1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto VI.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto VI. (51 stanzas). — Cymochles, on the information of Atin, believes that his brother has been slain by Guyon; and, full of thoughts of revenge, he rides on till he comes to a river.... On being called by Cymochles to ferry him over, 'the merry mariner' readily turns to the shore 'her painted boat,' and takes in the knight, but no entreaties will persuade her to admit his companion: — 'Eftsoons her shallow ship away did slide, | More swift than swallow shears the liquid sky, | Withouten oar or pilot it to guide'.... 'Her light behaviour and loose dalliance,' we are told, 'gave wondrous great contentment to the knight,' so that he soon lost all thought of his 'vowed revenge and cruel fight:' — 'So easy is to appease the stormy wind | Of malice in the calm of pleasant womankind.' She tells him that her name is Phaedria and that she is, like himself, a servant of Acrasia.... Thus talking and toying, they come to an island floating in the midst of that great lake; there the gondola puts into port, and stepping ashore they walk forward together.... She leads him into a shady dale, and, laying herself down beside him on the grass, takes his unhelmeted head in her lap, and, while he sinks into slumber, charms him with this sweet lovelay: — 'Behold, O man, that toilsome pains dost take, | The flowers, the fields, and all that pleasant grows, How they themselves do thine ensample make'.... Why then should man, the lord of all these things, the sovereign of nature, wilfully make himself a wretched thrall, and waste his life in searching after toils and dangers? 'What boots it all to have, and nothing use?'...

"By this time Guyon has come to the other side of the strand; as soon as he calls her to ferry him over, she comes to him, as she did to Cymochles, and takes him on board; but she will no more admit the Palmer than she would Atin. Guyon, rather than leave his guide behind, would have himself returned to the land, but the bark instantly darts forward — 'Through the dull billows, thick as troubled mire.' The lady's free demeanour does not take with him so well as it did with Cymochles: but he too, though but half-pleased, steps ashore with her upon the beautiful isle.... The wise and wary knight, nevertheless, though not so churlish as to refuse all return to the courtesies of the gentle lady, keeps watch over his heart, and takes care that her winning ways find no entrance there. Suddenly, however, while still walking together, they are met by Cymochles, awakened 'out of his idle dream.' Enfuriated by the sight of 'that lady debonair' in the company of another, he instantly attacks Sir Guyon; a quarter of that knight's shield is shorn away, and the other's plumed crest is cloven in twain; but in the storm of blows Phaedria runs between them, and, throwing herself at their feet, implores them to cease in a passionate appeal. Strife and contention, she cries, are the shame of knighthood; peace and amours were ever the chief commendation as well as joy of the mighty ancient heroes and gods: — 'Of love they ever greater glory bore | Than of their arms: Mars is Cupido's friend, | And is for Venus' loves renowmed more | Than all his wars and spoils, the which he did of yore.' 'Therewith,' it is added, 'she sweetly smiled;' and they, angry as they had been, relented and became calm: — 'Such power have pleasing words; such is the might | Of courteous clemency in gentle heart.' The lady now, seeing he is not for her purpose, willingly suffers Guyon to depart, and ferries him to the land.

"Here Atin is still standing where he had been left by his master; but a few railing words and a menacing shake of his dart are all the demonstration he ventures to make, and the knight, with strong reason mastering passion frail, passes fairly forth. Soon after Atin sees far oft a knight in armour coming running up — 'breathless, heartless, faint, and wan' — and making with all haste for the Idle Flood.... This proves to be Pyrochles; he can only roar, 'I burn, I burn, I burn!' — 'Yet nought can quench mine inly flaming side, | Nor sea of liquor cold, nor lake of mire; | Nothing but death can do me to respire.' Atin leaps into the lake to his assistance; but he knew not the nature of that sea; — 'The waves thereof so slow and sluggish were, | Engrossed with mud which did them foul agrise, | That every weighty thing they did upbear, | Ne ought mote ever sink down to the bottom there.' While the two are thus struggling in the idle wave, up comes Archimago, attracted by the noise, in the guise of a hoary-headed old man, carrying a sword in his hand; and he speedily, with balms and herbs and his mighty spells, heals the wounds of his good friend Pyrochles, received in his last struggle with Furor, 'that cursed man, that cruel fiend of hell'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:207-12.



