1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Faerie Queene. Book III. Canto VII.

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

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto VII. (61 stanzas). — Florimel, continuing to fly even when no one pursued, rode hard all the night, and then, when her white palfrey could carry her no longer, proceeded on foot till she found herself on the declivity of a hill overlooking a little woody valley, where a thin smoke rising among the trees directed her wearied steps to a little cottage built of sods and thatched with reeds. This proves to be the miserable abode of a malignant witch, who is, however, moved to compassion by the maid's tears and desolate condition; and the latter, invited to enter, seats herself beside the hag on the dusty ground, 'as glad of that small rest as bird of tempest gone.' When she has put in such order as she can her torn garments and dishevelled hair, she so astonishes her rude hostess by her magnificent beauty, that, doubting whether she were not a goddess, or, at the least, one of Diana's nymphs, she is almost ready to fall down and adore her; and, in truth, enthusiastically exclaims the poet, 'To adore thing so divine as beauty were but right.'

"She awakens the same wonder and awe in the witch's son, a lazy good-for-nothing fellow, who lives with his mother, when she first flashes upon his sight on his return home at undertime (or the decline of the day); and, even for a considerable while that she remains with them, although he soon begins to look upon her with other thoughts, and she on her part by her meek and mild demeanour and her gentle speech encourages their familiarity, yet something divine about her still restrains him from uttering his feelings and wishes. 'His caitiff thought durst not so high aspire.' At length, however, finding both herself and her palfrey completely restored, she quietly withdraws herself from the 'desert mansion' one morning before the dawn of day. The hag and her son, on awaking and finding their guest gone, both fall to moaning as if they had been undone; the son in particular is frantic with grief and rage.

"The witch now sets to work to endeavour either to bring her back again, or to work her destruction, by her devilish arts and incantations. 'Eftsoons out of her hidden cave she called | An hideous beast of horrible aspect, | That could the stoutest courage have appalled; | Monstrous, mishaped, and all his back was spect | With thousand spots of colours quaint elect'.... This beast she charges to pursue Florimel, and either capture or devour her. 'The monster, swift as word that from her went,' soon comes within sight of the flying damsel and, spite first of the efforts of her nimble steed and then of her own fleet limbs, she would have become his prey, had she not, as she reached the seashore, leapt into a little boat that chanced to lie floating close to the spot, with the old fisherman asleep in it while his nets are drying on the sand, and instantly pushed it off with the oar.

"The monster is obliged to satisfy himself with wreaking his spite on the palfrey; but, while he is tearing the poor milk-white beast to pieces, suddenly there comes riding up to the place the good knight Sir Satyrane, whom the reader will remember as Una's protector in the Sixth Canto of the First Book, and who, we may here notice, is supposed to be intended to represent Sir John Perrot, generally believed to be a natural son of Henry VIII., who had been Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1583 to 1588; but, in 1590, when these first three Books of the Fairy Queen were published, was lying a prisoner in the Tower, where, after having been brought to trial and by an iniquitous verdict found guilty of high treason, he died in September, 1592. Satyrane, it seems, is a lover of Florimel, and, knowing her palfrey, he greatly fears that some evil has happened 'to that fair maid, the flower of woman's pride.' He finds, too, her golden girdle, which she had dropt in her flight, and that confirms his apprehensions. But this riband, 'which that virgin wore about her slender waist,' proves immediately of great service in binding the monster, whom Satyrane only subdues by the most Herculean exertions, and neither with strength nor sword can destroy — 'his maker with her charms had framed him so well:' as soon as he felt the touch of the girdle, he roared aloud, we are told, 'For great despite of that unwonted band, | Yet dared not his victor to withstand, | But trembled like a lamb fled from the prey; | And all the way him followed on the strand'....

"But a new adventure is at hand for the stout Sir Satyrane. As he is thus leading the beast along he perceives at a distance a giantess flying on a dapple grey courser from a knight who pursues her with all his might, while before her, lying athwart her horse, she bears a doleful squire bound hand and foot. Satyrane lets go his captive beast, and, when he couches his spear and runs at the giantess, she also instantly addresses herself to fight and throws aside her load.... She proves more than a match for Satyrane, whom, after having stunned him with a blow of her huge iron mace, she plucks out of his saddle, and is carrying off with her, laid athwart her horse, much as she had had the squire, when the other knight comes up and attacks her, and she is again compelled to drop her prey. With this new assailant, however, she has no inclination to fight, but tries to escape from him by flight as before. Meanwhile Satyrane comes up to the squire, whom he finds to be a singularly handsome youth, and who, as soon as he has been set at liberty from his fetters, proceeds to explain what they have seen.

