Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto XII.

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

Edmund Spenser

George L. Craik: "Canto XII. (87 stanzas). — The course of the story now returns to Guyon, whose crowning adventure is at hand. 'Two days now in that sea he sailed has, | Ne ever land beheld, ne living wight, | Ne ought save peril, still as he did pass'.... The boatman tells the Palmer, who is steering, to keep an even course; for they are approaching the Gulf of Greediness, on the other side of which is a rock of magnet, called the Rock of Reproach, which attracts to it those who strive to avoid the gulf, so that it is barely possible to escape both. They pass, however, in safety.... After a time, seeing far off a number of islands floating among the floods, the knight calls out 'land;' but the ferryman informs him that these are the Wandering Islands, which, fair and fruitful as they appear, must be shunned by all who would escape the worst of dangers.... This turns out to be the wanton Phaedria, who had lately ferried Guyon over the Idle Lake. She first calls to them, and then puts out in her boat in pursuit of them; nor is she got rid of till the Palmer has given her a sharp rebuke.

"The wary boatman now again exhorts the Palmer to 'keep an even hand;' for they are approaching the quicksands of Unthriftihead, and the perilous pool opposite to it, called the Whirlpool of Decay. They see a richly laden ship wrecked upon the quicksand; but their own boat is again urged past both dangers. No sooner, however, have they made this new escape than all three are filled with surprise and dismay at seeing the sea suddenly rise into mountains without any apparent natural cause.... At the same time monsters of all 'ugly shapes and horrible aspects,' 'Such as Dame Nature self might fear to see,' gather around them.... The Palmer, however, tells his companions to fear nothing; these monsters are only phantoms, or shapes raised to work them dread by the wicked witch whose dominion they are on their way to overthrow; and smiting the sea with his staff he makes them all fly away and vanish.

"They are next assailed by the rueful cry of 'a seemly maiden' sitting by the shore of an island; but by the Palmer's advice they turn a deaf ear also to this appeal, which he informs them is only a piece of 'womanish fine forgery,' by no means requiring any attention. And now they come to a place of which the boatman had warned them long before — a perilous passage, 'where many mermaids haunt, making false melodies'.... The Palmer persuades them, however, to pass on; and now at last they descry the land whither they are bound. At first they are perplexed by a black fog in which it is enveloped; and then all of a sudden an immeasurable flight of fowls come fluttering about them and smiting them with their wicked wings.... Still they move forward, till at last the weather clears up and the land is plainly seen. Leaving the other by his boat, Guyon and the Palmer step ashore, and march boldly on. A multitude of wild beasts, whose hideous bellowing had announced them before they appeared, are silenced and made to tremble by the uplifting of the Palmer's mighty staff....

"And now they are arrived at the spot where stands the home and sovereign seat of the enchantress — the Bower of Bliss.... The fence that surrounds it is weak and thin for it is not Force, but Wisdom and Temperance, that its inmates fear. The gate, too, is rather for ornament than for strength.... In the porch sits 'a comely personage of stature tall,' his loose garment flowing about his heels: — 'They in that place him Genius did call'.... This, on the contrary, is the foe of life. Yet he has the government of the garden, as Pleasure's porter; he holds a staff in his hand, and flowers are scattered all around him; and, as Guyon enters, he offers him, as he is accustomed to do to all new-comers, a mighty mazer (or maple) bowl filled with wine, which always stands by his side. Guyon, however, scornfully throws down his bowl, and breaks his staff.

"Then the Knight and the Palmer enter the garden, which they find to he a spacious plain.... Wondering much, but suffering no delight to make his senses captive, Guyon goes forward till he comes to another gate, or rather semblance of a gate, 'being goodly dight | With boughs and branches, which did broad dilate | Their clasping arms in wanton wreathings intricate'.... Under the porch sits a comely dame, clad in fair weeds, but with all her garments loose and in disorder. 'In her left hand a cup of gold she held, | And with her right the riper fruit did reach'.... As she is used to do to all strangers, she offers her cup to Guyon, who, 'taking it out of her tender hand,' dashes it on the ground. Excess — such is the fair lady's name — is exceedingly wroth; but, not heeding her, he passes on. 'There the most dainty paradise on ground | Itself doth offer to his sober eye, | In which all pleasures plenteously abound'....

"For a few moments Guyon is somewhat agitated by the sight, painted by the poet only in too warm and lifelike colours, which he chances to see as he passes near this fountain [Professor Craik omits mention of what the fountain contained]; but the Palmer rebukes 'those wandering eyes of his,' and draws him forward, telling him that now they are at the end of their travail, close upon the very Bower of Bliss, where Acrasia wons....

"There, whence the music seems to come, sits the fair witch, with the last lover her sorcery has drawn to her slumbering in the shade beside her, while with fixed eyes she gazes on his features, or, often leaning down, lightly kisses his lips and eyelids.... But neither the words nor the music have power to detain the knight and his friend, who, creeping on silently 'through many covert groves and thickets close,' at last come upon the witch, laid upon a bed of roses, with the head of her sleeping lover in her lap. She is described as — 'arrayed, or rather disarrayed, | All in a veil of silk and silver thin, | That hid no whit her alabaster skin'.... Her snowy breast was bare; and — 'her fair eyes, sweet smiling in delight, | Moistened their fiery beams, with which she thrilled | Frail hearts, yet quenched not; like starry light, | Which, sparkling on the silent waves, does seem more bright.' The young man beside her, we are told, seemed to be some goodly swain of honourable place:' 'A sweet regard and amiable grace, | Mixed with manly sternness, did appear, | Yet sleeping, in his well-proportioned face.'

