1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto V.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto V. (38 stanzas). — Pyrochles is now seen advancing fast, clad in fiery armour, and mounted on a steed red as blood and foaming ire. He rushes upon Guyon without pause or word of warning; but the latter, with one dexterous stroke, smites off his horse's head, and so compels him to fight on equal terms. The combat that ensues is a fierce one; but it ends by Guyon forcing his antagonist to bite the dust, and to confess himself conquered and captive. At the request of Pyrochles, however, he generously unbinds Occasion and her son, and gives them up to their friend. Occasion at once defies both Pyrochles and Guyon; then Furor insists upon fighting with the former; and, while Occasion vainly endeavours to excite Guyon to take part with her son, Pyrochles is at last so hard bested that he is forced to call to Guyon for help. The Palmer, however, dissuades him from interfering, and the two leave the scene to pursue their journey together.

"Meanwhile, Atin has gone to tell what has befallen Pyrochles to his brother Cymochles.... Here, in the Bower of Bliss, Atin finds Cymochles, surrounded by the companions and ministers of his pleasures.... "There he him found all carelessly displayed, | In secret shadow from the sunny ray, | On a sweet bed of lilies softly laid, | Amidst a flock of damsels fresh and gay'.... Atin's sharp words, however, aided by a touch of his sharper dart, rouse Cymochles from his inglorious dream; and quickly donning his warlike gear, and mounting his steed, he breaks away from all efforts to detain him, and proudly pricks forward on his courser strong, while '—Atin aye him pricks with spurs of shame and wrong'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:205-07.



Pyrrochles does with Guyon fight,
And Furor's Chain unbinds:
Of whom sore hurt, for his Revenge
Atin Cymocles finds.

Whoever doth to Temperance apply
His stedfast Life, and all his Actions frame
Trust me, shall find no greater Enemy,
Than stubborn Perturbation, to the same:
To which right well the Wise do give that Name,
For it the goodly Peace of stayed Minds
Does overthrow, and troublous War proclaim:
His own Woes Author, whoso bound it finds,
As did Pyrrochles, and it wilfully unbinds.

After that Varlet's Flight, it was not long,
Ere on the Plain, fast pricking Guyon spy'd
One in bright Arms embattailed full strong;
That as the sunny Beams do glance and glide
Upon the trembling Wave, so shined bright,
And round about him threw forth sparkling Fire,
That seem, him to enflame on every side:
His Steed was bloody red, and foamed Ire,
When with the maistring Spur he did him roughly stire.

Approaching nigh, he never stay'd to greet,
Ne chaffer Words, proud Courage to provoke,
But prick'd so fierce, that underneath his Feet
The smouldring Dust did round about him smoke,
Both Horse and Man nigh able for to choak;
And fairly couching his steel-headed Spear,
Him first saluted with a sturdy Stroke:
It booted nought Sir Guyon, coming near,
To think such hideous Puissance on foot to bear.

But lightly shunned it, and passing by
With his bright Blade did smite at him so fell,
That the sharp Steel arising forcibly
On his broad Shield, bit not, but glauncing fell
On his Horse Neck before the quilted Sell,
And from the Head the Body sundred quight:
So him dismounted low, he did compel
On foot with him to matchen equal Fight;
The trunked Beast fast bleeding, did trim foully dight.

Sore bruised with the Fall, he slow uprose,
And all enraged, thus him loudly shent;
Disleal Knight, whose coward Courage chose
To wreak it self on Beast all innocent,
And shun'd the Mark, at which it should be meant,
Thereby thine Arms seem strong, but Manhood frail:
So hast thou oft with Guile thine Honour blent;
But little may such Guile thee now avail,
If wonted Force and Fortune do not much me fail.

With that he drew his flaming Sword, and stroke
At him so fiercely, that the upper Marge
Of his seven-folded Shield away it took,
And glauncing on his Helmet, made a large
And open Gash therein: were not his Targe,
That broke the Violence of his Intent,
The weary Soul from thence it world discharge;
Nathless, so sore a Buff to him it lent,
That made him reel, and to his Breast his Beaver bent.

Exceeding wroth was Guyon at that Blow,
And much asham'd, that Stroke of living Arm
Should him dismay, and make him stoop so low,
Tho otherwise it did him little harm:
Tho hurling high his iron-braced Arm,
He smote so manly on his Shoulder-Plate,
That all his left side it did quite disarm;
Yet there the Steel staid not, but inly bate
Deep in his Flesh, and open'd wide a red floodgate.

