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 V
 
        Pyrochles does with Guyon fight,
  And Furors chayne unbinds;
Of whom sore hurt, for his revenge
  Attin Cymochles finds.

I
WHO ever doth to temperaunce apply
His stedfast life, and all his actions frame,
Trust me, shal find no greater enimy,
Then stubborne perturbation, to the same;
To which right wel the wise doe give that name;        5
For it the goodly peace of staied mindes
Does overthrow, and troublous warre proclame:
His owne woes author, who so bound it findes,
As did Pyrochles, and it wilfully unbindes.
 
II
After that varlets flight, it was not long,
        10
Ere on the plaine fast pricking Guyon spide
One in bright armes embatteiled full strong,
That as the sunny beames doe glaunce and glide
Upon the trembling wave, so shined bright,
And round about him threw forth sparkling fire,        15
That seemd him to enflame on every side:
His steed was bloody red, and fomed yre,
When with the maistring spur he did him roughly stire.
 
III
Approching nigh, he never staid to greete,
Ne chaffar words, prowd corage to provoke,        20
But prickt so fiers, that underneath his feete
The smouldring dust did rownd about him smoke,
Both horse and man nigh able for to choke;
And fayrly couching his steele headed speare,
Him first saluted with a sturdy stroke:        25
It booted nought Sir Guyon, comming neare,
To thincke such hideous puissaunce on foot to beare;
 
IV
But lightly shunned it, and passing by,
With his bright blade did smite at him so fell,
That the sharpe steele, arriving forcibly        30
On his broad shield, bitt not, but glauncing fell
On his horse necke before the quilted sell,
And from the head the body sundred quight.
So him, dismounted low, he did compell
On foot with him to matchen equall fight;        35
The truncked beast, fast bleeding, did him fowly dight.
 
V
Sore bruzed with the fall, he slow uprose,
And all enraged, thus him loudly shent:
‘Disleall knight, whose coward corage chose
To weake it selfe on beast all innocent,        40
And shund the market at which it should be ment!
Therby thine armes seem strong, but manhood frayl:
So hast thou oft with guile thine honor blent;
But litle may such guile thee now avayl,
If wonted force and fortune doe not much me fayl.’        45
 
VI
With that he drew his flaming sword, and strooke
At him so fiercely, that the upper marge
Of his sevenfolded shield away it tooke,
And glauncing on his helmet, made a large
And open gash therein: were not his targe,        50
That broke the violence of his intent,
The weary sowle from thence it would discharge:
Nathelesse so sore a buff to him it lent,
That made him reele, and to his brest his bever bent.
 
VII
Exceeding wroth was Guyon at that blow,
        55
And much ashamd that stroke of living arme
Should him dismay, and make him stoup so low,
Though otherwise it did him litle harme:
Tho, hurling high his yron braced arme,
He smote so manly on his shoulder plate,        60
That all his left side it did quite disarme;
Yet there the steele stayd not, but inly bate
Deepe in his flesh, and opened wide a red floodgate.
 
VIII
Deadly dismayd with horror of that dint
Pyrochles was, and grieved eke entyre;        65
Yet nathemore did it his fury stint,
But added flame unto his former fire,
That welnigh molt his hart in raging yre;
Ne thenceforth his approved skill, to ward,
Or strike, or hurtle rownd in warlike gyre,        70
Remembred he, ne car’d for his saufgard,
But rudely rag’d, and like a cruel tygre far’d.
 
IX
He hewd, and lasht, and foynd, and thondred blowes,
And every way did seeke into his life;
Ne plate, ne male could ward so mighty throwes,        75
But yeilded passage to his cruell knife.
But Guyon, in the heat of all his strife,
Was wary wise, and closely did awayt
Avauntage, whilest his foe did rage most rife:
Sometimes a thwart, sometimes he strook him strayt,        80
And falsed oft his blowes, t’ illude him with such bayt.
 
