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Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

The Faerie Queene, Book I, Canto 12 (1596)


[Fol. L7r; p. 171] Canto 12

Faire Vna to the Redcrosse knight
betrouthed is with ioy:
Though false Duessa it to barre
her false sleights doe imploy.

i
              1BEhold I see the hauen nigh at hand,
              2To which I meane my wearie course to bend;
              3Vere the maine shete, and beare vp with the land,
              4The which afore is fairely to be kend,
              5And seemeth safe from stormes, that may offend;
              6There this faire virgin wearie of her way
              7Must landed be, now at her iourneyes end:
              8There eke my feeble barke a while may stay,
              9Till merry wind and weather call her thence away.

ii
            10Scarsely had Phœbus in the glooming East
            11Yet harnessed his firie-footed teeme,
            12Ne reard aboue the earth his flaming creast,
            13When the last deadly smoke aloft did steeme,
            14That signe of last outbreathed life did seeme,
            15Vnto the watchman on the castle wall;
            16Who thereby dead that balefull Beast did deeme,
            17And to his Lord and Ladie lowd gan call,
            18To tell, how he had seene the Dragons fatall fall,

iii
            19Vprose with hastie ioy, and feeble speed
            20That aged Sire, the Lord of all that land,
            21And looked forth, to weet, if true indeede
            22Those tydings were, as he did vnderstand,
            23[Fol. L7v; p. 172] Which whenas true by tryall he out found,
            24He bad to open wyde his brazen gate,
            25Which long time had bene shut, and out of hond
            26Proclaymed ioy and peace through all his state;
            27For dead now was their foe, which them forrayed late.

iv
            28Then gan triumphant Trompets sound on hie,
            29That sent to heauen the ecchoed report
            30Of their new ioy, and happie victorie
            31Gainst him, that had them long opprest with tort,
            32And fast imprisoned in sieged fort.
            33Then all the people, as in solemne feast,
            34To him assembled with one full consort,
            35Reioycing at the fall of that great beast,
            36From whose eternall bondage now they were releast.

v
            37Forth came that auncient Lord and aged Queene,
            38Arayd in antique robes downe to the ground,
            39And sad habiliments right well beseene;
            40A noble crew about them waited round
            41Of sage and sober Peres, all grauely gownd;
            42Whom farre before did march a goodly band
            43Of tall young men, all hable armes to sownd,
            44But now they laurell braunches bore in hand;
            45Glad signe of victorie and peace in all their land.

vi
            46Vnto that doughtie Conquerour they came,
            47And him before themselues prostrating low,
            48Their Lord and Patrone loud did him proclame,
            49And at his feet their laurell boughes did throw.
            50Soone after them all dauncing on a row
            51The comely virgins came, with girlands dight,
            52As fresh as flowres in medow greene do grow,
            53When morning deaw vpon their leaues doth light:
            54And in their hands sweet Timbrels all vpheld on hight.

vii
            55[Fol. L8r; p. 173] And them before, the fry of children young
            56Their wanton sports and childish mirth did play,
            57And to the Maydens sounding tymbrels sung
            58In well attuned notes, a ioyous lay,
            59And made delightfull musicke all the way,
            60Vntill they came, where that faire virgin stood;
            61As faire Diana in fresh sommers day,
            62Beholds her Nymphes, enraung'd in shadie wood,
            63Some wrestle, some do run, some bathe in christall flood.

viii
            64So she beheld those maydens meriment
            65With chearefull vew; who when to her they came,
            66Themselues to ground with gratious humblesse bent,
            67And her ador'd by honorable name,
            68Lifting to heauen her euerlasting fame:
            69Then on her head they set a girland greene,
            70And crowned her twixt earnest and twixt game;
            71Who in her selfe-resemblance well beseene,
            72Did seeme such, as she was, a goodly maiden Queene.

ix
            73And after, all the raskall many ran,
            74Heaped together in rude rablement,
            75To see the face of that victorious man:
            76Whom all admired, as from heauen sent,
            77And gazd vpon with gaping wonderment.
            78But when they came, where that dead Dragon lay,
            79Stretcht on the ground in [[[monstrons]]] [monstrous] large extent,
            80The sight with idle feare did them dismay,
            81Ne durst approch him nigh, to touch, or once assay.

x
            82Some feard, and fled; some feard and well it faynd;
            83One that would wiser seeme, then all the rest,
            84Warnd him not touch, for yet perhaps remaynd
            85Some lingring life within his hollow brest,
            86[Fol. L8v; p. 174] Or in his wombe might lurke some hidden nest
            87Of many Dragonets, his fruitfull seed;
            88Another said, that in his eyes did rest
            89Yet sparckling fire, and bad thereof take heed;
            90Another said, he saw him moue his eyes indeed.

