Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Book II. The Legend of Sir Guyon
Canto III
 
        Vaine Braggadocchio, getting Guyons
  horse, is made the scorne
Of knighthood trew, and is of fayre
  Belphœbe fowle forlorne.

I
SOONE as the morrow fayre with purple beames
Disperst the shadowes of the misty night,
And Titan, playing on the eastern streames,
Gan cleare the deawy ayre with springing light,
Sir Guyon, mindfull of his vow yplight,        5
Uprose from drowsie couch, and him addrest
Unto the journey which he had behight:
His puissaunt armes about his noble brest,
And many-folded shield he bound about his wrest.
 
II
Then taking congè of that virgin pure,
        10
The bloody-handed babe unto her truth
Did earnestly committ, and her conjure,
In vertuous lore to traine his tender youth,
And all that gentle noriture ensueth:
And that, so soone as ryper yeares he raught,        15
He might, for memory of that dayes ruth,
Be called Ruddymane, and thereby taught
T’ avenge his parents death on them that had it wrought.
 
III
So forth he far’d, as now befell, on foot,
Sith his good steed is lately from him gone;        20
Patience perforce: helplesse what may it boot
To frett for anger, or for griefe to mone?
His palmer now shall foot no more alone.
So fortune wrought, as under greene woodes syde
He lately hard that dying lady grone,        25
He left his steed without, and speare besyde,
And rushed in on foot to ayd her, ere she dyde.
 
IV
The whyles a losell wandring by the way,
One that to bountie never cast his mynd,
Ne thought of honour ever did assay        30
His baser brest, but in his kestrell kynd
A pleasing vaine of glory he did fynd,
To which his flowing toung and troublous spright
Gave him great ayd, and made him more inclynd:
He, that brave steed there finding ready dight,        35
Purloynd both steed and speare, and ran away full light.
 
V
Now gan his hart all swell in jollity,
And of him selfe great hope and help conceiv’d,
That puffed up with smoke of vanity,
And with selfe-loved personage deceiv’d,        40
He gan to hope of men to be receiv’d
For such as he him thought, or faine would bee:
But for in court gay portaunce he perceiv’d
And gallant shew to be in greatest gree,
Eftsoones to court he cast t’ advaunce his first degree.        45
 
VI
And by the way he chaunced to espy
One sitting ydle on a sunny banck,
To whom avaunting in great bravery,
As peacocke, that his painted plumes doth pranck,
He smote his courser in the trembling flanck,        50
And to him threatned his hart-thrilling speare:
The seely man, seeing him ryde so ranck
And ayme at him, fell flatt to ground for feare,
And crying ‘Mercy!’ loud, his pitious handes gan reare.
 
VII
Thereat the scarcrow wexed wondrous prowd,
        55
Through fortune of his first adventure fayre,
And with big thundring voice revyld him lowd:
‘Vile caytive, vassall of dread and despayre,
Unworthie of the commune breathed ayre,
Why livest thou, dead dog, a lenger day,        60
And doest not unto death thy selfe prepayre?
Dy, or thy selfe my captive yield for ay;
Great favour I thee graunt, for aunswere thus to stay.’
 
VIII
‘Hold, O deare lord, hold your dead-doing hand!’
Then loud he cryde, ‘I am your humble thrall.’        65
‘Ah, wretch!’ quoth he, ‘thy destinies withstand
My wrathfull will, and doe for mercy call.
I give thee life: therefore prostrated fall,
And kisse my stirrup; that thy homage bee.’
The miser threw him selfe, as an offall,        70
Streight at his foot in base humilitee,
And cleeped him his liege, to hold of him in fee.
 
IX
So happy peace they made and faire accord.
Eftsoones this liegeman gan to wexe more bold,
And when he felt the folly of his lord,        75
In his owne kind he gan him selfe unfold:
For he was wylie witted, and growne old
In cunning sleightes and practick knavery.
From that day forth he cast for to uphold
His ydle humour with fine flattery,        80
And blow the bellowes to his swelling vanity.
 
