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Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 3 (1596)


 Canto 3

 Forsaken Truth long seekes her loue,
 And makes the Lyon mylde,
 Marres blind Deuotions mart, and fals
 In hand of leachour vylde.

 1

              1NOught is there vnder heau'ns wilde hollownesse,
              2That moues more deare compassion of mind,
              3Then beautie brought t'vnworthy wretchednesse
              4Through enuies snares or fortunes freakes vnkind:
              5I, whether lately through her brightnesse blind,
              6Or through alleageance and fast fealtie,
              7Which I do owe vnto all woman kind,
              8Feele my heart perst with so great agonie,
              9When such I see, that all for pittie I could die.

 2

            10And now it is empassioned so deepe,
            11For fairest Vnæs sake, of whom I sing,
            12That my fraile eyes these lines with teares do steepe,
            13To thinke how she through guilefull handeling,
            14Though true as touch, though daughter of a king,
            15Though faire as euer liuing wight was faire,
            16Though nor in word nor deede ill meriting,
            17Is from her knight diuorced in despaire
            18And her due loues deriu'd to that vile witches share.

[Fol. C2r; p. 33] 3

            19Yet she most faithfull Ladie all this while
            20Forsaken, wofull, solitarie mayd
            21Farre from all peoples prease, as in exile,
            22In wildernesse and wastfull deserts strayd,
            23To seeke her knight; who subtilly betrayd
            24Through that late vision, which th'Enchaunter wrought,
            25Had her abandond.  She of nought affrayd,
            26Through woods and wastnesse wide him daily sought;
            27Yet wished tydings none of him vnto her brought.

 4

            28One day nigh wearie of the yrkesome way,
            29From her vnhastie beast she did alight,
            30And on the grasse her daintie limbes did lay
            31In secret shadow, farre from all mens sight:
            32From her faire head her fillet she vndight,
            33And laid her stole aside.  Her angels face
            34As the great eye of heauen shyned bright,
            35And made a sunshine in the shadie place;
            36Did neuer mortall eye behold such heauenly grace.

 5

            37It fortuned out of the thickest wood
            38A ramping Lyon rushed suddainly,
            39Hunting full greedie after saluage blood;
            40Soone as the royall virgin he did spy,
            41With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
            42To haue attonce deuour'd her tender corse:
            43But to the pray when as he drew more ny,
            44His bloudie rage asswaged with remorse,
            45And with the sight amazd, forgat his furious forse.

 6

            46In stead thereof he kist her wearie feet,
            47And lickt her lilly hands with fawning tong,
            48As he her wronged innocence did weet.
            49O how can beautie maister the most strong,
            50[Fol. C2v; p. 34] And simple truth subdue auenging wrong?
            51Whose yeelded pride and proud submission,
            52Still dreading death, when she had marked long,
            53Her hart gan melt in great compassion,
            54And drizling teares did shed for pure affection.

 7

            55The Lyon Lord of euerie beast in field
            56Quoth she, his princely puissance doth abate,
            57And mightie proud to humble weake does yield,
            58Forgetfull of the hungry rage, which late
            59Him prickt, in pittie of my sad estate:
            60But he my Lyon, and my noble Lord
            61How does he find in cruell hart to hate
            62Her that him lou'd, and euer most adord,
            63As the God of my life?  why hath he me abhord?

 8

            64Redounding teares did choke th'end of her plaint,
            65Which softly ecchoed from the neighbour wood;
            66And sad to see her sorrowfull constraint
            67The kingly beast vpon her gazing stood;
            68With pittie calmd, downe fell his angry mood.
            69At last in close hart shutting vp her paine,
            70Arose the virgin borne of heauenly brood,
            71And to her snowy Palfrey got againe,
            72To seeke her strayed Champion, if she might attaine.

 9

            73The Lyon would not leaue her desolate,
            74But with her went along, as a strong gard
            75Of her chast person, and a faithfull mate
            76Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard:
            77Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward,
            78And when she wakt, he waited diligent,
            79With humble seruice to her will prepard:
            80From her faire eyes he tooke commaundement,
            81And euer by her lookes conceiued her intent.

