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Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 10


CANTO X

Her faithfull knight faire Una brings
to house of Holinesse,
Where he is taught repentance, and
the way to heavenly blesse.

i
              1What man is he, that boasts of fleshly might,
              2And vaine assurance of mortality,
              3Which all so soone, as it doth come to fight,
              4Against spirituall foes, yeelds by and by,
              5Or from the field most cowardly doth fly?
              6Ne let the man ascribe it to his skill
              7That thorough grace hath gained victory.
              8If any strength we have, it is to ill,
              9But all the good is Gods, both power and ek will.

ii
            10By that, which lately hapned, Una saw,
            11That this her knight was feeble, and too faint;
            12And all his sinews woxen weake and raw,
            13Through long enprisonment, and hard constraint,
            14Which he endured in his late restraint,
            15That yet he was unfit for bloudie fight:
            16Therefore to cherish him with diets daint
            17She cast to bring him, where he chearen might,
            18Till he recovered had his late decayed plight.

iii
            19There was an auntient house not farre away,
            20Renowmd throughout the world for sacred lore,
            21And pure unspotted life: so well they say
            22It governd was, and guided evermore,
            23Through wisedome of a matrone grave and hore;
            24Whose onely joy was to relieve the needes
            25Of wretched soules, and helpe the helpelesse pore:
            26All night she spent in bidding of her bedes,
            27And all the day in doing good and godly deedes.

iv
            28Dame Caelia men did her call, as thought
            29From heaven to come, or thither to arise,
            30The mother of three daughters, well upbrought
            31In goodly thewes, and godly exercise:
            32The eldest two most sober, chast, and wise,
            33Fidelia and Speranza virgins were,
            34Though spousd, yet wanting wedlocks solemnize;
            35But faire Charissa to a lovely fere
            36Was lincked, and by him had many pledges dere.

v
            37Arrived there, the dore they find fast lockt;
            38For it was warely watched night and day,
            39For feare of many foes: but when they knockt,
            40The Porter opened unto them streight way:
            41He was an aged syre, all hory gray,
            42With lookes full lowly cast, and gate full slow,
            43Wont on a staffe his feeble steps to stay,
            44Hight Humilt{'a}. They passe in stouping low;
            45For streight and narrow was the way, which he did show.

vi
            46Each goodly thing is hardest to begin,
            47But entred in a spacious court they see,
            48Both plaine, and pleasant to be walked in,
            49Where them does meete a francklin faire and free,
            50And entertaines with comely courteous glee,
            51His name was Zele, that him right well became,
            52For in his speeches and behaviour hee
            53Did labour lively to expresse the same,
            54And gladly did them guide, till to the Hall they came.

vii
            55There fairely them receives a gentle Squire,
            56Of milde demeanure, and rare courtesie,
            57Right cleanly clad in comely sad attire;
            58In word and deede that shew'd great modestie,
            59And knew his good to all of each degree,
            60Hight Reverence. He them with speeches meet
            61Does faire entreat; no courting nicetie,
            62But simple true, and eke unfained sweet,
            63As might become a Squire so great persons to greet.

viii
            64And afterwards them to his Dame he leades,
            65That aged Dame, the Ladie of the place:
            66Who all this while was busie at her beades:
            67Which doen, she up arose with seemely grace,
            68And toward them full matronely did pace.
            69Where when that fairest Una she beheld,
            70Whom well she knew to spring from heavenly race,
            71Her hart with joy unwonted inly sweld,
            72As feeling wondrous comfort in her weaker eld.

ix
            73And her embracing said, O happie earth,
            74Whereon thy innocent feet doe ever tread,
            75Most vertuous virgin borne of heavenly berth,
            76That to redeeme thy woefull parents head,
            77From tyrans rage, and ever-dying dread,
            78Hast wandred through the world now long a day;
            79Yet ceasest not thy wearie soles to lead,
            80What grace hath thee now hither brought this way?
            81Or doen thy feeble feet unweeting hither stray?