"Rushing upon them before they are perceived, Guyon and the Palmer throw over them a subtle net which the latter has framed for the purpose; both strive to escape, but in vain; they are both taken and bound, she in chains of adamant, 'for nothing else might keep her safe and sound.' All the rest meanwhile have fled. Verdant, for so the youth is called, is soon released, and counsel sage given him instead of bonds; but all those pleasant bowers, that brave palace, the groves, the gardens, the arbours, the banqueting houses, Guyon without pity breaks down, defaces, and burns, till what was lately the fairest is now the foulest place.

"Finally he and the Palmer proceed with their captives to where they had been attacked on their way by the wild beasts; and now the Palmer explains that these are the former lovers of the enchantress, transformed by her, as she had got tired of them one after another, from men into brutes. At the Knight's request he restores them all to their proper shape by a stroke of his virtuous staff; but hardly any of them seem much to enjoy the change; and one especially, called Gryll, who had been a hog, is exceedingly vexed and angry at being deprived of his bestial character. There are some, the Palmer observes, who, human in shape, are beasts in everything else; 'Let Gryll be Gryll, and have his hoggish mind: | But let us hence depart whilst weather serves and wind'" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 1:241-52.

Guyon by Palmer's Governance,
Passing through Perils great,
Doth overcome the Bower of Bliss,
And Acrasie defeat.

Now 'gins this goodly Frame of Temperance
Fairly to rise, and her adorned Head
To prick of highest Praise forth to advance,
Formerly grounded, and fast setteled
On firm Foundation of true Bountihed;
And this brave Knight, that for this Virtue fights,
Now comes to point of that same perilous Sted,
Where Pleasure dwells in sensual Delights,
'Mongst thousand Dangers, and ten thousand magick Mights.

Two days now in that Sea he sailed has,
Ne ever Land beheld, ne living Wight,
Ne ought save Peril, still as he did pass:
Tho, when appear'd the third Morrow bright
Upon the Waves to spred her trembling light,
An hideous roaring far away they heard,
That all their Senses filled with affright,
And straight they saw the raging Surges rear'd
Up to the Skies, that them of drowning made affear'd.

Said then the Boatman, Palmer steer aright,
And keep an even Course; for yonder way
We needs must pass (God do us well acquight:)
That is the Gulf of Greediness, they say,
That deep engorgeth all this Worldes prey:
Which having swallow'd up excessively,
He soon in Vomit up again doth lay,
And belcheth forth his superfluity,
That all the Seas for fear do seem away to fly.

On th' other side an hideous Rock is pight,
Of mighty Magnes' Stone, whose craggy Clift
Depending from on high, dreadful to sight,
Over the Waves his rugged Arms doth lift,
And threatneth down to throw his ragged Rift
On whoso cometh nigh; yet nigh it draws
All Passengers, that none from it can shift:
For whiles they fly that Gulf's devouring Jaws,
They on this Rock are rent, and sunk in helpless Waves.

Forward they pass, and strongly he them rows,
Until they nigh unto that Gulf arrive,
Where Stream more violent and greedy grows:
Then he with all his Puissaunce doth strive
To strike his Oars, and mightily doth drive
The hollow Vessel through the threatful Wave;
Which gaping wide, to swallow them alive
In th' huge Abyss of his engulfing Grave,
Doth roar at them in vain, and with great Terror rave.

They passing by, that griesly Mouth did see,
Sucking the Seas into his Entrails deep,
That seem'd more horrible than Hell to be,
Or that dark dreadful Hole of Tartare steep,
Through which the damned Ghosts doen often creep
Back to the World, bad Livers to torment:
But nought that falls into this direful Deep,
Ne that approacheth nigh the wide Descent,
May back return, but is condemned to be drent.
On th' other side, they saw that perilous Rock
Threatning it self on them to ruinate,
On whose sharp Clifts the Ribs of Vessels broke,
And shiver'd Ships, which had been wrecked late,
Yet stuck, with Carcasses exanimate
Of such, as having all their Substance spent
In wanton Joys, and Lusts intemperate,
Did afterwards make Shipwreck violent
Both of their Life and Fame, for ever foully blent.

For-thy, this hight The Rock of vile Reproach,
A dangerous and detestable Place,
To which nor Fish nor Fowl did once approach,
But yelling Meaws, with Sea-gulls hoarse and base,
And Cormorants, with Birds of ravenous Race;
Which still sat waiting on that wasteful Clift,
For Spoil of Wretches, whose unhappy case,
After lost Credit and consumed Thrift,
At last them driven hath to this despairful Drift.

