Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto XI.

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

Edmund Spenser

George L. Craik: "Canto XI. (49 stanzas). — The next morning, before daybreak, Sir Guyon and the Palmer rise and resume their journey, and, having come again to the river's side, are taken on board his well-rigged boat by a ferryman whom the lady Alma had provided, and who speedily conveys them out of sight. As soon as they are gone, the house of Temperance, as the castle is called, is again attacked by the bands of villains that had been dispersed by the knight and the prince the day before: — 'So huge and infinite their numbers were, | That all the land they under them did hide; | So foul and ugly, that exceeding fear | Their visages impressed when they approached near.'

"Their captain has divided them into twelve troops; seven of which (the Seven Deadly Sins) he has arranged in strong entrenchments over against the castle gate, appointing the other five to assault severally the five great bulwarks of the pile (that is, the Five Senses). These five troops are all described at length. Of the first, or those that directed their attack against the bulwark of the Sight, some were headed like owls, some like dogs, some like gryphons.... The second troop, who assaulted the sense of Hearing, had heads like harts, and snakes, and wild boars. The assailants of the third fort, or the Smell, are described as 'Some like to hounds, some like to apes dismayed, | Some like to puttocks, all in plumes arrayed;' those of the fourth, or the bulwark of Taste, as 'Some mouthed like greedy oistriches, some faced | Like loathly toads, some fashioned in the waste | Like swine.' Most hideous and fiercest of all are those composing the fifth troop, who batter at the sense of Touch; — 'for some like snails, some did like spiders shew, | And some like ugly urchins, thick and short.' Against the restless siege of all the twelve bands the castle is defended by 'those two brethren giants,' that is, Prince Arthur and his squire, who exert themselves with such activity and effect that no one of the enemy attempts an entrance without having his groaning ghost sent to the other world.

"At last the Prince resolves to go forth and seek the captain of the besieging host, that he may decide the strife with him in single combat.... As soon as the carle sees the Prince approach he rides forward and shoots at him a succession of arrows, which the Prince receives upon his shield. After a few moments, however, to put an end to this assault, he couches his spear and rides fiercely at him; on which the other quickly turns aside his light-footed beast and flies: it is labour lost to try to approach him: — 'Far as the winged wind his tiger fled, | That view of eye could scarce him overtake'.... As fast as he shoots his arrows the lame hag gathers them up and gives them to him again; when the Prince, dismounting, thinks to tie her hands her sister hag comes up, and the two by their united strength throw him on his back and keep him down; the villain now also falls upon him; and he is only rescued by the assistance of his faithful squire, who, snatching off the two women, keeps them at bay, while the Prince manages the carle, now come down from his tiger, and without his bow and arrows.

"No sooner, however, has he been felled to the ground, and apparently struck dead, than he springs to his feet again unhurt, and, tearing up a huge stone which stood fixed in the earth, hurls it at the Prince, who only escapes destruction by lightly leaping back. Nor is he disposed of even when he is run through the body: he neither falls nor sheds a drop of blood. The Prince is in amazement, and knows not what to try next; — 'Flesh without blood, a person without sprite; | Wounds without hurt, a body without might; | That could do harm, yet could not harmed be'.... Throwing away both his shield, and his good sword Mordure, 'that never failed at need till now,' he takes the mysterious body up in his naked arms and crushes it till he has apparently pressed all the breath out of it: it is of no use; the instant he casts the lumpish corse to the earth, up again it starts, and the next moment is raining huge strokes on him as fast as ever.

"Nearly at his wits' end, the Prince at last fortunately remembers having heard that the Earth was the carle's mother, and that as often as he wanted a new supply of life and strength all he had to do was to go to her for it: the mode of despatching him is now obvious; having again beaten the breath out of the body, he carries it on his shoulders to a neighbouring lake, and throws it into the water 'without remorse.' The two hags, seeing what is done, run about like mad dogs; and, while Impatience rushes headlong into the lake and is drowned, Impotence kills herself with one of Maleger's darts. The exhausted Prince is received into the now delivered castle, where fairest Alma meets him 'with balm, and wine, and costly spicery,' and where, after he has been despoiled of his armour, 'In sumptuous bed she made him to be laid, | And, all the while his wounds were dressing, by him staid'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:237-41.