Guyon is of immodest Mirth
Led into loose Desire;
Fights with Cymochles, whiles his Bro-
ther burns in furious Fire.

A Harder Lesson, to learn Continence
In joyous Pleasure, than in grievous Pain:
For, Sweetness doth allure the weaker Sense
So strongly, that uneaths it can refrain
From that, which feeble Nature covets fain:
But Grief and Wrath, that be her Enemies,
And Foes of Life, she better can restrain.
Yet Vertue vaunts in both their Victories,
And Guyon in them all shews goodly Maisteries.

Whom bold Cymochles travelling to find,
With cruel purpose bent to wreak on him
The Wrath, which Atin kindled in his Mind,
Came to a River, by whose utmost brim
Waiting to pass, he saw whereas did swim
Along the shore, as swift as Glaunce of Eye,
A little Gondelay, bedecked trim
With Boughs and Arbours woven cunningly,
That like a little Forest seemed outwardly.

And therein sat a Lady fresh and fair,
Making sweet Solace to her self alone:
Sometimes she sung as loud as Lark in Air,
Sometimes she laugh'd, that nigh her Breath was gone,
Yet was there not with her else any one,
That might to her move cause of Merriment:
Matter of Mirth enough, though there were none,
She could devise, and thousand ways invent
To feed her foolish Humour, and vain Jolliment.

Which when far off Cymochles heard, and saw,
He loudly call'd to such as were aboard,
The little Bark unto the Shore to draw,
And him to ferry over that deep Ford.
The merry Mariner unto his Word
Soon harkned, and her painted Boat straightway
Turn'd to the Shore, where that same warlike Lord
She in receiv'd: But Atin by no way
She would admit, albe the Knight her much did pray.

Eftsoons her shallow Ship away did slide,
More swift than Swallow sheres the liquid sky,
Withouten Oar or Pilot it to guide,
Or winged Canvas with the Wind to fly;
Only she turn'd a Pin, and by and by
It cut away upon the yielding Wave,
Ne cared the her Course for to apply:
For, it was taught the way, which she would have,
And both from Rocks and Flats it self could wisely save.

And all the way, the wanton Damsel found
New Mirth, her Passenger to entertain;
For, she in pleasant purpose did abound,
And greatly joyed merry Tales to feign,
Of which a Store-house did with her remain:
Yet seemed, nothing well they her became;
For all her words she drown'd with Laughter vain,
And wanted Grace in utt'ring of the same,
That turned all her pleasance to a scoffing Game.

And other whiles vain Toys she would devise,
As her fantastick Wit did most delight:
Sometimes her Head she fondly would aguise
With gaudy Garlands, or fresh Flowrets dight
About her Neck, or Rings of Rushes plight;
Sometimes to do him laugh, she would assay
To laugh at shaking of the Leaves light,
Or to behold the Water work, and play
About her little Frigot, therein making way.

Her light Behaviour, and loose Dalliaunce
Gave wondrous great Contentment to the Knight,
That of his way he had no sovenaunce,
Nor care of vow'd Revenge, and cruel Fight,
Rut to weak Wench did yield his martial Might.
So easy was to quench his flamed Mind
With one sweet Drop of sensual Delight:
So easy is, t' appease the stormy Wind
Of Malice in the Calm of pleasant Womankind.

Divers Discourses in their way they spent,
'Mongst which Cymochles of her questioned,
Both what she was, and what that Usage meant,
Which in her Cot she daily practised.
Vain Man, said she, that wouldst be reckoned
A Stranger in thy Home, and ignorant
Of Phaedria ( for so my Name is read )
Of Phaedria, thine own Fellow-Servant;
For, thou to serve Acrasia thy self doost vaunt.

In this wide Inland Sea, that hight by name
The Idle Lake, my wandring Ship I row,
That knows her Port and thither sails by aim,
Ne care, ne fear I, how the Wind do blow,
Or whether swift I wend, or whether slow:
Both slow and swift alike do serve my tourn,
Ne swelling Neptune, ne loud thundring Jove
Can change my Chear, or make me ever mourn;
My little Boat can safely pass this perilous bourn.

