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Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
 
The Faerie Queene
Book II. The Legend of Sir Guyon
Canto XII
 
        Guyon by palmers governaunce
  Passing through perilles great,
Doth overthrow the Bowre of Blis,
  And Acrasy defeat.

I
NOW ginnes this goodly frame of Temperaunce
Fayrely to rise, and her adorned had
To pricke of highest prayse forth to advaunce,
Formerly grounded and fast setteled
On firme foundation of true bountyhed:        5
And that brave knight, that for this vertue fightes,
Now comes to point of that same perilous sted,
Where Pleasure dwelles in sensuall delights,
Mongst thousand dangers, and ten thousand magick mights.
 
II
Two dayes now in that sea he sayled has,
        10
Ne ever land beheld, ne living witht,
Ne ought save perill, still as he did pas:
Tho, when appeared the third morrow bright,
Upon the waves to spred her trembling light,
An hideous roring far away they heard,        15
That all their sences filled with affright,
And streight they saw the raging surges reard
Up to the skyes, that them of drowning made affeard.
 
III
Said then the boteman, ‘Palmer, stere aright,
And keepe an even course; for yonder way        20
We needes must pas (God doe us well acquight!)
That is the Gulfe of Greedinesse, they say,
That deepe engorgeth all this worldes pray;
Which having swallowd up excessively,
He soone in vomit up againe doth lay,        25
And belcheth forth his superfluity,
That all the seas for feare doe seeme away to fly.
 
IV
‘On thother syde an hideous rock is pight
Of mightie magnes stone, whose craggie clift
Depending from on high, dreadfull to sight,        30
Over the waves his rugged armes doth lift,
And threatneth downe to throw his ragged rift
On whoso cometh nigh; yet nigh it drawes
All passengers, that none from it can shift:
For whiles they fly that gulfes devouring jawes,        35
They on this rock are rent, and sunck in helples wawes.’
 
V
Forward they passe, and strongly he them rowes,
Untill they nigh unto that gulfe arryve,
Where streame more violent and greedy growes:
Then he with all his puisaunce doth stryve        40
To strike his oares, and mightily doth dryve
The hollow vessell through the threatfull wave,
Which, gaping wide, to swallow them alyve
In th’ huge abysse of his engulfing grave,
Doth rore at them in vaine, and with great terrour rave.        45
 
VI
They, passing by, that grisely mouth did see,
Sucking the seas into his entralles deepe,
That seemd more horrible then hell to bee,
Or that darke dreadfull hole of Tartare steepe,
Through which the damned ghosts doen often creep        50
Backe to the world, bad livers to torment:
But nought that falles into this direfull deepe,
Ne that approcheth nigh the wyde descent,
May backe retourne, but is condemned to be drent.
 
VII
On thother side they saw that perilous rocke,
        55
Threatning it selfe on them to ruinate,
On whose sharp cliftes the ribs of vessels broke,
And shivered ships, which had beene wrecked late,
Yet stuck, with carcases exanimate
Of such, as having all their substance spent        60
In wanton joyes and lustes intemperate,
Did afterwardes make shipwrack violent,
Both of their life, and fame for ever fowly blent.
 
VIII
Forthy this hight the Rock of vile Reproch,
A daungerous and detestable place,        65
To which nor fish nor fowle did once approch,
But yelling meawes, with seagulles hoars and bace,
And cormoyraunts, with birds of ravenous race,
Which still sat wayting on that wastfull clift
For spoile of wretches, whose unhappy cace,        70
After lost credit and consumed thrift,
At last them driven hath to this despairefull drift.
 
IX
The palmer, seeing them in safetie past,
Thus saide: ‘Behold th’ ensamples in our sightes
Of lustfull luxurie and thriftlesse wast:        75
What now is left of miserable wightes,
Which spent their looser daies in leud delightes,
But shame and sad reproch, here to be red
By these rent reliques, speaking their ill plightes?
Let all that live, hereby be counselled        80
To shunne Rock of Reproch, and it as death to dread.’
 