The Palmer, seeing them in safety past,
Thus said: Behold th' Ensamples in our sights
Of lustful Luxury, and thriftless waste:
What now is left of miserable Wights,
Which spent their looser Days in leud Delights,
But Shame and sad Reproach, here to be red,
By these rent Reliques, speaking their ill Plights?
Let all that live, hereby be counselled
To shun Rock of Reproach, and it as Death to dread.

So forth they rowed, and that Ferry-man
With his stiff Oars did brush the Sea so strong,
That the hoar Waters from his Frigate ran,
And the light Bubbles daunced all along,
Whiles the salt Brine out of the Billows sprong.
At last, far off they many Islands spy,
On every side floating the Floods emong:
Then said the Knight; Lo! I the Land descry;
Therefore, old Sire, thy Course do thereunto apply.

That may not be, said then the Ferry-man,
Lest we unweeting hap to be fordone:
For those same islands, seeming now and then,
Are not firm Land, nor any certain Won,
But straggling Plots, which to and fro do ron
In the wide Waters: therefore are they hight
The wandring Islands. Therefore do them shon;
For they have oft drawn many a wandring Wight
Into most deadly Danger and distressed Plight.

Yet well they seem to him, that far doth view,
Both fair and fruitful, and the Ground disspred
With grassy green of delectable Hue;
And the tall Trees with Leaves apparelled,
Are deck'd with Blossoms dy'd in white and red,
That mote the Passengers thereto allure:
But whosoever once hath fastened
His foot thereon, may never it recure,
But wandreth evermore uncertain and unsure.

As th' Isle of Delos whilom Men report
Amid th' Aegean Sea long time did stray,
Ne made for Shipping any certain Port,
Till that Latona travelling that way,
Flying from Juno's Wrath and hard Assay,
Of her fair Twins was there delivered,
Which afterwards did rule the Night and Day;
Thenceforth it firmly was established,
And for Apollo's Honour highly herried.

They to him hearken, as beseemeth meet,
And pass on forward: so their way does lie,
That one of those same Islands which do fleet
In the wide Sea, they needs must passen by,
Which seem'd so sweet and pleasant to the Eye,
That it would tempt a Man to touchen there;
Upon the Bank they sitting did espy
A dainty Damzel, dressing of her Hair,
By whom a little Skippet floating did appear.

She, them espying, loud to them 'gan call,
Bidding them nigher draw unto the Shore;
For she had cause to busy them withal:
And therewith loudly laugh'd. But nathemore
Would they once turn, but kept on as afore:
Which when she saw, she left her Locks undight,
And running to her Boat withouten Oar,
From the departing Land it launched light,
And after them did drive with all her Power and Might.

Whom overtaking, she in merry sort
Them 'gan to board, and purpose diversly,
Now feigning Dalliance and wanton Sport,
Now throwing forth leud words immodestly;
Till that the Palmer 'gan full bitterly
Her to rebuke, for being loose and light:
Which not abiding, but more scornfully
Scoffing at him, that did her justly wite,
She turn'd her Boat about, and from them rowed quite.

That was the wanton Phaedria, which late
Did ferry him over the Idle Lake:
Whom nought regarding, they kept on their Gate,
And all her vain Allurements did forsake,
When them the wary Boatman thus bespake:
Here now behoveth us well to avise,
And of our Safety good heed to take;
For here before a perlous Passage lies,
Where many Mermaids haunt, making false Melodies.

But by the way, there is a great Quick-sand,
And a Whirlpool of hidden Jeopardy:
Therefore, Sir Palmer, keep an even hand;
For 'twixt them both the narrow way doth lie.
Scarce had he said, when hard at hand they spy
That Quick-sand nigh, with Water covered;
But by the checked Wave they did descry
It plain, and by the Sea discoloured:
It called was the Quick-sand of Unthrifty-head.

They, passing by, a goodly Ship did see,
Laden from far with precious Merchandize,
And bravely furnished, as Ship might be,
Which through great disaventure, or misprize,
Her self had run into that hazardize;
Whose Mariners and Merchants with much Toil,
Labour'd in vain to have recur'd their Prize,
And the rich Wares to save from piteous spoil:
But neither Toil nor Travail might her back recoil.

On th' other side they see that perilous Pool,
That called was the Whirlpool of Decay,
In which full many had with hapless Dool
Been sunk, of whom no Memory did stay:
Whose circled Waters wrap'd with whirling sway,
Like to a restless Wheel, still running round,
Did covet, as they passed by that way,
To draw the Boat within the utmost bound
Of his wide Labyrinth, and then to have them dround.

But th' heedful Boatman strongly forth did stretch
His brawny Arms, and all his Body strain,
That th' utmost fancy Breach they shortly fetch,
Whiles the dread Danger does behind remain;
Suddain they see, from midst of all the Main,
The surging Waters like a Mountain rise,
And the great Sea puff'd up with proud Disdain,
To swell above the measure of his guise,
As threatning to devour all, that his Power despise.

The Waves come rolling, and the Billows roar
Outrageously, as they enraged were;
Or wrathful Neptune did them drive before
His whirling Charet, for exceeding fear:
For, not one puff of Wind there did appear,
That all the three thereat wox much affraid,
Unweeting what such Horror strange did rear.
Eftsoons they saw an hideous Host array'd
Of huge Sea-monsters, such as living Sense dismay'd.