"The giantess, he tells Satyrane, is the terrible Argante, of the race of the Titans; she and her twin brother, the mighty Oliphant, were the children of Earth, by her own son Typhus. She is a very monster and miracle of licentiousness; he himself, the squire states, is only one of innumerable youths whom she had carried off. 'As for my name,' says he, 'it mistreth not (it signifies not) to tell:' 'Call me the Squire of Dames; that me beseemeth well.' The knight, he goes on to relate, whom Sir Satyrane had seen pursuing the giantess, is no knight, but a 'fair virgin,' called Palladine, famous for deeds of arms, above all dames and even many knights: 'Ne any,' says he, 'may that monster match in fight, | But she, or such as she, that is so chaste a wight.'

"The Squire of Dames then relates his own story, which is imitated from the Host's Tale in the Twenty-eighth Canto of the Orlando Furioso. Fair Columbel, the gentle lady whom he loves and serves, having charged him to go forth and try how many other ladies he could win, he had found such favour with the sex, that ere the end of the year he had returned to her, bringing with him the pledges of no fewer than three hundred conquests. His reward was that he should forthwith resume his travels, and not again present himself before her till he should have found as many other dames who should 'abide for ever chaste and sound,' for all the suit he could make to them. 'Ah gentle squire,' quoth Satyrane, 'tell at one word, | How many foundst thou such to put in thy record? | Indeed, Sir Knight, said he, one word may tell | All that I ever found so wisely stayed, | For only three they were disposed so well'... And of the three the only one who refused the love of the comely squire on principle was a damsel of low degree, the inmate of a country cottage; yet he admits that this one was as fair as she was good. 'Perdy,' said Satyrane, 'thou Squire of Dames, | Great labour fondly hast thou hent in hand, | To get small thanks, and therewith many blames; | That may amongst Alcides' labours stand'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 2:46-51.



The Witch's Son loves Florimel,
She flies, he feigns to die:
Satyrane saves the Squire of Dames
From Giant's Tyranny.

Like as an Hind forth singled from the Herd,
That hath escaped from a ravenous Beast,
Yet flies away of her own Feet affeard,
And every Leaf, that shaketh with the least
Murmur of Wind, her Terrour hath increast;
So fled fair Florimel from her vain Fear,
Long after she from Peril was releast:
Each Shade she saw, and each Noise she did hear,
Did seem to be the same, which she escap'd whyleare.

All that same Evening she in flying spent,
And all that Night her Course continued;
Ne did she let dull Sleep once to relent,
Nor Weariness to slack her Haste, but fled
Ever alike, as if her former Dread
Were hard behind, her ready to arrest:
And her white Palfry having conquered
The maistring Reins out of her weary Wrist,
Perforce her carried wherever he thought best.

So long as Breath and hable Puissaunce
Did native Courage unto him supply,
His Pace he freshly forward did advaunce,
And carry'd her beyond all Jeopardy:
But nought that wanteth Rest, can long aby.
He, having thro incessant Travel spent
His Force, at last perforce adown did lie,
Ne Foot could further move: The Lady gent
Thereat, was suddain strook with great Astonishment;

And forc'd t' alight on foot mote algates fare:
A Traveller unwonted to such Way.
Need teacheth her this Lesson hard and rare,
That Fortune all in equal Launce doth sway,
And mortal Miseries doth make her play.
So long the travel'd, till at length the came
To an Hill's Side, which did to her bewray
A little Valley, subject to the same,
All cover'd with thick Woods, that quite it overcame.

Thro th' Tops of the high Trees she did descry
A little Smoke, whose Vapour thin and light,
Reeking aloft, uprolled to the Sky:
Which chearful Sign did send unto her Sight,
That in the same did wonne some living Wight.
Eftsoons her Steps she thereunto apply'd,
And came at last in weary wretched Plight
Unto the Place, to which her Hope did guide,
To find some Refuge there, and rest her weary side.