X
So forth they rowed, and that ferryman
With his stiffe oares did brush the sea so strong,
That the hoare waters from his frigot ran,
And the light bubles daunced all along,        85
Whiles the salt brine out of the billowes sprong.
At last far off they many islandes spy,
On every side floting the floodes emong:
Then said the knight: ‘Lo! I the land descry;
Therefore, old syre, thy course doe thereunto apply.’        90
 
XI
‘That may not bee,’ said then the ferryman,
‘Least wee unweeting hap to be fordonne:
For those same islands, seeming now and than,
Are not firme land, nor any certein wonne,
But stragling plots, which to and fro doe ronne        95
In the wide waters: therefore are they hight
The Wandring Islands. Therefore doe them shonne;
For they have ofte drawne many a wandring wight
Into most deadly daunger and distressed plight.
 
XII
‘Yet well they seeme to him, that farre doth vew,
        100
Both faire and fruitfull, and the grownd dispred
With grassy greene of delectable hew,
And the tall trees with leaves appareled,
Are deckt with blossoms dyde in white and red,
That mote the passengers thereto allure;        105
But whosoever once hath fastened
His foot thereon, may never it recure,
But wandreth ever more uncertein and unsure.
 
XIII
‘As th’ isle of Delos whylome, men report,
Amid th’ Aegæan sea long time did stray,        110
Ne made for shipping any certeine port,
Till that Latona traveiling that way,
Flying from Junoes wrath and hard assay,
Of her fayre twins was there delivered,
Which afterwards did rule the might and day;        115
Thenceforth it firmely was established,
And for Apolloes honor highly herried.’
 
XIV
They to him hearken, as beseemeth meete,
And passe on forward: so their way does ly,
That one of those same islands, which doe fleet        120
In the wide sea, they needes must passen by,
Which seemd so sweet and pleasaunt to the eye,
That it would tempt a man to touchen there:
Upon the banck they sitting did espy
A daintie damsell, dressing of her heare,        125
By whom a little skippet floting did appeare.
 
XV
She, them espying, loud to them can call,
Bidding them nigher draw unto the shore;
For she had cause to busie them withall;
And therewith lowdly laught: but nathemore        130
Would they once turne, but kept on as afore:
Which when she saw, she left her lockes undight,
And running to her boat withouten ore,
From the departing land it launched light,
And after them did drive with all her power and might.        135
 
XVI
Whom overtaking, she in merry sort
Them gan to bord, and purpose diversly,
Now faining dalliaunce and wanton sport,
Now throwing forth lewd wordes immodestly;
Till that the palmer gan full bitterly        140
Her to rebuke, for being loose and light:
Which not abiding, but more scornfully
Scoffing at him that did her justly wite,
She turnd her bote about, and from them rowed quite.
 
XVII
That was the wanton Phœdria, which late
        145
Did ferry him over the Idle Lake:
Whom nought regarding, they kept on their gate,
And all her vaine allurements did forsake;
When them the wary boteman thus bespake:
‘Here now behoveth us well to avyse,        150
And of our safety good heede to take;
For here before a perlous passage lyes,
Where many mermayds haunt, making false melodies.
 
XVIII
‘But by the way there is a great quick sand,
And a whirlepoole of hidden jeopardy:        155
Therefore, sir palmer, keepe an even hand;
For twixt them both the narrow way doth ly.’
Scarse had he saide, when hard at hand they spy
That quicksand nigh with water covered;
But by the checked wave they did descry        160
It plaine, and by the sea discoloured:
It called was the Quickesand of Unthriftyhed.
 
XIX
They, passing by, a goodly ship did see,
Laden from far with precious merchandize,
And bravely furnished as ship might bee,        165
Which through great disaventure, or mesprize,
Her selfe had ronne into that hazardize;
Whose mariners and merchants, with much toyle,
Labour’d in vaine to have recur’d their prize,
And the rich wares to save from pitteous spoyle;        170
But neither toyle nor traveill might her backe recoyle.
 
XX
On th’ other side they see that perilous poole,
That called was the Whirlepoole of Decay,
In which full many had with haplesse doole
Beene suncke, of whom no memorie did stay:        175
Whose circled waters rapt with whirling sway,
Like to a restlesse wheele, still ronning round,
Did covet, as they passed by that way,
To draw their bote within the utmost bound
Of his wide labyrinth, and then to have them dround.        180
 
XXI
But th’ heedfull boteman strongly forth did stretch
His brawnie armes, and all his bodie straine,
That th’ utmost sandy breach they shortly fetch,
Whiles the dredd daunger does behind remaine.
Suddeine they see from midst of all the maine        185
The surging waters like a mountaine rise,
And the great sea, puft up with proud disdaine,
To swell above the measure of his guise,
As threatning to devoure all that his powre despise.
 
