« PreviousContinue »
So as they gazed after her awhyle,
Whereto that single knight did answere frame; Lo! where a griesly foster forth did rush,
“ These six would me enforce, by oddes of might, Breathing out beastly lust her to defyle :
To chaunge my liefe, and love another dame; His tyreling jade he fiersly forth did push
That death me liefer were then such despight, Through thicke and thin, both over banck and bush, So unto wrong to yield my wrested right: In bope her to attaine by hooke or crooke, For I love one, the truest one on grownd, That from his gory sydes the blood did gush: Ne list me chaunge; she th' Errant Damzell hight; Large were his limbes, and terrible his looke, For whose deare sake full many a bitter stownd And in his clownish hand a sharp bore-speare he i have endurd, and tasted many a bloody wownd." shooke.
“ Certes," said she, “then beene ye sixe to blame, Which outrage when those gentle knights did see, To weeve your wrong by force to justify: Full of great envy and fell gealosy
For kright to leave his lady were great shame They stayd not to avise who first should bee, That faithfull is; and better were to dy. But all spurd after, fast as they mote fly,
All losse is lesse, and lesse the infamy, To reskew her from shamefull villany.
Then losse of love to him that loves but one: The prince and Guyon equally bylive
Ne may Love be compeld by maistery; Herse fe pursewd, in hope to win thereby
For, soone as maistery coines, sweet Love anode Most goodly meede, the fairest dame alive : Taketh bis nimble winges, and soone away is gone." But after the foule foster Timias did strive.
Then spake one of thosc six; “There dwelleth here The whiles faire Britomart, whose constant mind Within this castle-wall a lady fayre, Would not so lightly follow beauties chace, Whose soveraine beautie hath no living pere; Ne reckt of ladies love, did stay behynd;
Thereto so bounteous and so debonayre, And them awayted there a certaine space, That never any mote with her compayre: To weet if they would turne backe to that place: She hath ordaind this law, which we approve, But, when she saw them gone, she forward went, That every knight which doth this way repayre, As lay her journey, through that perlous pace, In case he have no lady nor no love, With stedfast corage and stout hardiment; Shall doe unto her service, never to remove : Ne evil thing she feard, ne evill thing she ment.
“ But if he have a lady or a love, At last, as nigh out of the wood she came, Then must he her forgoe with fowle defame, A stately castle far away she spyde,
Or els with us by dint of sword approve, To which her steps directly she did frame. That she is fairer then our fairest dame; That castle was most goodly edifyde,
As did this knight, before ye hether came." And plaste for pleasure nigh that forrest syde: “ Perdy,” said Britomart, “ the choise is hard ! But faire before the gate a spatious playne, But what reward had he that overcame ?" Mantled with greene, itselfe did spredilen wyde, “ He should advaunced bee to high regard," On which she saw six knights, that did darrayne Said they, “and have our ladies love for his reward. Fiers battaill, against one with cruell might and inayne.
“ Therefore aread, sir, if thou have a love."
“ Love have I sure," quoth she, “but lady none; Mainely they all attonce upon bim laid,
Yet will I not fro mine owne love remove, And sore beset on every side arownd, That nigh he breathlesse grew, yet nought dismaid, But wreake your wronges wrought to this knight
Ne to your lady will I service done, (alone, Ne ever to them yielded foot of grownd, All had he lost much blood through many a wownd; She mightily aventred towards one,
And prove his cause.” With that, her mortall speare But stoutly dealt his blowes, and every way,
And downe him 'smot ere well aware he weare; To which ne turned in his wrathfull stownd,
Then to the next she rode, and downe the next did Made them recoile, and fly from dredd decay,
beare. That none of all the six before him durst assay: Like dastard curres, that, having at a bay
Ne did she stay till three on ground she layd, The salvage beast embost in wearie chace,
That none of thein himselfe could reare againe : Dare not adventure on the stubborne pray,
The fourth was by that other knight dismayd, Ne byte before, but rome from place to place
All were he wearie of his former paine ; To get a snatch when turned is bis face.
