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Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 4 (1596)


[Fol. C8r; p. 45] Canto 4

To sinfull house of Pride, Duessa
guides the faithfull knight,
Where brothers death to wreak Sansioy
doth chalenge him to fight.

i
              1YOung knight, what euer that dost armes professe,
              2And through long labours huntest after fame,
              3Beware of fraud, beware of ficklenesse,
              4In choice, and change of thy deare loued Dame,
              5Least thou of her beleeue too lightly blame,
              6And rash misweening doe thy hart remoue:
              7For vnto knight there is no greater shame,
              8Then lightnesse and inconstancie in loue;
              9That doth this Redcrosse knights ensample plainly proue.

ii
            10Who after that he had faire Vna lorne,
            11Through light misdeeming of her loialtie,
            12And false Duessa in her sted had borne,
            13Called Fidess', and so supposd to bee;
            14Long with her traueild, till at last they see
            15A goodly building, brauely garnished,
            16The house of mightie Prince it seemd to bee:
            17And towards it a broad high way that led,
            18All bare through peoples feet, which thither traueiled.

iii
            19Great troupes of people traueild thitherward
            20Both day and night, of each degree and place,
            21But few returned, hauing scaped hard,
            22With balefull beggerie, or foule disgrace,
            23[Fol. C8v; p. 46] Which euer after in most wretched case,
            24Like loathsome lazars, by the hedges lay.
            25Thither Duessa bad him bend his pace:
            26For she is wearie of the toilesome way,
            27And also nigh consumed is the lingring day.

iv
            28A stately Pallace built of squared bricke,
            29Which cunningly was without morter laid,
            30Whose wals were high, but nothing strong, nor thick,
            31And golden foile all ouer them displaid,
            32That purest skye with brightnesse they dismaid:
            33High lifted vp were many loftie towres,
            34And goodly galleries farre ouer laid,
            35Full of faire windowes, and delightfull bowres;
            36And on the top a Diall told the timely howres.

v
            37It was a goodly heape for to behould,
            38And spake the praises of the workmans wit;
            39But full great pittie, that so faire a mould
            40Did on so weake foundation euer sit:
            41For on a sandie hill, that still did flit,
            42And fall away, it mounted was full hie,
            43That euery breath of heauen shaked it:
            44And all the hinder parts, that few could spie,
            45Were ruinous and old, but painted cunningly.

vi
            46Arriued there they passed in forth right;
            47For still to all the gates stood open wide,
            48Yet charge of them was to a Porter hight
            49Cald Maluenù, who entrance none denide:
            50Thence to the hall, which was on euery side
            51With rich array and costly arras dight:
            52Infinite sorts of people did abide
            53There waiting long, to win the wished sight
            54Of her, that was the Lady of that Pallace bright.

vii
            55[Fol. D1r; p. 47] By them they passe, all gazing on them round,
            56And to the Presence mount;  whose glorious vew
            57Their frayle amazed senses did confound:
            58In liuing Princes court none euer knew
            59Such endlesse richesse, and so sumptuous shew;
            60Ne Persia selfe, the nourse of pompous pride
            61Like euer saw.  And there a noble crew
            62Of Lordes and Ladies stood on euery side,
            63Which with their presence faire, the place much beautifide.

viii
            64High aboue all a cloth of State was spred,
            65And a rich throne, as bright as sunny day,
            66On which there sate most braue embellished
            67With royall robes and gorgeous array,
            68A mayden Queene, that shone as Titans ray,
            69In glistring gold, and peerelesse pretious stone:
            70Yet her bright blazing beautie did assay
            71To dim the brightnesse of her glorious throne,
            72As enuying her selfe, that too exceeding shone.

ix
            73Exceeding shone, like Phœbus fairest childe,
            74That did presume his fathers firie wayne,
            75And flaming mouthes of steedes vnwonted wilde
            76Through highest heauen with weaker hand to rayne;
            77Proud of such glory and aduancement vaine,
            78While flashing beames do daze his feeble eyen,
            79He leaues the welkin way most beaten plaine,
            80And rapt with whirling wheeles, inflames the skyen,
            81With fire not made to burne, but fairely for to shyne.