The Enemies of Temperance
Besiege her Dwelling-Place:
Prince Arthur them repels, and foul
Maleger doth deface.

What War so cruel, or what Siege so sore,
As that, which strong Affections do apply
Against the Fort of Reason, evermore
To bring the Soul into Captivity!
Their Force is fiercer thro infirmity
Of the frail Flesh, relenting to their Rage,
And exercise most bitter Tyranny
Upon the Parts brought into their Bondage:
No Wretchedness is like to sinful Villenage.

But in a Body, which doth freely yield
His Parts to Reason's Rule obedient,
And letteth her that ought the Scepter wield,
All happy Peace and goodly Government
Is settled there in sure Establishment:
There Alma, like a Virgin Queen most bright,
Doth flourish in all Beauty excellent;
And to her Guests doth bounteous Banquet dight,
Attempred goodly well for Health, and for Delight.

Early before the Morn with crimson Ray,
The Windows of bright Heaven open'd had,
Thro which into the World the dawning Day
Might look, that maketh every Creature glad,
Uprose Sir Guyon, in bright Armour clad,
And to his purpos'd Journey him prepar'd;
With him the Palmer eke in Habit sad,
Himself address'd to that Adventure hard:
So to the River's side they both together far'd.

Where them awaited ready at the Ford,
The Ferriman, as Alma had behight,
With his well-rigged Boat: They go aboard
And he eftsoons 'gan launch his Bark forthright.
E'er long they rowed were quite out of sight,
And fast the Land behind them fled away.
But let them pass, whiles Wind and Weather right
Do serve their turn: here I awhile must stay,
To see a cruel Fight doen by the Prince this day.

For all so soon as Guyon thence was gone
Upon his Voyage with his trusty Guide,
That wicked Band of Villains fresh begun
That Castle to assail on every side,
And lay strong Siege about it far and wide.
So huge and infinite their Numbers were,
That all the Land they under them did hide;
So foul and ugly, that exceeding Fear
Their Visages impress'd, when they approached near.

Them in twelve Troops their Captain did dispart,
And round about in fittest Steads did place,
Where each might best offend his proper Part,
And his contrary Object most deface,
As every one seem'd meetest in that case.
Seven of the same against the Castle-Gate,
In strong Intrenchments he did closely place,
Which with incessant Force and endless Hate,
They batter'd day and night, and Entrance did await.

The other five, five sundry ways he set,
Against the five great Bulwarks of that Pile,
And unto each a Bulwark did abet,
T' assail with open Force or hidden Guile,
In hope thereof to win victorious Spoil.
They all that Charge did fervently apply,
With greedy Malice and importune Toil,
And planted there their huge Artillery,
With which they daily made most dreadful Battery.

The first Troop was a monstrous Rabblement
Of foul mishapen Wights, of which some were
Headed like Owls, with Beaks uncomely bent,
Others like Dogs, others like Gryphons drear;
And some had Wings, and some had Claws to tear,
And every one of them had Lynces Eyes,
And every one did Bow and Arrows bear;
All those were lawless Lusts, corrupt Envies,
And covetous Aspects, all cruel Enemies.

Those same against the Bulwark of the Sight
Did lay strong Siege, and battailous Assault,
Ne once did yield it respit day or night,
But soon as Titan 'gan his Head exault,
And soon again as he his Light withhault,
Their wicked Engins they against it bent;
That is, each thing, by which the Eyes may fault:
But two than all more huge and violent,
Beauty and Mony, they that Bulwark sorely rent.

