George L. Craik: "The Second Book of the Fairy Queen is entitled The Legend of Sir Guyon, or of Temperance; and is introduced by five stanzas of an address to Queen Elizabeth, in which the poet meets the objection, which he says he is well aware will be made by many, that 'all this famous antique history' is merely a 'painted forgery' — 'the abundance [or overflow] of an idle brain' — 'sith none, as he expresses it, 'that breatheth living air doth know | Where is that happy Land of Fairy, | Which I so much do vaunt, yet no where show'.... However, he adds, if one will inquire further, he may find Fairy Land by certain signs set down in the present work....
"Canto I. (61 stanzas). — The story of the present Book is connected with that of the preceding by the re-appearance of the old magician Archimago, who, we are told, as soon as he understood the Redcross Knight to have departed out of Eden land, 'to serve again his sovereign Elfin Queen,' proceeded to set his arts in motion, and soon left his shackles empty and made his escape 'out of caitiffs' hands' — that is, apparently, the hands of the hostile, and to him, therefore, evil, persons who were appointed as his guards. Una is now out of his reach; but he is still resolutely bent to work what mischief he may to the Redcross Knight. Of this, however, after a time he gives up hope, at least for the present.
"But not to be idle, he casts about for a new object on which to exercise his malignity — and while walking along in this mood he encounters, 'Fair marching underneath a shady hill, | A goodly knight, all armed in harness meet, | That from his head no place appeared to his feet'.... Archimago, immediately accosting the knight, implores him for a short space to stay his steed 'for humble miser's [wretch's] sake;' and then proceeds, all pale and trembling, to relate how he had just seen the foulest violence committed on a fair and honourable lady, whose squire he was, by a 'lewd ribald,' who, as well as the lady, was still not a great way off. Instantly rushing under the guidance of the crafty magician to find the ravisher, the knight comes upon the place where the lady sits alone, 'With garments rent, and hair dishevelled, | Wringing her hands, and making piteous moan.' After much show of sorrow and shame she informs him that the wanton knight's name she does not know — she can only describe his appearance....
"To Guyon, for it is he upon whom Archimago has chanced, this coat-of-arms at once points out who he is.... Nevertheless, Guyon goes on to declare, this Redcross champion shall speedily have another opportunity of showing his valour; and therefore the lady may cease to make herself unhappy, and solace her grief with the hope and assurance of vengeance. The lady, as the reader has anticipated, is no injured virgin, but Archimago's old confederate, the false Duessa, whom he had found wandering naked in the waste wilderness, and lurking among rocks and in subterranean caverns; and who had been by him thus redecked in the semblance of beauty....
"He now proceeds to conduct the lady's deliverer to where her ravisher is.... Guyon at once prepares to rush upon him, and the other also without loss of time puts his spear in rest. But no harm ensues: Guyon stops and lowers his spear at sight of the cross on his opponent's shield, begging forgiveness of heaven for his heedless hardiment in directing his weapon against that holy emblem; the Redcross Knight takes the blame on himself for his thoughtlessness in having been about to strike the fair image of the heavenly maid that decked Sir Guyon's shield; and, the false squire having in the mean time slunk off and vanished, both see the delusion that has been played upon them. The palmer having then come up, and spoken a few words, the Redcross Knight wishes Sir Guyon the same success in his new adventure as he had himself had in that just accomplished....
"In this manner they travel together for a long time, in the course of which the knight gains honour in 'many hard essays.' At last, as they are passing along by a forest side, for shelter from the sun, they hear the voice of a woman lamenting and shrieking: — 'But if that careless heavens,' quoth she, 'despise | The doom of just revenge, and take delight | To see sad pageants of men's miseries'.... From the rest of her lament it appears that she has a babe with her, and that its father has been recently slain. Guyon, dismounting, rushes forward to the thick, or thicket, where she lies; but before he can come up to her she has thrust a knife into her bosom, and made a grisly wound.... When Sir Guyon beheld this sight, 'his heart gan wax as stark as marble stone.' Plucking forth the knife, he stops the flow of blood with his garment, and at last the lady recovers so far as to be able to tell him part of her story before she breathes her last.