x
            82Strange thing it is an errant knight to see
            83Here in this place, or any other wight,
            84That hither turnes his steps. So few there bee,
            85That chose the narrow path, or seeke the right:
            86All keepe the broad high way, and take delight
            87With many rather for to go astray,
            88And be partakers of their evill plight,
            89Then with a few to walke the rightest way;
            90O foolish men, why haste ye to your owne decay?

xi
            91Thy selfe to see, and tyred limbs to rest,
            92O matrone sage (quoth she) I hither came,
            93And this good knight his way with me addrest,
            94Led with thy prayses and broad-blazed fame,
            95That up to heaven is blowne. The auncient Dame,
            96Him goodly greeted in her modest guise,
            97And entertaynd them both, as best became,
            98With all the court'sies, that she could devise,
            99Ne wanted ought, to shew her bounteous or wise.

xii
          100Thus as they gan of sundry things devise,
          101Loe two most goodly virgins came in place,
          102Ylinked arme in arme in lovely wise,
          103With countenance demure, and modest grace,
          104They numbred even steps and equall pace:
          105Of which the eldest, that Fidelia hight,
          106Like sunny beames threw from her Christall face,
          107That could have dazd the rash beholders sight,
          108And round about her head did shine like heavens light.

xiii
          109She was araied all in lilly white,
          110And in her right hand bore a cup of gold,
          111With wine and water fild up to the hight,
          112In which a Serpent did himselfe enfold,
          113That horrour made to all, that did behold;
          114But she no whit did chaunge her constant mood:
          115And in her other hand she fast did hold
          116A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood,
          117Wherein darke things were writ, hard to be understood.

xiv
          118Her younger sister, that Speranza hight,
          119Was clad in blew, that her beseemed well;
          120Not all so chearefull seemed she of sight,
          121As was her sister; whether dread did dwell,
          122Or anguish in her hart, is hard to tell:
          123Upon her arme a silver anchor lay,
          124Whereon she leaned ever, as befell:
          125And ever up to heaven, as she did pray,
          126Her stedfast eyes were bent, ne swarved other way.

xv
          127They seeing Una, towards her gan wend,
          128Who them encounters with like courtesie;
          129Many kind speeches they betwene them spend,
          130And greatly joy each other well to see:
          131Then to the knight with shamefast modestie
          132They turne themselves, at Unaes meeke request,
          133And him salute with well beseeming glee;
          134Who faire them quites, as him beseemed best,
          135And goodly gan discourse of many a noble gest.

xvi
          136Then Una thus; But she your sister deare,
          137The deare Charissa where is she become?
          138Or wants she health, or busie is elsewhere?
          139Ah no, said they, but forth she may not come:
          140For she of late is lightned of her wombe,
          141And hath encreast the world with one sonne more,
          142That her to see should be but troublesome.
          143Indeede (quoth she) that should her trouble sore,
          144But thankt be God, and her encrease so evermore.

xvii
          145Then said the aged Coelia, Deare dame,
          146And you good Sir, I wote that of your toyle,
          147And labours long, through which ye hither came,
          148Ye both forwearied be: therefore a whyle
          149I read you rest, and to your bowres recoyle.
          150Then called she a Groome, that forth him led
          151Into a goodly lodge, and gan despoile
          152Of puissant armes, and laid in easie bed;
          153His name was meeke Obedience rightfully ared.

xviii
          154Now when their wearie limbes with kindly rest,
          155And bodies were refresht with due repast,
          156Faire Una gan Fidelia faire request,
          157To have her knight into her schoolehouse plaste,
          158That of her heavenly learning he might taste,
          159And heare the wisedome of her words divine.
          160She graunted, and that knight so much agraste,
          161That she him taught celestiall discipline,
          162And opened his dull eyes, that light mote in them shine.

