1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto IV.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto IV. (46 stanzas). — This Canto is occupied with the adventure of Guyon's deliverance of Phaon from Furor and his mother Occasion, which hardly admits of abridgment. The allegory is very ingenious and complete, and the description, as usual, lively and expressive; but it contains few passages that would be effective separated from the context. The generally unornamented character of the writing is no doubt designed by way of repose and variety after the brilliancy of the preceding Canto. Furor, or Wrath, is represented as a madman, of great strength; his mother, Occasion, as an ugly, wrinkled old woman, lame of one leg, and supporting her feeble steps on a staff, with hoary locks hanging loose from the front of her head, but no hair behind. The son is found dragging a handsome stripling along the ground by the hair, and wounding him with incessant blows; his mother all the while both encouraging and urging him on with her tongue, and also lending him stones, and sometimes her staff — 'though it her one leg were' — the more effectively to maul his victim.

"Guyon overcomes the two at last, and rescues the unhappy youth, by acting upon the instructions of the Palmer, and first assailing the mother; he catches hold of her by her front locks, and, having thrown her to the ground, quiets her by fastening her tongue with an iron lock. He then easily manages the son: — 'With hundred iron chains he did him bind, | And hundred knots, that did him sore constrain; | Yet his great iron teeth he still did grind | And grimly gnash, threatening revenge in vain'.... Phaon had murdered his true love Claribel, deceived by a stratagem of his false friend Philemon, who had made the unhappy man believe her unfaithful, by getting her handmaid Pryene to meet himself dressed in her mistress's clothes. After he has told his story, 'Then gan the palmer thus: Most wretched man, | That to Affections does the bridle lend | In their beginning they are weak and wan, | But soon through sufferance grow to fearful end'....

"One now comes running up, panting and breathless, bearing on his back a brazen shield, on which is, in the midst of a bloody field, flaming fire, with the motto, Burnt I do burn; and in his hand two arrows dipped in poison. He announces that his lord, the renowned knight Pyrochles, brother of Cymochles, is at hand, and haughtily informs Guyon that he must immediately retire, or remain where he is at his peril. The two brothers are — 'The sons of old Acrates and Despite: | Acrates, son of Phlegethon and Jar; | But Phlegethon of Erebus and Night, | But Erebus son of Eternity is hight.' Pyrochles is now in quest of Occasion, 'for he is all disposed to bloody fight.' — 'Then lo! where bound she sits whom thou hast sought, | Said Guyon: let that message to thy lord he brought.' The varlet, who has stated that his own name is Atin (or Strife), at this waxes more insolent and furious than ever; but when he throws at Guyon one of his arrows, 'headed with ire and vengeable despite,' the wary knight catches it on his shield; upon which Atin is off in a moment out of reach and out of sight" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:203-05.



Guyon does Furor bind in Chains,
And stops Occasion:
Delivers Phedon, and therefore
By Strife is rail'd upon.

In brave Pursuit of honourable Deed,
There is I know not what great difference
Between the vulgar and the noble Seed,
Which unto things of valorous Pretence
Seems to be born by native Influence;
As Feats of Arms and Love to entertain:
But chiefly Skill to ride, seems a Science
Proper to gentle Blood: some others fain
To manage Steeds, as did this Vaunter; but in vain.

But he (the rightful Owner of that Steed)
Who well could manage and subdue his Pride,
The whiles on foot was forced for to yeed
With that black Palmer, his most trusty Guide;
Who suffer'd not his wandring Feet to slide.
But, when strong Passion, or weak Fleshliness
Would from the right way seek to draw him wide,
He would thro Temperance and Stedfastness,
Teach him the weak to strengthen, and the strong suppress.

It fortuned, forth faring on his way,
He saw from far, or seemed for to see
Some troublous Uproar or contentious fray,
Whereto he drew in haste, it to agree.
A Madman, or that fained mad to be,
Drew by the Hair alone upon the Ground
A handsom Stripling with great Cruelty,
Whom sore he beat, and gor'd with many a Wound,
That Cheeks with Tears, and Sides with Blood did all abound.

And him behind, a wicked Hag did stalk,
In ragged Robes and filthy Disarray;
Her other Leg was lame, that she no'te walk,
But on a Staff her feeble Steps did stay:
Her Locks, that loathly were and hoary gray,
Grew all afore, and loosely hung unroll'd;
But all behind was bald, and worn away,
That none thereof could ever taken hold,
And eke her Face ill-favour'd, full of Wrinkles old.