Most ugly Shapes, and horrible Aspects,
Such as Dame Nature's self mote fear to see,
Or Shame, that ever should so foul Defects
From her most cunning Hand escaped be;
All dreadful Pourtraicts of Deformity:
Spring-headed Hydraes, and Sea-shouldring Whales,
Great Whirlpools, which all Fishes make to flee,
Bright Scolopendraes, arm'd with silver Scales,
Mighty Monoceros, with immeasured Tails.

The dreadful Fish, that hath deserv'd the name
Of Death, and like him looks in dreadful Hue;
The griesly Wasserman, that makes his Game
The flying Ships with swiftness to pursue;
The horrible Sea-satyr, that doth shew
His fearful face in time of greatest Storm;
Huge Ziffius, whom Mariners eschew
No less than Rocks (as Travellers inform)
And greedy Rosemarines with Visages deform:

All these, and thousand thousands many more,
And more deformed Monsters thousand fold,
With dreadful Noise, and hollow rombling Roar,
Came rushing in the foamy Waves enroll'd,
Which seem'd to fly for fear, them to behold:
Ne wonder, if these did the Knight appall;
For, all that here on Earth we dreadful hold,
Be but as Bugs to fearen Babes withal,
Compared to the Creatures in the Seas Entral.

Fear nought, then said the Palmer well aviz'd;
For, these same Monsters are not these in deed,
But are into these fearful Shapes disguiz'd
By that same wicked Witch, to work us dreed,
And draw from on this Journey to proceed.
Tho, lifting up his virtuous Staff on high,
He smote the Sea, which calmed was with speed,
And all that dreadful Army fast 'gan fly
Into great Thetys' Bosom, where they hidden lie.

Quit from that Danger, forth their Course they kept;
And as they went they heard a rueful Cry
Of one, that wail'd and pitifully wept,
That through the Sea resounding Plaints did fly:
At last they in an Island did espy
A seemly Maiden, sitting by the Shore,
That with great Sorrow, and sad Agony,
Seemed some great Misfortune to deplore,
And lou'd to them for Succour called evermore.

Which Guyon hearing, straight his Palmer bade
To steer the Boat towards that doleful Maid,
That he might know, and ease her Sorrow sad;
Who him avizing better, to him said;
Fair Sir, be not displeas'd, if disobey'd:
For ill it were to hearken to her Cry;
For she is inly nothing ill appay'd,
But only Womanish fine Forgery,
Your stubborn Heart t' affect with frail Infirmity.

To which when she your Courage hath inclin'd
Through foolish Pity, then her guileful Bait
She will embosom deeper in your Mind,
And for your Ruin at the last await.
The Knight was ruled, and the Boatman straight
Held on his Course with stayed Stedfastness,
Ne ever shrunk, ne ever sought to bait
His tired Arms for toilsom Weariness,
But with his Oars did sweep the watry Wilderness.

And now they nigh approached to the sted,
Where as those Mermaids dwelt: it was a still
And calmy Bay, on th' one side sheltered,
With the broad Shadow of an hoary Hill,
On th' other side an high Rock toured still,
That 'twixt them both a pleasant Port they made
And did like an half Theatre fulfil:
There those five Sisters had continual Trade,
And us'd to bathe themselves in that deceitful Shade.

They were fair Ladies, till they fondly striv'd
With th' Heliconian Maids for maistery;
Of whom they overcomen were, depriv'd
Of their proud Beauty, and th' one Moiety
Transform'd to Fish, for their bold Surquedry:
But th' upper half their Hue retained still,
And their sweet Skill in wonted Melody;
Which ever after they abus'd to ill,
T' allure weak Travellers, whom gotten they did kill.

So now to Guyon, as he passed by,
Their pleasant Tunes they sweetly thus apply'd;
O thou fair Son of gentle Fairy,
That art in mighty Arms most magnify'd
Above all Knights, that ever Battel try'd,
O turn thy Rudder hitherward awhile:
Here may thy storm-bet Vessel safely ride;
This is the Port of Rest from troublous Toil,
The World's sweet Inn, from Pain and wearisom Turmoil.

With that, the rolling Sea resounding soft,
In his big Base them fitly answered,
And on the Rock the Waves breaking aloft,
A solemn Mean unto them measured;
The whiles sweet Zephyrus loud whisteled
His Treble, a strange kind of Harmony;
Which Guyon's Senses softly tickeled,
That he the Boatman bad row easily,
And let him hear some part of their rare Melody.

But him that Palmer from that Vanity,
With temperate Advice discounselled,
That they it past, and shortly 'gan descry
The Land, to which their Course they levelled;
When suddenly a gross Fog over-spred
With his dull Vapour all that Desert has,
And Heaven's chearful Face enveloped,
That all things one, and one as nothing was,
And this great Universe seem'd one confused Mass.

Thereat they greatly were dismay'd; ne wist
How to direct their way in Darkness wide,
But fear'd to wander in that wastful Mist,
For tombling into Mischief unespy'd:
Worse is the Danger hidden, than descry'd.
Suddenly an innumerable Flight
Of harmful Fowls, about them fluttering, cry'd,
And with their wicked Wings them oft did smite,
And sore annoyed, groping in that griesly Night.