xix
          163And that her sacred Booke, with bloud ywrit,
          164That none could read, except she did them teach,
          165She unto him disclosed every whit,
          166And heavenly documents thereout did preach,
          167That weaker wit of man could never reach,
          168Of God, of grace, of justice, of free will,
          169That wonder was to heare her goodly speach:
          170For she was able, with her words to kill,
          171And raise againe to life the hart, that she did thrill.

xx
          172And when she list poure out her larger spright,
          173She would commaund the hastie Sunne to stay,
          174Or backward turne his course from heavens hight;
          175Sometimes great hostes of men she could dismay;
          176Dry-shod to passe, she parts the flouds in tway;
          177And eke huge mountaines from their native seat
          178She would commaund, themselves to beare away,
          179And throw in raging sea with roaring threat.
          180Almightie God her gave such powre, and puissance great.

xxi
          181The faithfull knight now grew in litle space,
          182By hearing her, and by her sisters lore,
          183To such perfection of all heavenly grace,
          184That wretched world he gan for to abhore,
          185And mortall life gan loath, as thing forlore,
          186Greev'd with remembrance of his wicked wayes,
          187And prickt with anguish of his sinnes so sore,
          188That he desirde to end his wretched dayes:
          189So much the dart of sinfull guilt the soule dismayes.

xxii
          190But wise Speranza gave him comfort sweet,
          191And taught him how to take assured hold
          192Upon her silver anchor, as was meet;
          193Else had his sinnes so great, and manifold
          194Made him forget all that Fidelia told.
          195In this distressed doubtfull agonie,
          196When him his dearest Una did behold,
          197Disdeining life, desiring leave to die,
          198She found her selfe assayld with great perplexitie.

xxiii
          199And came to Coelia to declare her smart,
          200Who well acquainted with that commune plight,
          201Which sinfull horror workes in wounded hart,
          202Her wisely comforted all that she might,
          203With goodly counsell and advisement right;
          204And streightway sent with carefull diligence,
          205To fetch a Leach, the which had great insight
          206In that disease of grieved conscience,
          207And well could cure the same; His name was Patience.

xxiv
          208Who comming to that soule-diseased knight,
          209Could hardly him intreat, to tell his griefe:
          210Which knowne, and all that noyd his heavie spright
          211Well searcht, eftsoones he gan apply reliefe
          212Of salves and med'cines, which had passing priefe,
          213And thereto added words of wondrous might:
          214By which to ease he him recured briefe,
          215And much asswag'd the passion of his plight,
          216That he his paine endur'd, as seeming now more light.

xxv
          217But yet the cause and root of all his ill,
          218Inward corruption, and infected sin,
          219Not purg'd nor heald, behind remained still,
          220And festring sore did rankle yet within,
          221Close creeping twixt the marrow and the skin.
          222Which to extirpe, he laid him privily
          223Downe in a darkesome lowly place farre in,
          224Whereas he meant his corrosives to apply,
          225And with streight diet tame his stubborne malady.

xxvi
          226In ashes and sackcloth he did array
          227His daintie corse, proud humors to abate,
          228And dieted with fasting every day,
          229The swelling of his wounds to mitigate,
          230And made him pray both earely and eke late:
          231And ever as superfluous flesh did rot
          232Amendment readie still at hand did wayt,
          233To pluck it out with pincers firie whot,
          234That soone in him was left no one corrupted jot.

xxvii
          235And bitter Penance with an yron whip,
          236Was wont him once to disple every day:
          237And sharpe Remorse his hart did pricke and nip,
          238That drops of bloud thence like a well did play;
          239And sad Repentance used to embay,
          240His bodie in salt water smarting sore,
          241The filthy blots of sinne to wash away.
          242So in short space they did to health restore
          243The man that would not live, but earst lay at deathes dore.

xxviii
          244In which his torment often was so great,
          245That like a Lyon he would cry and rore,
          246And rend his flesh, and his owne synewes eat.
          247His owne deare Una hearing evermore
          248His ruefull shriekes and gronings, often tore
          249Her guiltlesse garments, and her golden heare,
          250For pitty of his paine and anguish sore;
          251Yet all with patience wisely she did beare;
          252For well she wist, his crime could else be never cleare.

