1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto IX.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto IX. (60 stanzas). — Arthur having now recovered his stolen sword, as well as Guyon his lost shield, they set forth together, and on their way the former inquires who is the lady whose picture that shield exhibits, as we have seen in the account of the meeting between Sir Guyon and the Redcross Knight in the first Canto of this Book. Guyon informs him that it is the Queen of Fairy. How may a stranger knight, asks the prince, hope to become one of her soldiers and servants? What meed is there so great, noble lord, answers Guyon, but you may easily attain? Were you to be enrolled among the knights of her Order of Maidenhead, questionless you would 'in her favour high be reckoned, | As Arthegal and Sophy now been honoured.' Arthur declares that from the time he first took his vows of knighthood his whole desire has been to enter the service of that queen and goddess; yet nowhere has he been able to find her. Guyon replies that he would himself be his guide to Fairy Land, were it not that he is prevented by a hard adventure which he must perform, the destruction, namely, of the false Acrasia. — 'So talked they, the whiles | They wasted had much way, and measured many miles.'

"Evening is now come on, when they perceive a goodly castle 'foreby a river in a pleasant dale,' whither they resolve to betake themselves in the hope of finding quarter for the night; but on coming near, and dismounting from their horses (for Guyon, it must be presumed, though the circumstance is not mentioned, has supplied himself with that of one of the slain paynims) they find the gates fast barred and every inlet closed. On the prince's squire winding his horn under the castle wall, 'That with the noise it shook as it would fall,' a warder looks forth from aloft, and cries to them to fly if they would save their lives; the castle has for seven years been besieged by a throng of enemies, and all ingress or egress has been impossible.... The two valiant knights, however, drive off this rabble rout; they returned indeed again and again: — 'But soon the knights with their bright-burning blades | Broke their rude troops, and orders did confound'.... The lady of the castle now issues forth, attended by a goodly train of other ladies and squires.... She leads the knights into the castle, where they rest themselves a space; and then she conducts them over it.

"The wall, which is very lofty, is 'Not built of brick, ne yet of stone and lime, | But of thing like to that Aegyptian slime, | Whereof king Nine whilome built Babel tower.' The description of its form is very curious, and is no doubt full of mystic meaning, into which, however, we cannot here stop to inquire.... It is supposed that by the circular part is here meant the human mind; by the triangular, the body. The gates are two; of which the one in front, for entrance, far surpasses the other both in workmanship and material: when it is locked, no one can pass through it; when opened, no man can close it: — 'Of hewen stone the porch was fairly wrought, | Stone more of value, and more smooth and fine, | Than jet or marble far from Ireland brought'.... Within the barbican, or watch-tower, sits a porter, 'day and night duly keeping watch and ward;' all babblers and telltales are excluded by his never intermitted care; — 'His larum-bell might loud and wide be heard | When cause required, but never out of time; | Early and. late it runs at evening and at prime.' Twice sixteen armed warders, besides, sit around the porch. In the hall are many tables 'fair dispread;' and at the upper end a comely personage 'yclad in red down to the ground,' and carrying a white rod in his hand; this is Diet, the steward; while up and down walks his marshal, Appetite, a jolly yeoman. In the kitchen, which they next visit, are many ranges reared against the wall, and one great chimney, with a mighty cauldron continually boiling, the furnace under it being kept alive by a huge pair of bellows. Around stand numerous cooks, furnished with hooks and ladles. The master-cook is called Concoction; the kitchen-clerk, Digestion. Everything foul and waste is conveyed away by the back-gate, named Port Esquiline.

"After this the two knights are brought by Alma into a goodly parlour, — 'That was with royal arras richly dight, | In which was nothing pourtrayed nor wrought, | Not wrought nor pourtrayed, but easy to be thought'.... All that goes on, however, is innocent and modest. When the Prince and Guyon have entered, each of them chooses a damsel and the former by chance lights on a lady fair and fresh as morning rose, but still wearing something of sadness in her air; she is arrayed in a long purple pall, the skirt of which is fretted all about with gold, and in her hand she holds a branch of poplar. Her pensiveness, however, she tells him is merely 'through great desire of glory and of fame;' adding, somewhat to his surprise, — 'Ne aught, I ween, are ye therein behind, | That have twelve months sought one, yet nowhere can her find.' The name of this lady is found to be Praise-desire. The other damsel 'of that gentle crew,' whom the fairy knight, Sir Guyon, entertains, is also right fair and modest, except that she often changes colour; she is dressed in a blue garment, 'close round about her tucked with many a plight;' and she carries on her hand an owl. Her name turns out to be Shamefacedness. The two ladies in fact express, or mirror, the characters of the knights.