XXII
The waves come rolling, and the billowes rore
        190
Outragiously, as they enraged were,
Or wrathfull Neptune did them drive before
His whirling charet, for exceeding feare;
For not one puffe of winde there did appeare;
That all the three thereat woxe much afrayd,        195
Unweeting what such horrour straunge did reare.
Eftsoones they saw an hideous hoast arrayd
Of huge sea monsters, such as living sence dismayd.
 
XXIII
Most ugly shapes and horrible aspects,
Such as Dame Nature selfe mote feare to see,        200
Or shame that ever should so fowle defects
From her most cunning hand escaped bee;
All dreadfull pourtraicts of deformitee:
Spring-headed hydres, and sea-shouldring whales,
Great whirlpooles, which all fishes make to flee,        205
Bright scolopendraes, arm’d with silver scales,
Mighty monoceros with immeasured tayles,
 
XXIV
The dreadfull fish, that hath deserv’d the name
Of Death, and like him lookes in dreadfull hew,
The griesly wasserman, that makes his game        210
The flying ships with swiftnes to pursew,
The horrible sea-satyre, that doth shew
His fearefull face in time of greatest storme,
Huge ziffius, whom mariners eschew
No lesse then rockes, (as travellers informe,)        215
And greedy rosmarines with visages deforme.
 
XXV
All these, and thousand thousands many more,
And more deformed monsters thousand fold,
With dreadfull noise and hollow rombling rore,
Came rushing, in the fomy waves enrold,        220
Which seem’d to fly for feare them to behold:
Ne wonder, if these did the knight appall;
For all, that here on earth we dreadfull hold,
Be but as bugs to fearen babes withall,
Compared to the creatures in the seas entrall.        225
 
XXVI
‘Feare nought,’ then saide the palmer well aviz’d;
‘For these same monsters are not these in deed,
But are into these fearefull shapes disguiz’d
By that same wicked witch, to worke us dreed,
And draw from on this journey to proceed.’        230
Tho, lifting up his vertuous staffe on hye,
He smote the sea, which calmed was with speed,
And all that dreadfull armie fast gan flye
Into great Tethys bosome, where they hidden lye.
 
XXVII
Quit from that danger, forth their course they kept,
        235
And as they went they heard a ruefull cry
Of one that wayld and pittifully wept,
That through the sea the resounding plaints did fly:
At last they in an island did espy
A seemely maiden, sitting by the shore,        240
That with great sorrow and sad agony
Seemed some great misfortune to deplore,
And lowd to them for succour called evermore.
 
XXVIII
Which Guyon hearing, streight his palmer bad
To stere the bote towards that dolefull mayd,        245
That he might know and ease her sorrow sad:
Who, him avizing better, to him sayd:
‘Faire sir, be not displeasd if disobayd:
For ill it were to hearken to her cry;
For she is inly nothing ill apayd,        250
But onely womanish fine forgery,
Your stubborne hart t’ affect with fraile infirmity.
 
XXIX
‘To which when she your courage hath inclind
Through foolish pitty, then her guilefull bayt
She will embosome deeper in your mind,        255
And for your ruine at the last awayt.’
The knight was ruled, and the boteman strayt
Held on his course with stayed stedfastnesse,
Ne ever shroncke, ne ever sought to bayt
His tyred armes for toylesome wearinesse,        260
But with his oares did sweepe the watry wildernesse.
 
XXX
And now they nigh approched to the sted,
Where as those mermayds dwelt: it was a still
And calmy bay, on th’ one side sheltered
With the brode shadow of an hoarie hill,        265
On th’ other side an high rocke toured still,
That twixt them both a pleasaunt port they made,
And did like an halfe theatre fulfill:
There those five sisters had continuall trade,
And usd to bath themselves in that deceiptfull shade.        270
 
XXXI
They were faire ladies, till they fondly striv’d
With th’ Heliconian maides for maystery;
Of whom they over-comen, were depriv’d
Of their proud beautie, and th’ one moyity
Transformd to fish, for their bold surquedry;        275
But th’ upper halfe their hew retayned still,
And their sweet skill in wonted melody;
Which ever after they abusd to ill,
T’ allure weake traveillers, whom gotten they did kill.
 