[Fol. C3r; p. 35] 10

            82Long she thus traueiled through deserts wyde,
            83By which she thought her wandring knight shold pas,
            84Yet neuer shew of liuing wight espyde;
            85Till that at length she found the troden gras,
            86In which the tract of peoples footing was,
            87Vnder the steepe foot of a mountaine hore;
            88The same she followes, till at last she has
            89A damzell spyde slow footing her before,
            90That on her shoulders sad a pot of water bore.

 11

            91To Whom approching she to her gan call,
            92To weet, if dwelling place were nigh at hand;
            93But the rude wench her answer'd nought at all,
            94She could not heare, nor speake, nor vnderstand;
            95Till seeing by her side the Lyon stand,
            96With suddaine feare her pitcher downe she threw,
            97And fled away:  for neuer in that land
            98Face of faire Ladie she before did vew,
            99And that dread Lyons looke her cast in deadly hew.

 12

          100Full fast she fled, ne euer lookt behynd,
          101As if her life vpon the wager lay,
          102And home she came, whereas her mother blynd
          103Sate in eternall night:  nought could she say,
          104But suddaine catching hold, did her dismay
          105With quaking hands, and other signes of feare:
          106Who full of ghastly fright and cold affray,
          107Gan shut the dore.  By this arriued there
          108Dame Vna, wearie Dame, and entrance did requere.

 13

          109Which when none yeelded, her vnruly Page
          110With his rude clawes the wicket open rent,
          111And let her in;  where of his cruell rage
          112Nigh dead with feare, and faint astonishment,
          113[Fol. C3v; p. 36] She found them both in darkesome corner pent;
          114Where that old woman day and night did pray
          115Vpon her beades deuoutly penitent;
          116Nine hundred Pater nosters euery day,
          117And thrise nine hundred Aues she was wont to say.

 14

          118And to augment her painefull pennance more,
          119Thrise euery weeke in ashes she did sit,
          120And next her wrinkled skin rough sackcloth wore,
          121And thrise three times did fast from any bit:
          122But now for feare her beads she did forget.
          123Whose needlesse dread for to remoue away,
          124Faire Vna framed words and count'nance fit:
          125Which hardly doen, at length she gan them pray,
          126That in their cotage small, that night she rest her may.

 15

          127The day is spent, and commeth drowsie night,
          128When euery creature shrowded is in sleepe;
          129Sad Vna downe her laies in wearie plight,
          130And at her feet the Lyon watch doth keepe:
          131In stead of rest, she does lament, and weepe
          132For the late losse of her deare loued knight,
          133And sighes, and grones, and euermore does steepe
          134Her tender brest in bitter teares all night,
          135All night she thinks too long, and often lookes for light.

 16

          136Now when Aldeboran was mounted hie
          137Aboue the shynie Cassiopeias chaire,
          138And all in deadly sleepe did drowned lie,
          139One knocked at the dore, and in would fare;
          140He knocked fast, and often curst, and sware,
          141That readie entrance was not at his call:
          142For on his backe a heauy load he bare
          143Of nightly stelths and pillage seuerall,
          144Which he had got abroad by purchase criminall.

[Fol. C4r; p. 37] 17

          145He was to weete a stout and sturdie thiefe,
          146Wont to robbe Churches of their ornaments,
          147And poore mens boxes of their due reliefe,
          148Which giuen was to them for good intents;
          149The holy Saints of their rich vestiments
          150He did disrobe, when all men carelesse slept,
          151And spoild the Priests of their habiliments,
          152Whiles none the holy things in safety kept;
          153Then he by cunning sleights in at the window crept.

 18

          154And all that he by right or wrong could find,
          155Vnto this house he brought, and did bestow
          156Vpon the daughter of this woman blind,
          157Abessa daughter of Corceca slow,
          158With whom he whoredome vsd, that few did know,
          159And fed her fat with feast of offerings,
          160And plentie, which in all the land did grow;
          161Ne spared he to giue her gold and rings:
          162And now he to her brought part of his stolen things.

 19

          163Thus long the dore with rage and threats he bet,
          164Yet of those fearefull women none durst rize,
          165The Lyon frayed them, him in to let:
          166He would no longer stay him to aduize,
          167But open breakes the dore in furious wize,
          168And entring is;  when that disdainfull beast
          169Encountring fierce, him suddaine doth surprize,
          170And seizing cruell clawes on trembling brest,
          171Vnder his Lordly foot him proudly hath supprest.