Even all the Nation of unfortunate
And fatal Birds about them flocked were,
Such as by nature Men abhor and hate;
The ill-fac'd Owl, Death's dreadful Messenger,
The hoarse Night-Raven, Trump of doleful Drere,
The Leather-winged Bat, Day's Enemy,
The rueful Strich, still waiting on the Bier,
The Whistler shrill, that whoso hears, doth die;
The hellish Harpies, Prophets of sad Destiny.

All those, and all that else does Horror breed,
About them flew, and fill'd their Sails with fear:
Yet stay'd they not, but forward did proceed,
Whiles th' one did row, and th' other stifly steer;
Till that at last the Weather 'gan to clear,
And the fair Land it self did plainly show.
Said then the Palmer; Lo! where does appear
The sacred Soil, where all our Perils grow!
Therefore, Sir Knight, your ready Arms about you throw.

He hearkned, and his Arms about him took,
The whiles the nimble Boat so well her sped,
That with her crooked Keel the Land she strook:
Then forth the noble Guyon sallied,
And his sage Palmer, that him governed;
But that other by his Boat behind did stay.
They marched fairly forth, of nought ydred,
Both firmly arm'd for every hard Assay,
With Constancy and Care, 'gainst Danger and Dismay.

Ere long they heard an hideous Bellowing,
Of many Beasts, that roar'd outrageously,
As if that Hunger's Point, or Venus' Sting,
Had them enraged with fell Surquedry;
Yet nought they fear'd, but past on hardily,
Until they came in view of those wild Beasts:
Who all at once, gaping full greedily,
And rearing fiercely their upstarting Crests,
Ran towards, to devour those unexpected Guests.

But soon as they approach'd, with deadly Threat,
The Palmer over them his Staff upheld,
His mighty Staff, that could all Charms defeat:
Eftsoons their stubborn Courages were quell'd,
And high advaunced Crests down meekly fell'd:
Instead of fraying, they themselves did fear,
And trembled; as them passing they beheld:
Such wondrous Power did in that Staff appear,
All Monsters to subdue to him that did it bear!

Of that same Wood it fram'd was cunningly
Of which Caduceus whilom was made;
Caduceus, the Rod of Mercury,
With which he wonts the Stygian Realms invade,
Through ghastly Horror, and eternal Shade:
Th' infernal Fiends with it he can assuage,
And Orcus tame, whom nothing can persuade,
And rule the Furies, when they most do rage:
Such Virtue in his Staff had eke this Palmer sage.

Thence passing forth, they shortly do arrive,
Whereas the Bower of Bliss was situate;
A place pick'd out by choice of best alive,
That Nature's Work by Art can imitate:
In which what-ever in this worldly State
Is sweet, and pleasing unto living Sense,
Or that may daintiest Fantasy aggrate,
Was poured forth with plentiful dispense,
And made there to abound with lavish Affluence.

Goodly it was enclosed round about,
As well their entred Guests to keep within,
As those unruly Beasts to hold without;
Yet was the Fence thereof but weak and thin:
Nought fear'd their Force, that Fortilage to win,
But Wisdom's Power, and Temperance's Might,
By which the mightiest things efforced bin:
And eke the Gate was wrought of Substance light,
Rather for Pleasure, than for Battery or Fight.

It framed was of precious Ivory,
That seem'd a Work of admirable Wit;
And therein all the famous History
Of Jason and Medaea was ywrit;
Her mighty Charms, her furious loving Fit,
His goodly Conquest of the golden Fleece,
His falsed Faith, and Love too lightly flit,
The wondred Argo, which in vent'rous Peece
First through the Euxine Seas bore all the Flow'r of Greece.

Ye might have seen the frothy Billows fry
Under the Ship, as thorough them she went,
That seem'd the Waves were into Ivory,
Or Ivory into the Waves were sent;
And otherwhere the snowy Substance sprent,
With Vermil like the Boy's Blood therein shed,
A piteous Spectacle did represent,
And otherwhiles with Gold besprinkeled;
It seem'd th' enchaunted Flame, which did Creusa wed.

All this, and more might in that goodly Gate
Be read; that ever open stood to all,
Which thither came; but in the Porch there sate
A comely Personage of Stature tall,
And semblaunce pleasing, more than natural,
That Travellers to him seem'd to entise;
His looser Garment to the ground did fall,
And flew about his Heels in wanton wise,
Not fit for speedy Pace, or manly Exercise.

They in that place him Genius did call:
Not that celestial Power, to whom the Care
Of Life, and Generation of all
That lives, pertains, in charge particular;
Who wondrous things concerning our Welfare,
And strange Phantoms doth let us oft foresee,
And oft of secret Ill bids us beware:
That is our Self; who though we do not see,
Yet each doth in himself it well perceive to be.

Therefore a God him sage Antiquity
Did wisely make, and good Agdistes call:
But this same was to that quite contrary,
The Foe of Life, that Good envies to all,
That secretly doth us procure to fall,
Through guileful Semblaunts, which he makes us see.
He of this Garden had the governall,
And Pleasure's Porter was deviz'd to be,
Holding a staff in hand for more Formality.