XXXII
So now to Guyon, as he passed by,
        280
Their pleasaunt tunes they sweetly thus applyde:
‘O thou fayre sonne of gentle Faery,
That art in mightie armes most magnifyde
Above all knights that ever batteill tryde,
O turne thy rudder hetherward a while:        285
Here may thy storme-bett vessell safely ryde;
This is the port of rest from troublous toyle,
The worldes sweet in from paine and wearisome turmoyle.’
 
XXXIII
With that the rolling sea, resounding soft,
In his big base them fitly answered,        290
And on the rocke the waves breaking aloft,
A solemne meane unto them measured,
The whiles sweet Zephyrus lowd whisteled
His treble, a straunge kinde of harmony;
Which Guyons senses softly tickeled,        295
That he the boteman bad row easily,
And let him heare some part of their rare melody.
 
XXXIV
But him the palmer from that vanity
With temperate advice discounselled,
That they it past, and shortly gan descry        300
The land, to which their course they leveled;
When suddeinly a grosse fog over spred
With his dull vapour all that desert has,
And heavens chearefull face enveloped,
That all things one, and one as nothing was,        305
And this great universe seemd one confused mas.
 
XXXV
Thereat they greatly were dismayd, ne wist
How to direct theyr way in darkenes wide,
But feard to wander in that wastefull mist,
For tombling into mischiefe unespide:        310
Worse is the daunger hidden then descride.
Suddeinly an innumerable flight
Of harmefull fowles, about them fluttering, cride,
And with their wicked wings them ofte did smight,
And sore annoyed, groping in that griesly night.        315
 
XXXVI
Even all the nation of unfortunate
And fatall birds about them flocked were,
Such as by nature men abhorre and hate;
The ill-faste owle, deaths dreadfull messengere,
The hoars night-raven, trump of dolefull drere,        320
The lether-winged batt, dayes enimy,
The ruefull strich, still waiting on the bere,
The whistler shrill, that who so heares doth dy,
The hellish harpyes, prophets of sad destiny.
 
XXXVII
All those, and all that els does horror breed,
        325
About them flew, and fild their sayles with feare:
Yet stayd they not, but forward did proceed,
Whiles th’ one did row, and th’ other stifly steare;
Till that at last the weather gan to cleare,
And the faire land it selfe did playnly sheow.        330
Said then the palmer: ‘Lo where does appeare
The sacred soile where all our perills grow;
Therefore, sir knight, your ready arms about you throw.’
 
XXXVIII
He hearkned, and his armes about him tooke,
The whiles the nimble bote so well her sped,        335
That with her crooked keele the land she strooke.
Then forth the noble Guyon sallied,
And his sage palmer, that him governed;
But th’ other by his bote behind did stay.
They marched fayrly forth, of nought ydred,        340
Both firmely armd for every hard assay,
With constancy and care, gainst daunger and dismay.
 
XXXIX
Ere long they heard an hideous bellowing
Of many beasts, that roard outrageously,
As if that hungers poynt or Venus sting        345
Had them enraged with fell surquedry;
Yet nought they feard, but past on hardily,
Untill they came in vew of those wilde beasts:
Who all attonce, gaping full greedily,
And rearing fercely their upstarting crests,        350
Ran towards, to devoure those unexpected guests.
 
XL
But soone as they approcht with deadly threat,
The palmer over them his staffe upheld,
His mighty staffe, that could all charmes defeat:
Eftesoones their stubborne corages were queld,        355
And high advaunced crests downe meekely feld;
Instead of fraying, they them selves did feare,
And trembled, as them passing they beheld:
Such wondrous powre did in that staffe appeare,
All monsters to subdew to him that did it beare.        360
 
XLI
Of that same wood it fram’d was cunningly,
Of which Caduceus whilome was made,
Caduceus, the rod of Mercury,
With which he wonts the Stygian realmes invade,
Through ghastly horror and eternall shade;        365
Th’ infernall feends with it he can asswage,
And Orcus tame, whome nothing can persuade,
And rule the Furyes, when they most doe rage:
Such vertue in his staffe had eke this palmer sage.
 
XLII
Thence passing forth, they shortly doe arryve
        370
Whereas the Bowre of Blisse was situate;
A place pickt out by choyce of best alyve,
That Natures worke by art can imitate:
In which what ever in this worldly state
Is sweete, and pleasing unto living sense,        375
Or that may dayntest fantasy aggrate,
Was poured forth with plentifull dispence,
And made there to abound with lavish affluence.
 