And ever as she went, her Tongue did walk
In foul Reproach, and Terms of vile Despight,
Provoking him by her outrageous Talk,
To heap more Vengeance on that wretched Wight:
Sometimes she raught him Stones, wherewith to smite,
Sometimes her Staff, tho it her one Leg were,
Withouten which she could not go upright;
Ne any evil means she did forbear,
That might him move to Wrath, and Indignation rear.

The noble Guyon, mov'd with great Remorse,
Approaching, first the Hag did thrust away;
And after, adding more impetuous Force,
His mighty Hands did on the Madman lay,
And pluck'd him back; who all on fire straitway,
Against him turning all his fell Intent,
With beastly brutish Rage 'gan him assay,
And smot, and bit, and kick'd, and scratch'd, and rent,
And did he wist not what in his Avengement.

And sure he was a Man of mickle Might,
Had he had Governance, it well to guide;
But when the frantick Fit inflam'd his spight,
His Force was vain, and strook more often wide,
Than at the aimed Mark, which he had ey'd:
And oft himself he chaunc'd to hurt unwares,
Whilst Reason blent thro Passion, nought descry'd,
But as a blindfold Bull at random fares,
And where he hits, nought knows, and whom he hurts, nought cares.

His rude Assault, and rugged Handeling,
Strange seemed to the Knight, that aye with Foe
In fair Defence, and goodly managing
Of Arms was wont to fight: yet nathemoe
Was he abashed now, not fighting so;
But more enfierced thro his currish play,
Him sternly grip'd, and haling to and fro,
To overthrow him strongly did assay,
But overthrew himself unwares, and lower lay.

And being down, the Villain sore did beat,
And bruise with clownish fists his manly Face;
And eke the Hag with many a bitter Threat,
Still call'd upon to kill him in the place,
With whose Reproach and odious Menace
The Knight emboyling in his haughty Heart,
Knit all his Forces, and 'gan soon unbrace
His grasping Hold: so lightly did upstart,
And drew his deadly Weapon, to maintain his part.

Which when the Palmer saw, he loudly cry'd,
Not so, O Guyon, never think that so
That Monster can be maister'd or destroy'd:
He is no, ah! he is not such a Foe,
As Steel can wound, or Strength can overthrow.
That same is Furor, cursed cruel Wight,
That unto Knighthood works much Shame and Woe;
And that same Hag, his aged Mother, hight
Occasion, the Root of all Wrath and Despight.

With her, whoso will raging Furor tame,
Must first begin, and well her amenage;
First her restrain from her reproachful Blame,
And evil Means, with which she doth enrage
Her frantick Son, and kindles his Courage.
Then when she is withdrawn, or strong withstood,
It's eath his idle Fury to assuage,
And calm the Tempest of his Passion wood;
The Banks are overflown, when stopped is the Flood.

Therewith Sir Guyon left his first Emprise,
And turning to that Woman, fast her hent
By the hoar Locks, that hung before her Eyes,
And to the ground her threw: yet n'ould she stent
Her bitter Railing and foul Revilement,
But still provok'd her Son to wreak her wrong;
But natheless he did her still torment,
And catching hold of her ungracious Tongue,
Thereon an iron Lock did fasten firm and strong.

Then when as Use of Speech was from her reft
With her two crooked Hands she Signs did make
And beckned him, the last Help she had left:
But he, that last-left help away did take,
And both her Hands fast bound unto a Stake,
That she no'te stir. Then 'gan her Son to fly
Full fast away, and did her quite forsake;
But Guyon after him in haste did hie,
And soon him overtook in sad Perplexity.

In his strong Arms he stiffly him embrac'd,
Who him gainstriving, nought at all prevail'd;
For all his Power was utterly defac'd,
And furious Fits at earst quite weren quail'd:
Oft he renforc'd, and oft his Forces fail'd,
Yet yield he would not, nor his Rancour slack.
Then him to ground he cast, and rudely hail'd,
And both his hands fast bound behind his back,
And both his Feet in Fetters to an iron Rack.

