1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto III.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto III. (46 stanzas). — On the morrow, as soon as '—Titan, playing on the eastern streams, | Gan clear the dewy air with springing light,' Guyon takes his departure, leaving 'the bloody-handed babe' to the care of Medina, with a recommendation that he should be called Ruddymane, and thereby taught or incited when he grew up to avenge his parents' slaughter. The story now returns to the knight's good steed, which, while he ran to assist Amavia, had it appears been seized, along with his spear left beside it, by a losel, or loose fellow, Braggadoccio, who chanced to be wandering by the way.... Inflated with his acquisition, Braggadoccio as he rides along sees 'one sitting idle on a sunny bank,' upon which he immediately advances in hostile fashion; and when the man roars out 'Mercy!' he compels him with some thundering words to yield himself his captive, and, after kissing his stirrup, to follow him as his liegeman and thrall. Trompart, however, who was wily-witted and grown old in cunning and knavery, soon perceives what a fool he has got for a master. But meanwhile they hold on their way together harmoniously enough, till at length they are met by old Archimago, who, struck by Braggadoccio's gallant appearance, immediately conceives him to be the fit man for avenging him on Guyon and the Knight of the Redcross.

"He is somewhat surprised to see that he has got no sword; but Trompart, to whom he whispers his inquiries, explains that circumstance, by telling him that his master has lost the weapon in a great adventure, and has sworn never to wear another till he shall have taken vengeance for such despite; adding that it does not matter — 'that spear is him enough to done a thousand groan.' Braggadoccio at once undertakes the adventure proposed by the magician, scouting his earnest exhortation that he should first provide himself with complete armour.... Archimago, nevertheless, still argues the point; till, in the end, to cut matters short, Braggadoccio declares that, having once overcome seven knights with his single sword, he had on that memorable occasion made a vow never again to use in battle a weapon of the sort unless it were that of the noblest knight on earth. That being the case, Archimago answers, there will be no difficulty; the noblest knight now alive is Prince Arthur of Fairy Land; 'he hath a sword that flames like burning brand;' and that same shall by to-morrow be by Braggadoccio's side. 'At which bold word,' we are told, — 'that boaster gan to quake, | And wondered in his mind what mote that monster make;' — that is, apparently, what might bring about that miracle.

"And then comes the following splendid passage.... 'Eftsoon there stepped forth | A goodly lady clad in hunter's weed, | That seemed to be a woman of great worth, | And by her stately portance born of heavenly birth'.... She has nearly sent her lance into the bush where Braggadoccio lies crouching and concealed, when her hand is stayed by the entreaty of Trompart, himself also not a little frightened. The vaunting dastard comes forth shaking his crest, like a fowl pruning its wings on issuing from its concealment after the hawk has soared out of sight; and a dialogue takes place between him and the lady. To his inquiry why she was left the court, the haunt and happy home of all delights, to range in the wild forest, Belphoebe, for that is her name, answers in these noble words: — 'Abroad in arms, at home in studious kind, | Who seeks with painful toil shall Honour soonest find'.... She is proceeding, when Braggadoccio, inflamed by her beauty and sweet words, suddenly advances to fold her in his arms; but she repels him with her javelin bright, and, turning her about, is soon beyond his reach. Trompart advises that she be let alone; who can tell but that she is some power celestial?" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:196-202.



Vain Braggadochio, getting Guyon's
Horse, is made the Scorn
Of Knighthood true, and is of fair
Belphoebe foul forlorn.

Soon as the Morrow fair with purple Beams
Dispers'd the Shadows of the misty Night,
And Titan playing on the Eastern Streams,
'Gan clear the dewy Air with springing Light;
Sir Guyon, mindful of his vow yplight,
Uprose from drowsy Couch, and him address'd
Unto the Journey which he had behight:
His puissant Arms about his noble Breast,
And many folded Shield he bound about his Wrest.

Then, taking Conge of that Virgin pure,
The bloody-handed Babe unto her Truth
Did earnestly commit, and her conjure,
In vertuous Lore to train his tender Youth,
And all thee gentle Nouriture ensu'th:
And, that so soon as riper Years he raught,
He might for Memory of that Day's Ruth,
Be called Ruddymane, and thereby taught,
T' avenge his Parents Death, on them had had it wrought.