"After some time, however, Alma calls them again away; and they ascend a stately turret by ten alabaster steps.... It contains three chief stages or stories, in which dwell the councillors of Alma, three sages, the wisest that ever lived. The first sits in the front part of the tower: — 'His chamber was dispainted all within | With sundry colours, in the which were writ | Infinite shapes of things dispersed thin'.... This is he who foresees things to come. The walls of the second room 'Were painted fair with memorable gests | Of famous wizards; and with picturals | Of magistrates, of courts, of tribunals'.... And in the midst of all this infinite variety sits 'a man of ripe and perfect age, who did them meditate all his life long,' but whose name is not given this is he who 'could of things present best advise.' The third chamber, which is behind the other two, seems ruinous and old; yet the walls are still firm and strong; and therein sits an old man, half-blind, and decrepit in body, yet with his mind still full of lively vigour, he who keeps things past in memory.... Looking over his library, the Prince finds an ancient book called The Briton Moniments, and Guyon another entitled Antiquity of Fairy Land" Spenser and his Poetry" (1845; 1871) 1:227-34.



The House of Temperance, in which
Doth sober Alma dwell,
Besieg'd of many Foes, whom strang-
ger Knights to fight compel.

Of all God's Works, which do this World adorn,
There is no one more fair and excellent,
Than is Man's Body both for Power and Form,
Whiles it is kept in sober Government;
But none than it more foul and indecent,
Distemper'd thro Mis-rule and Passions base:
It grows a Monster, and incontinent
Doth lose his Dignity and native Grace.
Behold (who list) both one and other in this place.

After the Paynim Brethren conquer'd were,
The Briton Prince recov'ring his stoln Sword,
And Guyon his lost Shield, they both yfere
Forth passed on their way in fair accord,
Till him the Prince with gentle Court did bord;
Sir Knight, mote I of you this Court'sy read,
To weet why on your Shield (so goodly scor'd)
Bear ye the Picture of that Lady's Head?
Full lively is the Semblaunt, tho the Substance dead.

Fair Sir, said he, if in that Picture dead
Such Life ye read, and Vertue in vain Shew,
What mote ye ween, if the true lively Head
Of that most glorious Visage ye did view?
But if the Beauty of her Mind ye knew,
That is, her Bounty and imperial Power,
Thousand times-fairer than her mortal Hue,
O! how great Wonder would your Thoughts devout,
And infinite Desire into your Spirit pour!

She is the mighty Queen of Fairy,
Whose fair Retrait I in my Shield do bear;
She is the Flower of Grace and Chastity,
Throughout the World renowned far and near,
My Lief, my Liege, my Sovereign, my Dear,
Whose Glory shineth as the Morning-star,
And with her Light the Earth enlumines clear;
Far reach her Mercies, and her Praises far,
As well in State of Peace, as Puissance in War.

Thrice happy Man, said then the Briton Knight,
Whom gracious Lot, and thy great Valiaunce
Have made a Soldier of that Princess bright,
Which with her Bounty and glad Countenaunce
Doth bless her Servants, and them high advaunce.
How may strange Knight hope ever to aspire,
By faithful Service, and meet Amenaunce
Unto such Bliss? sufficient were that Hire
For loss of thousand Lives, to die at her Desire.

Said Guyon, Noble Lord, what Meed so great,
Or Grace of earthly Prince so sovereign,
But by your wondrous Worth and warlike Feat.
Ye well may hope, and easily attain?
But were your will, her sold to entertain,
And number'd be 'mongst Knights of Maidenhead,
Great Guerdon (well I wote) should you remain,
And in her favour high be reckoned,
As Arthegall and Sophy now been honoured.