x
            82So proud she shyned in her Princely state,
            83Looking to heauen;  for earth she did disdayne,
            84And sitting high;  for lowly she did hate:
            85Lo vnderneath her scornefull feete, was layne
            86[Fol. D1v; p. 48] A dreadfull Dragon with an hideous trayne,
            87And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright,
            88Wherein her face she often vewed fayne,
            89And in her selfe-lou'd semblance tooke delight;
            90For she was wondrous faire, as any liuing wight.

xi
            91Of griesly Pluto she the daughter was,
            92And sad Proserpina the Queene of hell;
            93Yet did she thinke her pearelesse worth to pas
            94That parentage, with pride so did she swell,
            95And thundring Ioue, that high in heauen doth dwell,
            96And wield the world, she claymed for her syre,
            97Or if that any else did Ioue excell:
            98For to the highest she did still aspyre,
            99Or if ought higher were then that, did it desyre.

xii
          100And proud Lucifera men did her call,
          101That made her selfe a Queene, and crownd to be,
          102Yet rightfull kingdome she had none at all,
          103Ne heritage of natiue soueraintie,
          104But did vsurpe with wrong and tyrannie
          105Vpon the scepter, which she now did hold:
          106Ne ruld her Realmes with lawes, but pollicie,
          107And strong aduizement of six wisards old,
          108That with their counsels bad her kingdome did vphold.

xiii
          109Soone as the Elfing knight in presence came,
          110And false Duessa seeming Lady faire,
          111A gentle Husher, Vanitie by name
          112Made rowme, and passage for them did prepaire:
          113So goodly brought them to the lowest staire
          114Of her high throne, where they on humble knee
          115Making obeyssance, did the cause declare,
          116Why they were come, her royall state to see,
          117To proue the wide report of her great Maiestee.

xiv
          118[Fol. D2r; p. 49] With loftie eyes, halfe loth to looke so low,
          119She thanked them in her disdainefull wise,
          120Ne other grace vouchsafed them to show
          121Of Princesse worthy, scarse them bad arise.
          122Her Lordes and Ladies all this while deuise
          123Themselues to setten forth to straungers sight:
          124Some frounce their curled haire in courtly guise,
          125Some prancke their ruffes, and others trimly dight
          126Their gay attire:  each others greater pride does spight.

xv
          127Goodly they all that knight do entertaine,
          128Right glad with him to haue increast their crew:
          129But to Due{ss} each one himselfe did paine
          130All kindnesse and faire courtesie to shew;
          131For in that court whylome her well they knew:
          132Yet the stout Faerie mongst the middest crowd
          133Thought all their glorie vaine in knightly vew,
          134And that great Princesse too exceeding prowd,
          135That to strange knight no better countenance allowd.

xvi
          136Suddein vpriseth from her stately place
          137The royall Dame, and for her coche doth call:
          138All hurtlen forth, and she with Princely pace,
          139As faire Aurora in her purple pall,
          140Out of the East the dawning day doth call:
          141So forth she comes:  her brightnesse brode doth blaze;
          142The heapes of people thronging in the hall,
          143Do ride each other, vpon her to gaze:
          144Her glorious glitterand light doth all mens eyes amaze.

xvii
          145So forth she comes, and to her coche does clyme,
          146Adorned all with gold, and girlonds gay,
          147That seemd as fresh as Flora in her prime,
          148And stroue to match, in royall rich array,
          149[Fol. D2v; p. 50] Great Iunoes golden chaire, the which they say
          150The Gods stand gazing on, when she does ride
          151To Ioues high house through heauens bras-paued way
          152Drawne of faire Pecocks, that excell in pride,
          153And full of Argus eyes their tailes dispredden wide.