The second Bulwark was the Hearing Sense,
'Gainst which the second Troop Designment makes:
Deformed Creatures, in strange difference,
Some having Heads like Harts, some like to Snakes;
Some like wild Boars late rous'd out of the Brakes;
Slanderous Reproaches, and foul Infamies,
Leasings, Back-bitings, and vain-glorious Crakes,
Bad Counsels, Praises, and false Flatteries;
All those against that Fort did bend their Batteries.

Likewise that same third Fort, that is the Smell,
Of that third Troop was cruelly assay'd:
Whose hideous Shapes were like to Fiends of Hell;
Some like to Hounds, some like to Apes dismay'd,
Some like to Puttocks, all in Plumes array'd;
All shap'd according their Conditions,
For by those ugly Forms weren pourtray'd
Foolish Delights and fond Abusions,
Which do that Sense besiege with light Illusions.

And that fourth Band, which cruel Battery bent
Against the fourth Bulwark, that is the Taste,
Was, as the rest, a grysie Rabblement;
Some mouth'd like greedy Ostriches, some fac'd
Like loathly Toads, some fashion'd in the Waste
Like Swine; for so deform'd is Luxury,
Surfeit, Misdiet, and unthrifty Waste,
Vain Feasts, and idle Superfluity:
All those this Sense's Fort assail incessantly.

But the fifth Troop most horrible of Hue,
And fierce of Force, was dreadful to report;
For, some like Snails, some did like Spiders shew,
And some like ugly Urchins thick and short:
They cruelly assailed that fifth Fort,
Armed with Darts of sensual Delight,
With Stings of carnal Lust, and strong Effort
Of feeling Pleasures, with which day and night
Against that same fifth Bulwark they continu'd Fight.

Thus these twelve Troops with dreadful Puissance
Against that Castle restless Siege did lay,
And evermore their hideous Ordinance
Upon the Bulwarks cruelly did play,
That now it 'gan to threaten near Decay:
And evermore their wicked Capitain
Provoked them the Breaches to assay,
Sometimes with Threats, sometimes with Hope of Gain,
Which by the Ransack of that Piece they should attain.

On th' other side, th' assieged Castle's Ward
Their stedfast Stonds did mightily maintain,
And many bold Repulse, and many hard
Atchievement wrought with Peril and with Pain,
That goodly Frame from Ruin to sustain:
And those two Brethren Giants did defend
The Walls so stoutly with their sturdy Main,
That never Entrance any durst pretend,
But they to direful Death their groaning Ghosts did send.

The noble Virgin, Lady of that Place,
Was much dismayed with that dreadful Sight
(For never was she in so evil Case,
Till that the Prince, seeing her woful Plight,
'Gan her recomfort from so sad Affright,
Offring his Service, and his dearest Life
For her Defence, against that Carle to fight,
Which was their Chief, and th' Author of that Strife:
She him remercy'd as the Patron of her Life.

Eftsoons himself in Glitter and Arms he dight,
And his well-proved Weapons to him hent;
So taking courteous Conge, he behight
Those Gates to be unbarr'd, and forth he went.
Fair mote he thee, the prowest and most gent,
That ever brandished bright Steel on high:
Whom soon as that unruly Rabblement,
With his gay Squire issuing did espy,
They rear'd a most outrageous dreadful yelling Cry.

And therewith all at once at him let fly
Their fluttring Arrows, thick as Flakes of Snow,
And round about him flock impetuously,
Like a great Water-Flood, that tumbling low
From the high Mountains, threats to overthrow
With suddain Fury all the fertile Plain,
And the sad Husbandman's long Hope doth throw
Adown the Stream, and all his Vows make vain,
Nor Bounds nor Banks his headlong Ruin may sustain.

Upon his Shield their heaped Hail he bore,
And with his Sword dispers'd the rascal Flocks,
Which fled asunder, and him fell before,
As wither'd Leaves drop from their dried Stocks,
When the wroth Western Wind does reeve their Locks:
And underneath him his courageous Steed,
The fierce Spumador, trod them down like Docks;
The fierce Spumador born of heavenly Seed,
Such as Laomedon of Phoebus' Race did breed.