Certes, then said the Prince, I God avow,
That since I Arms and Knighthood first did plight,
My whole Desire hath been, and yet is now,
To serve that Queen with all my Power and Might.
Now hath the Sun with his lamp-burning Light,
Walk'd round about the World, and I no less,
Since of that Goddess I have sought the sight,
Yet no where can her find: such Happiness
Heaven doth to me envy, and Fortune favour less.

Fortune (the Foe of famous Chevisaunce)
Seldom (said Guyon) yields to Vertue Aid,
But in her way throws Mischief and Mischaunce,
Whereby her Course is stop'd, and Passage stay'd.
But you, fair Sir, be not herewith dismay'd,
But constant keep the way in which ye stand;
Which, were it not, that I am else delay'd
With hard Adventure, which I have in hand,
I labour would to guide you thro all Fairy-Land.

Gramercy Sir, said he; but mote I wote
What strange Adventure do ye now pursue?
Perhaps my Succour, or Advizement meet,
Mote stead you much your Purpose to subdue.
Then 'gan Sir Guyon all the Story shew
Of false Acrasia, and her wicked Wiles,
Which to avenge, the Palmer him forth drew
From Fairy-Court. So talked they, the whiles
They wasted had much way, and measur'd many Miles.

And now fair Phoebus 'gan decline in haste
His weary Waggon to the western Vale,
When as they spy'd a goodly Castle, plac'd
Foreby a River in a pleasant Dale;
Which chusing for that Evening's Hospitale,
They thither march'd: but when they came in sight,
And from their sweaty Coursers did avale,
They found the Gates fast barred long e'er night,
And every Loup fast lock'd, as fearing Foes Despight.

Which when they saw, they weened foul Reproach
Was to them doen, their Entrance to forestal,
Till that the Squire 'gan nigher to approach;
And wind his Horn under the Castle-Wall,
That with the Noise it shook, as it would fall:
Eftsoons forth looked from the highest Spire
The Watch, and loud unto the Knights did call,
To weet what they so rudely did require.
Who gently answered; They entraunce did desire.

Fly, fly, good Knights, said he, fly fast away,
If that your Lives ye love, as meet ye should;
Fly fast, and save your selves from near Decay,
Here may ye not have Entrance, tho we would:
We would and would again, if that we could;
But thousand Enemies about us rave,
And with long siege us in this Castle hold:
Seven years this wise they us besieged have,
And many good Knights slain, that have us sought to save.

Thus as he spake, lo! with outrageous Cry,
A thousand Villains round about them swarm'd,
Out of the Rocks and Caves adjoining nigh,
Vile caitive Wretches, ragged, rude, deform'd,
All threatning Death, all in strange manner arm'd,
Some with unwieldy Clubs, some with long Spears.
Some rusty Knives, some Staves in Fire warm'd.
Stern was their Look, like wild amazed Stears,
Staring with hollow Eyes, and stiff upstanding Hairs.

Fiercely at first those Knights they did assail,
And drove them to recoil: but when again
They gave fresh Charge, their Forces 'gan to fail,
Unable their Encounter to sustain;
For with such Puissance and impetuous Main,
Those Champions broke on them, that forc'd them fly,
Like scatter'd Sheep, when as the Shepherd's Swain
A Lion and a Tiger doth espy,
With greedy Pace forth rushing from the Forest nigh.

Awhile they fled, but soon return'd again
With greater Fury than before was found;
And evermore their cruel Capitain
Sought with his rascal Routs t' enclose them round,
And (over-run) to tread them to the ground.
But soon the Knights, with their bright-burning Blades,
Broke their rude Troops, and Orders did confound,
Hewing and slashing at their idle Shades;
For tho they Bodies seem, yet Substance from them fades.

As when a Swarm of Gnats at Even-tide
Out of the Fens of Allan do arise,
Their murmuring small Trumpets sounden wide;
Whiles in the Air their clustring Army flies,
That as a Cloud doth seem to dim the Skies;
Ne Man nor Beast may rest, or take Repast,
For their sharp Wounds, and noyous Injuries,
Till the fierce Northern Wind with blustring Blast
Doth blow them quite away, and in the Ocean cast.