So forth he far'd, as now befel, on foot,
Sith his good Steed is lately from him gone:
Patience perforce; helpless what may it boot
To fret for Angel, or for Grief to mone?
His Palmer now shall foot no more alone:
So Fortune wrought, as under green Wood's side
He lately heard that dying Lady groan,
He left his Steed without, and Spear beside,
And rushed in on foot, to aid her e'er she dy'd.

The whiles, a Losell wandring by the way,
One that to Bounty never cast his Mind,
Ne Thought of Honour ever did assay
His baser Breast, but in his kestrel kind
A pleasing Vein of Glory vain did find;
To which his flowing Tongue, and troublous Spright
Gave him great Aid, and made him more inclin'd:
He, that brave Steed there finding ready dight,
Purloin'd both Steed and Spear, and ran away full light.

Now 'gan his Heart all swell in Jollity,
And of himself great Hope and Help conceiv'd,
That puffed up with Smoke of Vanity,
And with self-loved Personage deceiv'd,
He 'gan to hope, of Men to be receiv'd
For such, as he him thought, or fain would be:
But, for in Court gay Portaunce he perceiv'd,
And gallant Shew to be in greatest gree,
Eftsoons to Court he cast t' avaunce his first degree.

And by the way he chaunced to espy
One sitting idle on a sunny Bank,
To whom avaunting in great Bravery,
As Peacock, that his painted Plumes doth prank,
He smote his Courser in the trembling flank,
And to him threatned his heart-thrilling Spear:
The seely Man, seeing him ride so rank,
And aim at him, fell flat to ground for fear,
And crying Mercy loud, his piteous Hands 'gan rear.

Thereat the Scarecrow wexed wondrous proud,
Through fortune of his first Adventure fair,
And with big thundring Voice revil'd him loud;
Vile Caitive, Vassal of Dread and Despair,
Unworthy of the common breathed Air,
Why livest thou, dead Dog, a lenger Day,
And doost not unto Death thy self prepare?
Die, or thy self my Captive yield for ay:
Great Favour I thee grant, for aunswer thus to stay.

Hold, O dear Lord, hold your dead-doing Hand,
Then loud he cry'd; I am your humble Thrall.
Ah Wretch (quoth he) thy Destinies withstand
My wrathful Will, and do for Mercy call.
I give thee Life: therefore prostrated fall,
And kiss my Stirrup; that thy Homage be.
The Miser threw himself as an Offal
Straight at his Foot in base Humility,
And cleaped him his Liege, to hold of him in Fee.

So, happy Peace they made, and fair Accord:
Eftsoons this Liege-man 'gan to wex more bold,
And when he felt the Folly of his Lord,
In his own kind, he 'gan himself unfold;
For, he was wily witted, and grown old
In cunning Sleights and practick Knavery.
From that day forth he cast for to uphold
His idle Humour with fine Flattery,
And blow the Bellows to his swelling Vanity.

Trompart, fit Man for Braggadochio,
To serve at Court in view of vaunting Eye;
Vainglorious Man, when fluttring Wind does blow
In his light Wings, is lifted up to Sky:
The Scorn of Knighthood and true Chevalry,
To think without Desert of gentle Deed,
And noble Worth, to be advaunced high:
Such praise is Shame; but Honour, Vertue's Meed,
Doth bear the fairest flower in honourable Seed.

So forth they pass (a well consorted Pair)
Till that at length with Archimage they meet:
Who seeing one that shone in Armour fair,
On goodly Courser, thundring with his Feet,
Eftsoons supposed him a Person meet
Of his Revenge to make the Instrument:
For since the Redcross Knight he earst did weet,
To been with Guyon knit in one Consent,
The Ill, which earst to him, he now to Guyon meant.

And coming close to Trompart, 'gan inquere
Of him, what mighty Warrior that mote be,
That rode in golden Sell with single Spear,
But wanted sword to wreak his Enmity.
He is a great Adventurer, said he,
That hath his Sword through hard Assay forgone,
And now hath vow'd, till he avenged be
Of that Despight, never to wearen none;
That Spear is him enough to doen a thousand groan.

Th' Enchaunter greatly joyed in the vaunt,
And weened well e'er long his Will to win,
And both his Foen with equal Foil to daunt;
Tho to him louting lowly, did begin
To 'plain of Wrongs, which had committed been
By Guyon, and by that false Redcross Knight;
Which two, through Treason and deceitful Gin,
Had slain Sir Mordant, and his Lady bright:
That mote him Honour win, to wreak so foul Despight.