"This dead corpse, she begins, — 'The gentlest knight that ever on green grass | Gay steed with spurs did prick, the good Sir Mordant, was.' Leaving her in pursuit of adventures, he had fallen into the hands of the false enchantress Acrasia, whose dwelling is within 'a wandering island' called the Bower of Bliss; and, 'for he was flesh (all flesh doth frailty breed)' by her had been beguiled to ill; hearing which she, his true lady love, had wrapped herself 'in palmer's weed,' and set out in search of him. On her way, all alone as she was, she had been forced to call Lucina to her aid: — 'Lucina came: a man-child forth I brought; | The woods, the nymphs, my bowers, my midwives were; | Hard help at need!' At last she found her knight, but so transformed in mind arid nature by the witch's spells that he knew neither her nor his own degradation. By 'wise handling and air governance,' however, she, after a time, restored him to a better will.... Guyon is greatly shocked; but he and his friend the palmer are of one mind as to what must be done. 'Palmer,' quoth he, 'death is an equal doom | To good and bad, the common inn of rest; | But after death the trial is to come, | When best shall be to them that lived best'...." Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:185-91.
Right well I wote, most mighty Sovereign;
That all this famous antique History,
Of some, th' abundance of an idle Brain,
Will judged be, and painted Forgery,
Rather than Matter of just Memory;
Sith none that breatheth living Air, does know,
Where is that happy Land of Fairy,
Which I so much do vaunt, yet no where show,
But vouch Antiquities, which no body can know.
But let that Man with better Sense advise,
That of the World least part to us is read;
And daily how thro hardy Enterprise,
Many great Regions are discovered,
Which to late Age were never mentioned.
Who ever heard of th' Indian Peru?
Or who in venturous Vessel measured
The Amazons huge River now found true?
Or fruitfullest Virginia who did ever view?
Yet all these were, when no Man did them know;
Yet have from wisest Ages hidden been:
And later Times things more unknown shall show.
Why then should witless Man so much misween,
That nothing is, but that which he hath seen?
What if within the Moon's fair shining Sphear,
What if in every other Star unseen,
Of other Worlds he happily should hear?
He wonder would much more: yet such to some appear.
Of Fairy-Lond yet if he more enquire,
By certain Signs, here set in sundry place,
He may it find; ne let him then admire,
But yield his Sense to be too blunt and base,
That no'te without an Hound fine footing trace.
And thou, O fairest Princess under Sky,
In this fair Mirror mayst behold thy Face,
And thine own Realms in Lond of Fairy,
And in this antique Image thy great Auncestry.
The which, O pardon me thus to enfold
In covert Veil, and wrap in Shadows light,
That feeble Eyes your Glory may behold,
Which else could not endure those Beamez bright:
But would be dazled with exceeding Light.
O pardon, and vouchsafe with patient Ear
The brave Adventures of this Fairy Knight,
The good Sir Guyon, graciously to hear,
In whom great Rule of Temp'rance goodly doth appear.
Guyon, by Archimage abus'd,
The Redcross Knight awaits;
Finds Mordant and Amavia slain
With Pleasure's poison'd Baits.
That cunning Architect of cankred Guile,
Whom Princes late Displeasure left in Bands,
For falsed Letters, and suborned Wile,
Soon as the Redcross Knight he understands
To been departed out of Eden Lands,
To serve again his Sovereign Elfin Queen,
His Arts he moves, and out of caitive Hands
Himself he frees by secret Means unseen;
His Shackles empty left, himself escaped clean.
And forth he fares, full of malicious Mind,
To worken Mischief and avenging Woe,
Wherever he that godly Knight may find,
His only Heart-sore, and his only Foe,
Sith Una now he algates must forgoe,
Whom his victorious Hands did earst restore
To Natives Crown and Kingdom late ygoe;
Where she enjoys sure Peace for evermore,
As weather-beaten Ship arriv'd on happy Shore.