xviii
          154But this was drawne of six vnequall beasts,
          155On which her six sage Counsellours did ryde,
          156Taught to obay their bestiall beheasts,
          157With like conditions to their kinds applyde:
          158On which the first, that all the rest did guyde,
          159Was sluggish Idlenesse the nourse of sin;
          160Vpon a slouthfull Asse he chose to ryde,
          161Arayd in habit blacke, and amis thin,
          162Like to an holy Monck, the seruice to begin.

xix
          163And in his hand his Portesse still he bare,
          164That much was worne, but therein little red,
          165For of deuotion he had little care,
          166Still drownd in sleepe, and most of his dayes ded;
          167Scarse could he once vphold his heauie hed,
          168To looken, whether it were night or day:
          169May seeme the wayne was very euill led,
          170When such an one had guiding of the way,
          171That knew not, whether right he went, or else stray.

xx
          172From worldly cares himselfe he did esloyne,
          173And greatly shunned manly exercise,
          174For euery worke he chalenged essoyne,
          175For contemplation sake:  yet otherwise,
          176His life he led in lawlesse riotise;
          177By which he grew to grieuous malady;
          178For in his lustlesse limbs through euill guise
          179A shaking feuer raignd continually:
          180Such one was Idlenesse, first of this company.

xxi
          181[Fol. D3r; p. 51] And by his side rode loathsome Gluttony,
          182Deformed creature, on a filthie swyne,
          183His belly was vp-blowne with luxury,
          184And eke with fatnesse swollen were his eyne,
          185And like a Crane his necke was long and fyne,
          186With which he swallowd vp excessiue feast,
          187For want whereof poore people oft did pyne;
          188And all the way, most like a brutish beast,
          189He spued vp his gorge, that all did him deteast.

xxii
          190In greene vine leaues he was right fitly clad;
          191For other clothes he could not weare for heat,
          192And on his head an yuie girland had,
          193From vnder which fast trickled downe the sweat:
          194Still as he rode, he somewhat still did eat,
          195And in his hand did beare a bouzing can,
          196Of which he supt so oft, that on his seat
          197His dronken corse he scarse vpholden can,
          198In shape and life more like a monster, then a man.

xxiii
          199Vnfit he was for any worldly thing,
          200And eke vnhable once to stirre or go,
          201Not meet to be of counsell to a king,
          202Whose mind in meat and drinke was drowned so,
          203That from his friend he seldome knew his fo:
          204Full of diseases was his carcas blew,
          205And a dry dropsie through his flesh did flow:
          206Which by misdiet daily greater grew:
          207Such one was Gluttony, the second of that crew.

xxiv
          208And next to him rode lustfull Lechery,
          209Vpon a bearded Goat, whose rugged haire,
          210And whally eyes (the signe of gelosy,)
          211Was like the person selfe, whom he did beare:
          212[Fol. D3v; p. 52] Who rough, and blacke, and filthy did appeare,
          213Vnseemely man to please faire Ladies eye;
          214Yet he of Ladies oft was loued deare,
          215When fairer faces were bid standen by:
          216O who does know the bent of womens fantasy?

xxv
          217In a greene gowne he clothed was full faire,
          218Which vnderneath did hide his filthinesse,
          219And in his hand a burning hart he bare,
          220Full of vaine follies, and new fanglenesse:
          221For he was false, and fraught with ficklenesse,
          222And learned had to loue with secret lookes,
          223And well could daunce, and sing with ruefulnesse,
          224And fortunes tell, and read in louing bookes,
          225And thousand other wayes, to bait his fleshly hookes.

xxvi
          226Inconstant man, that loued all he saw,
          227And lusted after all, that he did loue,
          228Ne would his looser life be tide to law,
          229But ioyd weake wemens hearts to tempt and proue
          230If from their loyall loues he might them moue;
          231Which lewdnesse fild him with reprochfull paine
          232Of that fowle euill, which all men reproue,
          233That rots the marrow, and consumes the braine:
          234Such one was Lecherie, the third of all this traine.