Deadly dismay'd, with Horrour of that Dint,
Pyrrochles was, and grieved eke entire;
Yet nathemore did it his Fury stint,
But added Flame unto his former Fire,
That well-nigh molt his Heart in raging Ire;
Ne thenceforth his approved Skill, to ward,
Or strike, or hurlen round in warlike Gyre,
Remembred he, ne car'd for his Saufeguard,
But rudely rag'd, and like a cruel Tiger far'd.

He hew'd, and lash'd, and foyn'd, and thundred Blows,
And every way did seek into his Life:
Ne Plate, ne Male could ward so mighty Throws,
But yielded Passage to his cruel Knife.
But Guyon, in the heat of all his Strife,
Was wary wise, and closely did await
Avantage, whilst his Foe did rage most rife:
Sometimes athwart, sometimes he strook him strait,
And falsed oft his Blows, t' illude him with such Bait.

Like as a Lion, whose imperial Power
A proud rebellious Unicorn defies,
T' avoid the rash Assault and wrathful Stower
Of his fierce Foe, him to a Tree applies,
And when him running in full Course he spies,
He slips aside; the whiles that furious Beast
His precious Horn, sought of his Enemies,
Strikes in the Stock, ne thence can be releast,
But to the mighty Victor yields a bounteous Feast.

With such fair Slight him Guyon often fail'd,
Till at the last, all breathless, weary, faint
Him spying, with fresh Onset he assail'd,
And kindling new his Courage (seeming queint)
Strook him so hugely, that thro great Constraint
He made him stoop perforce unto his Knee,
And do unwilling Worship to the Saint,
That on his Shield depainted he did see;
Such Homage till that instant never learned he.

Whom Guyon seeing stoop, pursued fast
The present Offer of fair Victory,
And soon his dreadful Blade about he cast,
Wherewith he smote his haughty Crest so high,
That strait on ground made him full low to lie;
Then on his Breast his Victor Foot he thrust:
With that he cry'd, Mercy, do me not die,
Ne deem thy Force by Fortune's Doom unjust,
That hath (mauger her Spight) thus low me laid in Dust.

Eftsoons his cruel Hand Sir Guyon staid,
Tempring the Passion with Advisement slow,
And maistring Might on Enemy dismay'd;
For th' equal Dye of War he well did know:
Then to him said, Live, and Allegiance owe
To him that gives thee Life and Liberty;
And henceforth, by this Day's Ensample trow,
That hasty Wrath, and heedless Hazardry,
Do breed Repentance late, and lasting Infamy.

So up he let him rise: who with grim Look,
And Count'nance stern upstanding, 'gan to grind
His grated Teeth for great Disdain, and shook
His sandy Locks, long hanging down behind,
Knotted in Blood and Dust, for Grief of Mind,
That he in Odds of Arms was conquered:
Yet in himself some Comfort he did find,
That him so noble Knight had maistered,
Whose Bounty more than Might, yet both he wondered.

Which Guyon marking, said, Be nought aggriev'd,
Sir Knight, that thus ye now subdued are:
Was never Man, who most Conquests atchiev'd,
But sometimes had the worse, and lost by War,
Yet shortly gain'd, that Loss exceeded far:
Loss is no Shame, nor to be less than Foe;
But to be lesser than himself, doth mar
Both Loser's Lot, and Victor's Praise also:
Vain others Overthrows, whose self doth overthrow.

Fly, O Pyrrochles, fly the dreadful War,
That in thy self thy lesser Parts do move;
Outrageous Anger, and woe-working Jar,
Direful Impatience, and heart-murdring Love:
Those, those thy Foes, those Warriors far remove,
Which thee to endless Bale captived lead.
But sith in Might thou didst my Mercy prove,
Of Courtesy to me the Cause aread,
That thee against me drew with so impetuous Dread.

Dreadless, said he, that shall I soon declare:
It was complain'd, that thou hadst done great tort
Unto an aged Woman, poor and bare,
And thralled her in Chains with strong Effort,
Void of all Succour and needful Comfort:
That ill beseems thee, such as I thee see,
To work such Shame. Therefore I thee exhort
To change thy Will, and set Occasion free,
And to her captive Son yield his first Liberty.