Therewith all suddenly he seem'd enrag'd,
And threaten'd Death with dreadful Countenaunce,
As if their Lives had in his Hand been gag'd;
And with stiff force shaking his mortal Launce,
To let him weet his doughty Valiaunce,
Thus said; Old Man, great sure shall be thy Meed,
If where those Knights for fear of due Vengeaunce
Do lurk, thou certainly to me areed,
That I may wreak on them their heinous hateful Deed.

Certes, my Lord (said he) that shall I soon,
And give you eke good help to their decay:
But mote I wisely you advise to doon,
Give no odds to your Foes, but do purvay
Your self of Sword before that bloody Day:
For they be two the prowest Knights on ground,
And oft approv'd in many hard Assay;
And eke of surest Steel, that may be found
Do arm your self against that Day, them to confound.

Dotard (said he) let be thy deep advise;
Seems that thro many years thy Wits thee fail,
And that weak Eld hath left thee nothing wise;
Wise never should thy Judgment be so frail,
To measure Manhood by the Sword or Mail.
Is not enough four quarters of a Man,
Withouten Sword or Shield, an Host to quail?
Thou little wotest what this right Hand can:
Speak they, which have beheld the Battles which it wan.

The Man was much abashed at his Boast;
Yet well he wist, that whoso would contend
With either of those Knights on even Coast,
Should need of all his Arms, him to defend;
Yet feared lest his Boldness should offend:
When Braggadochio said, Once I did swear,
When with one Sword seven Knights I brought to end,
Thenceforth in Battle never Sword to bear,
But it were that which noblest Knight on earth doth wear.

Perdie, Sir Knight, said then th' Enchaunter blive,
That shall I shortly purchase to your hond;
For now the best and noblest Knight alive
Prince Arthur is, that wons in Fairy-lond:
He hath a Sword that flames like burning Brond.
The same (by my Advice) I undertake
Shall by to-morrow by thy side be fond.
At which bold word that Boaster 'gan to quake,
And wondred in his Mind what mote that Monster make.

He staid not for more bidding, but away
Was suddain vanished out of his sight:
The Northern Wind his Wings did broad display
At his command, and reared him up light
From off the Earth to take his airy Flight.
They look'd about, but no where could espy
Track of his Foot: then dead thro great Affright
They both nigh were, and each bad other fly:
Both fled at once, ne ever back returned Eye.

Till that they come unto a Forest green,
In which they shroud themselves from causless Fear;
Yet Fear them follows still, where so they been.
Each trembling Leaf, and whistling Wind they hear,
As gestly bug their Hair on end does rear:
Yet both do strive their Fearfulness to fain.
At last they heard a Horn that shrilled clear
Throughout the Wood, that ecchoed again,
And made the Forest ring, as it would rive in twain.

Eft thro the Thick they heard one rudely rush;
With noise whereof he from his lofty Steed
Down fell to ground, and crept into a Bush,
To hide his coward Hend from dying dreed.
But Trompart stoutly stay'd to taken heed
Of what might hap. Eftsoon there stepped forth
A goodly Lady, clad in Hunter's Weed,
That seem'd to be a Woman of great Worth,
And by her stately Portance, born of heavenly Birth.

Her Face so fair as Flesh it seemed not,
But heavenly Pourtraict of bright Angels Hue,
Clear as the Sky, withouten Blame or Blot,
Thro goodly Mixture of Complexions due;
And in her Cheeks the Vermil Red did shew
Like Roses in a Bed of Lillies shed,
The which ambrosial Odours from them threw,
And Gazer's Sense with double Pleasure fed,
Able to heal the Sick, and to revive the Dead.

In her fair Eyes two living Lamps did flame,
Kindled above at th' heavenly Maker's Light,
And darted fiery Beams out of the same,
So passing pierceant, and so wondrous bright,
That quite bereav'd the rash Beholder's Sight:
In them the blinded God his lustful Fire
To kindle oft assay'd, but had no might;
For with drad Majesty, and awful Ire,
She broke his wanton Darts, and quenched base Desire.

Her ivory Forehead, full of Bounty brave,
Like a broad Table did it self dispred,
For Love his lofty Triumphs to engrave,
And write the Battles of his great Godhead:
All Good and Honour might therein be read;
For there their Dwelling was. And when she spake,
Sweet Words, like dropping Hony, she did shed,
And 'twixt the Pearls and Rubins softly brake
A silver Sound, that heavenly Musick seem'd to make.