There, in a gloomy hollow Glen she found
A little Cottage, built of Sticks and Reeds
In homely wize, and wail'd with Sods around,
In which a Witch did dwell, in loathly Weeds,
And wilful Want, all careless of her Needs;
So chusing solitary to abide,
Far from all Neighbours, that her devilish Deeds,
And hellish Arts from People she might hide,
And hurt far off unknown, whom-ever she envy'd.

The Damsel there arriving, entred in;
Where sitting on the Floor, the Hag she found,
Busy (as seem'd) about some wicked Gin;
Who, soon as she beheld that suddain Stound,
Lightly upstarted from the dusty Ground,
And with fell Look and hollow deadly Gaze,
Stared on her awhile, as one astound,
Ne had one Word to speak, for great Amaze;
But shew'd by outward Signs, that Dread her Sense did daze.

At last, turning her Fear to foolish Wrath,
She ask'd, what Devil had her thither brought,
And who she was, and what unwonted Path
Had guided her, unwelcomed, unsought?
To which the Damsel, full of doubtful Thought,
Her mildly answer'd: Beldame, be not wroth
With silly Virgin by Adventure brought
Unto your Dwelling, ignorant and loth
That crave but room to rest, while Tempest overblo'th.

With that, adown out of her crystal Eyne,
Few trickling Tears she softly forth let fall,
That like to orient Pearls, did purely shine
Upon her snowy Cheek; and therewithal
She sighed soft, that none so bestial,
Nor salvage Heart, but ruth of her sad Plight
Would make to melt, or piteously appall;
And that vile Hag, all were her whole Delight
In Mischief, was much moved at so piteous Sight.

And 'gan recomfort her in her rude wise,
With womanish Compassion of her Plaint,
Wiping the Tears from her suffused Eyes,
And bidding her sit down, to rest her faint
And weary Limbs awhile. She nothing quaint
Nor 'sdainful of so homely Fashion,
Sith brought she was now to so hard Constraint,
Sate down upon the dusty Ground anon,
As glad of that small Rest, as Bird of Tempest gone.

Tho 'gan she gather up her Garments rent,
And her loose Locks to dight in order due,
With golden Wreath, and gorgeous Ornament,
Whom such when-as the wicked Hag did view.
She was astonish'd at her heavenly Hue,
And doubted her to deem an earthly Wight,
But or some Goddess, or of Dian's Crew,
And thought her to adore with humble Spright;
T' adore thing so Divine as Beauty, were but right.

This wicked Woman had a wicked Son,
The Comfort of her Age and weary Days,
A lazy Loord, for nothing good to done,
But stretched forth in Idleness always,
Ne ever cast his Mind to covet Praise,
Or ply himself to any honest Trade;
But all the Day before the sunny Rays
He us'd to slug, or sleep in slothful Shade:
Such Laziness both leud and poor as once him made.

He, coming home at under-time, there found
The fairest Creature that he ever saw,
Sitting beside his Mother on the ground;
The sight whereof did greatly him adaw,
And his base thought with Terror and with Awe
So inly smote, that as one which had gaz'd
On the bright Sun unwares, doth soon withdraw
His feeble Eyne, with too much Brightness daz'd;
So stared he on her, and stood long while amaz'd.

Softly at last he 'gan his Mother ask,
What mister Wight that was, and whence deriv'd,
That in so strange Disguizement there did mask;
And by what Accident she there arriv'd:
But she, as one nigh of her Wits depriv'd,
With nought but ghastly Looks him answered,
Like to a Ghost, that lately is reviv'd
From Stygian Shores, where late it wandered;
So both at her, and each at other wondered.

But the fair Virgin was so meek and mild,
That she to them vouchsafed to embase
Her goodly Port, and to their Senses vild
Her gentle Speech apply'd, that in short space
She grew familiar in that desert place.
During which time, the Chorl through her so kind
And curteous Use conceiv'd Affection base,
And cast to love her in his brutish Mind;
No Love, but brutish Lust, that was so beastly tin'd.

Closely the wicked Flame his Bowels brent,
And shortly grew into outrageous Fire;
Yet had he not the Heart, nor Hardiment,
As unto her to utter his Desire;
His caitive Thought durst not so high aspire:
But with soft Sighs, and lovely Semblances,
He ween'd that his Affection entire
She should aread; many Resemblances
To her he made, and many kind Remembrances.

