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Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 6 (1596)


Canto 6

From lawlesse lust by wondrous grace
fayre Vna is releast:
Whom saluage nation does adore,
and learnes her wise beheast.

i
              1AS when a ship, that flyes faire vnder saile,
              2An hidden rocke escaped hath vnwares,
              3That lay in waite her wrack for  to bewaile,
              4The Marriner yet halfe amazed stares
              5At perill past, and yet in doubt ne dares
              6To ioy at his foole-happie ouersight:
              7So doubly is distrest twixt ioy and cares
              8The dreadlesse courage of this Elfin knight,
              9Hauing escapt so sad ensamples in his sight.

ii
            10[Fol. E7v; p. 76] Yet sad he was that his too hastie speed
            11The faire Duess had forst him leaue behind;
            12And yet more sad, that Vna his deare dreed
            13Her truth had staind with treason so vnkind;
            14Yet crime in her could neuer creature find,
            15But for his loue, and for her owne selfe sake,
            16She wandred had from one to other Ynd,
            17Him for to seeke, ne euer woyld forsake,
            18Till her vnwares the fierce Sansloy did ouertake.

iii
            19Who after Archimagoes fowle defeat,
            20Led her away into a forrest wilde,
            21And turning wrathfull fire to lustfull heat,
            22With beastly sin thought her to haue defilde,
            23And made the vassall of his pleasures vilde.
            24Yet first he cast by treatie, and by traynes,
            25Her to perswade, that stubborne fort to yilde:
            26For greater conquest of hard loue he gaynes,
            27That workes it to his will, then he that it constraines.

iv
            28With fawning wordes he courted her a while,
            29And looking louely, and oft sighing sore,
            30Her constant hart did tempt with diuerse guile:
            31But wordes and lookes, and sighes she did abhore,
            32As rocke of Diamond stedfast euermore.
            33Yet for to feed his fyrie lustfull eye,
            34He snatcht the vele, that hong her face before;
            35Then gan her beautie shine, as brightest skye,
            36And burnt his beastly hart t'efforce her chastitye.

v
            37So when he saw his flatt'ring arts to fayle,
            38And subtile engines bet from batteree,
            39With greedy force he gan the fort assayle,
            40Whereof he weend possessed soone to bee,
            41[Fol. E8r; p. 77] And win rich spoile of ransackt chastetee.
            42Ah heauens, that do this hideous act behold,
            43And heauenly virgin thus outraged see,
            44How can ye vengeance iust so long withhold,
            45And hurle not flashing flames vpon that Paynim bold?

vi
            46The pitteous maiden carefull comfortlesse,
            47Does throw out thrilling shriekes, & shrieking cryes,
            48The last vaine helpe of womens great distresse,
            49And with loud plaints importuneth the skyes,
            50That molten starres do drop like weeping eyes;
            51And Phœbus flying so most shamefull sight,
            52His blushing face in foggy cloud implyes,
            53And hides for shame.  What wit of mortall wight
            54Can now deuise to quit a thrall from such a plight?

vii
            55Eternall prouidence exceeding thought,
            56Where none appeares can make her selfe a way:
            57A wondrous way it for this Lady wrought,
            58From Lyons clawes to pluck the griped pray.
            59Her shrill outcryes and shriekes so loud did bray,
            60That all the woodes and forestes did resownd;
            61A troupe of Faunes and Satyres far away
            62Within the wood were dauncing in a rownd,
            63Whiles old Syluanus slept in shady arber sownd.

viii
            64Who when they heard that pitteous strained voice,
            65In hast forsooke their rurall meriment,
            66And ran towards the far rebownded noyce,
            67To weet, what wight so loudly did lament.
            68Vnto the place they come incontinent:
            69Whom when the raging Sarazin espide,
            70A rude, misshapen, monstrous rablement,
            71Whose like he neuer saw, he durst not bide,
            72But got his ready steed, and fast away gan ride.

ix
            73[Fol. E8v; p. 78] The wyld woodgods arriued in the place,
            74There find the virgin dolefull desolate,
            75With ruffled rayments, and faire blubbred face,
            76As her outrageous foe had left her late,
            77And trembling yet through feare of former hate;
            78All stand amazed at so vncouth sight,
            79And gin to pittie her vnhappie state,
            80All stand astonied at her beautie bright,
            81In their rude eyes vnworthie of so wofull plight.