X
Trompart, fitt man for Braggadochio,
To serve at court in view of vaunting eye;
Vaineglorious man, when fluttring wind does blow
In his light winges, is lifted up to skye;        85
The scorne of knighthood and trew chevalrye,
To thinke, without desert of gentle deed
And noble worth, to be advaunced hye:
Such prayse is shame; but honour, vertues meed,
Doth beare the fayrest flowre in honourable seed.        90
 
XI
So forth they pas, a well consorted payre,
Till that at length with Archimage they meet:
Who, seeing one that shone in armour fayre,
On goodly courser thondring with his feet,
Eftsoones supposed him a person meet        95
Of his revenge to make the instrument:
For since the Redcrosse Knight he erst did weet,
To beene with Guyon knitt in one consent,
The ill, which earst to him, he now to Guyon ment.
 
XII
And comming close to Trompart gan inquere
        100
Of him, what mightie warriour that mote bee,
That rode in golden sell with single spere,
But wanted sword to wreake his enmitee.
‘He is a great adventurer,’ said he,
‘That hath his sword through hard assay forgone,        105
And now hath vowd, till he avenged bee
Of that despight, never to wearen none;
That speare is him enough to doen a thousand grone.’
 
XIII
Th’ enchaunter greatly joyed in the vaunt,
And weened well ere long his will to win,        110
And both his foen with equall foyle to daunt.
Tho to him louting lowly did begin
To plaine of wronges, which had committed bin
By Guyon, and by that false Redcrosse Knight,
Which two, through treason and deceiptfull gin,        115
Had slayne Sir Mordant and his lady bright:
That mote him honour win, to wreak so foule despight.
 
XIV
Therewith all suddeinly he seemd enragd,
And threatned death with dreadfull countenaunce,
As if their lives had in his hand beene gagd;        120
And with stiffe force shaking his mortall launce,
To let him weet his doughtie valiaunce,
Thus said: ‘Old man, great sure shalbe thy meed,
If, where those knights for feare of dew vengeaunce
Doe lurke, thou certeinly to mee areed,        125
That I may wreake on them their hainous hateful deed.’
 
XV
‘Certes, my lord,’ said he, ‘that shall I soone,
And give you eke good helpe to their decay.
But mote I wisely you advise to doon,
Give no ods to your foes, but doe purvay        130
Your selfe of sword before that bloody day:
For they be two the prowest knights on grownd,
And oft approv’d in many hard assay;
And eke of surest steele, that may be fownd,
Doe arme your self against that day, them to confownd.’        135
 
XVI
‘Dotard,’ saide he, ‘let be thy deepe advise;
Seemes that through many yeares thy wits thee faile,
And that weake eld hath left thee nothing wise,
Els never should thy judgement be so frayle,
To measure manhood by the sword or mayle.        140
Is not enough fowre quarters of a man,
Withouten sword or shield, an hoste to quayle?
Thou litle wotest what this right-hand can:
Speake they, which have beheld the battailes which it wan.’
 
XVII
The man was much abashed at his boast;
        145
Yet well he wist, that who so would contend
With either of those knightes on even coast,
Should neede of all his armes, him to defend;
Yet feared least his boldnesse should offend:
When Braggadocchio saide: ‘Once I did sweare,        150
When with one sword seven knightes I brought to end,
Thence forth in battaile never sword to beare,
But it were that which noblest knight on earth doth weare.’
 
XVIII
‘Perdy, sir knight,’ saide then th’ enchaunter blive,
‘That shall I shortly purchase to your hond:        155
For now the best and noblest knight alive
Prince Arthur is, that wonnes in Faerie Lond;
He hath a sword, that flames like burning brond.
The same, by my device, I undertake
Shall by to morrow by thy side be fond.’        160
At which bold word that boaster gan to quake,
And wondred in his minde what mote that monster make.
 