XLIII
Goodly it was enclosed rownd about,
As well their entred guestes to keep within,        380
As those unruly beasts to hold without;
Yet was the fence thereof but weake and thin;
Nought feard theyr force, that fortilage to win,
But wisedomes powre, and temperaunces might,
By which the mightiest things efforced bin:        385
And eke the gate was wrought of substaunce light,
Rather for pleasure then for battery or fight.
 
XLIV
Yt framed was of precious yvory,
That seemd a worke of admirable witt;
And therein all the famous history        390
Of Jason and Medæa was ywritt;
Her mighty charmes, her furious loving fitt,
His goodly conquest of the golden fleece,
His falsed fayth, and love too lightly flitt,
The wondred Argo, which in venturous peece        395
First through the Euxine seas bore all the flowr of Greece.
 
XLV
Ye might have seene the frothy billowes fry
Under the ship, as thorough them she went,
That seemd the waves were into yvory,
Or yvory into the waves were sent;        400
And otherwhere the snowy substaunce sprent
With vermell, like the boyes blood therein shed,
A piteous spectacle did represent;
And otherwhiles with gold besprinkeled,
Yt seemd thenchaunted flame, which did Creusa wed.        405
 
XLVI
All this and more might in that goodly gate
Be red; that ever open stood to all
Which thether came: but in the porch there sate
A comely personage of stature tall,
And semblaunce pleasing, more then naturall,        410
That traveilers to him seemd to entize;
His looser garment to the ground did fall,
And flew about his heeles in wanton wize,
Not fitt for speedy pace or manly exercize.
 
XLVII
They in that place him Genius did call:
        415
Not that celestiall powre, to whom the care
Of life, and generation of all
That lives, perteines in charge particulare,
Who wondrous things concerning our welfare,
And straunge phantomes, doth lett us ofte forsee,        420
And ofte of secret ill bids us beware:
That is our selfe, whom though we doe not see,
Yet each doth in him selfe it well perceive to bee.
 
XLVIII
Therefore a god him sage antiquity
Did wisely make, and good Agdistes call:        425
But this same was to that quite contrary,
The foe of life, that good envyes to all,
That secretly doth us procure to fall,
Through guilefull semblants, which he makes us see.
He of this gardin had the governall,        430
And Pleasures porter was devizd to bee,
Holding a staffe in hand for more formalitee.
 
XLIX
With diverse flowres he daintily was deckt,
And strowed rownd about, and by his side
A mighty mazer bowle of wine was sett,        435
As if it had to him bene sacrifide;
Wherewith all new-come guests he gratyfide:
So did he eke Sir Guyon passing by:
But he his ydle curtesie defide,
And overthrew his bowle disdainfully,        440
And broke his staffe, with which he charmed semblants sly.
 
L
Thus being entred, they behold arownd
A large and spacious plaine, on every side
Strowed with pleasauns, whose fayre grassy grownd
Mantled with greene, and goodly beautifide        445
With all the ornaments of Floraes pride,
Wherewith her mother Art, as halfe in scorne
Of niggard Nature, like a pompous bride
Did decke her, and too lavishly adorne,
When forth from virgin bowre she comes in th’ early morne.        450
 
LI
Thereto the heavens alwayes joviall,
Lookte on them lovely, still in stedfast state,
Ne suffred storme nor frost on them to fall,
Their tender buds or leaves to violate,
Nor scorching heat, nor cold intemperate,        455
T’ afflict the creatures which therein did dwell,
But the milde ayre with season moderate
Gently attempred, and disposd so well,
That still it breathed forth sweet spirit and holesom smell.
 
LII
More sweet and holesome then the pleasaunt hill
        460
Of Rhodope, on which the nimphe that bore
A gyaunt babe her selfe for griefe did kill;
Or the Thessalian Tempe, where of yore
Fayre Daphne Phæbus hart with love did gore;
Or Ida, where the gods lov’d to repayre,        465
When ever they their heavenly bowres forlore;
Or sweet Parnasse, the haunt of Muses fayre;
Or Eden selfe, if ought with Eden mote compayre.
 
LIII
Much wondred Guyon at the fayre aspect
Of that sweet place, yet suffred no delight        470
To sincke into his sence, nor mind affect,
But passed forth, and lookt still forward right,
Brydling his will, and maystering his might:
Till that he came unto another gate,
No gate, but like one, being goodly dight        475
With bowes and braunches, which did broad dilate
Their clasping armes, in wanton wreathings intricate:
 
LIV
So fashioned a porch with rare device,
Archt over head with an embracing vine,
Whose bounches, hanging downe, seemd to entice        480
All passers by to taste their lushious wine,
And did them selves into their hands incline,
As freely offering to be gathered:
Some deepe empurpled as the hyacine,
Some as the rubine laughing sweetely red,        485
Some like faire emeraudes, not yet well ripened.
 