Upon her Eyelids many Graces sate,
Under the Shadows of her even Brows,
Working Belgards, and amorous Retrate,
And every one her with a Grace endows:
And every one with Meekness to her bows
So glorious Mirrour of celestial Grace,
And sovereign Monument of mortal Vows,
How shall frail Pen descrive her heavenly Face,
For fear, thro want of Skill, her Beauty to disgrace?

So fair, and thousand thousand times more fair
She seem'd, when she presented was to sight,
And was yclad (for heat of scorching Air)
All in a silken Camus, lilly white,
Purfled upon with many a folded Plight,
Which all above besprinkled was throughout
With golden Aygulets, that glistred bright
Like twinkling Stars, and all the Skirt about
Was hem'd with golden Fringe

Below her Ham her Weed did somewhat train,
And her strait Legs most bravely were embail'd
In gilden Buskins of costly Cordwain,
All bar'd with golden Bends, which were entail'd
With curious Anticks, and full fair aumail'd:
Before they fastned were under her Knee
In a rich Jewel, and therein entrail'd
The end of all their Knots, that none might see,
How they within her Foldings close enwrapped be.

Like two fair Marble Pillars they were seen,
Which do the Temple of the Gods support,
Whom all the People deck with Garlands green,
And honour in their Festival Resort:
Those same with stately Grace, and princely Port
She taught to tread, when she her self would grace;
But with the woody Nymphs when she did play,
Or when the flying Libbard she did chace,
She could them nimbly move, and after fly apace.

And in her Hand a sharp Boar-spear she held
And at her Back a Bow and Quiver gay,
Stuff'd with steel-headed Darts, wherewith she quell'd
The salvage Beasts in her victorious Play,
Knit with a golden Baldrick, which forelay
Athwart her snowy Breast, and did divide
Her dainty Paps; which like young Fruit in May,
Now little 'gan to swell, and being ty'd,
Thro her thin Weed their Places only signify'd.

Her yellow Locks crisped, like golden Wire,
About her Shoulders weren loosely shed,
And when the Wind emongst them did inspire,
They waved like a Penon wide dispred,
And low behind her back were scattered:
And whether Art it were, or heedless Hap,
As thro the flowring Forest rash she fled,
In her rude Hairs sweet Flowers themselves did lap,
And flourishing fresh Leaves and Blossoms did enwrap.

Such as Diana by the sandy Shore
Of swift Eurotas, or on Cynthus green,
Where all the Nymphs have her unwares forlore,
Wandreth alone with Bow and Arrows keen,
To seek her Game: Or as that famous Queen
Of Amazons, whom Pyrrhus did destroy,
The day that first of Priam she was seen,
Did shew her self in great triumphant Joy,
To succour the weak State of sad afflicted Troy.

Such when as heartless Trompart her did view,
He was dismayed in his coward Mind,
And doubted whether he himself should shew,
Or fly away, or 'bide alone behind:
Both Fear and Hope he in her Face did find.
When she at last him spying, thus bespake;
Hail Groom, didst not thou see a bleeding Hind,
Whose right Haunch earst my stedfast Arrow strake?
If thou didst, tell me, that I may her overtake.

Wherewith reviv'd, this Answer forth he threw;
O Goddess! (for such I thee take to be)
For neither doth thy Face terrestrial shew,
Nor Voice sound mortal; I avow to thee,
Such wounded Beast, as that, I did not see,
Sith earst into this Forest wild I came.
But mote thy goodly Head forgive it me,
To weet which of the Gods I shall thee name,
That unto thee due Worship I may rightly frame.

To whom she thus—; but ere her Words ensu'd,
Unto the Bush her Eye did sudden glaunce,
In which vain Braggadochio was mew'd;
And saw it stir: she left her piercing Launce,
And towards 'gan a deadly Shaft advaunce,
In mind to mark the Beast. At which sad Stower
Trompart forth step'd, to stay the mortal Chaunce,
Out-crying, O! whatever heavenly Power,
Or earthly Wight thou be, withhold this deadly Hour.

O stay thy hand! for yonder is no Game
For thy fierce Arrows, them to exercise;
But lo! my Lord, my Liege, whose warlike Name
Is far renown'd thro many bold Emprise;
And now in Shade he shrouded yonder lies.
She staid: with that, he crawl'd out of his Nest,
Forth creeping on his caitive Hands and Thighs;
And standing stoutly up, his lofty Crest
Did fiercely shake and rouze, as coming late from Rest.