Thereat Sir Guyon smil'd: And is that all,
Said he, that thee so sore displeased hath?
Great Mercy sure, for to enlarge a Thrall,
Whose Freedom shall thee turn to greatest Scath.
Nath'less, now quench thy hot emboiling Wrath:
Lo! there they be, to thee I yield them free.
Thereat he wondrous glad, out of the Path
Did lightly leap, where he them bound did see,
And 'gan to break the Bands of their Captivity.

Soon as Occasion felt her self unty'd,
Before her Son could well assoiled be,
She to her use return'd, and strait defy'd
Both Guyon and Pyrrochles: Th' one (said she)
Because he won; the other, because he
Was won: so matter did she make of nought,
To stir up Strife, and do them disagree.
But soon as Furor was enlarg'd, she sought
To kindle his quench'd Fire, and thousand Causes wrought.

It was not long, e'er she inflam'd him so,
That he would algates with Pyrrochles fight,
And his Redeemer challeng'd for his Foe,
Because he had not well maintain'd his Right,
But yielded had to that same stranger Knight.
Now 'gan Pyrrochles wex as wood as he,
And him affronted with impatient Might:
So both together fierce engrasped be,
Whiles Guyon standing by, their uncouth strife does see.

Him all that while occasion did provoke
Against Pyrrochles, and new Matter fram'd
Upon the old, him stirring to be wroke
Of his late Wrongs, in which she oft him blam'd
For suffering such Abuse, as Knighthood sham'd,
And him disabled quite. But he was wise,
Ne would with vain Occasion be enflam'd;
Yet others she more urgent did devise;
Yet nothing could him to Impatience entice.

Their fell Contention still increased more,
And more thereby increased Furor's Might,
That he his Foe has hurt, and wounded sore,
And him in Blood and Dirt deformed quight.
His Mother eke (more to augment his Spright)
Now brought to him a flaming Fier-brond,
Which she in Stygian Lake (ay burning bright)
Had kindled; that she gave into his hond,
That arm'd with Fire, more hardly he mote him withstond.

Tho 'gan the Villain wex so fierce and strong;
That nothing might sustain his furious Force;
He cast him down to ground, and all along
Drew him thro Dirt and Mire without Remorse,
And foully battered his comely Corse,
That Guyon much disdain'd so loathly fight.
At last, he was compel'd to cry perforce,
Help (O Sir Guyon) help most noble Knight,
To rid a wretched Man from hands of hellish Wight.

The Knight was greatly moved at his Plaint,
And 'gan him dight to succour his Distress,
Till that the Palmer, by his grave Restraint,
Him staid from yielding pitiful Redress;
And said, Dear Son, thy causless Ruth repress,
Ne let thy stout Heart melt in Pity vain:
He that his Sorrow sought thro Wilfulness,
And his Foe fettred would release again,
Deserves to taste his Folly's Fruit, repented Pain.

Guyon obey'd; so him away he drew
From needless Trouble of renewing Fight
Already fought, his Voyage to pursue.
But rash Pyrrochles' Varlet, Atin hight,
When late he saw his Lord in heavy Plight,
Under Sir Guyon's puissant Stroke to fall,
Him deeming dead, as then he seem'd in sight,
Fled fast away, to tell his Funeral
Unto his Brother, whom Cymochles Men did call.

He was a Man of rare redoubled Might,
Famous throughout the World for Warlike Praise,
And glorious Spoils, purchas'd in perilous Fight:
Full many doubty Knights he in his days
Had doen to death, subdu'd in equal Frays;
Whose Carcases, for Terrour of his Name,
Of Fowls and Beasts he made the piteous Preys;
And hung their conquer'd Arms for more Defame
On Gallow-Trees, in honour of his dearest Dame.

His dearest Dame is that Enchaunteress,
The vile Acrasia, that with vain Delights,
And idle Pleasures in her Bower of Bliss,
Does charm her Lovers, and the feeble sprights
Can call out of the Bodies of frail Wights:
Whom then she does transform to monstrous Hues,
And horribly mishapes with ugly Sights,
Captiv'd eternally in iron Mews;
And darksom Dens, where Titan his face never shews.