 20

          172Him booteth not resist, nor succour call,
          173His bleeding hart is in the vengers hand,
          174Who streight him rent in thousand peeces small,
          175And quite dismembred hath:  the thirstie land
          176[Fol. C4v; p. 38] Drunke vp his life;  his corse left on the strand.
          177His fearefull friends weare out the wofull night,
          178Ne dare to weepe, nor seeme to vnderstand
          179The heauie hap, which on them is alight,
          180Affraid, least to themselues the like mishappen might.

 21

          181Now when broad day the world discouered has,
          182Vp Vna rose, vp rose the Lyon eke,
          183And on their former iourney forward pas,
          184In wayes vnknowne, her wandring knight to seeke,
          185With paines farre passing that long wandring Greeke,
          186That for his loue refused deitie;
          187Such were the labours of this Lady meeke,
          188Still seeking him, that from her still did flie,
          189Then furthest from her hope, when most she weened nie.

 22

          190Soone as she parted thence, the fearefull twaine,
          191That blind old woman and her daughter deare
          192Came forth, and finding Kirkrapine there slaine,
          193For anguish great they gan to rend their heare,
          194And beat their brests, and naked flesh to teare.
          195And when they both had wept and wayld their fill,
          196Then forth they ranne like two amazed deare,
          197Halfe mad through malice, and reuenging will,
          198To follow her, that was the causer of their ill.

 23

          199Whom ouertaking, they gan loudly bray,
          200With hollow howling, and lamenting cry,
          201Shamefully at her rayling all the way,
          202And her accusing of dishonesty,
          203That was the flowre of faith and chastity;
          204And still amidst her rayling, she did pray,
          205That plagues, and mischiefs, and long misery
          206Might fall on her, and follow all the way,
          207And that in endlesse error she might euer stray.

[Fol. C5r; p. 39] 24

          208But when she saw her prayers nought preuaile,
          209She backe returned with some labour lost;
          210And in the way as she did weepe and waile,
          211A knight her met in mighty armes embost,
          212Yet knight was not for all his bragging bost,
          213But subtill Archimag, that Vna sought
          214By traynes into new troubles to haue tost:
          215Of that old woman tydings he besought,
          216If that of such a Ladie she could tellen ought.

 25

          217Therewith she gan her passion to renew,
          218And cry, and curse, and raile, and rend her heare,
          219Saying, that harlot she too lately knew,
          220That causd her shed so many a bitter teare,
          221And so forth told the story of her feare:
          222Much seemed he to mone her haplesse chaunce,
          223And after for that Ladie did inquere;
          224Which being taught, he forward gan aduance
          225His faire enchaunted steed, and eke his charmed launce.

 26

          226Ere long he came, where Vna traueild slow,
          227And that wilde Champion wayting her besyde:
          228Whom seeing such, for dread he durst not show
          229Himselfe too nigh at hand, but turned wyde
          230Vnto an hill;  from whence when she him spyde,
          231By his like seeming shield, her knight by name
          232She weend it was, and towards him gan ryde:
          233Approching nigh, she wist it was the same,
          234And with faire fearefull humblesse towards him shee came.

 27

          235And weeping said, Ah my long lacked Lord,
          236Where haue ye bene thus long out of my sight?
          237Much feared I to haue bene quite abhord,
          238Or ought haue done, that ye displeasen might,
[Fol. C5v; p. 40] That should as death vnto my deare hart light:
          239For since mine eye your ioyous sight did mis,
          240My chearefull day is turnd to chearelesse night,
          241And eke my night of death the shadow is;
          242But welcome now my light, and shining lampe of blis.

 28

          243He thereto meeting said, My dearest Dame,
          244Farre be it from your thought, and fro my will,
          245To thinke that knighthood I so much should shame,
          246As you to leaue, that haue me loued still,
          247And chose in Faery court of meere goodwill,
          248Where noblest knights were to be found on earth:
          249The earth shall sooner leaue her kindly skill
          250To bring forth fruit, and make eternall derth,
          251Then I leaue you, my liefe, yborne of heauenly berth.