Oft from the Forest Wildings he did bring,
Whose sides empurpled were with smiling red;
And oft young Birds, which he had taught to sing
His Mistress' Praises, sweetly caroled;
Girlonds of Flowers sometimes for her fair Head
He fine would dight; sometimes the Squirrel wild
He brought to her in Bands, as conquered
To be her Thrall, his Fellow-Servant vild:
All which she of him took with Countenance meek and mild.

But past awhile, when she fit Season saw,
To leave that desert Mansion, she cast
In secret wise her self thence to withdraw,
For fear of Mischief, which she did forecast
Might be the Witch or that her Son compass'd:
Her weary Palfrey, closely as she might,
Now well recovered after long repast,
In his proud Furnitures she freshly dight,
His late miswandred ways now to remeasure right.

And early e'er the dawning Day appear'd,
She forth issu'd, and on her Journey went;
She went in Peril, of each Noise affear'd,
And of each Shade, that did it self present;
For, still she feared to be over-hent
Of that vile Hag, or that uncivil Son:
Who, when too late awaking well they kent
That their fair Guest was gone, they both begun
To make exceeding moan, as they had been undone.

But that leud Lover did the most lament
For her depart, that ever Man did hear;
He knock'd his Breast with desperate Intent,
And scratch'd his Face, and with his Teeth did tear
His rugged Flesh, and rent his ragged Hair:
That his sad Mother seeing his sore Plight,
Was greatly Woe-begun, and 'gan to fear
Lest his frail Senses were emperish'd quite,
And Love to Frenzy turn'd, sith Love is frantick hight.

All ways she sought, him to restore to plight,
With Herbs, with Charms, with Counsel, and with Tears,
But Tears, nor Charms nor Herbs, nor Counsel might
Assuage the Fury, which his Entrails tears:
So strong is Passion, that no Reason hears.
Tho, when all other helps she saw to fail,
She turn'd her self back to her wicked Lears,
And by her devilish Arts thought to prevail
To bring her back again, or work her final Bale.

Eftsoons out of her hidden Cave she call'd
An hideous Beast, of horrible Aspect,
That could the stoutest Courage have appall'd;
Monstrous misshap'd, and all his Back was speck'd
With thousand Spots, of Colours queint elect;
Thereto so swift, that it all Beasts did pass;
Like never yet did living Eye detect;
But likest it to an Hyena was,
That feeds on Womens flesh, as others feed on Grass.

It forth she call'd, and gave it straight in charge,
Through thick and thin her to pursue apace,
Ne once to stay to rest, or breath at large,
Till her he had attain'd, and brought in place,
Or quite devour'd her Beauty's scornful Grace.
The Monster, swift as Word that from her went,
Went forth in haste, and did her footing trace
So sure and swiftly, through his perfect Scent,
And passing Speed, that shortly he her over-hent.

Whom when the fearful Damzel nigh espy'd,
No need to bid her fast away to fly;
That ugly Shape so sore her terrify'd,
That if she shun'd no less, than dread to die:
And her flit Palfrey did so well apply
His nimble Feet to her conceived Fear,
That whilst his Breath did Strength to him supply,
From Peril free he her away did bear:
But when his Force 'gan fail, his Pace 'gan wex arear.

Which when as she perceiv'd, she was dismay'd
At that same last Extremity full sore,
And of her Safety greatly grew afraid:
And now she 'gan approach to the Sea-Shore,
As it befel, that she could fly no more,
But yield her self to Spoil of Greediness;
Lightly she leaped, as a Wight forlore,
From her dull Horse, in desperate Distress,
And to her Feet betook her doubtful Sickerness.

Not half so fast the wicked Myrrha fled
From dread of her revenging Father's Hond:
Nor half so fast to save her Maiden-head,
Fled fearful Daphne on th' Aegean Strond,
As Florimel fled from the Monster yond,
To reach the Sea, e'er she of him were raught:
For, in the Sea to drown her self she fond,
Rather than of the Tyrant to be caught:
Thereto Fear gave her Wings, and Need her Courage taught.

It fortuned (high God did so ordain)
As she arrived on the roaring Shore,
In mind to leap into the mighty Main,
A little Boat lay having her before,
In which there slept a Fisher old and poor,
The whiles his Nets were drying on the Sand:
Into the fame she leaps, and with the Oar,
Did thrust the Shallop from the floating Strand;
So Safety found at Sea, which she found not as Land.