xi
            91One mother, when as her foolehardie chyld
            92Did come too neare, and with his talants play,
            93Halfe dead through feare, her litle babe reuyld,
            94And to her gossips gan in counsell say;
            95How can I tell, but that his talents may
            96Yet scratch my sonne, or rend his tender hand?
            97So diuersly themselues in vaine they fray;
            98Whiles some more bold, to measure him nigh stand,
            99To proue how many acres he did spread of land.

xii
          100Thus flocked all the folke him round about,
          101The whiles that hoarie king, with all his traine,
          102Being arriued, where that champion stout
          103After his foes defeasance did remaine,
          104Him goodly greetes, and faire does entertaine,
          105With princely gifts of yuorie and gold,
          106And thousand thankes him yeelds for all his paine.
          107Then when his daughter deare he does behold,
          108Her dearely doth imbrace, and kisseth manifold.

xiii
          109And after to his Pallace he them brings,
          110With shaumes, & trompets, & with Clarions sweet;
          111And all the way the ioyous people sings,
          112And with their garments strowes the paued street:
          113Whence mounting vp, they find purueyance meet
          114Of all, that royall Princes court became,
          115And all the floore was vnderneath their feet
          116Bespred with costly scarlot of great name,
          117On which they lowly sit, and fitting purpose frame.

xiv
          118[Fol. M1r; p. 175] What needs me tell their feast and goodly guize,
          119In which was nothing riotous nor vaine?
          120What needs of daintie dishes to deuize,
          121Of comely seruices, or courtly trayne?
          122My narrow leaues cannot in them containe
          123The large discourse of royall Princes state.
          124Yet was their manner then but bare and plaine:
          125For th'antique world excesse and pride did hate;
          126Such proud luxurious pompe is swollen vp but late.

xv
          127Then when with meates and drinkes of euery kinde
          128Their feruent appetites they quenched had,
          129That auncient Lord gan fit occasion finde,
          130Of straunge aduentures, and of perils sad,
          131Which in his trauell him befallen had,
          132For to demaund of his renowmed guest:
          133Who then with vtt'rance graue, and count'nance sad,
          134From point to point, as is before exprest,
          135Discourst his voyage long, according his request.

xvi
          136Great pleasures mixt with pittifull regard,
          137That godly King and Queene did passionate,
          138Whiles they his pittifull aduentures heard,
          139That oft they did lament his lucklesse state,
          140And often blame the too importune fate,
          141That heapd on him so many wrathfull wreakes:
          142For neuer gentle knight, as he of late,
          143So tossed was in fortunes cruell freakes;
          144And all the while salt teares bedeawd the hearers cheaks.

xvii
          145Then said that royall Pere in sober wise;
          146Deare Sonne, great beene the euils, which ye bore
          147From first to last in your late enterprise,
          148That I note, whether prayse, or pitty more:
          149[Fol. M1v; p. 176] For neuer liuing man, I weene, so sore
          150In sea of deadly daungers was distrest;
          151But since now safe ye seised haue the shore,
          152And well arriued are, (high God be blest)
          153Let vs deuize of ease and euerlasting rest.

xviii
          154Ah dearest Lord, said then that doughty knight,
          155Of ease or rest I may not yet deuize;
          156For by the faith, which I to armes haue plight,
          157I bounden am streight after this emprize,
          158As that your daughter can ye well aduize,
          159Backe to returne to that great Faerie Queene,
          160And her to serue six yeares in warlike wize,
          161Gainst that proud P[a]ynim king, that workes her teene:
          162Therefore I ought craue pardon, till I there haue beene.

xix
          163Vnhappie falles that hard necessitie,
          164(Quoth he) the troubler of my happie peace,
          165And vowed foe of my felicitie;
          166Ne I against the same can iustly preace:
          167But since that band ye cannot now release,
          168Nor doen vndo; (for vowes may not be vaine)
          169Soone as the terme of those six yeares shall cease,
          170Ye then shall hither backe returne againe,
          171The marriage to accomplish vowd betwixt you twain.

xx
          172Which for my part I couet to performe,
          173In sort as through the world I did proclame,
          174That who so kild that monster most deforme,
          175And him in hardy battaile ouercame,
          176Should haue mine onely daughter to his Dame,
          177And of my kingdome heire apparaunt bee:
          178Therefore since now to thee perteines the same,
          179By dew desert of noble cheualree,
          180Both daughter and eke kingdome, lo I yield to thee.

xxi
          181[Fol. M2r; p. 177] Then forth he called that his daughter faire,
          182The fairest Vn' his onely daughter deare,
          183His onely daughter, and his onely heyre;
          184Who forth proceeding with sad sober cheare,
          185As bright as doth the morning starre appeare
          186Out of the East, with flaming lockes bedight,
          187To tell the dawning day is [[[dawning]]] [drawing] neare,
          188And to the world does bring long wished light;
          189So faire and fresh that Lady shewd her selfe in sight.