Him therefore now the Object of his Spight
And deadly Feud he makes; him to offend
By forged Treason, or by open Fight
He seeks, of all his Drift the aimed End.
Thereto his subtle Engines he does bend,
His practick Wit, and his fair filed Tongue,
With thousand other Sleights: for, well he kend,
His Credit now in doubtful Ballance hong;
For hardly could he hurt, who was already stong.
Still as he went, he crafty Stales did lay,
With cunning Trains him to entrap unwares,
And privy Spials plac'd in all his way,
To weet what course he takes, and how he fares;
To catch him at avantage in his Snares.
But now so wise and wary was the Knight,
By trial of his former Harms and Cares,
That he descry'd, and shunned still his slight:
The Fish, that once was caught, new Bait will hardly bite.
Nath'less, th' Enchaunter would not spare his Pain,
In hope to win occasion to his Will:
Which when he long awaited had in vain,
He chang'd his mind from one to other ill;
For, to all good he Enemy was still.
Upon the way him fortuned to meet
(Fair marching underneath a shady Hill)
A goodly Knight, all arm'd in Harness meet,
That from his Head no place appeared to his Feet.
His Carriage was full comely and upright,
His Countenance demure, and temperate;
But yet so stern and terrible in fight,
That chear'd his Friends, and did his Foes amate:
He was an Elfin born of noble State,
And mickle Worship in his Native Land;
Well could he tourney, and in Lists debate,
And Knighthood took of good Sir Huon's hand,
When with King Oberon he came to Fairy-Land.
Him als accompany'd upon the way
A comely Palmer, clad in black Attire,
Of ripest Years, and Hairs all hoary grey,
That with a Staff his feeble Steps did stire:
Lest his long way his aged Limbs should tire:
And, if by Looks one may the Mind aread,
He seem'd to be a sage and sober Sire,
And ever with slow Pace the Knight did lead,
Who taught his trampling Steed with equal Steps to tread.
Such when as Archimago them did view,
He weened well to work some uncouth Wile;
Eftsoons untwisting his deceitful Clew,
He 'gan to weave a Web of wicked Guile,
And with fair Countenance and flatt'ring Stile
To them approaching, thus the Knight bespake:
Fair Son of Mars, that seek with warlike Spoil,
And great Atchievements, great your self to make,
Vouchsafe to stay your Steed for humble Miser's sake.
He staid his Steed for humble Miser's sake,
And bade tell on the Tenor of his Plaint;
Who feigning then in every Limb to quake,
Thro inward Fear, and seeming pale and faint,
With piteous Moan his piercing Speech 'gan paint:
Dear Lady, how shall I declare thy Case,
Whom fare I left in langorous Constraint!
Would God thy self now present were in place,
To tell this rueful Tale; thy Sight could win thee Grace.
Or rather would, O would it so had chaunc'd,
That you, most noble Sir, had present been,
When that leud Ribauld (with vile Lust advaunc'd)
Laid first his filthy Hands on Virgin clean,
To spoil her dainty Corse so fair and sheen,
As on the Earth (great Mother of us all!)
With living Eye more fair was never seen,
Of Chastity and Honour Virginal:
Witness ye Heavens, whom she in vain to help did call.
How may it be (said then the Knight half wroth)
That Knight should Knighthood ever so have shent?
None but that saw (quoth he) would ween for troth,
How shamefully that Maid he did torment.
Her looser golden Locks he rudely rent,
And drew her on the Ground; and his sharp Sword
Against her snowy Breast he fiercely bent,
And threaten'd Death with many a bloody word;
Tongue hates to tell the rest, that Eye to see abhor'd.
Therewith, amoved from his sober Mood;
And lives he yet (said he) that wrought this Act,
And doen the Heavens afford him vital Food?
He lives (quoth he) and boasteth of the Fact,
He yet hath any Knight his Courage crackt.
Where may that Treachor then (said he) be found,
Or by what means may I his footing craft?
What shall I shew (said he) as sure as Hound
The striken Dear doth challenge by the bleeding Wound.
