conquest shun,
And wash thy Hands from Guilt of bloody Field:
For, Blood can nought but Sin, and Wars but Sorrows yield.

Then seek this Path, that I to thee presage,
Which after all to Heaven shall thee send;
Then peaceably thy painful Pilgrimage
To yonder same Hierusalem do bend,
Where is for thee ordain'd a blessed End:
For, thou emongst those Saints, whom thou dost see,
Shalt be a Saint, and thine own Nation's Friend
And Patron: thou Saint George shalt called be,
Saint George of merry England, the sign of Victory.

Unworthy Wretch (quoth he) of so great Grace,
How dare I think such Glory to attain?
These that have it attain'd, were in like case
(Quoth he) as wretched, and liv'd in like Pain.
But Deeds of Arms must I at last be fain,
And Ladies Love to leave, so dearly bought?
What need of Arms, where Peace doth ay remain
(Said he) and Battles none are to be fought?
As for loose Loves are vain, and vanish into nought.

O! let me not (quoth he) return again
Back to the World, whose Joys so fruitless are;
But let me hear for aye in Peace remain
Or straightway on that last long Voyage fare,
That nothing may my present Hope empare.
That may not be (said he) ne may'st thou yet
Forgo that Royal Maid's bequeathed Care,
Who did her Cause into thy hand commit,
Till from her cursed Foe thou have her freely quit.

Then shall I soon (quoth he) so God me grace,
Abet that Virgin's Cause disconsolate,
And shortly back return unto this place,
To walk this way in Pilgrim's poor Estate.
But now aread, old Father, why of late
Didst thou behight me born of English Blood,
Whom all a Fairy's Son doen nominate?
That word shall I (said he) avouchen good,
Sith to thee is unknown the Cradle of thy Brood.

For well I wote, thou spring'st from antient Race
Of Saxon Kings, that have with mighty Hand
And many bloody Battles fought in place,
High rear'd their Royal Throne in Britain Land,
And vanquish'd them; unable to withstand:
From thence a Fairy thee unweeting reft,
There as thou sleptst in tender swadling Band,
And her base Elfin Brood there for thee left.
Such Men do Changelings call, so chang'd by Fairies Theft.

Thence she thee brought into this Fairy Lond,
And in an heaped Furrow did thee hide;
Where, thee a Plough-man all unweeting fond,
As he his toilsome Team that way did guide,
And brought thee up in Plough-man's State to 'bide,
Whereof Georgos he thee gave to name;
Till prick'd with Courage, and thy Force's Pride,
To Fairy Court thou cam'st to seek for Fame,
And prove thy puissant Arms, as seems thee best became.

O holy Sire (quoth he) how shall I 'quite
The many Favours I with thee have found,
That hast my Name and Nation read aright,
And taught the way that does to Heaven bound?
This said, adown he looked to the ground,
To have return'd, but dazed were his Eyne
Through passing Brightness which did quite confound
His feeble Sense, and too exceeding shine.
So dark are Earthly things compar'd to things Divine.

At last, when as himself he 'gan to find,
To Una back he cast him to retire;
Who him awaited still with pensive Mind.
Great thanks and goodly Meed, to that good Sire,
He thence departing gave for his pains Hire.
So came to Una, who him joy'd to see,
And after little rest, 'gan him desire,
Of her Adventure mindful for to be.
So leave they take of Coelia, and her Daughters three.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 1:142-59]

[Continue]