xxix
          253Whom thus recover'd by wise Patience,
          254And trew Repentance they to Una brought:
          255Who joyous of his cured conscience,
          256Him dearely kist, and fairely eke besought
          257Himselfe to chearish, and consuming thought
          258To put away out of his carefull brest.
          259By this Charissa, late in child-bed brought,
          260Was woxen strong, and left her fruitfull nest;
          261To her faire Una brought this unacquainted guest.

xxx
          262She was a woman in her freshest age,
          263Of wondrous beauty, and of bountie rare,
          264With goodly grace and comely personage,
          265That was on earth not easie to compare;
          266Full of great love, but Cupids wanton snare
          267As hell she hated, chast in worke and will;
          268Her necke and breasts were ever open bare,
          269That ay thereof her babes might sucke their fill;
          270The rest was all in yellow robes arayed still.

xxxi
          271A multitude of babes about her hong,
          272Playing their sports, that joyd her to behold,
          273Whom still she fed, whiles they were weake and young,
          274But thrust them forth still, as they wexed old:
          275And on her head she wore a tyre of gold,
          276Adornd with gemmes and owches wondrous faire,
          277Whose passing price uneath was to be told;
          278And by her side there sate a gentle paire
          279Of turtle doves, she sitting in an yvorie chaire.

xxxii
          280The knight and Una entring, faire her greet,
          281And bid her joy of that her happie brood;
          282Who them requites with court'sies seeming meet
          283And entertaines with friendly chearefull mood.
          284Then Una her besought, to be so good,
          285As in her vertuous rules to schoole her knight,
          286Now after all his torment well withstood,
          287In that sad house of Penaunce, where his spright
          288Had past the paines of hell, and long enduring night.

xxxiii
          289She was right joyous of her just request,
          290And taking by the hand that Faeries sonne,
          291Gan him instruct in every good behest,
          292Of love, and righteousnesse, and well to donne,
          293And wrath, and hatred warely to shonne,
          294That drew on men Gods hatred, and his wrath,
          295And many soules in dolours had fordonne:
          296In which when him she well instructed hath,
          297From thence to heaven she teacheth him the ready path.

xxxiv
          298Wherein his weaker wandring steps to guide,
          299An auncient matrone she to her does call,
          300Whose sober lookes her wisedome well descride:
          301Her name was Mercie, well knowne over all,
          302To be both gratious, and eke liberall:
          303To whom the carefull charge of him she gave,
          304To lead aright, that he should never fall
          305In all his wayes through this wide worldes wave,
          306That Mercy in the end his righteous soule might save.

xxxv
          307The godly Matrone by the hand him beares
          308Forth from her presence, by a narrow way,
          309Scattred with bushy thornes, and ragged breares,
          310Which still before him she remov'd away,
          311That nothing might his ready passage stay:
          312And ever when his feet encombred were,
          313Or gan to shrinke, or from the right to stray,
          314She held him fast, and firmely did upbeare,
          315As carefull Nourse her child from falling oft does reare.

xxxvi
          316Eftsoones unto an holy Hospitall,
          317That was fore by the way, she did him bring,
          318In which seven Bead-men that had vowed all
          319Their life to service of high heavens king
          320Did spend their dayes in doing godly thing:
          321Their gates to all were open evermore,
          322That by the wearie way were traveiling,
          323And one sate wayting ever them before,
          324To call in commers-by, that needy were and pore.

xxxvii
          325The first of them that eldest was, and best,
          326Of all the house had charge and governement,
          327As Guardian and Steward of the rest:
          328His office was to give entertainement
          329And lodging, unto all that came, and went:
          330Not unto such, as could him feast againe,
          331And double quite, for that he on them spent,
          332But such, as want of harbour did constraine:
          333Those for Gods sake his dewty was to entertaine.