The Monster, ready on the Prey to seize,
Was of his forward Hope deceived quite;
Ne durst assay to wade the perlous Seas,
But greedily long gaping at the sight,
At last in vain was forc'd to turn his Flight,
And tell the idle Tidings to his Dame;
Yet to avenge his devilish Despight,
He set upon her Palfrey tired lame,
And slew him cruelly e'er any Rescue came.

And after having him embowelled,
To fill his hellish Gorge, it chaunc'd a Knight
To pass that way, as forth he travelled:
It was a goodly Swain, and of great might,
As ever Man that bloody Field did fight;
But in vain shews, that wont young Knight bewitch,
And courtly Services took no delight,
But rather joy'd to be, than seemen sich:
For, both to be and seem to him was Labour lich.

It was, to weet, the good Sir Satyrane,
That raung'd abroad, to seek Adventures wild,
As was his wont in Forest, and in Plain;
He was all arm'd in rugged Steel unfil'd,
As in the smoky Forge it was compil'd,
And in his Scutchin bore a Satyr's Head:
He coming present, where the Monster vild
Upon that milk-white Palfrey's Carcass fed,
Unto his Rescue ran, and greedily him sped.

There well perceiv'd he, that it was the Horse.
Whereon fair Florimel was wont to ride,
That of that Fiend was rent without Remorse:
Much feared he, lest ought did ill betide
To that fair Maid, the Flower of Womens Pride;
For, her he dearly loved, and in all
His famous Conquests highly magnify'd;
Besides, her golden Girdle, which did fall
From her in Flight, he found, that did him sore appall.

Full of sad Fear, and doubtful Agony,
Fiercely he flew upon that wicked Fiend;
And with huge Strokes, and cruel Battery,
Him forc'd to leave his Prey, for to attend
Himself from deadly Danger to defend:
Full many Wounds in his corrupted Flesh
He did engrave, and muchell Blood did spend,
Yet might not do him die; but ay more fresh
And fierce he still appear'd, the more he did him thresh.

He wist not, how him to despoil of Life,
Ne how to win the wished Victory,
Sith him he saw still stronger grow through Strife,
And himself weaker through infirmity;
Greatly he grew enrag'd, and furiously
Hurling his Sword away, he lightly lept
Upon the Beast, that with great Cruelty
Roared, and raged to be under-kept
Yet he perforce him held, and Strokes upon him hept.

As he that strives to stop a sudden Flood,
And in strong Banks his Violence enclose,
Forceth it swell above his wonted Mood,
And largely overflow the fruitful Plain,
That all the Country seems to be a Main,
And the rich Furrows float, all quite fordone;
The woful Husbandman doth loud complain,
To see his whole Year's Labour lost so soon,
For which to God he made so many an idle Boon:

So him he held, and did through Might amate.
So long he held him, and him bet so long,
That at the last his fierceness 'gan abate,
And meekly stoup unto the Victour strong:
Who, to avenge the implacable Wrong,
Which he supposed done to Florimel,
Sought by all means his Dolour to prolong,
Sith Dint of Steel his Carcass could not quell;
His Maker with her Charms had framed him so well.

The golden Ribband, which that Virgin wore
About her slender Waste, he took in hand,
And with it bound the Beast that loud did roar
For great despight of that unwonted Band;
Yet dared not his Victour to withstand,
But trembled like a Lamb, fled from the Prey,
And all the way him follow'd on the Strand,
As he had long been learned to obey;
Yet never learned he such Service, till that day.

Thus as he led the Beast along the way,
He spy'd far off a mighty Giantess,
Fast flying on a Courser dapled grey,
From a bold Knight, that with great hardiness
Her hard pursu'd, and sought for to suppress:
She bore before her Lap a doleful Squire,
Lying athwart her Horse in great Distress,
Fast bounden Hand and Foot with Cords of Wire,
Whom she did mean to make the Thrall of her Desire.

Which when as Satyrane beheld, in haste
He left his captive Beast at liberty,
And crost the nearest way, by which he cast
Her to encounter, e'er she passed by;
But she the way shun'd nathemore for-thy,
But forward gallop'd fast; which when he spy'd,
His mighty Spear he couched warily,
And at her ran: She, having him descry'd,
Her self to fight address'd, and threw her Load aside.

Like as a Gos-hawk, that in foot doth bear
A trembling Culver, having spy'd on hight
An Eagle, that with plumy Wings doth shear
The subtle Air, stouping with all his might,
The Quarry throws to ground with fell despight,
And to the Battel doth her self prepare:
So ran the Giantess unto the fight;
Her fiery Eyes with furious Sparks did stare,
And with blasphemous Bannes high God in pieces tear.