LV
And them amongst, some were of burnisht gold,
So made by art, to beautify the rest,
Which did themselves emongst the leaves enfold,
As lurking from the vew of covetous guest,        490
That the weake boughes, with so rich load opprest,
Did bow adowne, as overburdened.
Under that porch a comely dame did rest,
Clad in fayre weedes, but fowle disordered,
And garments loose, that seemd unmeet for womanhed.        495
 
LVI
In her left hand a cup of gold she held,
And with her right the riper fruit did reach,
Whose sappy liquor, that with fulnesse sweld,
Into her cup she scruzd, with daintie breach
Of her fine fingers, without fowle empeach,        500
That so faire winepresse made the wine more sweet:
Thereof she usd to give to drinke to each,
Whom passing by she happened to meet:
It was her guise, all straungers goodly so to great.
 
LVII
So she to Guyon offred it to tast,
        505
Who, taking it out of her tender hond,
The cup to ground did violently cast,
That all in peeces it was broken fond,
And with the liquor stained all the lond:
Whereat Excesse exceedingly was wroth,        510
Yet no’te the same amend, ne yet with stond,
But suffered him to passe, all were she loth;
Who, nought regarding her displeasure, forward goth.
 
LVIII
There the most daintie paradise on ground
It selfe doth offer to his sober eye,        515
In which all pleasures plenteously abownd,
And none does others happinesse envye:
The painted flowres, the trees upshooting hye,
The dales for shade, the hilles for breathing space,
The trembling groves, the christall running by;        520
And that which all faire workes doth most aggrace,
The art, which all that wrought, appeared in no place.
 
LIX
One would have thought, (so cunningly the rude
And scorned partes were mingled with the fine,)
That Nature had for wantonesse ensude        525
Art, and that Art at Nature did repine;
So striving each th’ other to undermine,
Each did the others worke more beautify;
So diff’ring both in willes agreed in fine:
So all agreed through sweete diversity,        530
This gardin to adorne with all variety.
 
LX
And in the midst of all a fountaine stood,
Of richest substance that on earth might bee,
So pure and shiny that the silver flood
Through every channell running one might see:        535
Most goodly it with curious ymageree
Was overwrought, and shapes of naked boyes,
Of which some seemd with lively jollitee
To fly about playing their wanton toyes,
Whylest others did them selves embay in liquid joyes.        540
 
LXI
And over all, of purest gold was spred
A trayle of yvie in his native hew:
For the rich metall was so coloured,
That wight, who did not well avis’d it vew,
Would surely deeme it to bee yvie trew:        545
Low his lascivious armes adown did creepe,
That themselves dipping in the silver dew,
Their fleecy flowres they tenderly did steepe,
Which drops of christall seemd for wantones to weep.
 
LXII
Infinit streames continually did well
        550
Out of this fountaine, sweet and faire to see,
The which into an ample laver fell,
And shortly grew to so great quantitie,
That like a litle lake it seemd to bee;
Whose depth exceeded not three cubits hight,        555
That through the waves one might the bottom see,
All pav’d beneath with jaspar shining bright,
That seemd the fountaine in that sea did sayle upright.
 
LXIII
And all the margent round about was sett
With shady laurell trees, thence to defend        560
The sunny beames, which on the billowes bett,
And those which therein bathed mote offend.
As Guyon hapned by the same to wend,
Two naked damzelles he therein espyde,
Which, therein bathing, seemed to contend        565
And wrestle wantonly, ne car’d to hyde
Their dainty partes from vew of any which them eyd.
 
LXIV
Sometimes the one would lift the other quight
Above the waters, and then downe againe
Her plong, as over maystered by might,        570
Where both awhile would covered remaine,
And each the other from to rise restraine;
The whiles their snowy limbes, as through a vele,
So through the christall waves appeared plaine:
Then suddeinly both would themselves unhele,        575
And th’ amarous sweet spoiles to greedy eyes revele.
 