xxxviii
          334The second was as Almner of the place,
          335His office was, the hungry for to feed,
          336And thirsty give to drinke, a worke of grace:
          337He feard not once him selfe to be in need,
          338Ne car'd to hoord for those, whom he did breede:
          339The grace of God he layd up still in store,
          340Which as a stocke he left unto his seede;
          341He had enough, what need him care for more?
          342And had he lesse, yet some he would give to the pore.

xxxix
          343The third had of their wardrobe custodie,
          344In which were not rich tyres, nor garments gay,
          345The plumes of pride, and wings of vanitie,
          346But clothes meet to keepe keene could away,
          347And naked nature seemely to aray;
          348With which bare wretched wights he dayly clad,
          349The images of God in earthly clay;
          350And if that no spare cloths to give he had,
          351His owne coate he would cut, and it distribute glad.

xl
          352The fourth appointed by his office was,
          353Poore prisoners to relieve with gratious ayd,
          354And captives to redeeme with price of bras,
          355From Turkes and Sarazins, which them had stayd;
          356And though they faultie were, yet well he wayd,
          357That God to us forgiveth every howre
          358Much more then that, why they in bands were layd,
          359And he that harrowd hell with heavie stowre,
          360The faultie soules from thence brought to his heavenly bowre.

xli
          361The fift had charge sicke persons to attend,
          362And comfort those, in point of death which lay;
          363For them most needeth comfort in the end,
          364When sin, and hell, and death do most dismay
          365The feeble soule departing hence away.
          366All is but lost, that living we bestow,
          367If not well ended at our dying day.
          368O man have mind of that last bitter throw;
          369For as the tree does fall, so lyes it ever low.

xlii
          370The sixt had charge of them now being dead,
          371In seemely sort their corses to engrave,
          372And deck with dainty flowres their bridall bed,
          373That to their heavenly spouse both sweet and brave
          374They might appeare, when he their soules shall save.
          375The wondrous workemanship of Gods owne mould,
          376Whose face he made, all beasts to feare, and gave
          377All in his hand, even dead we honour should.
          378Ah dearest God me graunt, I dead be not defould.

xliii
          379The seventh now after death and buriall done,
          380Had charge the tender Orphans of the dead
          381And widowes ayd, least they should be undone:
          382In face of judgement he their right would plead,
          383Ne ought the powre of mighty men did dread
          384In their defence, nor would for gold or fee
          385Be wonne their rightfull causes downe to tread:
          386And when they stood in most necessitee,
          387He did supply their want, and gave them ever free.

xliv
          388There when the Elfin knight arrived was,
          389The first and chiefest of the seven, whose care
          390Was guests to welcome, towardes him did pas:
          391Where seeing Mercie, that his steps up bare,
          392And alwayes led, to her with reverence rare
          393He humbly louted in meeke lowlinesse,
          394And seemely welcome for her did prepare:
          395For of their order she was Patronesse,
          396Albe Charissa were their chiefest founderesse.

xlv
          397There she awhile him stayes, his selfe to rest,
          398That to the rest more able he might bee:
          399During which time, in every good behest
          400And godly worke of Almes and charitee
          401She him instructed with great industree;
          402Shortly therein so perfect he became,
          403That from the first unto the last degree,
          404His mortall life he learned had to frame
          405In holy righteousnesse, without rebuke or blame.

xlvi
          406Thence forward by that painfull way they pas,
          407Forth to an hill, that was both steepe and hy;
          408On top whereof a sacred chappell was,
          409And eke a little Hermitage thereby,
          410Wherein an aged holy man did lye,
          411That day and night said his devotion,
          412No other worldly busines did apply;
          413His name was heavenly Contemplation;
          414Of God and goodnesse was his meditation.