XIX
He stayd not for more bidding, but away
Was suddein vanished out of his sight:
The northerne winde his wings did broad display        165
At his commaund, and reared him up light
From of the earth to take his aerie flight.
They lookt about, but no where could espye
Tract of his foot: then dead through great affright
They both nigh were, and each bad other flye:        170
Both fled attonce, ne ever backe retourned eye:
 
XX
Till that they come unto a forrest greene,
In which they shrowd themselves from causeles feare;
Yet feare them followes still, where so they beene.
Each trembling leafe and whistling wind they heare,        175
As ghastly bug, their haire on end does reare:
Yet both doe strive their fearefulnesse to faine.
At last they heard a horne, that shrilled cleare
Throughout the wood, that ecchoed againe,
And made the forrest ring, as it would rive in twaine.        180
 
XXI
Eft through the thicke they heard one rudely rush;
With noyse whereof he from his loftie steed
Downe fell to ground, and crept into a bush,
To hide his coward head from dying dreed.
But Trompart stoutly stayd to taken heed        185
Of what might hap. Eftsoone there stepped foorth
A goodly ladie clad in hunters weed,
That seemd to be a woman of great worth,
And, by her stately portance, borne of heavenly birth.
 
XXII
Her face so faire as flesh it seemed not,
        190
But hevenly pourtraict of bright angels hew,
Cleare as the skye, withouten blame or blot,
Through goodly mixture of complexions dew;
And in her cheekes the vermeill red did shew
Like roses in a bed of lillies shed,        195
The which ambrosiall odours from them threw,
And gazers sense with double pleasure fed,
Hable to heale the sicke, and to revive the ded.
 
XXIII
In her faire eyes two living lamps did flame,
Kindled above at th’ Hevenly Makers light,        200
And darted fyrie beames out of the same,
So passing persant, and so wondrous bright,
That quite bereav’d the rash beholders sight:
In them the blinded god his lustfull fyre
To kindle oft assayd, but had no might;        205
For with dredd majestie and awfull yre
She broke his wanton darts, and quenched bace desyre.
 
XXIV
Her yvorie forhead, full of bountie brave,
Like a broad table did it selfe dispred,
For Love his loftie triumphes to engrave,        210
And write the battailes of his great godhed:
All good and honour might therein be red:
For there their dwelling was. And when she spake,
Sweete wordes, like dropping honny, she did shed,
And twixt the perles and rubins softly brake        215
A silver sound, that heavenly musicke seemd to make.
 
XXV
Upon her eyelids many Graces sate,
Under the shadow of her even browes,
Working belgardes and amorous retrate,
And everie one her with a grace endowes,        220
And everie one with meekenesse to her bowes.
So glorious mirrhour of celestiall grace,
And soveraine moniment of mortall vowes,
How shall frayle pen descrive her heavenly face,
For feare, through want of skill, her beauty to disgrace?        225
 
XXVI
So faire, and thousand thousand times more faire,
She seemd, when she presented was to sight;
And was yclad, for heat of scorching aire,
All in a silken camus lylly whight,
Purfled upon with many a folded plight,        230
Which all above besprinckled was throughout
With golden aygulets, that glistred bright,
Like twinckling starres, and all the skirt about
Was hemd with golden fringe.
 
XXVII
Below her ham her weed did somewhat trayne,
        235
And her streight legs most bravely were embayld
In gilden buskins of costly cordwayne,
All bard with golden bendes, which were entayld
With curious antickes, and full fayre aumayld:
Before, they fastned were under her knee        240
In a rich jewell, and therein entrayld
The ends of all their knots, that none might see
How they within their fouldings close enwrapped bee.
 
XXVIII
Like two faire marble pillours they were seene,
Which doe the temple of the gods support,        245
Whom all the people decke with girlands greene,
And honour in their festivall resort;
Those same with stately grace and princely port
She taught to tread, when she her selfe would grace,
But with the woody nymphes when she did sport,        250
Or when the flying libbard she did chace,
She could them nimbly move, and after fly apace.
 