He stay'd not lenger Talk, but with fierce Ire,
And zealous Haste, away is quickly gone
To seek that Knight, where him that crafty Squire
Suppos'd to be. They do arrive anon,
Where sat a gentle Lady all alone,
With Garments rent, and Hair disheveled,
Wringing her Hands, and making piteous Moan;
Her swollen Eyes were much disfigured,
And her fair Face with Tears was foully blubbered.
The Knight approaching nigh, thus to her said,
Fair Lady, through foul Sorrow ill bedight,
Great Pity is to see you thus dismay'd,
And marr the Blossom of your Beauty bright:
For thy, appease your Grief and heavy Plight,
And tell the Cause of your conceived Pain;
For if he lives that hath you doen Despight,
He shall you do due Recompence again,
Or else his Wrong with greater Puissance maintain.
Which when she heard, as in despightful wise,
She wistfully her Sorrow did augment,
And offer'd hope of Comfort did despise:
Her golden Locks most cruelly she rent,
And scratch'd her Face with ghastly dreriment;
Ne would she speak, ne see, ne yet be seen,
But hid her Visage, and her Head down bent,
Either for grievous Shame, or for great Teen,
As if her Heart with Sorrow had transfixed been.
Till her that Squire bespake, Madam, my Lief,
For God's dear Love be not so wilful bent,
But do vouchsafe now to receive Relief,
The which good Fortune doth to you present.
For what boots it to weep and to wayment?
When Ill is chaunc'd, but doth the Ill increase,
And the weak Mind with double Woe torment.
When she her Squire heard speak, she 'gan appease
Her voluntary Pain, and feel some secret Ease.
Eftsoon she said, Ah gentle trusty Squire,
What Comfort can I woful Wretch conceive,
Or why should ever I henceforth desire
To see fair Heaven's face, and Life not leave,
Sith that false Traitor did my Honour reave?
False Traitor certes (said the Fairy Knight)
I read the Man, that ever would deceive
A gentle Lady, or her wrong through Might:
Death were too little Pain for such a foul Despight.
But now, fair Lady, comfort to you make,
And read who hath ye wrought this shameful Plight
That short Revenge the Man may overtake,
Whereso he be, and soon upon him light.
Certes (said she) I wote not how he hight,
But under him a grey Steed did he wield,
Whose Sides with dapled Circles weren dight;
Upright he rode, and in his silver Shield
He bore a bloody Cross, that quarter'd all the Field.
Now by my Head (said Guyon) much I muse
How that same Knight should do so foul amiss,
Or ever gentle Damsel so abuse:
For may I boldly say, he surely is
A right good Knight, and true of word ywis:
I present was, and can it witness well,
When Arms he swore, and straight did enterpris
Th' Adventure of the Errant Damozel,
In which he hath great Glory won, as I hear tell.
Nathless, he shortly shall again be try'd,
And fairly quit him of th' imputed blame;
Else be ye sure, he dearly shall abide,
Or make you good Amendment for the same:
All Wrongs have mends, but no amends of shame.
Now therefore, Lady, rise out of your Pain,
And see the salving of your blotted Name.
Full loth she seem'd thereto, but yet did feign;
For she was inly glad her purpose so to gain.
Her purpose was not such, as she did feign,
Ne yet her Person such, as it was seen;
But under simple shew, and semblant plain
Lurk'd false Duessa secretly unseen,
As a chaste Virgin that had wronged been:
So had false Archimago her disguis'd,
To cloak her Guile with Sorrow and sad Teen;
And eke himself had craftily devis'd
To be her Squire, and do her Service well aguis'd.
Her late forlorn and naked, he had found,
Where she did wander in waste Wilderness,
Lurking in Rocks and Caves far under ground,
And with green Moss cov'ring her Nakedness,
To hide her Shame and loathly Filthiness;
Sith her Prince Arthur of proud Ornaments
And borrow'd Beauty spoil'd. Her natheless
Th' Enchaunter finding fit for his Intents
Did thus revest, and deck'd with due Habiliments.