Whiles thus she talked, and whiles thus she toy'd,
They were far past the Passage which he spake,
And come unto an Island waste and void,
That floated in the midst of that great Lake,
There her small Gondelay her Port did make,
And that gay Pair issuing on the Shore
Disburdned her. Their way they forward take
Into the Land that lay them fair before,
Whose pleasaunce she him shew'd, and plentiful great store.

It was a chosen Plot of fertile Land,
Amongst wide Waves set like a little Nest,
As if it had by Nature's cunning hand,
Been choicely picked out from all the rest,
And laid forth for Ensample of the best:
No dainty Flower or Herb that grows on ground,
No Arboret with painted Blossoms dress'd,
And smelling sweet, but there it might be found
To bud out fair, and her sweet Smells throw all around.

No Tree, whose Branches did not bravely spring;
No Branch, whereon a fine Bird did not sit:
No Bird, but did her shrill Notes sweetly sing;
No Song but did contain a lovely Dit.
Trees, Branches, Birds, and Songs were framed fit
For to allure frail Mind to careless Ease.
Careless the Man soon wox, and his weak Wit
Was overcome of thing, that did him please;
So pleased, did his wrathful Purpose fair appease.

Thus when she had his Eyes and Senses fed
With false Delights, and fill'd with Pleasures vain,
Into a shady Dale she soft him led,
And laid him down upon a grassy Plain;
And her sweet self, without Dread or Disdain
She set beside, laying his Head disarm'd
In her loose Lap, it softly to sustain,
Where soon he slumbred, fearing not be harm'd,
The whiles with a loud Lay she thus him sweetly charm'd.

Behold, O Man, that toil-some Pains dost take,
The Flowers, the Fields, and all that pleasant grows,
How they themselves do thine ensample make,
Whiles nothing, envious Nature them forth throws
Out of her fruitful Lap: how, no Man knows,
They spring, they bud, they blossom fresh and fair,
And deck the World with their rich pompous shows:
Yet no Man for them taketh Pains or Care,
Yet no Man to them can his careful Pains compare.

The Lilly, Lady of the flowring Field,
The Flower-de-luce, her lovely Paramour,
Bid thee to them thy fruitless Labours yield,
And soon leave off this toilsom weary stour:
Lo! lo! how brave she decks her bounteous Bower
With silken Curtains and gold Coverlets,
Therein to shrowd her sumptuous Belamour,
Yet neither spins nor cards, ne cares nor frets,
But to her Mother Nature all her Care she lets.

Why then dost thou, O Man, that of them all
Art Lord, and eke of Nature Sovereign,
Wilfully make thy self a wretched Thrall,
And waste thy joyous Hours in needless Pain,
Seeking for Danger and Adventures vain?
What boots it all to have, and nothing use?
Who shall him rue, that swimming in the Main,
Will die for Thirst, and Water doth refuse?
Refuse such fruitless Toil, and present Pleasures chuse.

By this, she had him lulled fast asleep,
That of no worldly thing he care did take;
Then she with Liquors strong his Eyes did steep,
That nothing should him hastily awake:
So she him left, and did her self betake
Unto her Boat again, with which she cleft
The slothful Waves of that great griesly Lake;
Soon she that Island far behind her left,
And now is come to that same place, where first she weft.

By this time, was the worthy Guyon brought
Unto the other side of that wide Strond,
Where she was rowing, and for Passage sought:
Him needed not long call, she soon to hond
Her ferry brought, where him she 'biding fond,
With his sad Guide; himself she took aboard,
But the Black Palmer suffred still to stond,
Ne would for Price, or Prayers once afford,
To ferry that old Man over the per'lous Ford.

Guyon was loth to leave his Guide behind,
Yet being entred, might not back retire;
For, the flit Bark, obeying to her Mind,
Forth launched quickly, as she did desire,
Ne gave him leave to bid that aged Sire
Adieu, but nimbly ran her wonted Course
Through the dull Billows thick as troubled Mire,
Whom neither Wind out of their Seat could force,
Nor timely Tides did drive out of their sluggish Source.