Thus when they had that troublous Rout disperst,
Unto the Castle-Gate they come again,
And Entrance crav'd, which was denied erst.
Now when Report of that their perilous Pain,
And combrous Conflict which they did sustain,
Came to the Lady's Ear which there did dwell.
She forth issued with a goodly Train
Of Squires and Ladies equipaged well,
And entertained them right fairly, as befel.

Alma she called was, a Virgin bright;
That had not yet felt Cupid's wanton Rage,
Yet was she woo'd of many a gentle Knight,
And many a Lord of noble Parentage,
That sought with her to link in Marriage:
For she was fair, as fair mote ever be,
And in the flower now of her freshest Age;
Yet full of Grace and goodly Modesty,
That eyen Heaven rejoiced her sweet Face to see.

In Robe of lilly white she was array'd,
That from her Shoulder to her Heel down rought,
The Train whereof loose far behind her stray'd,
Branched with Gold and Pearl, most richly wrought,
And borne of two fair Damsels, which were taught
That Service well. Her yellow golden Hair
Was trimly woven, and in Tresses wrought,
Ne other Tire she on her Head did wear,
But crowned with a Garland of sweet Rosiere.

Goodly she entertain'd those noble Knights,
And brought them up into her Castle-Hall;
Where gentle Court and gracious Delight
She to them made, with Mildness virginal
Shewing her self both wise and liberal:
There when they rested had a Season due,
They her besought of Favour special,
Of that fair Castle to afford them view;
She graunted, and them leading forth, the same did shew.

First, she them led up to the Castle-Wall,
That was so high, as Foe might not it climb,
And all so fair, and sensible withal,
Not built of Brick, ne yet of Stone and Lime,
But of thing like to that Egyptian Slime,
Whereof King Nine whilom built Babel Tower;
But O great Pity, that no lenger time
So goodly Workmanship should not endure:
Soon it must turn to Earth; no earthly thing is sure.

The Frame thereof seem'd partly circular,
And part triangular: O Work Divine!
Those two the first and last Proportions are,
The one imperfect, mortal, feminine;
Th' other immortal, perfect, masculine:
And 'twixt them both a Quadrate was the Base,
Proportion'd equally by seven and nine;
Nine was the Circle set in Heaven's Place;
All which compacted, made a goodly Diapase.

Therein two Gates were placed seemly well:
The one before, by which all in did pass,
Did th' other far in Workmanship excell;
For not of Wood, nor of enduring Brass,
But of more worthy Substance fram'd it was:
Doubly disparted, it did lock and close,
That when it locked, none might thorow pass,
And when it open'd, no Man might it close,
Still open to their Friends, and closed to their Foes.

Of hewen Stone the Porch was fairly wrought,
Stone more of value, and more smooth and fine,
Than Jet or Marble far from Ireland brought;
Over the which was cast a wandring Vine,
Enchaced with a wanton ivy Twine.
And over it a fair Portcullis hung,
Which to the Gate directly did incline,
With comely Compass, and Compacture strong,
Neither unseemly short, nor yet exceeding long.

Within the Barbican a Porter sate,
Day and Night duly keeping watch and ward,
Nor Wight, nor Word mote pass out of the Gate,
But in good Order, and with due Regard:
Utterers of Secrets he from thence debar'd,
Bablers of Folly, and Blazers of Crime.
His Larum-Bell might loud and wide be heard
When Cause requir'd, but never out of time;
Early and late it rong, at Evening and at Prime.

And round about the Porch on every side
Twice sixteen Warders sate, all armed bright
In glistring Steel, and strongly fortify'd:
Tall Yeomen seemed they, and of great Might,
And were enranged ready still for fight.
By them as Alma passed with her Guests,
They did Obeysaunce, as beseemed light,
And then again returned to their Rests:
The Porter eke to her did lout with humble Gests.

Thence she them brought into a stately Hall,
Wherein were many Tables fair disspred,
And ready dight with Drapets festival,
Against the Viands should be ministred.
At th' upper end there sat, yclad in red
Down to the ground, a comely Personage,
That in his Hand a white Rod menaged:
He Steward was, hight Diet; ripe of Age,
And in Demeanure sober, and in Counsel sage.

And through the Hall there walked to and fro
A jolly Yeoman, Marshal of the same,
Whose name was Appetite; he did bestow
Both Guests and Meat, when ever in they came,
And knew them how to order without blame,
As him the Steward bade. They both attone
Did Duty to their Lady, as became;
Who passing by, forth led her Guests anone
Into the Kitchen Room, ne spar'd for niceness none.