With hundred iron Chains he did him bind,
And hundred Knots that did him sore constrain;
Yet his great iron Teeth he still did grind,
And grimly gnash, threatning Revenge in vain:
His burning Eyen, whom bloody Strakes did stain,
Stared full wide, and threw forth Sparks of Fire;
And more for rank Despight, than for great Pain,
Shak'd his long Locks, colour'd like Copper-wire,
And bit his tawny Beard, to shew his raging Ire.

Thus when as Guyon, Furor had captiv'd,
Turning about, he saw that wretched Squire,
Whom that Madman of Life nigh late depriv'd,
Lying on ground, all soil'd with Blood and Mire:
Whom, when as he perceived to respire,
He 'gan to comfort, and his Wounds to dress.
Being at last recur'd, he 'gan inquire,
What hard Mishap him brought to such Distress,
And made that Caitive's Thrall, the Thrall of Wickedness.

With Heart then throbbing, and with watry Eyes,
Fair Sir, quoth he, what Man can shun the Hap,
That hidden lies unwares him to surprize?
Misfortune waits advantage to entrap
The Man most wary, in her whelming Lap.
So me, weak Wretch, of many weakest one,
Unweeting and unware of such Mishap,
She brought to Mischief thro Occasion,
Where this same wicked Villain did me light upon.

It was a faithless Squire that was the Sourse
Of all my Sorrow, and of these sad Tears,
With whom from tender Dug of common Nourse,
At once I was upbrought; and eft when Years
More ripe us Reason lent to chuse our Peers,
Our selves in league of vowed Love we knit:
In which we long time, without jealous Fears,
Our faulty Thoughts continu'd, as was fit;
And for my part (I vow) dissembled not a whit.

It was my fortune, common to that Age,
To love a Lady fair of great degree,
The which was born of noble Parentage,
And set in highest Seat of Dignity,
Yet seem'd no less to love, than lov'd to be:
Long I her serv'd, and found her Faithful still,
Ne ever thing could cause us disagree:
Love that two Hearts makes one, makes eke one Will;
Each strove to please, and other's Pleasure to fulfil.

My Friend, hight Philemon, I did partake
Of all my Love, and all my Privity;
Who greatly joyous seemed for my sake,
And gracious to that Lady, as to me;
Ne ever Wight that mote so welcome be,
As he to her, withouten Blot or Blame;
Ne ever thing, that she could think or see,
But unto him she would impart the same:
O wretched Man! that would abuse so gentle Dame.

At last, such Grace I found, and Means I wrought,
That I that Lady to my Spouse had won;
Accord of Friends, Consent of Parents sought,
Alliance made, my Happiness begun,
There wanted nought but few Rites to be done,
Which Marriage make; that day too far did seem:
Most joyous Man, on whom the shining Sun
Did shew his Face, my self I did esteem,
And that my falser Friend did no less joyous deem.

But e'er that wished Day his Beam disclos'd,
He, either envying my toward Good,
Or of himself to Treason ill dispos'd,
One day unto me came in friendly Mood,
And told (for secret) how he understood,
That Lady whom I had to me allign'd,
Had both distain'd her honourable Blood,
And eke the Faith, which she to me did bind;
And therefore wish'd me stay, till I more Truth should find.

The gnawing Anguish and sharp Jealousy,
Which his sad Speech infixed in my Breast,
Rankled so sore, and festred inwardly,
That my ingrieved Mind could find no Rest,
Till that the Truth thereof I did outwrest,
And him besought by that same sacred Band
Betwixt us both, to counsel me the best.
He then with solemn Oath and plighted Hand
Assur'd e'er long the Truth to let me understand.

E'er long, with like again he boarded me,
Saying, he now had boulted all the Flour;
And that it was a Groom of base degree,
Which of my Love was Partner Paramour,
Who used in a darksom inward Bower
Her oft to meet: which better to approve,
He promised to bring me at that hour,
When I should see that would me nearer move,
And drive me to withdraw my blind abused Love.

This graceless Man, for furtherance of his Guile,
Did court the Handmaid of my Lady dear,
Who glad t' embosom his Affection vile,
Did all she might, more pleasing to appear.
One day to work her to his Will more near,
He woo'd her thus: Pryene (so she hight)
What great Despight doth Fortune to thee bear,
Thus lowly to abase thy Beauty bright,
That it should not deface all others lesser Light?