X
Like as a lyon, whose imperiall powre
A prowd rebellious unicorne defyes,
T’ avoide the rash assault and wrathfull stowre
Of his fiers foe, him to a tree applyes,        85
And when him ronning in full course he spyes,
He slips aside; the whiles that furious beast
His precious horne, sought of his enimyes,
Strikes in the stocke, ne thence can be releast,
But to the mighty victor yields a bounteous feast.        90
 
XI
With such faire sleight him Guyon often fayld,
Till at the last all breathlesse, weary, faint
Him spying, with fresh onsett he assayld,
And kindling new his corage seeming queint,
Strooke him so hugely, that through great constraint        95
He made him stoup perforce unto his knee,
And doe unwilling worship to the saint,
That on his shield depainted he did see:
Such homage till that instant never learned hee.
 
XII
Whom Guyon seeing stoup, poursewed fast
        100
The present offer of faire victory,
And soone his dreadfull blade about he cast,
Wherewith he smote his haughty crest so hye,
That streight on grownd made him full low to lye;
Then on his brest his victor foote he thrust:        105
With that he cryde: ‘Mercy! doe me not dye,
Ne deeme thy force by Fortunes doome unjust,
That hath (maugre her spight!) thus low me laid in dust.’
 
XIII
Eftsoones his cruel hand Sir Guyon stayd,
Tempring the passion with advizement slow,        110
And maistring might on enimy dismayd;
For th’ equall die of warre he well did know:
Then to him said: ‘Live, and alleagaunce owe
To him that gives thee life and liberty,
And henceforth by this daies ensample trow,        115
That hasty wroth, and heedlesse hazardry,
Doe breede repentaunce late, and lasting infamy.’
 
XIV
So up he let him rise; who, with grim looke
And count’naunce sterne upstanding, gan to grind
His grated teeth for great disdeigne, and shooke        120
His sandy lockes, long hanging downe behind,
Knotted in blood and dust, for griefe of mind,
That he in ods of armes was conquered;
Yet in himselfe some comfort he did find,
That him so noble knight had maystered,        125
Whose bounty more then might, yet both, he wondered.
 
XV
Which Guyon marking said: ‘Be nought agriev’d,
Sir knight, that thus ye now subdewed arre:
Was never man, who most conquestes atchiev’d,
But sometimes had the worse, and lost by warre,        130
Yet shortly gaynd that losse exceeded farre:
Losse is no shame, nor to bee lesse then foe,
But to bee lesser then himselfe doth marre
Both loosers lott, and victours prayse alsoe:
Vaine others overthrowes who selfe doth overthrow.        135
 
XVI
‘Fly, O Pyrochles, fly the dreadfull warre,
That in thy selfe thy lesser partes doe move,
Outrageous anger, and woe working jarre,
Direfull impatience, and hartmurdring love;
Those, those thy foes, those warriours far remove,        140
Which thee to endlesse bale captived lead.
But sith in might thou didst my mercy prove,
Of courtesie to mee the cause aread,
That thee against me drew with so impetuous dread.’
 
XVII
‘Dreadlesse,’ said he, ‘that shall I soone declare:
        145
It was complaind that thou hadst done great tort
Unto an aged woman, poore and bare,
And thralled her in chaines with strong effort,
Voide of all succour and needfull comfort:
That ill beseemes thee, such as I thee see,        150
To worke such shame. Therefore I thee exhort
To chaunge thy will, and set Occasion free,
And to her captive sonne yield his first libertee.’
 
XVIII
Thereat Sir Guyon smylde: ‘And is that all,’
Said he, ‘that thee so sore displeased hath?        155
Great mercy sure, for to enlarge a thrall,
Whose freedom shall thee turne to greatest scath!
Nath’lesse now quench thy whott emboyling wrath:
Loe! there they bee; to thee I yield them free.’
Thereat he wondrous glad, out of the path        160
Did lightly leape, where he them bound did see,
And gan to breake the bands of their captivitee.
 
XIX
Soone as Occasion felt her selfe untyde,
Before her sonne could well assoyled bee,
She to her use returnd, and streight defyde        165
Both Guyon and Pyrochles: th’ one (said shee)
Bycause he wonne; the other because hee
Was wonne: so matter did she make of nought,
To stirre up strife, and do them disagree:
But soone as Furor was enlargd, she sought        170
To kindle his quencht fyre, and thousand causes wrought.
 