With divers Flowers he daintily was deck'd,
And strowed round about; and by his side
A mighty Mazer Bowl of Wine was set,
As if it had to him been sacrifi'd;
Wherewith all new-come Guests he gratify'd.
So did he eke Sir Guyon passing by:
But he his idle Courtesy defy'd,
And overthrew his Bowl disdainfully:
And broke his Staff, with which he charmed Semblants fly.

Thus being entred, they behold around
A large and spacious Plain, on every side
Strowed with pleasance, whose fair grassy Ground
Mantled with green, and goodly beautify'd
With all the Ornaments of Flora's Pride,
Wherewith her Mother Art, as half in scorn
Of niggard Nature, like a pompous Bride
Did deck her, and too lavishly adorn,
When forth from Virgin Bower she comes in th' early Morn.

Thereto the Heavens, always jovial,
Look'd on them lovely, still in stedfast State,
Ne suffred Storm nor Frost on them to fall,
Their tender Buds or Leaves to violate,
Nor scorching Heat, nor Cold intemperate
T' afflict the Creatures, which therein did dwell;
But the mild Air with Season moderate
Gently attempred, and dispos'd so well
That still it breathed forth sweet Spirit and wholesom Smell.

More sweet and wholsom, than the pleasant Hill
Of Rhodope, on which the Nymph that bore
A Giant Babe, her self for Grief did kill;
Or the Thessalian Tempe, where of yore
Fair Daphne, Phoebus' Heart with Love did gore;
Or Ida, where the Gods lov'd to repair,
When-ever they their heavenly Bowers forlore;
Or sweet Parnasse, the Haunt of Muses fair;
Or Eden, if that ought with Eden mote compare.

Much wondred Guyon at the fair Aspect
Of that sweet Place, yet suffred no Delight
To sink into his Sense, nor Mind affect,
But passeth forth, and look'd still forward right,
Bridling his Will, and maistering his Might:
Till that he came unto another Gate,
No Gate, but like one, being goodly dight
With Boughs and Branches, which did broad dilate
Their clasping Arms, in wanton Wreathings intricate.

So fashioned a Porch with rare device,
Arch'd over head with an embracing Vine,
Whose Bunches hanging down, seem'd to entice
All passers by, to taste their lushious Wine,
And did themselves into their Hands incline,
As freely offering to be gathered:
Some deep empurpled as the Hyacint,
Some as the Rubin, laughing sweetly red,
Some like fair Emeraudes, not yet well ripened.

And them amongst, some were of burnish'd Gold,
So made by Art, to beautify the rest,
Which did themselves emongst the Leaves enfold,
As lurking from the view of covetous Guest,
That the weak Boughs, with so rich load oppress'd,
Did bow adown, as over-burdened.
Under that Porch a comely Dame did rest,
Clad in fair Weeds, but foul disordered,
And Garments loose, that seem'd unmeet for Womanhed.

In her left Hand a Cup of Gold she held,
And with her Right the riper Fruit did reach,
Whose sappy Liquor that with fulness swell'd,
Into her Cup she scruz'd, with dainty breach
Of her fine Fingers, without foul empeach,
That so fair Wine-press made the Wine more sweet,
Thereof she us'd to give to drink to each,
Whom passing by she happened to meet;
It was her Guise, all Strangers goodly so to greet.

So she to Guyon offred it to taste;
Who taking it out of her tender Hond,
The Cup to ground did violently cast,
That all in pieces it was broken fond,
And with the Liquor stained all the Lond:
Whereat Excess exceedingly was wroth,
Yet no'te the same amend, ne yet withstond,
But suffred him to pass, all were she loth;
Who, not regarding her Displeasure, forward go'th.

There the most dainty Paradise on Ground,
It self doth offer to his sober Eye,
In which all Pleasures plenteously abound,
And none does other's Happiness envy:
The painted Flowers, the Trees upshooting high,
The Dales for Shade, the Hills for breathing space,
The trembling, Groves, the Crystal running by;
And that, which all fair Works doth most aggrace,
The Art, which all that wrought, appeared in no place.

One would have thought (so cunningly the rude
And scorned Parts were mingled with the fine)
That Nature had for Wantonness ensu'd
Art, and that Art at Nature did repine;
So striving each th' other to undermine,
Each did the other's Work more beautify;
So differing both in Wills, agreed in fine;
So all agreed through sweet Diversity,
This Garden to adorn with all variety.

And in the midst of all, a Fountain stood,
Of richest Substance that on Earth might be,
So pure and shiny, that the silver Flood
Through every Channel running one might see;
Most goodly it with pure Imagery
Was over-wrought, and shapes of naked Boys,
Of which some seem'd with lively Jollity
To fly about, playing their wanton Toys,
Whilst others did themselves embay in liquid Joys.

And over all, of purest Gold was spred
A Trail of Ivy in his native Hue;
For, the rich Metal was so coloured,
That Wight, who did well it view,
Would surely deem it to be Ivy true:
Low his lascivious Arms adown did creep,
That themselves dipping in the silver Dew,
Their fleecy Flowers they tenderly did steep,
Which drops of Crystal seem'd for Wantonness to weep.