For all he did was to deceive good Knights,
And draw them from pursuit of Praise and Fame,
To slug in Sloth and sensual Delights,
And end their days with irrenowned shame.
And now exceeding Grief him overcame,
To see the Redcross thus advaunced high;
Therefore this crafty Engine he did frame,
Against his Praise to stir up Enmity
Of such, as Vertues like mote unto him ally.
So now he Guyon guides an uncouth way,
Through Woods and Mountains, till they came at last
Into a pleasant Dale, that lowly lay
Betwixt two Hills, whose high Heads overplac'd,
The Valley did with cool made overcast;
Through midst thereof a little River roll'd,
By which there sat a Knight with Helm unlac'd,
Himself refreshing with the liquid cold,
After his Travel long, and Labours manifold.
Lo! yonder he (cry'd Archimago aloud)
That wrought the shameful fact which I did shew;
And now he doth himself in secret shroud,
To fly the Vengeance for his Outrage due;
But vain: for ye shall dearly do him rue,
So God ye speed, and send you good Success;
Which we far off will here abide to view.
So they him left, inflam'd with Wrathfulness,
That straight against thee Knight his Spear he did address.
Who seeing him from far so fierce to prick,
His warlike Arms about him 'gan embrace,
And in the Rest his ready Spear did stick;
Tho when as still he saw him cowards pace,
He 'gan r'encounter him in equal Race.
They been ymet, both ready to affrap,
When suddenly that Warrior 'gan abase
His threatned Spear, as if some new Mishap
Had him betidde, or hidden Danger did entrap.
And cry'd, Mercy Sir Knight, and Mercy Lord,
For mine Offence and heedless Hardiment,
That had almost committed Crime abhor'd,
And with reproachful shame mine Honour shent,
Whiles cursed Steel against that Badg I bent,
The sacred Badg of my Redeemer's Death,
Which on your Shield is set for Ornament:
But his fierce Foe his Steed could stay uneath,
Who (prick'd with Courage keen) did cruel Battel breath.
But when he heard him speak, straightway he knew
His Error, and (himself inclining) said;
Ah! dear Sir Guyon, well becometh you,
But me behoveth rather to upbraid,
Whose hasty Hand so far from Reason stray'd,
That almost it did heinous Violence
On that fair Image of that heavenly Maid,
That decks and arms your Shield with fair Defence:
Your Court'sy takes on you another's due Offence.
So been they both attone, and doen uprear
Their Bevers bright, each other for to greet;
Goodly Comportance each to other bear,
And entertain themselves with Court'sies meet.
Then said the Redcross Knight, Now mote I weet,
Sir Guyon, why with so fierce Saliance,
And fell Intent ye did at earst me meet;
For sith I know your goodly Governance,
Great Cause (I ween) you guided, or some uncouth Chance.
Certes (said I) well mote I shame to tell
The fond Encheason thee me hither led.
A false infamous Faitour late befel
Me for to meet, that seemed ill bested,
And 'plain'd of grievous Outrage, which he red
A Knight had wrought against a Lady gent:
Which to avenge, he to this place me led,
Where you he made the Mark of his Intent,
And now is fled; foul shame him follow, where he went.
So can he turn his Earnest unto Game,
Through goodly Handling and wise Temperance.
By this, his aged Guide in Presence came;
Who soon as on that Knight his Eye did glance,
Eftsoons of him had perfect Cognizance,
Sith him in Fairy Court he late aviz'd;
And said, Fair Son, God give you happy Chance,
And that dear Cross upon your Shield deviz'd,
Wherewith above all Knights ye goodly seem aguiz'd.
Joy may you have, and everlasting Fame,
Of late most hard Atchievement by you done,
For which enrolled is your glorious Name
In heavenly Registers above the Sun,
Where you a Saint, with Saints your Seat have won:
But, wretched we, where ye have left your Mark,
Must now anew begin, like Race to run;
God guide thee, Guyon, well to end thy wark,
And to the wished Haven bring thy weary Bark.