x
            82She more amaz'd, in double dread doth dwell;
            83And euery tender part for feare does shake:
            84As when a greedie Wolfe through hunger fell
            85A seely Lambe farre from the flocke does take,
            86Of whom he meanes his bloudie feast to make,
            87A Lyon spyes fast running towards him,
            88The innocent pray in hast he does forsake,
            89Which quit from death yet quakes in euery lim
            90With chaunge of feare, to see the Lyon looke so grim.

xi
            91Such fearefull fit assaid her trembling hart,
            92Ne word to speake, ne ioynt to moue she had:
            93The saluage nation feele her secret smart,
            94And read her sorrow in her count'nance sad;
            95Their frowning forheads with rough hornes yclad,
            96And rusticke horror all a side doe lay,
            97And gently grenning, shew a semblance glad
            98To comfort her, and feare to put away,
            99Their backward bent knees teach her humbly to obay.

xii
          100The doubtfull Damzell dare not yet commit
          101Her single person to their barbarous truth,
          102But still twixt feare and hope amazd does sit,
          103Late learnd what harme to hastie trust ensu'th,
          104[Fol. F1r; p. 79] They in compassion of her tender youth,
          105And wonder of her beautie soueraine,
          106Are wonne with pitty and vnwonted ruth,
          107And all prostrate vpon the lowly plaine,
          108Do kisse her feete, and fawne on her with count'nance faine.

xiii
          109Their harts she ghesseth by their humble guise,
          110And yieldes her to extremitie of time;
          111So from the ground she fearlesse doth arise,
          112And walketh forth without suspect of crime:
          113They all as glad, as birdes of ioyous Prime,
          114Thence lead her forth, about her dauncing round,
          115Shouting, and singing all a shepheards ryme,
          116And with greene braunches strowing all the ground,
          117Do worship her, as Queene, with oliue girlond cround.

xiv
          118And all the way their merry pipes they sound,
          119That all the woods with doubled Eccho ring,
          120And with their horned feet do weare the ground,
          121Leaping like wanton kids in pleasant Spring.
          122So towards old Syluanus they her bring;
          123Who with the noyse awaked, commeth out,
          124To weet the cause, his weake steps gouerning,
          125And aged limbs on Cypresse stadle stout,
          126And with an yuie twyne his wast is girt about.

xv
          127Far off he wonders, what them makes so glad,
          128Or Bacchus merry fruit they did inuent,
          129Or Cybeles franticke rites haue made them mad;
          130They drawing nigh, vnto their God present
          131That flowre of faith and beautie excellent.
          132The God himselfe vewing that mirrhour rare,
          133Stood long amazd, and burnt in his intent;
          134His owne faire Dryope now he thinkes not faire,
          135And Pholoe fowle, when her to this he doth compaire.

xvi
          136[Fol. F1v; p. 80] The woodborne people fall before her flat,
          137And worship her as Goddesse of the wood;
          138And old Syluanus selfe bethinkes not, what
          139To thinke of wight so faire, but gazing stood,
          140In doubt to deeme her borne of earthly brood;
          141Sometimes Dame Venus selfe he seemes to see,
          142But Venus neuer had so sober mood;
          143Sometimes Diana he her takes to bee,
          144But misseth bow, and shaftes, and buskins to her knee.

xvii
          145By vew of her he ginneth to reuiue
          146His ancient loue, and dearest Cyparisse,
          147And calles to mind his pourtraiture aliue,
          148How faire he was, and yet not faire to this,
          149And how he slew with glauncing dart amisse
          150A gentle Hynd, the which the louely boy
          151Did loue as life, aboue all worldly blisse;
          152For griefe whereof the lad n'ould after ioy,
          153But pynd away in anguish and selfe-wild annoy.

xviii
          154The wooddy Nymphes, faire Hamadryades
          155Her to behold do thither runne apace,
          156And all the troupe of light-foot Naiades,
          157Flocke all about to see her louely face:
          158But when they vewed haue her heauenly grace,
          159They enuie her in their malitious mind,
          160And fly away for feare of fowle disgrace:
          161But all the Satyres scorne their woody kind,
          162And henceforth nothing faire, but her on earth they find.

xix
          163Glad of such lucke, the luckelesse lucky maid,
          164Did her content to please their feeble eyes,
          165And long time with that saluage people staid,
          166To gather breath in many miseries.
          167[Fol. F2r; p. 81] During which time her gentle wit she plyes,
          168To teach them truth, which worshipt her in vaine,
          169And made her th'Image of Idolatryes;
          170But when their bootlesse zeale she did restraine
          171From her own worship, they her Asse would worship fayn.