She caught in hand a huge great iron Mace,
Wherewith she many had of Life depriv'd;
But e'er the stroke could seize his aimed place,
His Spear amids her sun-broad Shield arriv'd:
Yet nathemore the Steel asunder riv'd,
All were the Beam in bigness like a Mast,
Ne her out of the stedfast Saddle driv'd,
But glauncing on the tempred Metal, brast
In thousand Shivers, and so forth beside her past.

Her Steed did stagger with that puissant Stroke;
But she no more was moved with that might,
Than it had lighted on an aged Oak,
Or on the marble Pillar, that is pight
Upon the top of Mount Olympus hight,
For the brave youthly Champions to assay,
With burning Chariot-Wheels it nigh to smite:
But who that smites it, mars his joyous play;
And is the Spectacle of ruinous Decay.

Yet therewith sore enrag'd, with stern regard
Her dreadful Weapon she to him address'd,
Which on his Helmet martelled so hard,
That made him low incline his lofty Crest,
And bow'd his battred Visour to his Breast:
Wherewith he was so stun'd, that he no'te ride,
But reeled to and fro from East to West:
Which when his cruel Enemy espy'd,
She lightly unto him adjoined side to side:

And on his Collar laying puissant Hand,
Out of his wavering Seat him pluck'd perforce,
Perforce him pluck'd, unable to withstand,
Or help himself; and laying thwart her Horse,
In loathly wise like to a Carrion Corse,
She bore him fast away. Which when the Knight,
That her pursued, saw, with great Remorse
He ne'er was touched in his noble Spright,
And 'gan increase his Speed, as she increas'd her Flight.

Whom when as nigh approaching she espy'd,
She threw away her Burden angrily
For, she list not the Battle to abide,
But made her self more light away to fly:
Yet her the hardy Knight pursu'd so nigh,
That almost in the Back he oft her strake:
But still when him at hand she did espy,
She turn'd, and semblance of fair Fight did make;
But when he stay'd, to flight again she did her take.

By this, good Sir Satyrane 'gan awake
Out of his Dream, that did him long entraunce;
And seeing none in place, he 'gan to make
Exceeding moan, and curs'd that cruel chaunce,
Which reft him from so fair a chevisance:
At length he spy'd, whereas that woful Squire,
Whom he had rescued from captivance
Of his strong Foe, lay tombled in the Mire,
Unable to arise, or foot or hand to stire.

To whom approaching, well he mote perceive
In that foul Plight a comely Personage,
And lovely Face (made fit for to deceive
Frail Lady's Heart with Love's consuming Rage)
Now in the Blossom of his freshest Age:
He rear'd him up, and loos'd his iron Bands,
And after 'gan enquire his Parentage,
And how he fell into that Giant's hands,
And who that was, which chaced her along the Lands.

Then trembling yet through fear, the Squire bespake;
That Giantess Argante is behight,
A Daughter of the Titans which did make
War against Heaven, and heaped Hills on hight,
To scale the Skies, and put Jove from his right:
Her Sire Typhoeus was, who (mad through Mirth,
And drunk with Blood of Men, slain by his might)
Through Incest, her of his own Mother Earth
Whilom begot, being but half Twin of that Birth.

For, at that Birth another Babe she bore,
To weet, the mighty Ollyphant, that wrought
Great Wreak to many errant Knights of yore,
And many hath to foul Confusion brought.
These Twins, Men say, (a thing far passing thought)
Whiles in their Mother's Womb enclos'd they were,
E'er they into the lightsom World were brought,
In fleshly Lust were mingled both yfere.
And in that monstrous wise did to the World appear.

So liv'd they ever after in like Sin,
'Gainst Nature's Law, and good Behaviour:
But greatest Shame was to that Maiden Twin,
Who not content so foully to devour
Her native flesh, and strain her Brother's Bower,
Did wallow in all other fleshly Mire,
And suffred Beasts her Body to deflower:
So hot she burned in that lustful fire;
Yet all that might not slake her sensual Desire.

But over all the Country she did range,
To seek young Men, to quench her flaming Thirst,
And feed her Fancy with delightful change:
Whom-so she fittest finds to serve her Lust,
Through her main Strength, in which she most doth trust,
She with her brings into a secret Isle,
Where in eternal Bondage die he must,
Or be the Vassal of her Pleasures vile,
And in all shameful sort himself with her defile.