xxvii
          235And greedy Auarice by him did ride,
          236Vpon a Camell loaden all with gold;
          237Two iron coffers hong on either side,
          238With precious mettall full, as they might hold,
          239And in his lap an heape of coine he told;
          240For of his wicked pelfe his God he made,
          241And vnto hell him selfe for money sold;
          242Accursed vsurie was all his trade,
          243And right and wrong ylike in equall ballaunce waide.

xxviii
          244[Fol. D4r; p. 53] His life was nigh vnto deaths doore yplast,
          245And thred-bare cote, and cobled shoes he ware,
          246Ne scarse good morsell all his life did tast,
          247But both from backe and belly still did spare,
          248To fill his bags, and richesse to compare;
          249Yet chylde ne kinsman liuing had he none
          250To leaue them to;  but thorough daily care
          251To get, and nightly feare to lose his owne,
          252He led a wretched life vnto him selfe vnknowne.

xxix
          253Most wretched wight, whom nothing might suffise,
          254Whose greedy lust did lacke in greatest store,
          255Whose need had end, but no end couetise,
          256Whose wealth was want, whose plenty made him pore,
          257Who had enough, yet wished euer more;
          258A vile disease, and eke in foote and hand
          259A grieuous gout tormented him full sore,
          260That well he could not touch, not go, nor stand:
          261Such one was Auarice, the fourth of this faire band.

xxx
          262And next to him malicious Enuie rode,
          263Vpon a rauenous wolfe, and still did chaw
          264Betweene his cankred teeth a venemous tode,
          265That all the poison ran about his chaw;
          266But inwardly he chawed his owne maw
          267At neighbours wealth, that made him euer sad;
          268For death it was, when any good he saw,
          269And wept, that cause of weeping none he had,
          270But when he heard of harme, he wexed wondrous glad.

xxxi
          271All in a kirtle of discolourd say
          272He clothed was, ypainted full of eyes;
          273And in his bosome secretly there lay
          274An hatefull Snake, the which his taile vptyes
          275[Fol. D4v; p. 54] In many folds, and mortall sting implyes.
          276Still as he rode, he gnasht his teeth, to see
          277Those heapes of gold with griple Couetyse,
          278And grudged at the great felicitie
          279Of proud Lucifera, and his owne companie.

xxxii
          280He hated all good workes and vertuous deeds,
          281And him no lesse, that any like did vse,
          282And who with gracious bread the hungry feeds,
          283His almes for want of faith he doth accuse;
          284So euery good to bad he doth abuse:
          285And eke the verse of famous Poets witt
          286He does backebite, and spightfull poison spues
          287From leprous mouth on all, that euer writt:
          288Such one vile Enuie was, that fifte in row did sitt.

xxxiii
          289And him beside rides fierce reuenging {W}rath,
          290Vpon a Lion, loth for to be led;
          291And in his hand a burning brond he hath,
          292The which he brandisheth about his hed;
          293His eyes did hurle forth sparkles fiery red,
          294And stared sterne on all, that him beheld,
          295As ashes pale of hew and seeming ded;
          296And on his dagger still his hand he held,
          297Trembling through hasty rage, when choler in him sweld.

xxxiv
          298His ruffin raiment all was staind with blood,
          299Which he had spilt, and all to rags yrent,
          300Through vnaduized rashnesse woxen wood;
          301For of his hands he had no gouernement,
          302Ne car'd for bloud in his auengement:
          303But when the furious fit was ouerpast,
          304His cruell facts he often would repent;
          305Yet wilfull man he neuer would forecast,
          306How many mischieues should ensue his heedlesse hast.

xxxv
          307[Fol. D5r; p. 55] Full many mischiefes follow cruell {W}rath;
          308Abhorred bloudshed, and tumultuous strife,
          309Vnmanly murder, and vnthrifty scath,
          310Bitter despight, with rancours rusty knife,
          311And fretting griefe the enemy of life;
          312All these, and many euils moe haunt ire,
          313The swelling Splene, and Frenzy raging rife,
          314The shaking Palsey, and Saint Fraunces fire:
          315Such one was {W}rath, the last of this vngodly tire.