As fearful Fowl, that long in secret Cave,
For dread of soaring Hawk, her self hath hid,
Not caring how her silly Life to save,
She her gay painted Plumes disordered,
Seeing at last her self from Danger rid,
Peeps forth, and soon renews her native Pride;
She 'gins her Feathers, foul disfigured,
Proudly to prune, and set on every side,
So shakes off Shame, ne thinks how earst she did her hide.

So when her goodly Visage he beheld,
He 'gan himself to vaunt: but when he view'd
Those deadly Tools, which in her Hand she held,
Soon into other Fits he was transmew'd,
Till she to him her gracious Speech renew'd:
All hail, Sir Knight, and well may thee befal,
As all the like, which Honour have pursu'd
Thro Deeds of Arms, and Prowess Martial;
All Vertue merits Praise, but such the most of all.

To whom he thus; O fairest under Sky,
True be thy Words, and worthy of thy Praise,
That warlike Feats dost highest glorify.
Therein have I spent all my youthly Days,
And many Battles fought, and many Frays
Throughout the World, whereso they might be found,
Endeavouring my dreaded Name to raise
Above the Moon, that Fame may it resound
In her eternal Tromp, with laurel Garland crown'd.

But, what art thou (O Lady) which dost range
In this wild Forest, where no Pleasure is,
And dost not it for joyous Court exchange,
Emongst thine equal Peers, where happy Bliss
And all Delight does reign, much more than this?
There thou mayst love, and dearly loved be,
And swim in Pleasure, which thou here dost miss;
There mayst thou best be seen, and best mayst see:
The Wood is fit for Beasts; the Court is fit for thee.

Whoso in Pomp of proud Estate (quoth she)
Does swim, and bathes himself in courtly Bliss,
Does waste his Days in dark Obscurity,
And in Oblivion ever buried is:
Where Ease abounds, it's eath to do amiss.
But who his Limbs with Labours, and his Mind
Behaves with Cares, cannot so easy miss:
Abroad in Arms, at home in studious kind,
Who seeks with painful Toil, shall Honour soonest find.

In Woods, in Waves, in Wars she wonts to dwell,
And will be found with Peril and with Pain;
Ne can the Man that moulds in idle Cell,
Unto her happy Mansion attain.
Before her Gate high God did Sweat ordain,
And wakeful Watches ever to abide:
But easy is the Way, and Passage plain
To Pleasure's Palace; it may soon be spy'd,
And day and night her Doors to all stand open wide.

In Princes Court—, the rest she would have said,
But that the foolish Man (fill'd with Delight
Of her sweet Words, that all his Sense dismay'd,
And with her wondrous Beauty ravish'd quite)
'Gan burn in filthy Lust, and leaping light,
Thought in his bastard Arms her to embrace.
With that, she swarving back, her Javelin bright
Against him bent, and fiercely did menace;
So turned her about, and fled away apace.

Which when the Peasant saw, amaz'd he stood,
And grieved at her Flight; yet durst he not
Pursue her Seeps, thro wild unknowen Wood;
Besides, he fear'd her Wrath, and threatned Shot,
Whiles in the Bush he lay, not yet forgot:
Ne car'd he greatly for her Presence vain;
But turning, said to Trompart, What foul Blot
Is this to Knight, that Lady should again
Depart to Woods untouch'd, and leave so proud Disdain?

Perdie (said Trompart) let her pass at will,
Lest by her Presence Danger mote befal.
For, who can tell (and sure I fear it ill)
But that she is some Power celestial?
For, whiles she spake, her great Words did appall
My feeble Courage, and my Heart oppress,
That yet I quake and tremble over all.
And I (said Braggadochio) thought no less,
When first I heard her Horn sound with such Ghastliness.

For, from my Mother's Womb this Grace I have
Me given by eternal Destiny,
That earthly thing may not my Courage brave
Dismay with Fear, or cause one foot to fly,
But either hellish Fiends, or Powers on high:
Which was the cause, when earst that Horn I heard,
Weening it had been Thunder in the Sky,
I hid my self from it, as one affeard;
But when I other knew, my self I boldly rear'd.

But now, for fear of worse that may betide,
Let us soon hence depart. They soon agree;
So to his Steed he got, and 'gan to ride
As one unfit therefore, that all might see
He had not trained been in Chevalry.
Which well that valiant Courser did discern;
For, he despis'd to tread in due degree,
But chauff'd and foam'd, with Courage fierce and stern,
And to be eas'd of that base Burden still did yearn.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:216-27]

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