xlvii
          415Great grace that old man to him given had;
          416For God he often saw from heavens hight,
          417All were his earthly eyen both blunt and bad,
          418And through great age had lost their kindly sight,
          419Yet wondrous quick and persant was his spright,
          420As Eagles eye, that can behold the Sunne:
          421That hill they scale with all their powre and might,
          422That his frayle thighes nigh wearie and fordonne
          423Gan faile, but by her helpe the top at last he wonne.

xlviii
          424There they do finde that godly aged Sire,
          425With snowy lockes adowne his shoulders shed,
          426As hoarie frost with spangles doth attire
          427The mossy braunches of an Oke halfe ded.
          428Each bone might through his body well be red,
          429And every sinew seene through his long fast:
          430For nought he car'd his carcas long unfed;
          431His mind was full of spirituall repast,
          432And pyn'd his flesh, to keepe his body low and chast.

xlix
          433Who when these two approching he aspide,
          434At their first presence grew agrieved sore,
          435That forst him lay his heavenly thoughts aside;
          436And had he not that Dame respected more,
          437Whom highly he did reverence and adore,
          438He would not once have moved for the knight.
          439They him saluted standing far afore;
          440Who well them greeting, humbly did requight,
          441And asked, to what end they clomb that tedious height.

l
          442What end (quoth she) should cause us take such paine,
          443But that same end, which every living wight
          444Should make his marke, high heaven to attaine?
          445Is not from hence the way, that leadeth right
          446To that most glorious house, that glistreth bright
          447With burning starres, and everliving fire,
          448Whereof the keyes are to thy hand behight
          449By wise Fidelia? she doth thee require,
          450To shew it to this knight, according his desire.

li
          451Thrise happy man, said then the father grave,
          452Whose staggering steps thy steady hand doth lead,
          453And shewes the way, his sinfull soule to save.
          454Who better can the way to heaven aread,
          455Then thou thy selfe, that was both borne and bred
          456In heavenly throne, where thousand Angels shine?
          457Thou doest the prayers of the righteous sead
          458Present before the majestie divine,
          459And his avenging wrath to clemencie inclint

lii
          460Yet since thou bidst, thy pleasure shalbe donne.
          461Then come thou man of earth, and see the way,
          462That never yet was seene of Faeries sonne,
          463That never leads the traveiler astray,
          464But after labours long, and sad delay,
          465Brings them to joyous rest and endlesse blis.
          466But first thou must a season fast and pray,
          467Till from her bands the spright assoiled is,
          468And have her strength recur'd from fraile infirmitis.

liii
          469That done, he leads him to the highest Mount;
          470Such one, as that same mighty man of God,
          471That bloud-red billowes like a walled front
          472On either side disparted with his rod,
          473Till that his army dry-foot through them yod,
          474Dwelt fortie dayes upon; where writ in stone
          475With bloudy letters by the hand of God,
          476The bitter doome of death and balefull mone
          477He did receive, whiles flashing fire about him shone.

liv
          478Or like that sacred hill, whose head full hie,
          479Adornd with fruitfull Olives all arownd,
          480Is, as it were for endlesse memory
          481Of that deare Lord, who oft thereon was fownd,
          482For ever with a flowring girlond crownd:
          483Or like that pleasaunt Mount, that is for ay
          484Through famous Poets verse each where renownd,
          485On which the thrise three learned Ladies play
          486Their heavenly notes, and make full many a lovely lay.

lv
          487From thence, far off he unto him did shew
          488A litle path, that was both steepe and long,
          489Which to a goodly Citie led his vew;
          490Whose wals and towres were builded high and strong
          491Of perle and precious stone, that earthly tong
          492Cannot describe, nor wit of man can tell;
          493Too high a ditty for my simple song;
          494The Citie of the great king hight it well,
          495Wherein eternall peace and happinesse doth dwell.

lvi
          496As he thereon stood gazing, he might see
          497The blessed Angels to and fro descend
          498From highest heaven, in gladsome companee,
          499And with great joy into that Citie wend,
          500As commonly as friend does with his frend.
          501Whereat he wondred much, and gan enquere,
          502What stately building durst so high extend
          503Her loftie towres unto the starry sphere,
          504And what unknowen nation there empeopled were.