xxxvi
          316And after all, vpon the wagon beame
          317Rode Sathan, with a smarting whip in hand,
          318With which he forward lasht the laesie teme,
          319So oft as Slowth still in the mire did stand.
          320Huge routs of people did about them band,
          321Showting for ioy, and still before their way
          322A foggy mist had couered all the land;
          323And vnderneath their feet, all scattered lay
          324Dead sculs & bones of men, whose life had gone astray.

xxxvii
          325So forth they marchen in this goodly sort,
          326To take the solace of the open aire,
          327And in fresh flowring fields themselues to sport;
          328Emongst the rest rode that false Lady faire,
          329The fowle Duessa, next vnto the chaire
          330Of proud Lucifera, as one of the traine:
          331But that good knight would not so nigh repaire,
          332Him selfe estraunging from their ioyaunce vaine,
          333Whose fellowship seemd far vnfit for warlike swaine.

xxxviii
          334So hauing solaced themselues a space
          335With pleasaunce of the breathing fields yfed,
          336They backe returned to the Princely Place;
          337Whereas an errant knight in armes ycled,
          338[Fol. D5v; p. 56] And heathnish shield, wherein with letters red
          339Was writ Sans ioy, they new arriued find:
          340Enflam'd with fury and fiers hardy-hed,
          341He seemd in hart to harbour thoughts vnkind,
          342And nourish bloudy vengeaunce in his bitter mind.

xxxix
          343Who when the shamed shield of slaine Sans foy
          344He spide with that same Faery champions page,
          345Bewraying him, that did of late destroy
          346His eldest brother, burning all with rage
          347He to him leapt, and that same enuious gage
          348Of victors glory from him snatcht away:
          349But th'Elfin knight, which ought that warlike wage,
          350Disdaind to loose the meed he wonne in fray,
          351And him rencountring fierce, reskewd the noble pray.

xl
          352Therewith they gan to hurtlen greedily,
          353Redoubted battaile ready to darrayne,
          354And clash their shields, and shake their swords on hy,
          355That with their sturre they troubled all the traine;
          356Till that great Queene vpon eternall paine
          357Of high displeasure, that ensewen might,
          358Commaunded them their fury to refraine,
          359And if that either to that shield had right,
          360In equall lists they should the morrow next it fight.

xli
          361Ah dearest Dame, (quoth then the Paynim bold,)
          362Pardon the errour of enraged wight,
          363Whom great griefe made forget the raines to hold
          364Of reasons rule, to see this recreant knight,
          365No knight, but treachour full of false despight
          366And shamefull treason, who through guile hath slayn
          367The prowest knight, that euer field did fight,
          368Euen stout Sans foy (O who can then refrayn?)
          369Whose shield he beares renuerst, the more to heape disdayn.

xlii
          370[Fol. D6r; p. 57] And to augment the glorie of his guile,
          371His dearest loue the faire Fidessa loe
          372Is there possessed of the traytour vile,
          373Who reapes the haruest sowen by his foe,
          374Sowen in bloudy field, and bought with woe:
          375That brothers hand shall dearely well requight
          376So be, ô Queene, you equall fauour showe.
          377Him litle answerd th'angry Elfin knight;
          378He neuer meant with words, but swords to plead his right.

xliii
          379But threw his gauntlet as a sacred pledge,
          380His cause in combat the next day to try:
          381So been they parted both, with harts on edge,
          382To be aueng'd each on his enimy.
          383That night they pas in ioy and iollity,
          384Feasting and courting both in bowre and hall;
          385For Steward was excessiue Gluttonie,
          386That of his plenty poured forth to all;
          387Which doen, the Chamberlain Slowth did to rest them call.