There Atin found Cymochles sojourning,
To serve his Leman's Love; for he, by kind,
Was given all to Lust and loose Living,
Whenever his fierce Hands he free mote find:
And now he has pour'd out his idle Mind
In dainty Delices, and lavish Joys,
Having his warlike Weapons cast behind,
And flows in Pleasures, and vain-pleasing Toys,
Mingled emongst loose Ladies and lascivious Boys.

And over him, Art striving to compare
With Nature, did an Arbour green disspred,
Framed of wanton Ivy, flowring fair,
Thro which the fragrant Eglantine did spred
His pricking Arms, entrail'd with Roses red;
Which dainty Odours round about them threw:
And all within with Flowers was garnished,
That when mild Zephyrus emongst them blew,
Did breathe out bounteous Smells, and painted Colours shew.

And fast beside, there trickled softly down
A gentle Stream, whose murmuring Wave did play
Emongst the pumy Stones, and made a Sound,
To lull him soft asleep, that by it lay.
The weary Traveller, wandring that way,
Therein did often quench his thirsty Heat,
And then by it his weary Limbs display,
Whiles creeping Slumber made him to forget
His former Pain, and wip'd away his toilsom Sweat.

And on the other side a pleasant Grove
Was shot up high, full of the stately Tree,
That dedicated is t' Olympick Jove,
And to his Son Alcides, when as he
Gain'd in Nemea goodly Victory:
Therein the merry Birds, of every sort,
Chaunted aloud their chearful Harmony;
And made emongst themselves a sweet Consort,
That quickned the dull Spright with musical Comfort.

There he him found all carelesly displaid,
In secret Shadow from the sunny Ray,
On a sweet Bed of Lillies softly laid,
Amidst a Flock of Damzels fresh and gay,
That round about him dissolute did play
Their wanton Follies, and light Merriment;
Every of which did loosely disarray
Her upper Parts of meet Habiliments,
And shew'd them naked, deck'd with many Ornaments.

And every of them strove, with most Delights,
Him to aggrate, and greatest Pleasures shew:
Some fram'd fair Looks, glancing like evening Lights;
Others, sweet Words, dropping like honey Dew;
Some, bathed Kisses, and did soft embrue
The sugred Liquor thro his melting Lips:
One boasts her Beauty, and does yield to view
Her dainty Limbs above her tender Hips;
Another her out-boasts, and all for trial strips.

He, like an Adder, lurking in the Weeds,
His wandring Thought in deep Desire does steep,
And his frail Eye with Spoil of Beauty feeds;
Sometimes he falsly feigns himself to sleep,
Whiles thro their Lids his wanton Eyes do peep,
To steal a Snatch of amorous Conceit,
Whereby close Fire into his Heart does creep:
So, them deceives, deceiv'd in his Deceit,
Made drunk with Drugs of dear voluptuous Receit.

Atin arriving there, when him he spy'd,
Thus in still Waves of deep Delight to wade,
Fiercely approaching, to him loudly cry'd,
Cymochles; Oh no! but Cymochles' Shade,
In which that manly Person late did fade,
What is become of great Acrates' Son?
Or where hath he hung up his mortal Blade,
That hath so many haughty Conquests won?
Is all his Force forlorn, and all his Glory done?

Then prickling him with his sharp-pointed Dart,
He said; Up, up, thou womanish weak Knight,
That here in Lady's lap entombed art,
Unmindful of thy Praise and prowest Might,
And weetless eke of lately wrought Despight;
Whiles sad Pyrrochles lies on sensless Ground,
And groaneth out his utmost grudging Spright,
Thro many a Stroak, and many a streaming Wound,
Calling thy Help in vain, that here in Joys are drown'd.

Suddenly out of his delightful Dream
The Man awoke, and would have question'd more;
But he would not endure that woful Theme
For to dilate at large, but urged sore
With piercing Words, and pitiful Implore,
Him hasty to arise. As one affright
With hellish Fiends, or Furies mad Uprore,
He then uprose, inflam'd with fell Despight,
And called for his Arms; for he would algates fight.

They been ybrought, he quickly does him dight,
And lightly mounted, passeth on his way:
Ne Ladies Loves, ne sweet Entreaties might
Appease his Heat, or hasty Passage stay;
For he has vow'd to been aveng'd that day
(That day it self him seemed all too long)
On him, that did Pyrrochles dear dismay.
So proudly pricketh on his Courser strong,
And Atin ay him pricks with Spurs of Shame and Wrong.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:240-49]

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