Palmer, (him answered the Red-cross Knight)
His be the praise, that this Atchievement wrought,
Who made my Hand the Organ of his Might;
More than good-will to me, attribute nought
For, all I did, I did but as I ought.
But you, fair Sir, whose Pageant next ensues,
Well mote ye thee, as well can wish your Thought,
That home ye may report these happy News;
For, well ye worthy been for Worth and gentle Thews.
So, courteous Conge both did give and take,
With right Hands plighted, Pledges of good Will.
Then Guyon forward 'gan his Voyage make,
With his black Palmer, that him guided still.
Still he him guided over Dale and Hill,
And with his steady Staff did point his way:
His Race with Reason, and with Words his Will,
From foul Intemperance he oft did Pray,
And suffred not in Wrath his hasty Steps to stray.
In this fair wise they travell'd long yfere,
Through many hard assays, which did betide;
Of which he honour still away did bear,
And spread his Glory through all Countries wide.
At last, as chaunc'd them by a Forest side
To pass (for Succour from the scorching Ray)
They heard a rueful Voice, that dearnly cry'd
With piercing Shrieks, and many a doleful Lay,
Which to attend, awhile their forward Steps they stay.
But, if thee careless Heavens (quoth he) despise
The Doom of just Revenge, and take delight
To see sad Pageants of Mens Miseries,
As bound by them to live in Life's despight;
Yet can they not warn Death from wretched Wight.
Come then, come soon, come sweetest Death to me,
And take away this long lent loathed Light:
Sharp be thy Wounds, but sweet the Med'cines be,
That long captived Souls from weary Thraldom free.
But thou, sweet Babe, whom frowning froward Fate
Hath made sad Witness of thy Father's Fall,
Sith Heaven thee deigns to hold in living State,
Long may'st thou live, and better thrive withal,
Than to thy luckless Parents did befal:
Live thou, and to thy Mother dead attest,
That dear she did from Blemish criminal;
Thy little Hands embrew'd in bleeding Breast,
Lo, I for Pledges leave. So give me leave to rest.
With that, a deadly Shriek she forth did throw,
That through the Wood re-ecchoed again:
And after, gave a Groan so deep and low,
That seem'd her tender Heart was rent in twain,
Or thrill'd with point of thorough-piercing Pain.
As gentle Hind, whose Sides with cruel Steel
Through launced, forth her bleeding Life does rain,
Whiles the sad Pang approaching she does feel,
Brays out her latest Breath, and up her Eyes doth seal.
Which when that Warrior heard, dismounting straict
From his tall Steed, he rush'd into the Thick,
And soon arrived, where that sad Pourtraict
Of Death and Labour lay, half dead, half quick,
In whose white Alabaster Breast did stick
A cruel Knife, that made a griesly Wound,
From which forth gush'd a Stream of Gore-blood thick,
That all her goodly Garments stain'd around,
And into a deep sanguine dy'd the grassy Ground.
Pitiful Spectacle of deadly smart,
Beside a bubbling Fountain low she lay,
Which the increased with her bleeding Heart,
And the clean Waves with purple Gold did ray;
Als in her Lap a little Babe did play
His cruel Sport, instead of Sorrow due;
For, in her streaming Blood he did embay
His little Hands, and tender Joints embrew;
Pitiful Spectacle, as ever Eye did view.
Besides them both, upon the soiled Grass
The dead Corse of an armed Knight was spread,
Whose Armour all with Blood besprinkled was;
His ruddy Lips did smile, and rosy Red
Did paint his chearful Cheeks, yet being dead:
Seem'd to have been a goodly Personage,
Now in his freshest Flower of lustyhead,
Fit to inflame fair Lady with Love's Rage,
But that fierce fate did crop the Blossom of his Age.
Whom, when the good Sir Guyon did behold,
His Heart 'gan wex as Dark as Marble-stone,
And his fresh Blood did freeze with fearful Cold,
That all his Senses seem'd bereft attone:
At last, his mighty Ghost 'gan deep to groan,
As Lion grudging in his great Disdain,
Mourns inwardly, and makes to himself moan;
Till Ruth and frail Affection did constrain
His Courage stout to stoop, and shew his inward Pain.