And by the way, as was her wonted Guise,
Her merry fit she freshly 'gan to rear,
And did of Joy and Jollity devise,
Her self to cherish, and her Guest to chear:
The Knight was courteous, and did not forbear
Her honest Mirth and Pleasance to partake;
But when he saw her toy, and gibe, and jeer,
And pass the Bounds of modest Merrimake,
Her Dalliance he despis'd, and Follies did forsake.

Yet she still followed her former Stile,
And said and did all that mote him delight,
Till they arrived in that pleasant Isle,
Where sleeping late she left her other Knight.
But, when as Guyon of that Land had sight,
He wist himself amiss, and angry said;
Ah Dame, perdy ye have not doen me right,
Thus to mislead me, whiles I you obey'd:
Me little needed from my right way to have stray'd.

Fair Sir, quoth she, be not displeas'd at all;
Who fares on Sea, may not commaund his way,
Ne Wind and Weather at his pleasure call:
The Sea is wide, and easy for to stray;
The Wind unstable, and doth never stay.
But here awhile ye may in safety rest,
Till Season serve new Passage to assay;
Better safe Port, than be in Seas distress'd.
There-with she laugh'd, and did her Earnest end in Jest.

But he, half discontent, mote natheless
Himself appease, and issued forth on Shore;
The Joys whereof, and happy Fruitfulness,
Such as he saw she 'gan him lay before,
And although pleasant, yet she made much more.
The Fields did laugh, the Flowers did freshly spring,
The Trees did bud, and early Blossoms bore,
And all the Quire of Birds did sweetly sing,
And told that Garden's Pleasures in their Caroling.

And she, more sweet than any Bird on Bough,
Would oftentimes emongst them bear a part,
And strive to pass (as she could well enough)
Their native Musick by her skilful Art:
So did she all, that might his constant Heart
Withdraw from thought of warlike Enterprise,
And drown in dissolute Delights apart,
Where noise of Arms, or view of Martial Guise
Might not revive Desire of Knightly Exercise.

But he was wise, and wary of her Will,
And ever held his Hand upon his Heart;
Yet would not seem so rude, and shewed ill,
As to despise so courteous seeming part,
That gentle Lady did to him impart:
But fairly tempring, fond Desire subdu'd,
And ever her desired to depart.
She list not hear, but her Disports pursu'd,
And ever bad him stay, till Time the Tide renew'd.

And now by this, Cymochles' Hour was spent,
That he awoke out of his idle Dream,
And shaking off his drowsy Dreriment,
'Gan him avise, how ill did him beseem,
In slothful Sleep his molten Heart to steam,
And quench the Brond of his conceived Ire.
Tho up he started, stir'd with Shame extreme,
Ne stayed for his Damsel to inquire,
But marched to the Strond, there Passage to require.

And in the way, he with Sir Guyon met,
Accompany'd with Phaedria the fair:
Eftsoons he 'gan to rage, and inly fret,
Crying, Let be that Lady debonaire,
Thou recreant Knight, and soon thy self prepare
To Battel, if thou mean her Love to gain:
Lo, lo already, how the Fowls in Air
Do flock, awaiting shortly to obtain
Thy Carcass for their Prey, the Guerdon of thy Pain.

And there-withal he fiercely at him flew,
And with important Outrage him assail'd;
Who, soon prepar'd to Field, his Sword forth drew,
And him with equal Valour countervail'd:
Their mighty Strokes their Haberjeons dismail'd,
And naked made each other's manly Spalles;
The mortal Steel dispiteously entail'd
Deep in their Flesh, quite through the iron Walls,
That a large purple Stream adown their Giambeux falls.

Cymochles, that had never met before
So puissant Foe, with envious despight
His proud presumed Force increased more,
Disdaining to be held so long in Fight:
Sir Guyon grudging not so much his Might,
As those unknightly Railings which he spoke;
With wrathful Fire his Courage kindled bright,
Thereof devising shortly to be wroke,
And doubling all his Powers, redoubled every stroke.

Both of them high at once their Hands enhaunc'd,
And both at once their huge Blows down did sway;
Cymochles' Sword on Guyon's Shield yglaunc'd,
And thereof nigh one quarter shear'd away:
But Guyon's angry Blade so fierce did play
On th' other's Helmet, which as Titan shone,
That quite it clove his plumed Crest in sway,
And bared all his Head unto the Bone;
Where-with astonish'd, still he stood as sensless Stone.