xx
          172It fortuned a noble warlike knight
          173By iust occasion to that forrest came,
          174To seeke his kindred, and the lignage right,
          175From whence he tooke his well deserued name:
          176He had in armes abroad wonne muchell fame,
          177And fild far landes with glorie of his might,
          178Plaine, faithfull, true, and enimy of shame,
          179And euer lou'd to fight for Ladies right,
          180But in vaine glorious frayes he litle did delight.

xxi
          181A Satyres sonne yborne in forrest wyld,
          182By straunge aduenture as it did betyde,
          183And there begotten of a Lady myld,
          184Faire Thyamis the daughter of Labryde,
          185That was in sacred bands of wedlocke tyde
          186To Therion, a loose vnruly swayne;
          187Who had more ioy to raunge the forrest wyde,
          188And chase the saluage beast with busie payne,
          189Then serue his Ladies loue, and wast in pleasures vayne.

xxii
          190The forlorne mayd did with loues longing burne,
          191And could not lacke her louers company,
          192But to the wood she goes, to serue her turne,
          193And seeke her spouse, that from her still does fly,
          194And followes other game and venery:
          195A Satyre chaunst her wandring for to find,
          196And kindling coles of lust in brutish eye,
          197The loyall links of wedlocke did vnbind,
          198And made her person thrall vnto his beastly kind.

xxiii
          199[Fol. F2v; p. 82] So long in secret cabin there he held
          200Her captiue to his sensuall desire,
          201Till that with timely fruit her belly sweld,
          202And bore a boy vnto that saluage sire:
          203Then home he suffred her for to retire,
          204For ransome leauing him the late borne childe;
          205Whom till to ryper yeares he gan aspire,
          206He noursled vp in life and manners wilde,
          207Emongst wild beasts and woods, from lawes of men exilde.

xxiv
          208For all he taught the tender ymp, was but
          209To banish cowardize and bastard feare;
          210His trembling hand he would him force to put
          211Vpon the Lyon and the rugged Beare,
          212And from the she Beares teats her whelps to teare;
          213And eke wyld roring Buls he would him make
          214To tame, and ryde their backes not made to beare;
          215And the Robuckes in flight to ouertake,
          216That euery beast for feare of him did fly and quake.

xxv
          217Thereby so fearelesse, and so fell he grew,
          218That his owne sire and maister of his guise
          219Did often tremble at his horrid vew,
          220And oft for dread of hurt would him aduise,
          221The angry beasts not rashly to despise,
          222Nor too much to prouoke;  for he would learne
          223The Lyon stoup to him in lowly wise,
          224(A lesson hard) and make the Libbard sterne
          225Leaue roaring, when in rage he for reuenge did earne.

xxvi
          226And for to make his powre approued more,
          227Wyld beasts in yron yokes he would compell;
          228The spotted Panther, and the tusked Bore,
          229The Pardale swift, and the Tigre cruell;
          230[Fol. F3r; p. 83] The Antelope, and Wolfe both fierce and fell;
          231And them constraine in equall teme to draw.
          232Such ioy he had, their stubborne harts to quell,
          233And sturdie courage tame with dreadfull aw,
          234That his beheast they feared, as tyrans law.

xxvii
          235His louing mother came vpon a day
          236Vnto the woods, to see her little sonne;
          237And chaunst vnwares to meet him in the way,
          238After his sportes, and cruell pastime donne,
          239When after him a Lyonesse did runne,
          240That roaring all with rage, did lowd requere
          241Her children deare, whom he away had wonne:
          242The Lyon whelpes she saw how he did beare,
          243And lull in rugged armes, withouten childish feare.

xxviii
          244The fearefull Dame all quaked at the sight,
          245And turning backe, gan fast to fly away,
          246Vntill with loue reuokt from vaine affright,
          247She hardly yet perswaded was to stay,
          248And then to him these womanish words gan say;
          249Ah Satyrane, my dearling, and my ioy,
          250For loue of me leaue off this dreadfull play;
          251To dally thus with death, is no fit toy,
          252Go find some other play-fellowes, mine own sweet boy.

xxix
          253In these and like delights of bloudy game
          254He trayned was, till ryper yeares he raught,
          255And there abode, whilst any beast of name
          256Walkt in that forest, whom he had not taught
          257To feare his force:  and then his courage haught
          258Desird of forreine foemen to be knowne,
          259And far abroad for straunge aduentures sought:
          260In which his might was neuer ouerthrowne,
          261But through all Faery lond his famous worth was blown.