Out of her gored Wound the cruel Steel
He lightly snatch'd, and did the Flood-gate stop
With his fair Garment; then 'gan softly feel
Her feeble Pulse, to prove if any drop
Of living Blood yet in her Veins did hop:
Which when he felt to move, he hoped fair
To call back Life to her forsaken Shop;
So well he did her deadly Wounds repair,
That at the last she 'gan to breathe out living Air.
Which be perceiving, greatly 'gan rejoice,
And goodly Counsel (that for wounded Heart
Is meetest Med'cine) tempred with sweet Voice;
Ay me! dear Lady, which the Image art
Of rueful Pity, and impatient Smart,
What direful Chaunce, arm'd with revenging Fate,
Or cursed Hand that plaid this cruel part,
Thus foul to hasten your untimely date?
Speak, O dear Lady, speak: Help never comes too late.
There-with her dim Eye-lids she up 'gan rear,
On which the dreary Death did sit, as sad
As Lump of Lead, and made dark Clouds appear:
But when as him (all in bright Armour clad)
Before her standing she espyed had,
As one out of a deadly Dream affright,
She weakly started, yet she nothing drad:
Strait down again her self in great despight,
She groveling threw to ground, as hating Life and Light.
The gentle Knight, her soon with careful pain
Uplifted light, and softly did uphold;
Thrice he her rear'd, and thrice she sunk again,
Till he his Arms about her sides 'gan fold,
And to her said: Yet if the stony Cold
Have not all seized on your frozen Heart,
Let one word fall that may your Grief unfold,
And tell the Secret of your mortal Smart;
He oft finds present Help, who does his Grief impart.
Then casting up a deadly Look, full low
She sigh'd, from bottom of her wounded Breast;
And after, many bitter Throbs did throw,
With Lips full pale, and foltring Tongue oppress'd,
These words she breathed forth from riven Chest:
Leave, ah leave off, what-ever Wight thou be,
To let a weary Wretch from her due Rest,
And trouble dying Soul's Tranquillity;
Take not away now got, which none would give to me.
Ah! far be it (said he) Dear Dame from me,
To hinder Soul from her desired Rest,
Or hold sad Life in long Captivity:
For, all I seek, is but to have redress'd
The bitter Pangs, that doth your Heart infest.
Tell then (O Lady) tell what fatal Prief
Hath with so huge misfortune you oppress'd?
That I may cast to compass your Relief,
Or die with you in Sorrow, and partake your Grief.
With feeble hands then stretched forth on high,
As Heaven accusing guilty of her Death,
And with dry Drops congealed in her Eye,
In these sad Words she spent her utmost Breath:
Hear then (O Man) the Sorrows that uneath
My Tongue can tell, so far all Sense they pass:
Lo, this dead Corpse, that lies here underneath,
The gentlest Knight, that ever on green Grass
Gay Steed with Spurs did prick, the good Sir Mordant was:
Was (aye the while, that he is not so now!)
My Lord, my Love; my dear Lord, my dear Love,
So long as Heavens just with equal Brow
Vouchsafed to behold us from above,
One Day when him high Courage did emmove,
(As wont ye Knights to seek Adventures wild
He pricked forth, his puissant Force to prove,
Me then he left enwombed of this Child,
This luckless Child, whom thus ye see with Blood defil'd.
Him fortuned (hard Fortune ye may ghess)
To come where vile Acrasia does won,
Acrasia, a false Enchaunteress,
That many errant Knights hath foul fordone:
Within a wandring Island, that doth run
And stray in perilous Gulf, her Dwelling is;
Fair Sir, if ever there ye travel, shun
The cursed Land where many wend amiss,
And know it by the Name; it hight the Bower of Bliss.
Her Bliss is all in Pleasure and Delight,
Where-with she makes her Lovers drunken mad;
And then, with Words and Weeds of wondrous Might,
On them she works her Will to uses bad.