But if she had her least help to thee lent,
T' adorn thy Form according thy Desert
Their blazing Pride thou wouldest soon have blent,
And stain'd their Praises with thy least good Part;
Ne should fair Claribell, with all her Art
(Tho she thy Lady be) approach thee near:
For proof thereof, this Evening, as thou art,
Array thy self in her most gorgeous Gear,
That I may more delight in thy Embracement dear.

The Maiden, proud thro Praise, and mad thro Love,
Him harkned to, and soon her self array'd;
The whiles to me the Treachour did remove
His crafty Engin, and as he had said,
Me leading, in a secret Corner laid,
The sad Spectator of my Tragedy:
Where left he went, and his own false part play'd,
Disguised like that Groom of base degree,
Whom he had feign'd th' Abuser of my Love to be.

Eftsoons he came unto th' appointed Place,
And with him brought Pryene, rich array'd,
In Claribella's Clothes. Her proper Face
I not discerned in that darksom Shade,
But ween'd it was my Love, with whom he play'd.
Ah God! what Horrour and tormenting Grief,
My Heart, my Hands, mine Eyes, and all assay'd!
Me liefer were ten thousand deathez Prief,
Than Wound of jealous Worm, and Shame of such Reprief.

I home returning, fraught with foul Despight,
And chawing Vengeance all the way I went,
Soon as my loathed Love appear'd in sight,
With wrathful Hand I slew her innocent;
That after soon I dearly did lament:
For, when the Cause of that outrageous Deed
Demaunded, I made plain and evident,
Her faulty Handmaid, which that Bale did breed,
Confess'd how Philemon her wrought to change her Weed.

Which when I heard, with horrible Affright
And hellish Fury all enrag'd, I sought
Upon my self that vengeable Despight
To punish: yet it better first I thought,
To wreak my Wrath on him, that first it wrought.
To Philemon, false Faytour Philemon,
I cast to pay that I so dearly bought:
Of deadly Drugs I gave him Drink anon,
And wash'd away his Guilt with guilty Potion.

Thus heaping Crime on Crime, and Grief on Grief,
To Loss of Love, adjoining Loss of Friend,
I meant to purge both with a third Mischief,
And in my Woes Beginner it to end:
That was Pryene; she did first offend,
She last should smart with which cruel Intent,
When I at her my murdrous Blade did bend,
She fled away with gastly Dreriment,
And I pursuing my fell Purpose, after went.

Fear gave her wings, and Rage enforc'd my Flight,
Thro Woods and Plains so long I did her chace,
Till this Madman (whom your victorious Might
Hath now fast bound) me met in middle Space:
As I her, so he me pursu'd apace,
And shortly overtook. I breathing Ire,
Sore chauffed at my Stay in such a case,
And with my Heat kindled his cruel Fire:
Which kindled once, his Mother did more Rage inspire.

Betwixt them both, they have me doen to die,
Thro Wounds, and Strokes, and stubborn Handeling,
That Death were better than such Agony,
As Grief and Fury unto me did bring;
Of which in me yet sticks the mortal Sting,
That during Life will never be appeas'd.
When he thus ended had his sorrowing,
Said Guyon, Squire, sore have ye been diseas'd;
But all your Hurts may soon thro Temperance be eas'd.

Then 'gan the Palmer thus: Most wretched Man,
That to Affections does the Bridle lend;
In their beginning they are weak and wan,
But soon thro Suff'rance grow to fearful end;
While they are weak, betimes with them contend:
For when they once to perfect Strength do grow,
Strong Wars they make, and cruel Battry bend
'Gainst Fort of Reason, it to overthrow:
Wrath, Jealousy, Grief, Love, this Squire have laid thus low.

Wrath, Jealousy, Grief, Love, do thus expel:
Wrath is a Fire, and Jealousy a Weed,
Grief is a Flood, and Love a Monster fell;
The Fire of Sparks, the Weed of little Seed,
The Flood of Drops, the Monster Filth did breed:
But Sparks, Seed, Drops, and Filth do thus delay;
The Drops dry up, and Filth wipe clean away:
So shall Wrath, Jealousy, Grief, Love, die and decay.