That now there do but two of six remaine; In such distresse and doubtfull ieopardy
Which two did yield before she did them smight. When Britomart him saw, she ran apace
" Ah !" said she then, “ now may ye all see plaine, Unto his reskew, and with carest cry
That Truth is strong, and trew Love most of might, Badd those same sixe forbeare that single enimy. That for his trusty servaunts doth so strongly fight.” But to her cry they list not lenden eare,
"Too well we see,” saide they," and prove too well Ne ought the more their mightie strokes surceasse; | Our faulty weakenes, and your matchlesse might: But, gathering him rownd about more neare, Forthy, faire sir, yours be the damozell, Their direfull rancour rather did encreasse; Which by her owne law to your lot doth light, Till that she rushing through the thickest preasse And we your liegemen faith unto you plight." Perforce disparted their compacted gyre, So underneath her feet their swords they mard, And soone compeld to hearken unto peace: And, after, her besought, well as they might, Tho gan she myldly of them to inquyre
To enter in and reape the dew reward : The cause of their dissention and outrageous yre. She graunted; and then in they all together far'd.
Long were it to describe the goodly frame, Lo! where beyond he lyeth languishing,
Deadly engored of a great wilde bore;
With her soft garment wipes away the gore Faire lad es, and of many a gentle knight;
Which staynes his snowy skin with hatefull hew: Who, through a chamber long and spacious, Bilt, when she saw no helpe might bim restore, Eftsoones them brought unto their ladies sight, Him to a dainty flowre she did transmew, That of them cleeped was the Lady of Deiight. Which in that cloth was wrought, as if it lively grew. Bat, for to tell the sumptuous aray
So was that chamber clad in gooilly wize: Of that great chamber, should be labour lost; And rownd about it many beds were dight, For living wit, I weene, cannot display
As whylome was the antique worldës guize, The roiall riches and exceeding cost
Some for untimely ease, some for de ight, Of every pillour and of every post,
As pleased them to use that use it might: Which all of purest bullion framed were,
And all was full of damzels and of sqnyres, And with great perles and pretious stones embost; Dauncing and reveling both day and night, That the bright glister of their beamës cleare And swimming deepe in sensuall desyres; Did sparckle forth great light, and glorious did ap- And Cupid stillerongest them kindled lustfull fyres. peare.
And all the while sweet musicke did divide These stranger knights, through passing, forth were Her looser notes with Lydian harmony; Into an inner rowme, whose royaltee [led And all the while sweete birdes thereto applide And rich purveyance might uneath be red;
Their daintie layes and dulcet melody, Mote prioces place beseeme so deckt to bee.
Ay caroling of love and iollity, Which stately manner whenas they did see, That wonder was to heare their trim consórt. The image of superfluous riotize,
Which when those knights beheld,with scornefull eye Exceeding much the state of meane degree, They sdeigned such lascivious disport, They greatly wondred whence so sumptuous guize And loath'd the loose demeanure of that wanton sort. Might be maintaynd, and each gan diversely devize. The wals were round about apparelled
Thence they were brought to that great ladies vew, With costly clothes of Arras and of Toure;
Whom they found sitting on a sumptuous bed In which with cunning hand was pourtrahed
That glistred all with gold and glorious shew, The love of Venus and her paramoure,
As the proud Persian queenes accustomed : The fayre Adonis, turned to a flowre;
She seemd a woman of great bountihed A vorke of rare device and wondrous wit.
And of rare beautie, saving that askaunce First did it shew the bitter balefull stowre,
Her wanton eyes (ill signes of womanhed) Which her assayd with many a fervent fit,
Did roll too lightly, and too often glaunce, When first her tender hart was with his beautiesmit: Without regard of grace or comely ameuaunce. Then with what sleights and sweet allurements she Long worke it were, and needlesse, to devize Entyst the boy, as well that art she knew,
Their goodly entertainement and great glee: And wooed him her paramoure to bee;
She caused them be led in conrteous wize
The Redcrosse knight was soon disarmed there;
Is in a noyous cloud enveloped, And with ambrosiall kisses bathe his eyes;
Where she may finde the substance thin and light, Ånd, whilst be bath'd, with her two crafty spyes
Breakes forth ber silver beames, and her bright hed She secretly would search each daintie lim,
Discovers to the world discomfited; And throw into the well sweet rosemaryes,
Of the poore traveiler that went astray And fragrant violets, and paunces trim;
With thousand blessings she is heried: And ever with sweet nectar she did sprinkle him.
Such was the beautie and the shining ray,
With which fayre Britomart gave light unto the day. So did she steale his heedelesse hart away, And joyd his love in secret unespyde:
And eke those six, which lately with her fought, But for she saw him bent to cruell play,
Now were disarmd, and did themselves present To huot the salvage beast in forrest wyde,
C'nto her vew, and company linsought ; Dreadfall of daunger that mote him betyde For they all seemed courteous and gent, Sbe oft and oft adviz'd him to refraine
And all sixe brethren, borne of one parent, Frum chase of greater beastes, whose brutish pryde which had them traynd in all civiliiee, Mote breede him scath unwares: but all in vaine ; ) And goodly taught to tilt and turnament; For who can shun the chance that destiny doth or- Now were they liegmen to this ladie free, daine ?