lvii
          505Faire knight (quoth he) Hierusalem that is,
          506The new Hierusalem, that God has built
          507For those to dwell in, that are chosen his,
          508His chosen people purg'd from sinfull guilt,
          509With pretious bloud, which cruelly was spilt
          510On cursed tree, of that unspotted lam,
          511That for the sinnes of all the world was kilt:
          512Now are they Saints all in that Citie sam,
          513More deare unto their God, then younglings to their dam.

lviii
          514Till now, said then the knight, I weened well,
          515That great Cleopolis, where I have beene,
          516In which that fairest Faerie Oueene doth dwell,
          517The fairest Citie was, that might be seene;
          518And that bright towre all built of christall cleene,
          519Panthea, seemd the brightest thing, that was:
          520But now by proofe all otherwise I weene;
          521For this great Citie that does far surpas,
          522And this bright Angels towre quite dims that towre of glas.

lix
          523Most trew, then said the holy aged man;
          524Yet is Cleopolis for earthly frame,
          525The fairest peece, that eye beholden can:
          526And well beseemes all knights of noble name,
          527That covet in th'immortall booke of fame
          528To be eternized, that same to haunt,
          529And doen their service to that soveraigne Dame,
          530That glorie does to them for guerdon graunt:
          531For she is heavenly borne, and heaven may justly vaunt.

lx
          532And thou faire ymp, sprong out from English race,
          533How ever now accompted Elfins sonne,
          534Well worthy doest thy service for her grace,
          535To aide a virgin desolate fordonne.
          536But when thou famous victorie hast wonne,
          537And high emongst all knights hast hong thy shield,
          538Thenceforth the suit of earthly conquest shonne,
          539And wash thy hands from guilt of bloudy field:
          540For bloud can nought but sin, and wars but sorrowes yield.

lxi
          541Then seeke this path, that I to thee presage,
          542Which after all to heaven shall thee send;
          543Then peaceably thy painefull pilgrimage
          544To yonder same Hierusalem do bend
          545Where is for thee ordaind a blessed end:
          546For thou emongst those Saints, whom thou doest see,
          547Shalt be a Saint, and thine owne nations frend
          548And Patrone: thou Saint George shalt called bee,
          549Saint George of mery England, the signe of victoree.

lxii
          550Unworthy wretch (quoth he) of so great grace,
          551How dare I thinke such glory to attaine?
          552These that have it attaind, were in like cace
          553(Quoth he) as wretched, and liv'd in like paine.
          554But deeds of armes must I at last be faine,
          555And Ladies love to leave so dearely bought?
          556What need of armes, where peace doth ay remaine,
          557(Said he) and battailes none are to be fought?
          558As for loose loves are vaine, and vanish into nought.

lxiii
          559O let me not (quoth he) then turne againe
          560Back to the world, whose joyes so fruitlesse are;
          561But let me here for aye in peace remain,
          562Or streight way on that last long voyage fare,
          563That nothing may my present hope empare.
          564That may not be (said he) ne maist thou yit
          565Forgo that royall maides bequeathed care,
          566Who did her cause into thy hand commit,
          567Till from her cursed foe thou have her freely quit.

lxiv
          568Then shall I soone, (quoth he) so God me grace,
          569Abet that virgins cause disconsolate,
          570And shortly backe returne unto this place,
          571To walke this way in Pilgrims poore estate.
          572But now aread, old father, why of late
          573Didst thou behight me borne of English blood,
          574Whom all a Faeries sonne doen nominate?
          575That word shall I (said he) avouchen good,
          576Sith to thee is unknowne the cradle of thy brood.

lxv
          577For well I wote, thou springst from ancient race,
          578Of Saxon kings, that have with mightie hand
          579And many bloudie battailes fought in place
          580High reard their royall throne in Britane land,
          581And vanquisht them, unable to withstand:
          582From thence a Faerie thee unweeting reft,
          583There as thou slepst in tender swadling band,
          584And her base Elfin brood there for thee left.
          585Such men do Chaungelings call, so chaungd by Faeries theft.