Infinite Streams continually did well
Out of this Fountain,sweet and fair to see,
The which into an ample Laver fell,
And shortly grew to so great Quantity,
That like a little Lake it seem'd to be;
Whose Depth exceeded not three Cubits height,
That through the Waves one might the Bottom see,
All pav'd beneath with Jasper shining bright,
That seem'd the fountain in that Sea did sail upright.

And all the Margent round about was set
With shady Laurel Trees, thence to defend
The sunny Beams, which on the Billows bet,
And those which therein bathed, mote offend.
As Guyon hapned by the same to wend,
Two naked Damsels he therein espy'd,
Which therein bathing, seemed to contend,
And wrestle wantonly, ne car'd to hide
Their dainty Parts from view of any which them ey'd.

Sometimes, the one would lift the other quite
Above the Waters, and then down again
Her plonge, as over-maistered by Might,
Where both awhile would covered remain,
And each the other from to rise restrain;
The whiles their snowy Limbs, as through a Veil,
So through the Crystal Waves appeared plain;
Then suddenly both would themselves unhele,
And th' amorous sweet Spoils to greedy Eyes reveal.

As that fair Star, the Messenger of Morn,
His dewy Face out of the Sea doth rear;
Or as the Cyprian Goddess, newly born
Of th' Ocean's fruitful Froth, did first appear:
Such seemed they, and so their yellow Hair
Crystalline Humour dropped down apace.
Whom such when Guyon saw, he drew him near,
And some-what 'gan relent his earnest pace;
His stubborn Breast 'gan secret Pleasance to embrace.

The wanton Maidens him espying, stood
Gazing awhile at his unwonted Guise;
Then th' one her self low ducked in the Flood,
Abash'd, that her a Stranger did avise:
But th' other, rather higher did arise,
And her two lilly Paps aloft display'd,
And all that might his melting Heart entise
To her Delights, she unto him bewray'd;
The rest hid underneath, him more desirous made.

With that, the other likewise up arose,
And her fair Locks, which formerly were bound
Up in one Knot, she low adown did loose:
Which, flowing long and thick, her cloth'd around,
And th' Ivory in golden Mantle Gound;
So that fair Spectacle from him was reft,
Yet that which reft it, no less fair was found:
So hid in Locks and Waves from Looker's Theft,
Nought but her lovely Face she for his looking left.

Withal she laughed, and she blush'd withal,
That Blushing to her Laughter gave more grace,
And Laughter to her Blushing, as did fall.
Now when they spy'd the Knight to slack his pace,
Them to behold, and in his sparkling Face
The secret signs of kindled Lust appear,
Their wanton Merriments they did encrease,
And to him beckned, to approach more near,
And shew'd him many sights, that Courage cold could rear.

On which, when gazing him the Palmer saw,
He much rebuk'd those wandring Eyes of his,
And (counsel'd well) him forward thence did draw.
Now are they come nigh to the Bower of Bliss,
Of her fond Favourites so nam'd amiss:
When thus the Palmer; Now, Sir, well avise;
For, here the end of all our Travel is:
Here wons Acrasia, whom we must surprise,
Else she will slip away, and all our Drift despise.

Eftsoons they heard a most melodious Sound,
Of all that mote delight a dainty Ear,
Such as at once might not on living ground,
Save in this Paradise, be heard elsewhere:
Right hard it was for Wight which did it hear,
To read what manner Musick that mote be;
For, all that pleasing is to living Ear,
Was there consorted in one Harmony,
Birds, Voices, Instruments, Winds, Waters, all agree.

The joyous Birds, shrouded in chearful Shade,
Their Notes unto the Voice attempred sweet;
Th' angelical soft trembling Voices made
To th' Instruments divine Respondence meet:
The silver sounding Instruments did meet
With the base Murmur of the Water's fall:
The Water's fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the Wind did call:
The gentle warbling Wind low answered to all.

There, whence that Musick seemed heard to be,
Was the fair Witch, her self now solacing
With a new Lover, whom through Sorcery
And Witchcraft, she from far did thither bring:
There she had him now laid a slumbering,
In secret Shade, after long wanton Joys;
Whilst round about them pleasantly did sing
Many fair Ladies, and lascivious Boys,
That ever mixt their Song with light licentious Toys.

And all the while, right over him she hong,
With her false Eyes fast fixed in his sight,
As seeking Medicine, whence she was stong,
Or greedily depasturing Delight:
And oft inclining down with Kisses light,
For fear of waking him, his Lips bedew'd,
And through his humid Eyes did suck his Spright,
Quite molten into Lust and Pleasure leud;
Where-with she sighed soft, as if his case she ru'd.

The whiles, some one did chaunt this lovely Lay;
Ah! see, whoso fair thing doost fain to see,
In springing Flower the Image of thy Day;
Ah! see the Virgin Rose, how sweetly she
Doth first peep forth with bashful Modesty,
That fairer seems, the less ye see her may;
Lo! see soon after, how more bold and free
Her bared Bosom she doth broad display;
Lo! see soon after, how she fades and falls away.