It was a Vaut ybuilt for great dispense,
With many Raunges rear'd along the Wall;
And one great Chimney, whose long Tonnel thence,
The Smoke forth threw. And in the midst of all
There placed was a Caudron wide and tall,
Upon a mighty Furnace, burning hot,
More hot than Aetn' or flaming Mongiball:
For, Day and Night it brent, ne ceased not,
So long as any thing it in the Caudron got.

But to delay the Heat, lest by mischaunce
It might break out, and set the whole on fire,
There added was by goodly Ordinaunce,
An huge great pair of Bellows, which did stire
Continually, and cooling Breath inspire.
About the Caudron many Cooks accoil'd
With Hooks and Ladles, as need did require;
That whiles the Viands in the Vessel boil'd,
They did about their Business sweat, and sorely toil'd.

The maister Cook was call'd Concoction,
A careful Man, and full of comely Guise:
The Kitchin Clerk, that hight Digestion,
Did order all the Cates in seemly wise,
And set them forth, as well he could devise.
The rest had several Offices assign'd:
Some to remove the Scum as it did rise;
Others to bear the same away did mind;
And others it to use according to his kind.

But all the Liquor, which was foul and waste,
Not good nor serviceable else for ought,
They in another great round Vessel plac'd,
Till by a Conduit-Pipe it thence were brought:
And all the rest, that noyous was and nought,
By secret ways that none might it espy,
Was close convey'd, and to the back Gate brought,
That cleped was Port Esquiline, whereby
It was avoided quite, and thrown out privily.

Which goodly Order, and great Workman's Skill,
When as those Knights beheld, with rare Delight
And gazing Wonder they their Minds did fill;
For, never had they seen so strange a sight.
Thence back again fair Alma led them right,
And soon into a goodly Parlour brought,
That was with royal Arras richly dight,
In which was nothing pourtrayed, nor wrought,
Not wrought, nor pourtrayed, but easy to be thought.

And in the midst thereof upon the Floor,
A lovely Bevy of fair Lady sat,
Courted of many a jolly Paramour,
The which them did in modest wise amate,
And each one sought his Lady to aggrate:
And eke emongst them little Cupid plaid
His wanton Sports, being returned late
From his fierce Wars, and having from him laid
His cruel Bow, where-with he thousands hath dismay'd.

Divers Delights they found, themselves to please;
Some sung in sweet Consort, some laught for Joy,
Some plaid with Straws, some idle sat at ease;
But other some could not abide to toy,
All Pleasance was to them Grief and Annoy:
This frown'd, that fawn'd, the third for Shame did blush;
Another seemed envious, or coy;
Another in her Teeth did gnaw a Rush:
But at these Strangers Presence every one did hush.

Soon as the gracious Alma came in place,
They all at once out of their Seats arose,
And to her Homage made, with humble grace.
Whom, when the Knights beheld, they 'gan dispose
Themselves to court, and each a Damsel chose:
The Prince (by chance) did on a Lady light,
That was right fair and fresh as morning Rose,
But some-what sad, and solemn eke in sight,
As if some pensive Thought constrain'd her gentle Spright.

In a long purple Pall, whose Skirt with Gold
Was fretted all about, she was array'd;
And in her hand a Poplar Branch did hold:
To whom the Prince in curteous manner said;
Gentle Madame, why been ye thus dismay'd,
And your fair Beauty do with sadness spill?
Lives any, that you hath thus ill apaid?
Or doen you love, or doen you lack your Will?
What-ever be the Cause, it sure beseems you ill.

Fair Sir, said she (half in disdainful wise)
How is it that this word in me ye blame,
And in your self do not the same advise?
Him ill beseems, another's Fault to name,
That may unwares be blotted with the same:
Pensive, I yield I am, and sad in Mind,
Through great desire of Glory and of Fame;
Ne ought (I ween) are ye therein behind,
That have twelve Months sought one, yet no where can her find.