Still as he stood, fair Phaedria, that beheld
That deadly Danger, soon atween them ran;
And at their Feet her self most humbly fell'd,
Crying with piteous Voice, and Count'nance wan;
Ah, weal-away! most noble Lords, how can
Your cruel Eyes endure so piteous sight,
To shed your Lives on ground? Wo worth the Man,
That first did teach the cursed Steel to bite
In his own Flesh, and make way to the living Spright.

If ever Love of Lady did empierce
Your yron Breasts, or Pity could find place,
With-hold your bloody Hands from Battel fierce;
And sith for me ye fight, to me this grace
Both yield, to stay your deadly Strife a space.
They stay'd a while, and forth the 'gan proceed:
Most wretched Woman, and of wicked Race,
That am the Author of this heinous Deed,
And cause of Death between two doughty Knights do breed.

But if for me ye fight, or me will serve,
Not this rude kind of Battle, nor these Arms
Are meet, the which do Men in bale to sterve,
And doleful Sorrow heap with deadly Harms:
Such cruel Game my Scarmoges disarms:
Another War, and other Weapons I
Do love, where Love does give his sweet Alarms,
Without Bloodshed, and where the Enemy
Does yield unto his Foe a pleasaunt Victory.

Debateful Strife, and cruel Enmity
The famous Name of Knighthood foully shend;
But lovely Peace, and gentle Amity,
And in Amours the passing Hours to spend,
The mighty martial Hands do most commend:
Of Love they ever greater Glory bore,
Than of their Arms: Mars is Cupido's Friend,
And is for Venus' Loves renowned more
Than all his Wars and Spoils, the which he did of yore.

Therewith she sweetly smil'd. They, though full bent
To prove extremities of bloody Fight,
Yet at her Speech their Rages 'gan relent,
And calm the Sea of their tempestuous Spight;
Such Power have pleasing Words! such is the might
Of courteous Clemency in gentle Heart!
Now after all was ceas'd, the Fairy Knight
Besought that Damsel suffer him depart,
And yield him ready Passage to that other part.

She no less glad, than he desirous was
Of his departure thence; for of her Joy
And vain Delight she saw he light did pass,
A Foe of Folly and immodest Toy,
Still solemn sad, or still disdainful coy,
Delighting all in Arms and cruel War,
That her sweet Peace and Pleasures did annoy,
Troubled with Terror and unquiet Jar,
That she well pleased was thence to amove him far.

Tho, him she brought aboard, and her swift Boat
Forthwith directed to that further Strand;
The which on the dull Waves did lightly float,
And soon arrived on the shallow Sand,
Where gladsom Guyon sailed forth to land,
And to that Damsel Thanks gave for Reward.
Upon that Shore he spied Atin stand,
There by his Master left, when late he far'd
In Phaedria's fleet Bark over that per'lous Shard.

Well could he him remember, sith of late
He with Pyrrochles sharp debatement made;
Straight 'gan he him revile, and bitter rate,
As Shepherd's Cur, that in dark Evening's shade
Hath tracted forth some salvage Beastez Tread;
Vile Miscreant (said he) whither doest thou fly
The Shame and Death, which will thee soon invade?
What coward Hand shall do thee next to die,
That art thus foully fled from famous Enemy?

With that, he stiffly shook his steel-head Dart:
But sober Guyon, hearing him so rail,
Though somewhat moved in his mighty Heart,
Yet with strong Reason maistred Passion frail,
And passed fairly forth. He turning tail,
Back to the Strond retir'd, and there still staid,
Awaiting Passage, which him late did fail.
The whiles Cymochles with that wanton Maid
The hasty Heat of his avow'd Revenge delay'd.

Whiles there the Varlet stood, he saw from far
An armed Knight, that towards him fast run:
He ran on foot, as if in luckless War
His forlorn Steed from him the Victour won;
He seemed breathless, heartless, faint, and wan,
And all his Armour sprinkled was with Blood,
And soil'd with dirty Gore, that no Man can
Discern the hue thereof. He never stood,
But bent his hasty Course towards the idle Flood.