XXIX
And in her hand a sharpe bore-speare she held,
And at her backe a bow and quiver gay,
Stuft with steele-headed dartes, wherewith she queld        255
The salvage beastes in her victorious play,
Knit with a golden bauldricke, which forelay
Athwart her snowy brest, and did divide
Her daintie paps; which, like young fruit in May,
Now little gan to swell, and being tide,        260
Through her thin weed their places only signifide.
 
XXX
Her yellow lockes, crisped like golden wyre,
About her shoulders weren loosely shed,
And when the winde emongst them did inspyre,
They waved like a penon wyde dispred,        265
And low behinde her backe were scattered:
And whether art it were, or heedelesse hap,
As through the flouring forrest rash she fled,
In her rude heares sweet flowres themselves did lap,
And flourishing fresh leaves and blossomes did enwrap.        270
 
XXXI
Such as Diana by the sandy shore
Of swift Eurotas, or on Cynthus greene,
Where all the nymphes have her unwares forlore,
Wandreth alone with bow and arrowes keene,
To seeke her game: or as that famous queene        275
Of Amazons, whom Pyrrhus did destroy,
The day that first of Priame she was seene,
Did shew her selfe in great triumphant joy,
To succour the weake state of sad afflicted Troy.
 
XXXII
Such when as hartlesse Trompart her did vew,
        280
He was dismayed in his coward minde,
And doubted, whether he himselfe should shew,
Or fly away, or bide alone behinde:
Both feare and hope he in her face did finde,
When she at last, him spying, thus bespake:        285
‘Hayle, groome! didst not thou see a bleeding hynde,
Whose right haunch earst my stedfast arrow strake?
If thou didst, tell me, that I may her overtake.’
 
XXXIII
Wherewith reviv’d, this answere forth he threw:
‘O goddesse, (for such I thee take to bee;        290
For nether doth thy face terrestriall shew,
Nor voyce sound mortall) I avow to thee,
Such wounded beast as that I did not see,
Sith earst into this forrest wild I came.
But mote thy goodlyhed forgive it mee,        295
To weete which of the gods I shall thee name,
That unto thee dew worship I may rightly frame.’
 
XXXIV
To whom she thus— But ere her words ensewd,
Unto the bush her eye did suddein glaunce,
In which vaine Braggadocchio was mewd,        300
And saw it stirre: she lefte her percing launce,
And towards gan a deadly shafte advaunce,
In mind to marke the beast. At which sad stowre,
Trompart forth stept, to stay the mortall chaunce,
Out crying: ‘O, what ever hevenly powre,        305
Or earthly wight thou be, withhold this deadly howre!
 
XXXV
‘O stay thy hand! for yonder is no game
For thy fiers arrowes, them to exercize,
But loe! my lord, my liege, whose warlike name
Is far renowmd through many bold emprize;        310
And now in shade he shrowded yonder lies.’
She staid: with that he crauld out of his nest,
Forth creeping on his caitive hands and thies,
And standing stoutly up, his lofty crest
Did fiercely shake, and rowze, as comming late from rest.        315
 
XXXVI
As fearfull fowle, that long in secret cave
For dread of soring hauke her selfe hath hid,
Not caring how, her silly life to save,
She her gay painted plumes disorderid,
Seeing at last her selfe from daunger rid,        320
Peepes forth, and soone renews her native pride;
She gins her feathers fowle disfigured
Prowdly to prune, and sett on every side;
So shakes off shame, ne thinks how erst she did her hide.
 
XXXVII
So when her goodly visage he beheld,
        325
He gan himselfe to vaunt; but when he vewd
Those deadly tooles which in her hand she held,
Soone into other fitts he was transmewd,
Till she to him her gracious speach renewd:
‘All haile, sir knight, and well may thee befall,        330
As all the like, which honor have pursewd
Through deeds of armes and prowesse martiall!
All vertue merits praise, but such the most of all.’
 