The Prince was inly moved at her Speech,
Well weeting true, what she had rashly told;
Yet with fair semblaunt sought to hide the Breach,
Which change of colour did perforce unfold,
Now seeming flaming hot, now stony cold.
Tho, turning soft aside, he did inquire
What Wight she was, that Poplar Branch did hold:
It answered was, her name was Praise-desire,
That by well doing sought to Honour to aspire.

The whiles, the Fairy Knight did entertain
Another Damsel of that gentle Crew,
That was right fair, and modest of demain,
But that too oft she chang'd her native hue:
Strange was her Tire, and all her Garment blue,
Close round about her tuck'd with many a Plight:
Upon her first, the Bird which shunneth view,
And keeps in Coverts close from living Wight,
Did sit, as yet asham'd, how rude Pan did her dight.

So long as Guyon with her communed,
Unto the ground she cast her modest Eye,
And ever and anon with rosy Red
The bashful Blood her snowy Cheeks did die,
That her became, as polish'd Ivory;
Which cunning Craftsman's Hand hath overlaid
With fair Vermilion or pure Lastery.
Great wonder had the Knight to see the Maid
So strangely passioned, and to her gently said;

Fair Damsel, seemeth by your troubled Chear,
That either me too bold ye ween, this wise
You to molest, or other ill to fear
That in the secret of your Heart close lies,
From whence it doth, as Cloud from Sea arise.
If it be I, of pardon I you pray;
But if ought else that I mote not devise,
I will (if please you it discure) assay
To ease you of that Ill, so wisely as I may.

She answer'd nought, but more abash'd for Shame
Held down her Head, the whiles her lovely Face
The flashing Blood with blushing did inflame,
And the strong Passion mar'd her modest Grace,
That Guyon mervail'd at her uncouth Case:
Till Alma him bespake. Why wonder ye,
Fair Sir, at that, which ye so much embrace?
She is the Fountain of your Modesty;
You shamefac'd are, but Shamefac'dness it self is she.

Thereat the Elf did blush in privity,
And turn'd his Face away; but she the same
Dissembled fair, and fain'd to oversee.
Thus they awhile with Court and goodly Game,
Themselves did solace each one with his Dame,
Till that great Lady thence away them sought,
To view her Castle's other wondrous Frame:
Up to a stately Turret she them brought,
Ascending by ten Steps of Alabaster wrought.

That Turret's Frame most admirable was,
Like highest Heaven compassed around,
And lifted high above this earthly Mass,
Which it surview'd, as Hills doen lower ground;
But not on ground mote like to this be found,
Not that which antique Cadmus whilom built
In Thebes, which Alexander did confound;
Nor that proud Tower of Troy, tho richly gilt,
From which young Hector's Blood by cruel Greeks was spilt.

The Roof hereof was arched over head,
And deck'd with Flowers and Herbars daintily;
Two goodly Beacons, set in Watches stead,
Therein gave Light, and flam'd continually;
For, they of living Fire most subtilly
Were made, and set in silver Sockets bright,
Cover'd with Lids deviz'd of Substance fly,
That readily they shut and open might.
O, who can tell the Praises of that Maker's Might!

Ne can I tell, ne can I stay to tell
This Part's great Workmanship, and wondrous Power,
That all this other World's work doth excel,
And likest is unto that heavenly Tower,
That God hath built for his own blessed Bower.
Therein were divers Rooms, and divers Stages;
But three the chiefest, and of greatest Power,
In which there dwelt three honourable Sages,
The wisest Men (I ween) that lived in their Ages.

Not he, whom Greece (the Nurse of all good Arts)
But Phoebus' Doom, the wisest thought alive,
Might be compar'd to these by many parts:
Nor that sage Pylian Sire, which did survive
Three Ages, such as mortal Men contrive,
By whose Advice old Priam's City fell,
With these in praise of Policies mote strive.
These three in these three Rooms did sundry dwell,
And counselled fair Alma, how to govern well.

The first of them could things to come fore-see;
The next, could of things present best advise;
The third, things past could keep in Memory:
So that no Time, nor Reason could arise,
But that the same could one of these comprize.
For-thy, the first did in the fore-part sit,
That nought mote hinder his quick prejudize:
He had a sharp Fore-sight, and working Wit,
That never idle was, ne once could rest a whit.