The Varlet saw, when to the Flood he came,
How without stop or stay he fiercely lept,
And deep himself beducked in the same,
That in the Lake his lofty Crest was steep'd,
Ne of his Safety seemed care he kept;
But with his raging Arms he rudely flash'd
The Waves about, and all his Armour swept,
That all the Blood and Filth away was wash'd,
Yet still he bet the Water, and the Billows dash'd.

Atin drew nigh, to weet what it mote be;
For much he wondred at that uncouth sight;
Whom should he, but his own dear Lord, there see?
His own dear Lord Pyrrochles, in sad Plight,
Ready to drown himself for fell Despight.
Harrow now out, and weal-away, he cry'd,
What dismal Day hath lent this cursed Light,
To see my Lord so deadly damnify'd?
Pyrrochles, O Pyrrochles, what is thee betide?

I burn, I burn, I burn, then loud he cry'd,
O how I burn with implacable Fire!
Yet nought can quench mine inly flaming Side,
Nor Sea of Liquor cold, nor Lake of Mire,
Nothing but Death can do me to respire.
Ah be it (said he) from Pyrrochles far
After pursuing Death once to require,
Or think, that ought those puissant Hands may mar:
Death is for Wretches born under unhappy Star.

Perdie, then it is fit for me (said he)
That am, I ween, most wretched Man alive;
Burning in Flames, yet no Flames can I see,
And dying daily, daily yet revive:
O Atin, help to me last Death to give.
The Varlet at his Plaint was griev'd so sore,
That his deep wounded Heart in two did rive,
And his own Health remembring now no more,
Did follow that Ensample which he blam'd afore.

Into the Lake he leap'd, his Lord to aid,
(So Love the dread of Daunger doth despise)
And of him catching hold, him strongly staid
From drowning. But more happy he than wise,
Of that Sea's Nature did him not avise.
The Waves thereof so slow and sluggish were,
Engross'd with Mud, which did them foul agrise,
That every weighty thing they did upbear,
Ne ought mote ever sink down to the bottom there.

Whiles thus they struggled in that idle Wave,
And strove in vain, the one himself to drown,
The other both from drowning for to save;
Lo! to that Shore one in an antient Gown,
Whose hoary Locks great Gravity did crown,
Holding in hand a goodly arming Sword,
By Fortune came, led with the troublous Sound:
Where drenched deep he found in that dull Ford
The careful Servant, striving with his raging Lord.

Him Atin spying, knew right well of yore,
And loudly call'd, Help, help, O Archimage;
To save my Lord, in wretched Plight forlore;
Help with thy Hand, or with thy Counsel sage:
Weak Hands, but Counsel is most strong in Age.
Him when the old Man saw, he wondred sore,
To see Pyrrochles there so rudely rage:
Yet sithens help, he saw, he needed more
Than Pity, he in haste approched to the Shore,

And call'd; Pyrrochles, what is this, I see?
What hellish Fury hath at earst thee hent?
Furious ever I thee knew to be,
Yet never in this straunge Astonishment.
These Flames, these Flames (he cry'd) do me torment.
What Flames (quoth he) when I thee present see,
In danger rather to be drent, than brent?
Harrow, the Flames which me consume (said he)
Ne can be quench'd, within my secret Bowels be.

That cursed Man, that cruel Fiend of Hell,
Furor, O Furor, hath me thus bedight:
His deadly Wounds within my Liver swell,
And his hot Fire burns in mine Entrails bright,
Kindled through his infernal Brond of Spight,
Sith late with him I Battle vain would boast;
That now I ween Jove's dreaded Thunder Light
Does scorch not half so sore, nor damned Ghost
In flaming Phlegeton does not so felly roar.

Which when as Archimago heard, his Grief
He knew right well, and him at once disarm'd:
Then search'd his secret Wounds, and made a Prief
Of every place that was with bruising harm'd,
Or with the hidden Fire too inly warm'd.
Which done, he Balms and Herbs thereto apply'd,
And evermore with mighty Spells them charm'd,
That in short space he has them qualify'd,
And him restor'd to Health, that would have algates dy'd.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:250-62]

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