XXXVIII
To whom he thus: ‘O fairest under skie,
Trew be thy words, and worthy of thy praise,        335
That warlike feats doest highest glorifie.
Therein have I spent all my youthly daies,
And many battailes fought and many fraies
Throughout the world, wher so they might be found,
Endevoring my dreaded name to raise        340
Above the moone, that Fame may it resound
In her eternall tromp, with laurell girlond cround.
 
XXXIX
‘But what art thou, O lady, which doest raunge
In this wilde forest, where no pleasure is,
And doest not it for joyous court exchaunge,        345
Emongst thine equall peres, where happy blis
And all delight does raigne, much more then this?
There thou maist love, and dearly loved be,
And swim in pleasure, which thou here doest mis;
There maist thou best be seene, and best maist see:        350
The wood is fit for beasts, the court is fitt for thee.’
 
XL
‘Who so in pompe of prowd estate,’ quoth she,
‘Does swim, and bathes him selfe in courtly blis,
Does waste his dayes in darke obscuritee,
And in oblivion ever buried is:        355
Where ease abownds, yt’s eath to doe amis:
But who his limbs with labours, and his mynd
Behaves with cares, cannot so easy mis.
Abroad in armes, at home in studious kynd,
Who seekes with painfull toile, shal Honor soonest fynd.        360
 
XLI
‘In woods, in waves, in warres she wonts to dwell,
And wilbe found with perill and with paine;
Ne can the man, that moulds in ydle cell,
Unto her happy mansion attaine:
Before her gate High God did sweate ordaine,        365
And wakefull watches ever to abide:
But easy is the way, and passage plaine
To Pleasures pallace; it may soone be spide,
And day and night her dores to all stand open wide.
 
XLII
‘In princes court—’ The rest she would have sayd,
        370
But that the foolish man, fild with delight
Of her sweete words, that all his sence dismayd,
And with her wondrous beauty ravisht quight,
Gan burne in filthy lust, and, leaping light,
Thought in his bastard armes her to embrace.        375
With that she, swarving backe, her javelin bright
Against him bent, and fiercely did menace:
So turned her about, and fled away apace.
 
XLIII
Which when the pesaunt saw, amazd he stood,
And grieved at her flight; yet durst he nott        380
Pursew her steps through wild unknowen wood;
Besides he feard her wrath, and threatned shott,
Whiles in the bush he lay, not yet forgott:
Ne car’d he greatly for her presence vayne,
But turning said to Trompart: ‘What fowle blott        385
Is this to knight, that lady should agayne
Depart to woods untoucht, and leave so proud disdayne!’
 
XLIV
‘Perdy,’ said Trompart, ‘lett her pas at will,
Least by her presence daunger mote befall.
For who can tell (and sure I feare it ill)        390
But that shee is some powre celestiall?
For whiles she spake, her great words did apall
My feeble corage, and my heart oppresse,
That yet I quake and tremble over all.’
‘And I,’ said Braggadocchio, ‘thought no lesse,        395
When first I heard her horn sound with such ghastlinesse.
 
XLV
‘For from my mothers wombe this grace I have
Me given by eternall destiny,
That earthly thing may not my corage brave
Dismay with feare, or cause on foote to flye,        400
But either hellish feends, or powres on hye:
Which was the cause, when earst that horne I heard,
Weening it had beene thunder in the skye,
I hid my selfe from it, as one affeard;
But when I other knew, my selfe I boldly reard.        405
 
XLVI
‘But now, for feare of worse that may betide,
Let us soone hence depart.’ They soone agree;
So to his steed he gott, and gan to ride,
As one unfitt therefore, that all might see
He had not trayned bene in chevalree.        410
Which well that valiaunt courser did discerne;
For he despisd to tread in dew degree,
But chaufd and fom’d, with corage fiers and sterne,
And to be easd of that base burden still did erne.
 
 
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