Unlucky Squire, said Guyon, sith thou hast
Faln into Mischief thro Intemperance,
Henceforth take heed of that thou now hast past,
And guide thy Ways with wary Governance,
Lest worse betide thee by some later Chance.
But read how art thou nam'd, and of what kin:
Phedon I hight (quoth he) and do advance
Mine Auncestry from famous Coradin,
Who first to raise our House to Honour did begin.

Thus as he spake, lo! far away they spy'd
A Varlet running towards hastily,
Whose flying Feet so fast their Way apply'd,
That round about a Cloud of Dust did fly,
Which mingled all with Sweat, did dim his Eye.
He soon approached, panting, breathless, hot,
And all so soil'd, that none could him descry;
His Countenance was bold, and bashed not
For Guyon's Looks, but scornful Eye-glaunce at him shot.

Behind his back he bore a brazen Shield,
On which was drawen fair, in Colours fit,
A flaming Fire in midst of bloody Field,
And round about the Wreath this word was writ,
Burnt I do burn. Right well beseemed it
To be the Shield of some redoubled Knight;
And in his hand two Darts exceeding flit
And deadly sharp he held, whose Heads were dight
In Poison and in Blood of Malice and Despight.

When he in Presence came, to Guyon first
He boldly spake; Sir Knight, if Knight thou be;
Abandon this forestalled Place at erst,
For fear of further harm, I counsel thee,
Or 'bide the chaunce at thine own Jeopardy.
The Knight at his great Boldness wondered,
And tho he scorn'd his idle Vanity,
Yet mildly him to purpose answered;
For not to grow of nought he it conjectured.

Varlet, this Place most due to me I deem,
Yielded by him that held it forcibly:
But whence should come that harm which thou dost seem
To threat to him, that minds his Chance t' aby?
Perdy (said he) here comes, and is hard by
A Knight of wondrous Power, and great Assay,
That never yet encounter'd Enemy,
But did him deadly daunt, or foul dismay;
Ne thou for better hope, if thou his Presence stay.

How hight he then (said Guyon) and from whence?
Pyrrochles is his Name, renowned far
For his bold Feats, and hardy Confidence,
Full oft approv'd in many a cruel War,
The brother of Cymochles, both which are
The Sons of old Acrates and Despight;
Acrates Son of Phlegeton and Jar:
But Phlegeton is Son of Herebus and Night:
But Herebus Son of Eternity is hight.

So from immortal Race he does proceed)
That mortal Hands may not withstand his Might,
Drad for his derring Do, and bloody Deed;
For all in Blood and Spoil is his delight.
His am I Atin, his in Wrong and Right,
That Matter make for him to work upon,
And stir him up to Strife and cruel Fight.
Fly therefore, fly this fearful Steed anon,
Lest thy Fool-hardize work thy sad Confusion.

His be that Care, whom most it doth concern,
(Said he): but whither with such hasty Flight
Art thou now bound? for well mote I discern
Great Cause, that carries thee so swift and light.
My Lord (quoth he) me sent, and straight behight
To seek Occasion, whereso she be:
For he is all dispos'd to bloody Fight,
And breathes out Wrath and heinous cruelty;
Hard is his hap, that first falls in his Jeopardy.

Madman (said then the Palmer) that does seek
Occasion to Wrath, and Cause of Strife;
She comes unsought: and shunned, follows eke.
Happy, who can abstain, when Rancour rife
Kindles Revenge, and threats his rusty Knife:
Woe never wants, where every Cause is caught,
And rash Occasion makes unquiet Life.
Then lo, where bound she sits, whom thou has sought,
(Said Guyon) let that Message to thy Lord be brought.

That when the Varlet heard and saw, straitway
He wexed wondrous wroth, and said, Vile Knight,
That Knights and Knighthood dost with Shame upbray,
And shew'st th' Ensample of thy childish Might,
With silly weak old Woman thus to fight;
Great Glory and gay Spoil sure hast thou got,
And stoutly prov'd thy Puissance here in fight;
That shall Pyrrochles well requite, I wot,
And with thy Blood abolish so reproachful Blot.

With that, one of his thrillant Darts he threw,
Headed with Ire and vengeable Despight;
The quivering Steel his aimed end well knew,
And to his Breast it self intended right:
But he was wary, and ere it empight
In the meant Mark, advaunc'd his Shield atween;
On which it seizing, no way enter might,
But back rebounding, left the Fork-head keen:
Eftsoons he fled away, and might no where be seen.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:228-39]

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