And her knights-service ought, to hold of her in fee.
The first of them by name Gardantè hight, So, when they slaked bad the fervent heat
Of appetite with meates of every sort,
The lady did faire Britomart entreat
Her to disarme, and with delightfull sport
And all attonce discovered her desire
With sighes, and sobs, and plaints, and piteous griefe, That as the one stird up affections bace,
The outward sparkes of her in-burning fire:
Which spent in vaine, at last she told her briefe,
And doe her comfort, she mote algates dye.
Of such malengine and fine forgerye,
Who by self- feeling of her feeble sexe, (For shee her weend a fresh and lusty knight) And by long triall of the inward griefe Shee greatly gan enamoured to wex,
Wherewith imperious love her hart did vexe,
Who means no guile, be guiled soonest shall,
The bird, that knowes not the false fowlers call,
Forthy she would not in discourteise wise And into termes of open outrage brust,
Scorne the faire offer of good wiil profest; That plaine discovered her incontinence;
For great rebuke it is love to despise, Ne reckt shee who her meaning did inistrust;
Or rudely sdeigne a gentle harts request; For she was given all to fleshly lust,
But with faire countenaunce, as beseemed best, And poured forth in sensuall delight,
Her entertaynd; nath'lesse shee inly deemd That all regard of shame she had discust,
Her love too light, to wooe a wandring guest; And meet respect of honor put to flight:
Which she misconstruing, thereby esteeind (stcemd. So shainelesse beauty soune becomes a loathly sight. That from like inward fire that outward sınoke had Faire ladies, that to love captíved arre,
Therewith awhile she her fit fancy fedd,
Till she mote winne fit time for her desire ;
But yet her wound still inward freshly bledd,
And through her bones the false instilled fire Ne blott the bounty of all womankind 'Mongst thousands good, one wanton dame to find :
Did spred itselfe, and venime close inspire.
Tho were the tables taken all away; Emongst the roses grow some wicked weeds:
And every knight, and every gentle squire, For this was not to love, but lust, inclind;
Gan choose his dame with basciomani gay, (play. For love does alwaies bring forth bounteous deeds,
With whom he ment to make his sport and courtly And in each gentle hart desire of honor breeds.
Some fell to daunce; some fell to hazardry; Nought so of love this looser dame did skill,
Some to make lote; some to make meryment; But as a cole to kindle fleshly flame,
As diverse witts to diverse things apply: Giving the bridle to her wanton will,
And all the while faire Malecasta bent And treading under foote her honest name:
Her crafty engins to her close intent. Such love is hate, and such desire is shame.
By this th' eternall lampes, wherewith high love Still did she rove at her with crafty glaunce
Doth light the lower world, were balte yspent, Of her false eies, that at her hart did ayme, And the moist daughters of huge Atlas strove And told her meaning in her countenauuce; Into the ocean deepe to drive their weary drove. But Britomart dissembled it with ignoraunce.
High time it seemed then for everie wight Supper was shortly dight, and downe they satt; _Them to betake unto their kindly rest : Where they were served with all sumptuous fare, Eftesoones tong waxen torches weren light Wbiles fruitfull Ceres and Lyæus fatt
Unto their bowres to guyden every guest : Pourd out their plenty, without spight or spare ; Tho, when the Britonesse saw all the rest Nought wanted there that dainty was and rare: Avoided quite, she gan herselfe despoile, And aye the cups their bancks did overflow; And safe committ to her soft fethered nest; And aye betweene the cups she did prepare Wher through long watch, and late daies weary toile, Way to her love, and secret darts did throw; She soundly slept, and carefull thoughts did quite But Britomart would not such guilfull message know. assoile.