xliv
          388Now whenas darkesome night had all displayd
          389Her coleblacke curtein ouer brightest skye,
          390The warlike youthes on dayntie couches layd,
          391Did chace away sweet sleepe from sluggish eye,
          392To muse on meanes of hoped victory.
          393But whenas Morpheus had with leaden mace
          394Arrested all that courtly company,
          395Vp-rose Duessa from her resting place,
          396And to the Paynims lodging comes with silent pace.

xlv
          397Whom broad awake she finds, in troublous fit,
          398Forecasting, how his foe he might annoy,
          399And him amoues with speaches seeming fit:
          400Ah deare Sans ioy, next dearest to Sans foy,
          401[Fol. D6v; p. 58] Cause of my new griefe, cause of my new ioy,
          402Ioyous, to see his ymage in mine eye,
          403And greeu'd, to thinke how foe did him destroy,
          404That was the flowre of grace and cheualrye;
          405Lo his Fidessa to thy secret faith I flye.

xlvi
          406With gentle wordes he can her fairely greet,
          407And bad say on the secret of her hart.
          408Then sighing soft, I learne that litle sweet
          409Oft tempred is (quoth she) with muchell smart:
          410For since my brest was launcht with louely dart
          411Of deare Sansfoy, I neuer ioyed howre,
          412But in eternall woes my weaker hart
          413Haue wasted, louing him with all my powre,
          414And for his sake haue felt full many an heauie stowre.

xlvii
          415At last when perils all I weened past,
          416And hop'd to reape the crop of all my care,
          417Into new woes vnweeting I was cast,
          418By this false faytor, who vnworthy ware
          419His worthy shield, whom he with guilefull snare
          420Entrapped slew, and brought to shamefull graue.
          421Me silly maid away with him he bare,
          422And euer since hath kept in darksome caue,
          423For that I would not yeeld, that to Sans-foy I gaue.

xlviii
          424But since faire Sunne hath sperst that lowring clowd,
          425And to my loathed life now shewes some light,
          426Vnder your beames I will me safely shrowd,
          427From dreaded storme of his disdainfull spight:
          428To you th'inheritance belongs by right
          429Of brothers prayse, to you eke longs his loue.
          430Let not his loue, let not his restlesse spright
          431Be vnreueng'd, that calles to you aboue
          432From wandring Stygian shores, where it doth endlesse moue.

xlix
          433[Fol. D7r; p. 59] Thereto said he, faire Dame be nought dismaid
          434For sorrowes past;  their griefe is with them gone:
          435Ne yet of present perill be affraid;
          436For needlesse feare did neuer vantage none,
          437And helplesse hap it booteth not to mone.
          438Dead is Sans-foy, his vitall paines are past,
          439Though greeued ghost for vengeance deepe do grone:
          440He liues, that shall him pay his dewties last,
          441And guiltie Elfin bloud shall sacrifice in hast.

l
          442O but I feare the fickle freakes (quoth shee)
          443Of fortune false, and oddes of armes in field.
          444Why dame (quoth he) what oddes can euer bee,
          445Where both do fight alike, to win or yield?
          446Yea but (quoth she) he beares a charmed shield,
          447And eke enchaunted armes, that none can perce,
          448Ne none can wound the man, that does them wield.
          449Charmd or enchaunted (answerd he then ferce)
          450I no whit reck, ne you the like need to reherce.

li
          451But faire Fidessa, sithens fortunes guile,
          452Or enimies powre hath now captiued you,
          453Returne from whence ye came, and rest a while
          454Till morrow next, that I the Elfe subdew,
          455And with Sans-foyes dead dowry you endew.
          456Ay me, that is a double death (she said)
          457With proud foes sight my sorrow to renew:
          458Where euer yet I be, my secret aid
          459Shall follow you.  So passing forth she him obaid.

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.

93] worth: "wroth" in original.

144] glitterand: "glitter and" 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 L36.1976 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1596
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition:
Recent editing: 1:2002/6/30*1:2002/6/30

Form: Spenserian Stanzas
Rhyme: ababbcbcc


Other poems by Edmund Spenser