xxx
          262[Fol. F3v; p. 84] Yet euermore it was his manner faire,
          263After long labours and aduentures spent,
          264Vnto those natiue woods for to repaire,
          265To see his sire and ofspring auncient.
          266And now he thither came for like intent;
          267Where he vnwares the fairest Vna found,
          268Straunge Lady, in so straunge habiliment,
          269Teaching the Satyres, which her sat around,
          270Trew sacred lore, which from her sweet lips did redound.

xxxi
          271He wondred at her wisedome heauenly rare,
          272Whose like in womens wit he neuer knew;
          273And when her curteous deeds he did compare,
          274Gan her admire, and her sad sorrowes rew,
          275Blaming of Fortune, which such troubles threw,
          276And ioyd to make proofe of her crueltie
          277On gentle Dame, so hurtlesse, and so trew:
          278Thenceforth he kept her goodly company,
          279And learnd her discipline of faith and veritie.

xxxii
          280But she all vowd vnto the Redcrosse knight,
          281His wandring perill closely did lament,
          282Ne in this new acquaintaunce could delight,
          283But her deare heart with anguish did torment,
          284And all her wit in secret counsels spent,
          285How to escape.  At last in priuie wise
          286To Satyrane she shewed her intent;
          287Who glad to gain such fauour, gan deuise,
          288How with that pensiue Maid he best might thence arise.

xxxiii
          289So on a day when Satyres all were gone,
          290To do their seruice to Syluanus old,
          291The gentle virgin left behind alone
          292He led away with courage stout and bold.
          293[Fol. F4r; p. 85] Too late it was, to Satyres to be told,
          294Or euer hope recouer her againe:
          295In vaine he seekes that hauing cannot hold.
          296So fast he carried her with carefull paine,
          297That they the woods are past, & come now to the plaine.

xxxiv
          298The better part now of the lingring day,
          299They traueild had, when as they farre espide
          300A wearie wight forwandring by the way,
          301And towards him they gan in hast to ride,
          302To weet of newes, that did abroad betide,
          303Or tydings of her knight of the Redcrosse.
          304But he them spying, gan to turne aside,
          305For feare as seemd, or for some feigned losse;
          306More greedy they of newes, fast towards him do crosse.

xxxv
          307A silly man, in simple weedes forworne,
          308And soild with dust of the long dried way;
          309His sandales were with toilesome trauell torne,
          310And face all tand with scorching sunny ray,
          311As he had traueild many a sommers day,
          312Through boyling sands of Arabie and Ynde;
          313And in his hand a Iacobs staffe, to stay
          314His wearie limbes vpon:  and eke behind,
          315His scrip did hang, in which his needments he did bind.

xxxvi
          316The knight approching nigh, of him inquerd
          317Tydings of warre, and of aduentures new;
          318But warres, nor new aduentures none he herd.
          319Then Vna gan to aske, if ought he knew,
          320Or heard abroad of that her champion trew,
          321That in his armour bare a croslet red.
          322Aye me, Deare dame (quoth he) well may I rew
          323To tell the sad sight, which mine eies haue red:
          324These eyes did see that knight both liuing and eke ded.

xxxvii
          325[Fol. F4v; p. 86] That cruell word her tender hart so thrild,
          326That suddein cold did runne through euery vaine,
          327And stony horrour all her sences fild
          328With dying fit, that downe she fell for paine.
          329The knight her lightly reared vp againe,
          330And comforted with corteous kind reliefe:
          331Then wonne from death, she bad him tellen plaine
          332The further processe of her hidden griefe;
          333The lesser pangs can beare, who hath endur'd the chiefe.

xxxviii
          334Then gan the Pilgrim thus, I chaunst this day,
          335This fatall day, that shall I euer rew,
          336To see two knights in trauell on my way
          337(A sory sight) arraung'd in battell new,
          338Both breathing vengeaunce, both of wrathfull hew:
          339My fearefull flesh did tremble at their strife,
          340To see their blades so greedily imbrew,
          341That drunke with bloud, yet thristed after life:
          342What more?  the Redcrosse knight was slaine with Paynim knife.

xxxix
          343Ah dearest Lord (quoth she) how might that bee,
          344And he the stoutest knight, that euer wonne?
          345Ah dearest dame (quoth he) how might I see
          346The thing, that might not be, and yet was donne?
          347Where is (said Satyrane) that Paynims sonne,
          348That him of life, and vs of ioy hath reft?
          349Not far away (quoth he) he hence doth wonne
          350Foreby a fountaine, where I late him left
          351Washing his bloudy wounds, that through the steele were cleft.