Which suddain Horrour and confused Cry,
When as their Captain heard, in haste he yode
The Cause to weet, and Fault to remedy.
Upon a Tiger swift and fierce he rode,
That as the Wind ran underneath his Load,
While his long Legs nigh raught unto the Ground;
Full large he was of Limb, and Shoulders broad,
But of such subtle Substance, and unsound,
That like a Ghost he seem'd, whose Grave-clothes were unbound.

And in his hand a bended Bow was seen,
And many Arrows under his right side,
All deadly dangerous, all cruel keen,
Headed with Flint, and Feathers bloody dy'd,
Such as the Indians in their Quivers hide;
Those could he well direct as strait as line,
And bid them strike the Mark, which he had ey'd;
Ne was there Salve, ne was there Medicine,
That mote recure their Wounds: so inly they did tine.

As pale and wan as Ashes was his Look,
His Body lean and meager as a rake,
And Skin all wither'd like a dryed Rook,
Thereto as cold and dreary as a Snake,
That seem'd to tremble evermore, and quake:
All in a Canvas thin he was bedight,
And girded with a Belt of twisted Brake,
Upon his Head he wore an Helmet light,
Made of a dead Man's Skull, that seem'd a ghastly Sight.

Maleger was his Name, and after him
There follow'd fast at hand two wicked Hags,
With hoary Locks all loose, and Visage grim;
Their Feet unshod, their Bodies wrapt in Rags,
And both as swift on foot, as chased Stags;
And yet the one her other Leg had lame,
Which with a Staff, all full of little Snags,
She did disport, and Impotence her Name:
But th' other was Impatience, arm'd with raging Flame.

Soon as the Carle from far the Prince espy'd,
Glistring in Arms and warlike Ornament,
His Beast he felly prick'd on either side,
And his mischievous Bow full ready bent,
With which at him a cruel Shaft he sent:
But he was wary, and it warded well
Upon his Shield, that it no further went,
But to the Ground the idle Quarrel fell:
Then he another and another did expel.

Which to prevent, the Prince his mortal Spear
Soon to him raught, and fierce at him did ride,
To be avenged of that Shot whileare:
But he was not so hardy to abide
That bitter Stound, but turning quick aside
His light-foot Beast, fled fast away for fear.
Whom to pursue, the Infant after hy'd,
So fast as his good Courser could him bear,
But Labour lost it was, to ween approach him near.

For as the winged Wind his Tiger fled,
That View of Eye could scarce him overtake,
Ne scarce his Feet on ground were seen to tread;
Thro Hills and Dales he speedy way did make,
Ne Hedg ne Ditch his ready Passage brake:
And in his Flight the Villain turn'd his face
(As wonts the Tartar by the Caspian Lake,
Whenas the Russian him in Fight does chace)
Unto his Tiger's Tail, and shot at him apace.

Apace he shot, and yet he fled apace,
Still as the greedy Knight nigh to him drew,
And oftentimes he would relent his face,
That him his Foe more fiercely should pursue:
Who when his uncouth Manner he did view,
He 'gan avise to follow him no more,
But keep his Standing, and his Shafts eschew,
Until he quite had spent his per'lous Store,
And then assail him fresh, e'er he could shift for more.

But that lame Hag, still as abroad he strew
His wicked Arrows, gather'd them again,
And to him brought, fresh Battle to renew:
Which he espying, cast her to restrain
From yielding Succour to that cursed Swain,
And her attaching, thought her Hands to tie
But soon as him dismounted on the Plain,
That other Hag did far away espy
Binding her Sister, she to him ran hastily.

And catching hold of him, as down he lent,
Him backward overthrew, and down him stay'd
With their rude Hands and griesly Grapplement,
Till that the Villain coming to their Aid,
Upon him fell, and Load upon him laid;
Full little wanted, but he had him slain,
And of the Battle baleful end had made,
Had not his gentle Squire beheld his Pain,
And comen to his Rescue, e'er his bitter Bane.