XX
It was not long ere she inflam’d him so,
That he would algates with Pyrochles fight,
And his redeemer chalengd for his foe,
Because he had not well mainteind his right,        175
But yielded had to that same straunger knight:
Now gan Pyrochles wex as wood as hee,
And him affronted with impatient might:
So both together fiers engrasped bee,
Whyles Guyon, standing by, their uncouth strife does see.        180
 
XXI
Him all that while Occasion did provoke
Against Pyrochles, and new matter fram’d
Upon the old, him stirring to bee wroke
Of his late wronges, in which she oft him blam’d
For suffering such abuse as knighthood sham’d,        185
And him dishabled quyte. But he was wise,
Ne would with vaine occasions be inflam’d;
Yet others she more urgent did devise;
Yet nothing could him to impatience entise.
 
XXII
Their fell contention still increased more,
        190
And more thereby increased Furors might,
That he his foe has hurt, and wounded sore,
And him in blood and durt deformed quight.
His mother eke, more to augment his spight,
Now brought to him a flaming fyer brond,        195
Which she in Stygian lake, ay burning bright,
Had kindled: that she gave into his hond,
That, armd with fire, more hardly he mote him withstond.
 
XXIII
Tho gan that villein wex so fiers and strong,
That nothing might sustaine his furious forse:        200
He cast him downe to ground, and all along
Drew him through durt and myre without remorse,
And fowly battered his comely corse,
That Guyon much disdeignd so loathly sight.
At last he was compeld to cry perforse,        205
‘Help, O Sir Guyon! helpe, most noble knight,
To ridd a wretched man from handes of hellish wight!’
 
XXIV
The knight was greatly moved at his playnt,
And gan him dight to succour his distresse,
Till that the palmer, by his grave restraynt,        210
Him stayd from yielding pitifull redresse,
And said: ‘Deare sonne, thy causelesse ruth represse,
Ne let thy stout hart melt in pitty vayne:
He that his sorow sought through wilfulnesse,
And his foe fettred would release agayne,        215
Deserves to taste his follies fruit, repented payne.’
 
XXV
Guyon obayd: so him away he drew
From needlesse trouble of renewing fight
Already fought, his voyage to poursew.
But rash Pyrochles varlett, Atin hight,        220
When late he saw his lord in heavie plight,
Under Sir Guyons puissaunt stroke to fall,
Him deeming dead, as then he seemd in sight,
Fledd fast away, to tell his funerall
Unto his brother, whom Cymochles men did call.        225
 
XXVI
He was a man of rare redoubted might,
Famous throughout the world for warlike prayse,
And glorious spoiles, purchast in perilous fight:
Full many doughtie knightes he in his dayes
Had doen to death, subdewde in equall frayes,        230
Whose carkases, for terrour of his name,
Of fowles and beastes he made the piteous prayes,
And hong their conquerd armes for more defame
On gallow trees, in honour of his dearest dame.
 
XXVII
His dearest dame is that enchaunteresse,
        235
The vyle Acrasia, that with vaine delightes,
And ydle pleasures in her Bowre of Blisse,
Does charme her lovers, and the feeble sprightes
Can call out of the bodies of fraile wightes;
Whom then she does trasforme to monstrous hewes,        240
And horribly misshapes with ugly sightes,
Captiv’d eternally in yron mewes,
And darksom dens, where Titan his face never shewes.
 
XXVIII
There Atin fownd Cymochles sojourning,
To serve his lemans love: for he by kynd        245
Was given all to lust and loose living,
When ever his fiers handes he free mote fynd:
And now he has pourd out his ydle mynd
In daintie delices and lavish joyes,
Having his warlike weapons cast behynd,        250
And flowes in pleasures and vaine pleasing toyes,
Mingled emongst loose ladies and lascivious boyes.
 