xl
          352Therewith the knight thence marched forth in hast,
          353Whiles Vna with huge heauinesse opprest,
          354Could not for sorrow follow him so fast;
          355And soone he came, as he the place had ghest,
          356[Fol. F5r; p. 87] Whereas that Pagan proud him selfe did rest,
          357In secret shadow by a fountaine side:
          358Euen he it was, that earst would haue supprest
          359Faire Vna:  whom when Satyrane espide,
          360With fowle reprochfull words he boldly him defide.

xli
          361And said, Arise thou cursed Miscreaunt,
          362That hast with knightlesse guile and trecherous train
          363Faire knighthood fowly shamed, and doest vaunt
          364That good knight of the Redcrosse to haue slain:
          365Arise, and with like treason now maintain
          366Thy guilty wrong, or else thee guilty yield.
          367The Sarazin this hearing, rose amain,
          368And catching vp in hast his three square shield,
          369And shining helmet, soone him buckled to the field.

xlii
          370And drawing nigh him said, Ah misborne Elfe,
          371In euill houre thy foes thee hither sent,
          372Anothers wrongs to wreake vpon thy selfe:
          373Yet ill thou blamest me, for hauing blent
          374My name with guile and traiterous intent;
          375That Redcrosse knight, perdie, I neuer slew,
          376But had he beene, where earst his armes were lent,
          377Th'enchaunter vaine his errour should not rew:
          378But thou his errour shalt, I hope now prouen trew.

xliii
          379Therewith they gan, both furious and fell,
          380To thunder blowes, and fiersly to assaile
          381Each other bent his enimy to quell,
          382That with their force they perst both plate and maile,
          383And made wide furrowes in their fleshes fraile,
          384That it would pitty any liuing eie.
          385Large floods of bloud adowne their sides did raile;
          386But floods of bloud could not them satisfie:
          387Both hungred after death:  both chose to win, or die.

xliv
          388[Fol. F5v; p. 88] So long they fight,and fell reuenge pursue,
          389That fainting each, themselues to breathen let,
          390And oft refreshed, battell oft renue:
          391As when two Bores with rancling malice met,
          392Their gory sides fresh bleeding fiercely fret,
          393Til breathlesse both them selues aside retire,
          394Where foming wrath, their cruell tuskes they whet,
          395And trample th'earth, the whiles they may respire;
          396Then backe to fight againe, new breathed and entire.

xlv
          397So fiersly, when these knights had breathed once,
          398They gan to fight returne, increasing more
          399Their puissant force, and cruell rage attonce,
          400With heaped strokes more hugely, then before,
          401That with their drerie wounds and bloudy gore
          402They both deformed, scarsely could be known.
          403By this sad Vna fraught with anguish sore,
          404Led with their noise, which through the aire was thrown,
          405Arriu'd, where they in erth their fruitles bloud had sown.

xlvi
          406Whom all so soone as that proud Sarazin
          407Espide, he gan reuiue the memory
          408Of his lewd lusts, and late attempted sin,
          409And left the doubtfull battell hastily,
          410To catch her, newly offred to his eie:
          411But Satyrane with strokes him turning, staid,
          412And sternely bad him other businesse plie,
          413Then hunt the steps of pure vnspotted Maid:
          414Wherewith he all enrag'd, these bitter speaches said.

xlvii
          415O foolish faeries sonne, what furie mad
          416Hath thee incenst, to hast thy dolefull fete?
          417Were it not better, I that Lady had,
          418Then that thou hadst repented it too late?
          419[Fol. F6r; p. 89] Most sencelesse man he, that himselfe doth hate,
          420To loue another. Lo then for thine ayd
          421Here take thy louers token on thy pate.
          422So they to fight;  the whiles the royall Mayd
          423Fled farre away, of that proud Paynim sore afrayd.

xlviii
          424But that false Pilgrim, which that leasing told,
          425Being in deed old Archimage, did stay
          426In secret shadow, all this to behold,
          427And much reioyced in their bloudy fray:
          428But when he saw the Damsell passe away
          429He left his stond, and her pursewd apace,
          430In hope to bring her to her last decay.
          431But for to tell her lamentable cace,
          432And eke this battels end, will need another place.

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.

41] win: "with" in original.

420] another. Lo: "another .Lo" 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

Form: Spenserian Stanzas
Rhyme: ababbcbcc


Other poems by Edmund Spenser