Now whenas all the world in silence deepe Wherewith enrag'd she fiercely at them flew, Yshrowded was, and every mortall wight
And with her flaming sword about her layd, Was drowned in the depth of deadly sleepe, That none of them foule mischiefe could eschew, Faire Malecasta, whose engrieved spright But with her dreadfull strokes were all dismayd: Could find no rest in such perplexed plight, Here, there, and every where, about her swayd Lightly arose out of her wearie bed,
Her wrathfull steele, that none mote it abyde ; And, under the blacke vele of guilty night, And eke the Redcrosse knight gave her good ayd, Her with a scarlott mantle covered
Ay ioyning foot to foot, and syde to syde; (fyde. That was with gold and ermines faire enveloped. That in short space their foes they have quite terriThen panting softe, and trembling every joynt, Tho, whenas all were put to shamefull flight, Her fearfull feete towards the bowre she mov'd, The noble Britomartis her arayd, Where she for secret purpose did appoynt And her bright armes about her body dight: To lodge the warlike maide, unwisely loor'd; For nothing would she lenger there be stayd, And, to-ber bed approching, first she proovid Where so loose life, and so ungentle trade, Whether she slept or wakte: with her softe hand Was usd of knightes and ladies seeming gent: She softely felt if any member moovid,
So, earely, ere the grosse Earthes gryesy shade And lent her wary eare to understand
Was all disperst out of the firmament, (went.
The Redcrosse knight to Britomart
Describeth Artegall : But inly sighd. At last the royall mayd
The wondrous myrrhour, by which she Out of her quiet slomber did awake,
In love with him did fall. And chaungd her weary side the better ease to take.
Here have I canse in men just blame to find, Where feeling one close couched by her side,
That in their proper praise too partiall bee, She lightly lept out of her filed bedd,
And not indifferent to woman kind, And to her weapon ran, in minde to gride
To whom no share in armes and chevalree The loathed leachour: but the dame, halfe dedd
They doe impart, ne maken memoree Through suddeine feare and ghastly drerihedd
Of their brave gestes and prowesse martiall : Did shrieke alowd, that through the hous it rong,
Scarse do they spare to one, or two, or three, And the whole family therewith adredd
Rowme in their writtes; yet the same writing small Pashly out of their rouzed couches sprong, Does all their deedes deface, and dims their gloAnd to the troubled chamber all in armes did throng.
ries all. And those sixe knightes, that ladies champions, But by record of antique times I finde And eke the Redcrosse knight ran to the stownd, That wemen wont in warres to beare most sway, Halfe armd and halfe unarmd, with them attons :
And to all great exploites themselves inclin'd, Where when confusedly they came, they fownd Of which they still the girlond bore away; Their lady lying on the sencelesse grownd: Till envious men, fearing their rules decay, On th' other side they saw the warlike mayd Gan coyne streight lawes to curb their liberty: Al in her snow-white smocke, with locks unbuwnd, Yet, sith they warlike armes have laide away, Threatning the point of her avenging blade; They have exceld in artes and pollicy, That with so troublous terror they were all dismayd. That now we foolish men that prayse gin eke t'envy. About their ladye first they flockt arownd ; Of warlike puissaunce in ages spent, Whom having laid in comfortable couch,
Be thon, faire Britomart, whose prayse I wryte ; Shortly they reard out of her frosen swownd ; But of all wisedom bee thou precedent, And afterwardes they gan with fowle reproch O soveraine queene, whose prayse I would endyte, To stirre up strife, and troublous contecke broch: Endite I wouid as dewtie doth excyte; Bat, by ensample of the last dayes losse,
But ah! my rymes too rude and rugged arre, None of them rashly durst to her approch, When in so high an obiect they doe lyte, Ne io so glorious spoile themselves embosse: And, striving fit to make, I feare, doe marre : Her succourd eke the champion of the bloody crosse. Thyselfe thy prayses tell, and make them knowen
farre. Bat one of those sixe knights, Gardantè hight, Drew out a deadly bow and arrow keene,
She, traveiling with Guyon, by the way Which forth he sent with felonous despight Of sondry thinges faire purpose gan to find, And fell intent against the virgin sheene:
T'abridg their journey long and lingring day: The mortall steele stayd not till it was seene Mongst which it fell into that Fairies mind To gore her side; yet was the wound not deepe, To aske this Briton majd, what uncouth wind Bat lightly rased her soft silken skin,
Brought her into those partes, and what inquest That drops of purple blood thereout did weepe, Made her dissemble her disguised kind : Which did frer billy smock with staines of vermeil Faire lady she bim seemd like lady drest, steep.