So greatest and most glorious thing on ground
May often need the help of weaker Hand;
So feeble is Man's State, and Life unsound,
That in Assurance it may never stand,
Till it dissolved be from earthly Band.
Proof be thou Prince, the prowest Man alive,
And noblest born of all in Briton Land;
Yet thee fierce Fortune did so nearly drive,
That had not Grace thee blest, thou shouldest not revive.

The Squire arriving, fiercely in his Arms
Snatch'd first the one, and then the other Jade,
His chiefest Lets and Authors of his Harms,
And them perforce withheld with threatned Blade,
Lest that his Lord they should behind invade:
The whiles the Prince, prick'd with reproachful Shame,
As one awak'd out of long slumbring Shade,
Reviving, thought of Glory and of Fame,
United all his Powers to purge himself from Blame.

Like as a Fire, the which in hollow Cave
Hath long been under-kept, and down suppress'd,
With murmurous Disdain doth inly rave,
And grudg in so strait Prison to be press'd,
At last breaks forth with furious Unrest,
And strives to mount unto his native Seat;
All that did earst it hinder and molest,
It now devours with Flames and scorching Heat,
And carries into Smoke with Rage and Horrour great.

So mightily the Briton Prince him rouz'd
Out of his Hold, and broke his caitive Bands,
And as a Bear whom angry Curs have touz'd,
Having off-shak'd them, and escap'd their hands,
Becomes more fell, and all that him withstands
Treads down and overthrows. Now had the Carle
Alighted from his Tiger, and his Hands
Discharged of his Bow and deadly Quar'le,
To seize upon his Foe flat lying on the Marle.

Which now him turn'd to Disadvantage dear;
For neither can he fly, nor other harm,
But trust unto his Strength and Manhood mere,
Sith now he is far from his monstrous Swarm,
And of his Weapons did himself disarm.
The Knight yet wrothful for his late Disgrace,
Fiercely advaunc'd his valorous right Arm,
And him so sore smote with his iron Mace,
That groveling to the Ground he fell, and fill'd his Place.

Well weened he, that Field was then his own,
And all his Labour brought to happy end,
When suddain up the Villain overthrown,
Out of his Swoon arose, fresh to contend,
And 'gan himself to second Battle bend,
As hurt he had not been. Thereby there lay
An huge great Stone, which stood upon one end,
And had not been removed many a day;
Some Land-mark seem'd to be, or Sign of sundry way.

The same he snatch'd, and with exceeding Sway
Threw at his Foe, who was right well aware
To shun the Engin of his meant Decay;
It booted not to think that Throw to bear,
But ground he gave, and lightly leap'd arear:
Eft fierce returning, as a Faulcon fair,
That once hath failed of her Souse full near,
Remounts again into the open Air,
And unto better Fortune doth her self prepare.

So brave returning, with his brandish'd Blade
He to the Carle himself again address'd,
And strook at him so sternly, that he made
An open Passage thro his riven Breast,
That half the Steel behind his back did rest:
Which drawing back, he looked evermore
When the Heart-Blood should gush out of his Chest,
Or his dead Corse should fall upon the Floor;
But his dead Corse upon the Floor fell nathemore.

Ne Drop of Blood appeared shed to be,
All were the Wound so wide and wonderous,
That thro his Carcass one might plainly see.
Half in Amaze with Horrour hideous,
And half in Rage to be deluded thus,
Again thro both the Sides he strook him quite,
That made his Spright to grone full piteous;
Yet nathemore forth fled his groaning spright;
But freshly, as at first, prepar'd himself to fight.

Thereat he smitten was with great Affright,
And trembling Terrour did his Heart appall:
Ne wist he, what to think of that same sight,
Ne what to say, ne what to do at all;
He doubted, lest it were some magical
Illusion, that did beguile his Sense,
Or wandring Ghost, that wanted Funeral,
Or airy Spirit under faire Pretence,
Or hellish Fiend rais'd up thro devilish Science.