XXIX
And over him, Art, stryving to compayre
With Nature, did an arber greene dispred,
Framed of wanton yvie, flouring fayre,        255
Through which the fragrant eglantine did spred
His prickling armes, entrayld with roses red,
Which daintie odours round about them threw;
And all within with flowres was garnished,
That, when myld Zephyrus emongst them blew,        260
Did breath out bounteous smels, and painted colors shew.
 
XXX
And fast beside, there trickled softly downe
A gentle streame, whose murmuring wave did play
Emongst the pumy stones, and made a sowne,
To lull him soft a sleepe, that by it lay:        265
The wearie traveiler, wandring that way,
Therein did often quench his thristy heat,
And then by it his wearie limbes display,
Whiles creeping slomber made him to forget
His former payne, and wypt away his toilsom sweat.        270
 
XXXI
And on the other syde a pleasaunt grove
Was shott up high, full of the stately tree
That dedicated is t’ Olympick Jove,
And to his sonne Alcides, whenas hee
Gaynd in Nemea goodly victoree:        275
Therein the mery birdes of every sorte
Chaunted alowd their chearefull harmonee,
And made emongst them selves a sweete consort,
That quickned the dull spright with musicall comfort.
 
XXXII
There he him found all carelesly displaid,
        280
In secrete shadow from the sunny ray,
On a sweet bed of lillies softly laid,
Amidst a flock of damzelles fresh and gay,
That rownd about him dissolute did play
Their wanton follies and light meriment;        285
Every of which did loosely disaray
Her upper partes of meet habiliments,
And shewd them naked, deckt with many ornaments.
 
XXXIII
And every of them strove, with most delights
Him to aggrate, and greatest pleasures shew;        290
Some framd faire lookes, glancing like evening lights,
Others sweet wordes, dropping like honny dew;
Some bathed kisses, and did soft embrew
The sugred licour through his melting lips:
One boastes her beautie, and does yield to vew        295
Her dainty limbes above her tender hips;
Another her out boastes, and all for tryall strips.
 
XXXIV
He, like an adder lurking in the weedes,
His wandring thought in deepe desire does steepe,
And his frayle eye with spoyle of beauty feedes:        300
Sometimes he falsely faines himselfe to sleepe,
Whiles through their lids his wanton eies do peepe,
To steale a snatch of amorous conceipt,
Whereby close fire into his heart does creepe:
So’ he them deceives, deceivd in his deceipt,        305
Made dronke with drugs of deare voluptuous receipt.
 
XXXV
Attin, arriving there, when him he spyde
Thus in still waves of deepe delight to wade,
Fiercely approching, to him lowdly cryde,
‘Cymochles! oh! no, but Cymochles shade,        310
In which that manly person late did fade!
What is become of great Acrates sonne?
Or where hath he hong up his mortall blade,
That hath so many haughty conquests wonne?
Is all his force forlorne, and all his glory donne?’        315
 
XXXVI
Then pricking him with his sharp-pointed dart,
He saide: ‘Up, up! thou womanish weake knight,
That here in ladies lap entombed art,
Unmindfull of thy praise and prowest might,
And weetlesse eke of lately wrought despight,        320
Whiles sad Pyrochles lies on sencelesse ground,
And groneth out his utmost grudging spright,
Through many a stroke, and many a streaming wound,
Calling thy help in vaine, that here in joyes art dround.’
 
XXXVII
Suddeinly out of his delightfull dreame
        325
The man awoke, and would have questiond more;
But he would not endure that wofull theame
For to dilate at large, but urged sore,
With percing wordes and pittifull implore,
Him hasty to arise. As one affright        330
With hellish feends, or Furies mad uprore,
He then uprose, inflamd with fell despight,
And called for his armes; for he would algates fight.
 
XXXVIII
They bene ybrought; he quickly does him dight,
And, lightly mounted, passeth on his way;        335
Ne ladies loves, ne sweete entreaties might
Appease his heat, or hastie passage stay;
For he has vowd to beene avengd that day
(That day it selfe him seemed all too long)
On him that did Pyrochles deare dismay:        340
So proudly pricketh on his courser strong,
And Attin ay him pricks with spurs of shame and wrong.
 
 
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