So passeth, in the passing of a Day,
Of mortal Life the Leaf, the Bud, the Flower,
Ne more doth flourish after first Decay,
That earst was sought to deck both Bed and Bower
Of many a Lady, and many a Paramour:
Gather therefore the Rose, whilst yet is prime,
For, soon comes Age, that will her Pride deflower;
Gather the Rose of Love, whilst yet is time,
Whilst loving thou mayst loved be with equal Crime.

He ceast, and then 'gan all the Quire of Birds
Their diverse Notes t' attune unto his Lay,
As in approvance of his pleasing words.
The constant Pair heard all that he did say,
Yet swerved not, but kept their forward way,
Through many covert Groves, and Thickets close,
In which they creeping, did at last display
That wanton Lady, with her Lover loose,
Whose sleepy Head she in her Lap did soft dispose.

Upon a Bed of Roses she was laid,
As faint through Heat, or dight to pleasant Sin,
And was array'd, or rather disarray'd,
All in a Veil of Silk and Silver thin,
That hid no whit her Alablaster Skin,
But rather shew'd more white, if more might be:
More subtile Web Arachne cannot spin,
Nor the fine Nets, which oft we woven see
Of scorched Dew, do not in th' Air more lightly flee.

Her snowy Breast was bare to ready Spoil
Of hungry Eyes, which n'ote therewith be fill'd;
And yet through Languour of her late sweet Toil,
Few Drops, more clear than Nectar, forth distill'd,
That like pure Orient Pearls adown it trill'd:
And her fair Eyes sweet smiling in Delight,
Moistned their fiery Beams, with which she thrill'd
Frail Hearts, yet quenched not; like starry Light,
Which sparkling on the silent Waves, does seem more bright.

The young Man sleeping by her, seem'd to be
Some goodly Swain of honourable place,
That certes it great pity was to see
Him his Nobility so foul deface:
A sweet Regard, and amiable Grace,
Mixed with manly Sternness did appear,
Yet sleeping, in his well-proportion'd Face,
And on his tender Lips the downy Hair
Did now but freshly spring, and silken Blossoms bear.

His warlike Arms (the idle instruments
Of sleeping Praise) were hong upon a Tree,
And his brave Shield (full of old Monuments)
Was foully ras'd, that none the signs might see;
Ne for them, ne for Honour cared he,
Ne ought that did to his advauncement tend,
But in leud Loves, and wasteful Luxury,
His Days, his Goods, his Body he did spend:
O horrible Enchauntment, that him so did blend!

The noble Elf, and careful Palmer drew
So nigh them (minding nought but lustful Game)
That suddain forth they on them rush'd, and threw
A subtile Net, which only for the same
The skilful Palmer formally did frame.
So held them under fast, the whiles the rest
Fled all away for fear of fouler Shame.
The fair Enchauntress, so unwares oppress'd,
Try'd all her Arts, and all her Sleights, thence out to wrest.

And eke her Lover strove; but all in vain;
For, that same Net so cunningly was wound,
That neither Guile nor Force might it distrain.
They took them both, and both them strongly bound
In captive Bands, which there they ready found.
But her in Chains of Adamant he ty'd,
For nothing else might keep her safe and sound;
But Verdant (so he hight) he soon unty'd,
And Counsel sage instead thereof to him apply'd.

But all those pleasant Bowers, and Palace brave,
Guyon broke down, with Rigour pitiless;
Ne ought their goodly Workmanship might save
Them from the Tempest of his Wrathfulness,
But that their Bliss he turn'd to Balefulness:
Their Groves he fell'd, their Gardens did deface,
Their Arbors spoil'd, their Cabinets suppress,
Their Banket-houses burn, their Buildings raze,
And of the fairest late, now made the foulest place.

Then led they her away, and eke that Knight
They with them led, both sorrowful and sad:
The way they came, the same return'd they right,
Till they arrived where they lately had
Charm'd those wild Beasts, that rag'd with Fury mad.
Which now awaking, fierce at them 'gan fly,
As in their Mistress' rescue whom they lad;
But them the Palmer soon did pacify.
Then Guyon ask'd, what meant those Beasts which there did lie.

Said he, These seeming Beasts are Men indeed,
Whom this Enchauntress hath transformed thus,
Whilom her Lovers, which her Lusts did feed,
Now turned into Figures hideous,
According to their Minds like monstruous.
Sad end, quoth he, of Life intemperate,
And mournful Meed of Joys delicious:
But, Palmer, if it mote thee so aggrate,
Let them returned be unto their former State.

Straight-way he with his vertuous Staff them strook,
And straight of Beasts they comely Men became;
Yet being Men, they did unmanly look,
And stared ghastly, some for inward Shame,
And some for Wrath, to see their captive Dame:
But one above the rest in special,
That had an Hog been late (hight Grille by name)
Repined greatly, and did him miscall,
That had from hoggish Form him brought to natural.

Said Guyon; See the Mind of beastly Man,
That hath so soon forgot the Excellence
Of his Creation, when he Life began,
That now he chuseth, with vile difference,
To be a Beast, and lack Intelligence.
To whom the Palmer thus: The Dunghil Kind
Delights in Filth and foul Incontinence:
Let Grill be Grill, and have his hoggish Mind,
But let us hence depart, whilst Weather serves, and Wind.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 2:341-63]