His Wonder far exceeded Reason's Reach,
That he began to doubt his dazled Sight,
And oft of Error did himself appeach:
Flesh without Blood, a Person without Spright,
Wounds without Hurt, a Body without Might,
That could do harm, yet could not harmed be,
That could not die, yet seem'd a mortal Wight,
That was most strong in most Infirmity;
Like did he never hear, like did he never see.

Awhile he stood in this Astonishment;
Yet would he not for all his great Dismay,
Give over to effect his first Intent,
And th' utmost Means of Victory assay,
Or th' utmost Issue of his own Decay.
His own good Sword Mordure, that never fail'd
At need, till now, he lightly threw away,
And his bright Shield, that nought him now avail'd,
And with his naked Hands him forcibly assail'd.

'Twixt his two mighty Arms him up he snatch'd,
And crush'd his Carcass so against his Breast,
That the disdainful Soul he thence dispatch'd,
And th' idle Breath all utterly express'd:
Tho when he felt him dead, adown he kest
The lumpish Corse unto the sensless Ground;
Adown he kest it with so puissant Wrest,
That back again it did aloft rebound,
And gave against his Mother Earth a groanful Sound.

As when Jove's harness-bearing Bird from high
Stoops at a flying Heron with proud Disdain,
The stone-dead Quarry falls so forcibly,
That it rebounds against the lowly Plain,
A second Fall redoubling back again.
Then thought the Prince all Peril sure was past,
And that he Victor only did remain;
No sooner thought, than that the Carle as fast
'Gan heap huge Strokes on him, as e'er he down was cast.

Nigh his Wit's end then wox th' amazed Knight,
And thought his Labour lost, and Travail vain,
Against this lifeless Shadow so to fight;
Yet Life he saw, and felt his mighty Main,
That whiles he marvel'd still, did still him pain:
For thy he 'gan some other ways advize,
How to take Life from that dead-living Swain,
Whom still he marked freshly to arise
From th' earth, and from her Womb new Spirits to reprise.

He then remembred well, that had been said
How th' Earth his Mother was, and first him bore;
She eke, so often as his Life decay'd,
Did Life with Usury to him restore,
And rais'd him up much stronger than before,
So soon as he unto her Womb did fall
Therefore to ground he would him cast no more,
Ne him commit to Grave Terrestrial,
But bear him far from hope of Succour usual.

Tho up he caught him 'twixt his puissant Hands,
And having scruz'd out of his carrion Corse
The loathful Life, now loos'd from sinful Bands,
Upon his Shoulders carried him perforce
Above three furlongs, taking his full Course,
Until he came unto a standing Lake;
Him thereinto he threw without Remorse,
Ne stir'd, till hope of Life did him forsake:
So end of that Carle's Days, and his own Pains did make.

Which when those wicked Hags from far did spy,
Like two mad Dogs they ran about the Lands,
And th' one of them with dreadful yelling Cry,
Throwing away her broken Chains and Bands,
And having quench'd her burning Fierbrands,
Headlong her self did cast into that Lake;
But Impotence, with her own wilful Hands,
One of Maleger's cursed Darts did take,
So riv'd her trembling Heart, and wicked End did make.

Thus now alone he Conquerour remains;
Tho, coming to his Squire, that kept his Steed,
Thought to have mounted: but his feeble Veins
Him fail'd thereto, and served not his need,
Through loss of Blood, which from his Wounds did bleed,
That he began to faint, and Life decay:
But his good Squire him helping up with speed,
With stedfast Hand upon his Horse did stay,
And led him to the Castle by the beaten way.

Where many Grooms and Squires ready were,
To take him from his Steed full tenderly,
And eke the fairest Alma met him there
With Balm and Wine, and costly Spicery,
To comfort him in his Infirmity:
Eftsoons she caus'd him up to be convey'd,
And of his Arms despoiled easily;
In sumptuous Bed she made him to be laid,
And all the while his Wounds were dressing, by him staid.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:329-41]