 29

          252And sooth to say, why I left you so long,
          253Was for to seeke aduenture in strange place,
          254Where Archimago said a felon strong
          255To many knights did daily worke disgrace;
          256But knight he now shall neuer more deface:
          257Good cause of mine excuse;  that mote ye please
          258Well to accept, and euermore embrace
          259My faithfull seruice, that by land and seas
          260Haue vowd you to defend, now then your plaint appease.

 30

          261His louely words her seemd due recompence
          262Of all her passed paines:  one louing howre
          263For many yeares of sorrow can dispence:
          264A dram of sweet is worth a pound of sowre:
          265She has forgot, how many a wofull stowre
          266For him she late endur'd;  she speakes no more
          267Of past:  true is, that true loue hath no powre
          268To looken backe; his eyes be fixt before.
          269Before her stands her knight, for whom she toyld so sore.

[Fol. C6r; p. 41] 31

          270Much like, as when the beaten marinere,
          271That long hath wandred in the Ocean wide,
          272Oft soust in swelling Tethys saltish teare,
          273And long time hauing tand his tawney hide
          274With blustring breath of heauen, that none can bide,
          275And scorching flames of fierce Orions hound,
          276Soone as the port from farre he has espide,
          277His chearefull whistle merrily doth sound,
          278And Nereus crownes with cups;  his mates him pledg a-round.

 32

          279Such ioy made Vna, when her knight she found;
          280And eke th' enchaunter ioyous seemd no lesse,
          281Then the glad marchant, that does vew from ground
          282His ship farre come from watrie wildernesse,
          283He hurles out vowes, and Neptune oft doth blesse:
          284So forth they past, and all the way they spent
          285Discoursing of her dreadfull late distresse,
          286In which he askt her, what the Lyon ment:
          287Who told her all that fell in iourney as she went.

 33

          288They had not ridden farre, when they might see
          289One pricking towards them with hastie heat,
          290Full strongly armd, and on a courser free,
          291That through his fiercenesse fomed all with sweat,
          292And the sharpe yron did for anger eat,
          293When his hot ryder spurd his chauffed side;
          294His looke was sterne, and seemed still to threat
          295Cruell reuenge, which he in hart did hyde,
          296And on his shield Sans loy in bloudie lines was dyde.

 34

          297When nigh he drew vnto this gentle payre
          298And saw the Red-crosse, which the knight did beare,
          299He burnt in fire, and gan eftsoones prepare
          300Himselfe to battell with his couched speare.
          301[Fol. C6v; p. 42] Loth was that other, and did faint through feare,
          302To taste th'vntryed dint of deadly steele;
          303But yet his Lady did so well him cheare,
          304That hope of new good hap he gan to feele;
          305So bent his speare, and spurnd his horse with yron heele.

 35

          306But that proud Paynim forward came so fierce,
          307And full of wrath, that with his sharp-head speare
          308Through vainely crossed shield he quite did pierce
          309And had his staggering steede not shrunke for feare,
          310Through shield and bodie eke he should him beare:
          311Yet so great was the puissance of his push,
          312That from his saddle quite he did him beare:
          313He tombling rudely downe to ground did rush,
          314And from his gored wound a well of bloud did gush.

 36

          315Dismounting lightly from his loftie steed,
          316He to him lept, in mind to reaue his life,
          317And proudly said, Lo there the worthie meed
          318Of him, that slew Sansfoy with bloudie knife;
          319Henceforth his ghost freed from repining strife,
          320In peace may passen ouer Lethe lake,
          321When morning altars purgd with enemies life,
          322The blacke infernall Furies doen aslake:
          323Life from Sansfoy thou tookst, Sansloy shall from thee take.

 37

          324Therewith in haste his helmet gan vnlace,
          325Till Vna cride, O hold that heauie hand,
          326Deare Sir, what euer that thou be in place:
          327Enough is, that thy foe doth vanquisht stand
          328Now at thy mercy:  Mercie not withstand:
          329For he is one the truest knight aliue,
          330Though conquered now he lie on lowly land,
          331And whilest him fortune fauourd, faire did thriue
          332In bloudie field:  therefore of life him not depriue.