xxii
          190So faire and fresh, as freshest flowre in May;
          191For she had layd her mournefull stole aside,
          192And widow-like sad wimple throwne away,
          193Wherewith her [[[heaunnly]]] [heauenly] beautie she did hide,
          194Whiles on her wearie iourney she did ride;
          195And on her now a garment she did weare,
          196All lilly white, withoutten spot, or pride,
          197That seemd like silke and siluer wouen neare,
          198But neither silke nor siluer therein did appeare.

xxiii
          199The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame,
          200And glorious light of her sunshyny face
          201To tell, were as to striue against the streame.
          202My ragged rimes are all too rude and bace,
          203Her heauenly lineaments for to enchace.
          204Ne wonder; for her owne deare loued knight,
          205All were she dayly with himselfe in place,
          206Did wonder much at her celestiall sight:
          207Oft had he seene her faire, but neuer so faire dight.

xxiv
          208So fairely dight, when she in presence came,
          209She to her Sire made humble reuerence,
          210And bowed low, that her right well became,
          211And added grace vnto her excellence:
          212[Fol. M2v; p. 178] Who with great wisedome, and graue eloquence
          213Thus gan to say.  But eare he thus had said,
          214With flying speede, and seeming great pretence,
          215Came running in, much like a man dismaid,
          216A Messenger with letters, which his message said.

xxv
          217All in the open hall amazed stood,
          218At suddeinnesse of that vnwarie sight,
          219And wondred at his breathlesse hastie mood.
          220But he for nought would stay his passage right,
          221Till fast before the king he did alight;
          222Where falling flat, great humblesse he did make,
          223And kist the ground, whereon his foot was pight;
          224Then to his hands that writ he did betake,
          225Which he disclosing, red thus, as the paper spake.

xxvi
          226To thee, most mighty king of Eden faire,
          227Her greeting sends in these sad lines addrest,
          228The wofull daughter, and forsaken heire
          229Of that great Emperour of all the West;
          230And bids thee be aduized for the best,
          231Ere thou thy daughter linck in holy band
          232Of wedlocke to that new vnknowen guest:
          233For he already plighted his right hand
          234Vnto another loue, and to another land.

xxvii
          235To me sad mayd, or rather widow sad,
          236He was affiaunced long time before,
          237And sacred pledges he both gaue, and had,
          238False erraunt knight, infamous, and forswore:
          239Witnesse the burning Altars, which he swore,
          240And guiltie heauens of his bold periury,
          241Which though he hath polluted oft of yore,
          242Yet I to them for iudgement iust do fly,
          243And them coniure t'auenge this shamefull iniury.

xxviii
          244[Fol. M3r; p. 179] Therefore since mine he is, or free or bond,
          245Or false or trew, or liuing or else dead,
          246Withhold, O soueraine Prince, your hasty hond
          247From knitting league with him, I you aread;
          248Ne weene my right with strength adowne to tread,
          249Through weakenesse of my widowhed, or woe:
          250For truth is strong, her rightfull cause to plead,
          251And shall find friends, if need requireth soe,
          252So bids thee well to fare, Thy neither friend, nor foe, Fidessa.

xxix
          253When he these bitter byting words had red,
          254The tydings straunge did him abashed make,
          255That still he sate long time astonished
          256As in great muse, ne word to creature spake.
          257At last his solemne silence thus he brake,
          258With doubtfull eyes fast fixed on his guest;
          259Redoubted knight, that for mine onely sake
          260Thy life and honour late aduenturest,
          261Let nought be hid from me, that ought to be exprest.

xxx
          262What meane these bloudy vowes, and idle threats,
          263Throwne out from womanish impatient mind?
          264What heauens? what altars? what enraged heates
          265Here heaped vp with termes of loue vnkind,
          266My conscience cleare with guilty bands would bind?
          267High God be witnesse, that I guiltlesse ame.
          268But if your selfe, Sir knight, ye faultie find,
          269Or wrapped be in loues of former Dame,
          270With crime do not it couer, but disclose the same.

xxxi
          271To whom the Redcrosse knight this answere sent,
          272My Lord, my King, be nought hereat dismayd,
          273Till well ye wote by graue intendiment,
          274What woman, and wherefore doth me vpbrayd
          275[Fol. M3v; p. 180] With breach of loue, and loyalty betrayd.
          276It was in my mishaps, as hitherward
          277I lately traueild, that vnwares I strayd
          278Out of my way, through perils straunge and hard;
          279That day should faile me, ere I had them all declard.