lxvi
          586Thence she thee brought into this Faerie lond,
          587And in an heaped furrow did thee hyde,
          588Where thee a Ploughman all unweeting fond,
          589As he his toylesome teme that way did guyde,
          590And brought thee up in ploughmans state to byde,
          591Whereof Georgos he thee gave to name;
          592Till prickt with courage, and thy forces pryde,
          593To Faery court thou cam'st to seeke for fame,
          594And prove thy puissaunt armes, as seemes thee best became.

lxvii
          595O holy Sire (quoth he) how shall I quight
          596The many favours I with thee have found,
          597That hast my name and nation red aright,
          598And taught the way that does to heaven bound?
          599This said, adowne he looked to the ground,
          600To have returnd, but dazed were his eyne,
          601Through passing brightnesse, which did quite confound
          602His feeble sence, and too exceeding shyne.
          603So darke are earthly things compard to things divine.

lxviii
          604At last whenas himselfe he gan to find,
          605To Una back he cast him to retire;
          606Who him awaited still with pensive mind.
          607Great thankes and goodly meed to that good syre,
          608He thence departing gave for his paines hyre.
          609So came to Una, who him joyd to see,
          610And after litle rest, gan him desire,
          611Of her adventure mindfull for to bee.
          612So leave they take of Coelia, and her daughters three.

Notes

12] raw: soft, not hardened by exercise.

31] thewes: habits.

35] fere: mate.

49] francklin: literally a "freeholder,'" here a gracious host; cf. Chaucer's Franklin.

57] sad: sober-coloured.

110] a cup of gold: the cup of the Eucharist.

111] wine and water: See John 19:34.

112] a Serpent: the serpent lifted up in the wilderness, a type of Christ; see John 3:14.

116] A booke: the New Testament, which must be read with the help of faith; cf. stanza xix, below.

123] a silver anchor. See Hebrews 6:19.

135] gest: deed.

149] read: advise. recoyle: retire.

160] agraste: favoured with grace.

171] thrill: pierce.

172] The allusions are, in order, to Joshua 10:12-14; II Kings 20:10-11; Judges 7; Exodus 14:21-31; Matthew 21:21.

275] tyre: head-dress.

276] owches: jewels.

277] uneath: scarcely.

318] Bead-men: men of prayer, and good works.

359] stowre: conflict.

368] throw: pang.

393] louted: bowed.

469] Mount Sinai, where Moses received the tables of the Law.

478] the Mount of Olives.

483] Parnassus, the home of the Muses.

496] as in Jacob's dream, Genesis 28:12.

499] See the description of "that great city, the holy Jerusalem," in Revelation 21:10-21.

512] sam: together.

515] Cleopolis: Gr. "city of fame."

518] that bright towre ... Panthea. Chaucer's House of Fame is "ful ... of wyndowes"; "Panthea" is from Pantheon, temple of the gods.

577] In The Golden Legend St. George is a native of Cappadocia, but there was another tradition, as in the romance The Seven Champions of Christendom, that he was born at Coventry, of royal lineage.

582] The story of the changeling is Spenser's adaptation of a popular superstition.

591] Georgos: Gr. "husbandman." In the "Letter to Ralegh" the Redcrosse knight is called "a clownish young man."


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: Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, 2nd edn. (R. Field for W. Ponsonbie, 1596). STC 23082. Facsimile: The Faerie Queene 1596, Volume 1, Introduction by Graham Hough (London: Scolar Press, 1976). PR 2358 A2H6 1976 Robarts Library 1-2.
First publication date: 1596
RPO poem editor: Millar MacLure
RP edition: 3RP 1: 80.
Recent editing: 1:2002/6/30

Form: Spenserian Stanzas
Rhyme: ababbcbcc


Other poems by Edmund Spenser