Me silly Wretch she so at 'vantage caught,
After she long in wait for me did lie,
And meant unto her Prison to have brought,
Her loathsom Pleasure there to satisfy;
That thousand Deaths me liefer were to die,
Than break the Vow, that to fair Columbel
I plighted have, and yet keep stedfastly:
As for my Name, it mistreth not to tell;
Call me the Squire of Dames: that me beseemeth well.

But that bold Knight, whom ye pursuing saw
That Giantess, is not such, as she seem'd,
But a fair Virgin, that in martial Law,
And Deeds of Arms above all Dames is deem'd,
And above many Knights is eke esteem'd,
For her great Worth; she Palladine is hight:
She you from Death, you me from Dread redeem'd.
Ne any may that Monster match in right,
But she, or such as she, that is so chaste a Wight.

Her well beseems that Quest, quoth Satyrane:
But read, thou Squire of Dames, what Vow is this,
Which thou upon thy self has lately ta'en?
That shall I you recount (quoth he) ywis,
So be ye pleas'd to pardon all amiss.
That gentle Lady, whom I love and serve,
After long Suit and weary Services,
Did ask me, how I could her Love deserve,
And how she might be sure, that I would never swerve.

I, glad by any means her Grace to gain,
Bade her commaund my Life to save, or spill:
Eftsoons she bade me, with incessant Pain
To wander thro the World abroad at will,
And every where where with my Power or Skill
I might do service unto gentle Dames,
That I the same should faithfully fulfil,
And at the Twelvemonth's end should bring their Names
And Pledges, as the Spoils of my victorious Games.

So well I to fair Ladies Service did,
And found such Favour in their loving Hearts,
That e'er the Year his Course had compassed,
Three hundred Pledges for my good Deserts,
And thrice three hundred Thanks for my good Parts
I with me brought, and did to her present:
Which when she saw, more bent to eke my Smarts,
Than to reward my trusty true Intent,
She 'gan for me devise a grievous Punishment.

To weet, that I my Travel should resume,
And with like Labour walk the World around,
Ne ever to her Presence should presume,
Till I so many other Dames had found.
The which, for all the Suit I could propound,
Would me refuse their Pledges to afford,
But did abide for ever chaste and sound.
Ah! gentle Squire, quoth he, tell at one word,
How many found'st thou such to put in thy Record?

Indeed Sir Knight, said he, one word may tell
All; that I ever found so wisely stay'd,
For only three they were dispos'd so well:
And yet three Years I now abroad have stray'd,
To find them out. Mote I (then laughing said
The Knight) inquire of thee, what were those three,
The which thy proffer'd Courtesy denay'd?
Or ill they seemed sure aviz'd to be,
Or brutishly brought up, that ne'er did Fashions see.

The first which then refused me, said he,
Certes was but a common Courtisane,
Yet flat refus'd to have a-do with me,
Because I could not give her many a Jane:
(Thereat full heartily laugh'd Satyrane.)
The second was an holy Nun to chose,
Which would not let me be her Chapellane,
Because she knew, she said, I would disclose
Her Counsel, if she should her Trust in me repose.

The third a Damsel was of low Degree,
Whom I in country Cottage found by chance;
Full little weened I, that Chastity
Had Lodging in so mean a Maintenance;
Yet was she fair, and in her Countenance
Dwelt simple Truth in seemly Fashion.
Long thus I woo'd her with due Observance,
In hope unto my Pleasure to have won;
But was as far at last, as when I first begun.

Save her, I never any Woman found,
That Chastity did for it self embrace,
But were for other Causes firm and sound;
Either for want of handsome Time and Place,
Or else for fear of Shame and foul Disgrace.
Thus am I hopeless ever to attain
My Lady's Love in such a desperate case,
But all my Days am like to waste in vain,
Seeking to match the chaste with th' unchaste Lady's Train.

Perdy, said Satyrane, thou Squire of Dames,
Great labour fondly hast thou hent in hand,
To get small thanks, and therewith many blames:
That may among Alcides' Labours stand.
Thence back returning to the former Land,
Where late he left the Beast he overcame,
He found him not; for, he had broke his Band,
And was return'd again unto his Dame,
To tell what Tidings of fair Florimel became.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:458-73]

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