My lifest Lord she thus beguiled had;
For, he was Flesh: (all Flesh doth Frailty breed).
Whom, when I heard to been so ill bestad,
(Weak Wretch) I wrapt my self in Palmer's Weed,
And cast to seek him forth through Danger and great Dreed.
Now had fair Cynthia by even tourns
Full measured three Quarters of her Year,
And thrice three times had fill'd her crooked Horns,
When as my Womb her burden would forbear,
And bade me call Lucina to me near.
Lucina came; a Man-child forth I brought:
The Woods, the Nymphs, my Bowers, my Midwives were,
Hard help at need. So dear thee Babe I bought;
Yet nought too dear I deem'd, while so my Dear I sought.
Him so I sought, and so at last I found,
Where him that Witch had thralled to her Will
In Chains of Lust and leud Desires ybound,
And so transformed from his former Skill,
That me he knew not, neither his own Ill;
Till through wife handling and fair governance,
I him recured to a better Will,
Purged from Drugs of foul Intemperance:
Then means I 'gan devise for his Deliverance.
Which when the vile Enchaunteress perceiv'd,
How that my Lord from her I would reprieve,
With Cup thus charm'd, him parting she deceiv'd;
Sad Verse, give Death to him that Death does give,
And loss of Love, to her that loves to live,
So soon as Bacchus with the Nymph does link.
So parted we, and on our Journey drive,
Till coming to this Well, he stoupt to drink:
The Charm fulfil'd, dead suddenly he down did sink.
Which, when I Wretch — Not one word more she said,
But breaking off the end for want of Breath,
And sliding soft, as down to sleep her laid,
And ended all her Woe in quiet Death.
That seeing, good Sir Guyon could uneath
From Tears abstain; for Grief his Heart did grate,
And from so heavy sight his Head did wreath,
Accusing Fortune, and too cruel Fate,
Which plunged had fair Lady in so wretched State.
Then turning to the Palmer, said: Old Sire,
Behold the Image of Mortality,
And feeble Nature cloth'd with fleshly Tire,
When raging Passion with fierce Tyranny
Robs Reason of her due Regality,
And makes it Servant to her basest part:
The strong it weakens with Infirmity,
And with bold Fury arms the weakest Heart;
The strong, through Pleasure soonest falls, the weak through Smart.
But Temperance (said he) with golden Squire
Betwixt them both can measure out a Mean,
Neither to melt in Pleasure's hot Desire,
Nor fry in heartless Grief and doleful Teen.
Thrice happy Man, who fares them both atween:
But, sith this wretched Woman overcome
Of Anguish, rather than of Crime hath been,
Reserve her Cause to her eternal Doom;
And in the mean, vouchsafe her honourable Tomb.
Palmer (quoth he) Death is an evil Doom
To Good and Bad, the common Inn of Rest;
But, after Death, the Trial is to come,
When best shall be to them that lived best.
But, both alike, when Death hath both suppress'd,
Religious Reverence doth Burial teen,
Which whoso wants, wants so much of his Rest:
For, all so great Shame after Death I ween,
As self to dyen bad, unburied bad to been.
So, both agree their Bodies to engrave;
The great Earth's Womb they open to the Sky,
And with sad Cypress seemly it embrave;
Then covering with a Clod their closed Eye,
They lay therein those Corses tenderly,
And bid them sleep in everlasting Peace.
But, e'er they did their utmost Obsequy,
Sir Guyon, more Affection to increase,
Bynempt a sacred Vow, which none should aye release.
The dead Knight's Sword out of his Sheath he drew,
With which he cut a Lock of all their Hair,
Which medling with their Blood and Earth, he threw
Into the Grave, and 'gan devoutly swear;
Such and such evil God on Guyon rear,
And worse and worse, young Orphan, be thy pain,
If I, or thou, due Vengeance do forbear,
Till guilty Blood her Guerdon do obtain:
So, shedding many Tears, they clos'd the Earth again.
[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:187-204]