xxxii
          280There did I find, or rather I was found
          281Of this false woman, that Fidessa hight,
          282Fidessa hight the falsest Dame on ground,
          283Most false Duessa, royall richly dight,
          284That easie was t'inuegle weaker sight:
          285Who by her wicked arts, and wylie skill,
          286Too false and strong for earthly skill or might,
          287Vnwares me wrought vnto her wicked will,
          288And to my foe betrayd, when least I feared ill.

xxxiii
          289Then stepped forth the goodly royall Mayd,
          290And on the ground her selfe prostrating low,
          291With sober countenaunce thus to him sayd;
          292O pardon me, my soueraigne Lord, to show
          293The secret treasons, which of late I know
          294To haue bene wroght by that false sorceresse.
          295She onely she it is, that earst did throw
          296This gentle knight into so great distresse,
          297That death him did awaite in dayly wretchednesse.

xxxiv
          298And now it seemes, that she suborned hath
          299This craftie messenger with letters vaine,
          300To worke new woe and improuided scath,
          301By breaking of the band betwixt vs twaine;
          302Wherein she vsed hath the practicke paine
          303Of this false footman, clokt with simplenesse,
          304Whom if ye please for to discouer plaine,
          305Ye shall him Archimago find, I ghesse,
          306The falsest man aliue; who tries shall find no lesse.

xxxv
          307[Fol. M4r; p. 181] The king was greatly moued at her speach,
          308And all with suddein indignation fraight,
          309Bad on that Messenger rude hands to reach.
          310Eftsoones the Gard, which on his state did wait,
          311Attacht that faitor false, and bound him strait:
          312Who seeming sorely chauffed at his band,
          313As chained Beare, whom cruell dogs do bait,
          314With idle force did faine them to withstand,
          315And often semblaunce made to scape out of their hand.

xxxvi
          316But they him layd full low in dungeon deepe,
          317And bound him hand and foote with yron chains.
          318And with continuall watch did warely keepe;
          319Who then would thinke, that by his subtile trains
          320He could escape fowle death or deadly paines?
          321Thus when that Princes wrath was pacifide,
          322He gan renew the late forbidden banes,
          323And to the knight his daughter deare he tyde,
          324With sacred rites and vowes for euer to abyde.

xxxvii
          325His owne two hands the holy knots did knit,
          326That none but death for euer can deuide;
          327His owne two hands, for such a turne most fit,
          328The housling fire did kindle and prouide,
          329And holy water thereon sprinckled wide;
          330At which the bushy Teade a groome did light,
          331And sacred lampe in secret chamber hide,
          332Where it should not be quenched day nor night,
          333For feare of euill fates, but burnen euer bright.

xxxviii
          334Then gan they sprinckle all the posts with wine,
          335And made great feast to solemnize that day;
          336They all perfumde with frankincense diuine,
          337And precious odours fetcht from far away,
          338[Fol. M4v; p. 182] That all the house did sweat with great aray:
          339And all the while sweete Musicke did apply
          340Her curious skill, the warbling notes to play,
          341To driue away the dull Melancholy;
          342The whiles one sung a song of loue and iollity.

xxxix
          343During the which there was an heauenly noise
          344Heard sound through all the Pallace pleasantly,
          345Like as it had bene many an Angels voice,
          346Singing before th'eternall maiesty,
          347In their trinall triplicities on hye;
          348Yet wist no creature, whence that heauenly sweet
          349Proceeded, yet eachone felt secretly
          350Himselfe thereby reft of his sences meet,
          351And rauished with rare impression in his sprite.

xl
          352Great ioy was made that day of young and old,
          353And solemne feast proclaimd throughout the land,
          354That their exceeding merth may not be told:
          355Suffice it heare by signes to vnderstand
          356The vsuall ioyes at knitting of loues band.
          357Thrise happy man the knight himselfe did hold,
          358Possessed of his Ladies hart and hand,
          359And euer, when his eye did her behold,
          360His heart did seeme to melt in pleasures manifold.

xli
          361Her ioyous presence and sweet company
          362In full content he there did long enioy,
          363Ne wicked enuie, ne vile gealosy
          364His deare delights were able to annoy:
          365Yet swimming in that sea of blisfull ioy,
          366He nought forgot, how he whilome had sworne,
          367In case he could that monstrous beast destroy,
          368Vnto his Farie Queene backe to returne:
          369The which he shortly did, and Vna left to mourne.

xlii
          370[Fol. M5r; p. 183] Now strike your sailes ye iolly Mariners,
          371For we be come vnto a quiet rode,
          372Where we must land some of our passengers,
          373And light this wearie vessell of her lode.
          374Here she a while may make her safe abode,
          375Till she repaired haue her tackles spent,
          376And wants supplide.  And then againe abroad
          377On the long voyage whereto she is bent:
          378Well may she speede and fairely finish her intent.
 
FINIS LIB. I.

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.

306] who: "wo" 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