[Fol. C7r; p. 43] 38

          333Her piteous words might not abate his rage,
          334But rudely rending vp his helmet, would
          335Haue slaine him straight:  but when he sees his age,
          336And hoarie head of Archimago old,
          337His hastie hand he doth amazed hold,
          338And halfe ashamed, wondred at the sight:
          339For the old man well knew he, though vntold,
          340In charmes and magicke to haue wondrous might,
          341Ne euer wont in field, ne in round lists to fight.

 39

          342And said, Why Archimago, lucklesse syre,
          343What doe I see?  what hard mishap is this,
          344That hath thee hither brought to taste mine yre?
          345Or thine the fault, or mine the error is,
          346In stead of foe to wound my friend amis?
          347He answered nought, but in a traunce still lay,
          348And on those guilefull dazed eyes of his
          349The cloud of death did sit.  Which doen away,
          350He left him lying so, ne would no lenger stay.

 40

          351But to the virgin comes, who all this while
          352Amased stands, her selfe so mockt to see
          353By him, who has the guerdon of his guile,
          354For so misfeigning her true knight to bee:
          355Yet is she now in more perplexitie,
          356Left in the hand of that same Paynim bold,
          357From whom her booteth not all to flie;
          358Who by her cleanly garment catching hold,
          359Her from her Palfrey pluckt, her visage to behold.

 41

          360But her fierce seruant full of kingly awe
          361And high disdaine, whenas his soueraine Dame
          362So rudely handled by her foe he sawe,
          363With gaping iawes full greedy at him came,
          364[Fol. C7v; p. 44] And ramping on his shield, did weene the same
          365Haue reft away with his sharpe rending clawes:
          366But he was stout, and lust did now inflame
          367His corage more, that from his griping pawes
          368He hath his shield redeem'd, and foorth his swerd he drawes.

 42

          369O then too weake and feeble was the forse
          370Of saluage beast, his puissance to withstand:
          371For he was strong. and of so mightie corse,
          372As euer wielded speare in warlike hand,
          373And feates of armes did wisely vnderstand.
          374Eftsoones he perced through his chaufed chest
          375With thrilling point of deadly yron brand,
          376And launcht his Lordly hart:  with death opprest
          377He roar'd aloud, whiles life forsooke his stubborne brest.

 43

          378Who now is left to keepe the forlorne maid
          379From raging spoile of lawlesse victors will?
          380Her faithfull gard remou'd, her hope dismaid,
          381Her selfe a yeelded pray to saue or spill.
          382He now Lord of the field, his pride to fill,
          383With foule reproches, and disdainfull spight
          384Her vildly entertaines, and will or nill,
          385Beares her away vpon his courser light:
          386Her prayers nought preuaile, his rage is more of might.

 44

          387And all the way, with great lamenting paine,
          388And piteous plaints she filleth his dull eares,
          389That stony hart could riuen haue in twaine,
          390And all the way she wets with flowing teares:
          391But he enrag'd with rancor, nothing heares.
          392Her seruile beast yet would not leaue her so,
          393But followes her farre off, ne ought he feares,
          394To be partaker of her wandring woe,
          395More mild in beastly kind, then that her beastly foe.

Notes

1] Old spelling is retained except for ligatured letters, which are normalized. Contractions and abbreviations are expanded and underlined. Italics and original lineation are retained, but not small capitals and the text of catchwords, signatures, and running titles. Irregularities in spacing are ignored. Reference citations are by signatures and page numbers, and by editorial canto, stanza, and verse line numbers. Emendations are noted. Hung words are reattached to the end of the lines to which they belong.

301] Loth was ... feare: "Lo th w as ... fe a" in original.

382] field: "fied" in original.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Facsimile: Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene 1596, Volume 1, Introduction by Graham Hough (London: Scolar Press, 1976). PR 2358 A2H6 1976 Robarts Library. Electronic Text from Ian Lancashire, in collaboration with John Bradley, Willard McCarty, Michael Stairs, and T. R. Wooldridge, Using TACT with Electronic Texts: A Guide to Text-Analysis Computing Tools, Version 2.1 for MS-DOS and PC DOS (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1996). CD-ROM. QA 76.9.T48 L36.
First publication date: 1596
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition:
Recent editing: 1:2002/6/28

Form: Spenserian Stanzas
Rhyme: ababbcbcc


Other poems by Edmund Spenser