His Chamber was dispainted all within
With sundry Colours, in the which were writ
Infinite Shapes of things dispersed thin;
Some such as in the World were never yet,
Ne can devised be of mortal Wit:
Some daily seen, and knowen by their Names,
Such as in idle Fantasies do flit;
Infernal Hags, Centaurs, Fiends, Hippodames,
Apes, Lions, Eagles, Owls Fools, Lovers' Children, Dames.

And all the Chamber filled was with Flies,
Which buzzed all about, and made such Found,
That they encombred all Mens Ears and Eyes,
Like many swarms of Bees assembled round,
After their Hives with Honey do abound;
All those were idle Thoughts and Fantasies,
Devices, Dreams, Opinions unsound,
Shews, Visions, Soothsayes, and Prophecies;
And all that feigned is, as Leasing, Tales, and Lyes.

Emongst them all sat he which wonned there,
That hight Phantastes by his Nature true;
A Man of Years yet fresh, as mote appear,
Of swarth Complexion, and of crabbed Hue,
That him full of Melancholy did shew;
Bent hollow beetle Brows, sharp staring Eyes,
That mad or foolish seem'd: One by his view
Mote deem him born with ill disposed Skies,
When oblique Saturn sat in th' House of Agonies.

Whom Alma having shewed to her Guests,
Thence brought them to the second Room, whose Walls
Were painted fair with memorable Gests
Of famous Wizards, and with Picturals
Of Magistrates, of Courts, of Tribunals,
Of Commonwealths, of States, of Policy,
Of Laws, of Judgments, and of Decretals;
All Arts, all Science, all Philosophy,
And all that in the World was ay thought wittily.

Of those that Room was full: and them among
There sat a Man of ripe and perfect Age,
Who did them meditate all his Life long,
That through continual practice and usage,
He now was grown right wise and wondrous sage.
Great Pleasure had those stranger Knights, to see
His goodly Reason, and grave Personage,
That his Disciples both desir'd to be;
But Alma thence them led to th' hindmost Room of three.

That Chamber seemed ruinous and old,
And therefore was removed far behind,
Yet were the Walls, that did the same uphold,
Right firm and strong, tho somewhat they declin'd;
And therein sat an old old Man, half blind,
And all decrepit in his feeble Corse,
Yet lively Vigour rested in his Mind,
And recompenc'd him with a better scorce:
Weak Body well is chang'd for Mind's redoubled Force.

This Man of infinite remembrance was,
And things foregone through many Ages held,
Which he recorded still as they did pass,
Ne suffred them to perish through long Eld,
As all things else, the which this World doth weld,
But laid them up in his immortal Scrine,
Where they for ever incorrupted dwell'd:
The Wars he well remembred of King Nine,
Of old Assaracus, and Inachus divine.

The Years of Nestor nothing were to his,
Ne yet Methusalem, though longest liv'd;
For, he remembred both their Infancies:
Ne wonder then, if that he were depriv'd
Of native Strength now, that he them surviv'd.
His Chamber all was hang'd about with Rolls,
And old Records from auntient times deriv'd,
Some made in Books, some in long Parchment-Scrolls,
That were all worm-eaten, and full of Canker-holes.

Amidst them all he in a Chair was set,
Tossing and turning them withouten end:
But for he was unable them to set,
A little boy did on him still attend
To reach, whenever he for ought did send;
And oft when things were lost, or laid amiss,
That Boy them sought, and unto him did lend.
Therefore he Anamestes cleped is,
And that old man Eumnestes, their Properties.

The Knights, there entring, did him Reverence due,
And wondred at his endless Exercise.
Then as they 'gan his Library to view,
And antique Registers for to avise,
There chaunced to the Prince's Hand to rise
An auntient Book, hight Briton Moniments,
That of this Land's first Conquest did devise,
And old Division into Regiments,
Till it reduced was to one Man's Governments.

Sir Guyon chaunc'd eke on another Book,
That hight Antiquity of Fairy Lond;
In which when as he greedily did look,
Th' Off-spring of Elves and Fairies there he fond,
As it deliver'd was from Hond to Hond:
Whereat they burning both with fervent Fire
Their Countries Auncestry to understond,
Crav'd leave of Alma, and that aged Sire,
To read those Books; who gladly, vaunted their desire.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:294-309]

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