But fairest knight alive when armed was her brest. Thereat she sighing softly had no powre
But to occasion him to further talke,
And thus replyde; “ However, sir, ye fyle And every daintie limbe with horrour shake; Your courteous tongue his prayses to compyle, And ever and anone the rosy red
It ill beseemes a knight of gentle sort, Flasht through her face, as it had beene a flake Such as ye have him boasted, to begugle Of lightning through bright Heven fulmined : A simple maide, and worke so hainous tort, At last, the passion past, she thus him answered: In shame of knighthood, as I largely can report “ Faire sir, I let you weete, that from the howre “ Let bee therefore my vengeaunce to disswade, I taken was from nourses tender pap,
And read, where I that faytour false may find.” I have been trained up in warlike stowre,
“ Ah! but if reason faire might you perswade To tossen speare and shield, and to affrap To slake your wrath, and mollify your mind,” The warlike ryder to his most mishap;
Said he, “perhaps ye should it better find: Sithence I loathed have my life to lead,
For hardie thing it is, to weene by might As ladies wont, in Pleasures wanton lap,
That man to hard conditions to bind ; To finger the fine needle and nyce thread; Or ever hope to match in equall fight, Me lever were with point of foemans speare be dead. Whose prowesse paragone saw never living wight. “ All my delight on deedes of armes is sett, “ Ne soothlich is it easie for to read To hunt out perilles and adventures hard,
Where now on Earth, or how, he may be fownd; By sea, by land, whereso they may be mett, For he ne wonneth in one certeine stead, Onely for honour and for high regard,
But restlesse walketh all the world arownd, Without respect of richesse or reward :
Ay doing thinges that to his fame redownd, Por such intent into these partes I came,
Defending ladies cause and orphans right, Withouten compasse or withouten card,
Whereso he heares that any doth confownd Far fro my native soyle, that is by name
Them comfortlesse through tyranny or might; The Greater Brytayne, bere to seeke for praise and So is his soveraine honour raisde to Hevens hight.” fame.
His feeling wordes her feeble sence much pleased, “ Fame blazed hath, that here in Faery loud And softly s'inck into her molten hart: Doe many famous knightes and ladies wonne, Hart, that is inly hurt, is greatly eased And many straunge adventures to bee fond, With hope of thing that may allegge his smart; Of whicb great worth and worship may be wonne:
Por pleasing wordes are like to magick art, Which to prove, I this voyage have begonne.
That doth the charıned snake in slomber lay: But mote I weet of you, right courteous knight,
Such secrete ease felt gentle Britomart, Tydings of one that hath unto me donne
Yet list the same efforce with faind gainesay; Late foule dishonour and reprochfull spight,
(So dischord ofte in musick makes the sweeter lay;) The which I seek to wreake, and Arthegall he hight.” And sayd;“Sir Koight, these ydle termes forbeare; The worde gone ont she backe againe would call, And, sith it is uneath to find his haunt,
Tell me some markes by which he may appeare, As her repenting so to have missayd,
If chaunce I him encounter paravaunt;
For perdy one shall other slay, or daunt:
What shape, what shield, what armes, what steed,
what stedd, A gentie knight with so unknightly blame: For, weet ye well, of all that ever playd
And whatso else his person most may vaunt ?"
All which the Redcrosse knight to point ared, At tilt or tourney, or like warlike game, The noble Arthegall bath ever borne the name.
And him in everie part before her fashioned.
Yet him in everie part before she knew, “ Forthy great wonder were it, if such shame However list ber now her knowledge fayne, Should ever enter in his bounteous thought,
Sith him whylome in Britayne she did vew, Or ever doe that mote deserven blame:
To her revealed in a mirrhour playne; The noble corage never weeneth ought
Whereof did grow her first engraffed payne, That may unworthy of itselfe be thought.
Whose root and stalke so bitter yet did taste, 'Therefore, faire damzell, be ye well aware,
That, but the fruit more sweetnes did contayne, Least that too farre ye have your sorrow sought:
Her wretched dayes in dolour she mote waste, You and your countrey both I wish welfare,
And yield the pray of love to lothsome death at last. And honour both; for each of other worthy are."
By straunge occasion she did him behold, The royall maid woxe inly wondrous glad, And much more straungely gan to love his sight, To heare her love so highly magnifyde;
As it in bookes hath written beene of old. And ioyd that ever she asfixed had
In Deheubarth, that now South-Wales is hight, Her hart on knight so goodly glorifyde,
What time king Ryence raigo'd and dealed right, However finely she it faind to bide.
The great magitien Merlin had deviz'd, The loving mother, that nine monethes did beare By his dcepe science and He:l-dreaded might, In the deare closett of her painefull syde
A looking-glasse, right wondrously aguiz'd, ller tender babe, it seeing safe appeare,
Whose vertues through the wyde worlde soone were Doth not so much reioyce as she reiwyced theare. solemniz'd.