LXV
As that faire starre, the messenger of morne,
His deawy face out of the sea doth reare,
Or as the Cyprian goddesse, newly borne
Of th’ oceans fruitfull froth, did first appeare,        580
Such seemed they, and so their yellow heare
Christalline humor dropped downe apace.
Whom such when Guyon saw, he drew him neare,
And somewhat gan relent his earnest pace;
His stubborne brest gan secret pleasaunce to embrace.        585
 
LXVI
The wanton maidens, him espying, stood
Gazing a while at his unwonted guise;
Then th’ one her selfe low ducked in the flood,
Abasht that her a straunger did avise:
But thother rather higher did arise,        590
And her two lilly paps aloft displayd,
And all, that might his melting hart entyse
To her delights, she unto him bewrayd:
The rest, hidd underneath, him more desirous made.
 
LXVII
With that the other likewise up arose,
        595
And her faire lockes, which formerly were bownd
Up in one knott, she low adowne did lose:
Which, flowing long and thick, her cloth’d arownd,
And th’yvorie in golden mantle gownd:
So that faire spectacle from him was reft,        600
Yet that which reft it no lesse faire was fownd:
So hidd in lockes and waves from lookers theft,
Nought but her lovely face she for his looking left.
 
LXVIII
Withall she laughed, and she blusht withall,
That blushing to her laughter gave more grace,        605
And laughter to her blushing, as did fall.
Now when they spyde the knight to slacke his pace,
Them to behold, and in his sparkling face
The secrete signes of kindled lust appeare,
Their wanton meriments they did encreace,        610
And to him beckned to approch more neare,
And shewd him many sights, that corage cold could reare.
 
LXIX
On which when gazing him the palmer saw,
He much rebukt those wandring eyes of his,
And, counseld well, him forward thence did draw.        615
Now are they come nigh to the Bowre of Blis,
Of her fond favorites so nam’d amis:
When thus the palmer: ‘Now, sir, well avise;
For here the end of all our traveill is:
Here wonnes Acrasia, whom we must surprise,        620
Els she will slip away, and all our drift despise.’
 
LXX
Eftsoones they heard a most melodious sound,
Of all that mote delight a daintie eare,
Such as attonce might not on living ground,
Save in this paradise, be heard elswhere:        625
Right hard it was for wight which did it heare,
To read what manner musicke that mote bee:
For all that pleasing is to living eare
Was there consorted in one harmonee;
Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all agree.        630
 
LXXI
The joyous birdes, shrouded in chearefull shade,
Their notes unto the voice attempred sweet:
Th’ angelicall soft trembling voyces made
To th’ instruments divine respondence meet:
The silver sounding instruments did meet        635
With the base murmure of the waters fall
The waters fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call:
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all.
 
LXXII
There, whence that musick seemed heard to bee,
        640
Was the faire witch, her selfe now solacing
With a new lover, whom, through sorceree
And witchcraft, she from farre did thether bring:
There she had him now laid a slombering,
In secret shade after long wanton joyes:        645
Whilst round about them pleasauntly did sing
Many faire ladies and lascivious boyes,
That ever mixt their song with light licentious toyes.
 
LXXIII
And all that while, right over him she hong,
With her false eyes fast fixed in his sight,        650
As seeking medicine whence she was stong,
Or greedily depasturing delight:
And oft inclining downe, with kisses light,
For feare of waking him, his lips bedewd,
And through his humid eyes did sucke his spright,        655
Quite molten into lust and pleasure lewd;
Wherewith she sighed soft, as if his case she rewd.
 
LXXIV
The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely lay:—
Ah! see, who so fayre thing doest faine to see,
In springing flowre the image of thy day;        660
Ah! see the virgin rose, how sweetly shee
Doth first peepe foorth with bashfull modestee,
That fairer seemes, the lesse ye see her may;
Lo! see soone after, how more bold and free
Her bared bosome she doth broad display;        665
Lo! see soone after, how she fades and falls away.
 
LXXV
So passeth, in the passing of a day,
Of mortall life the leafe, the bud, the flowre,
Ne more doth florish after first decay,
That earst was sought to deck both bed and bowre        670
Of many a lady, and many a paramowre:
Gather therefore the rose, whilest yet is prime,
For soone comes age, that will her pride deflowre:
Gather the rose of love, whilest yet is time,
Whilest loving thou mayst loved be with equall crime.        675
 
LXXVI
He ceast, and then gan all the quire of birdes
Their diverse notes t’ attune unto his lay,
As in approvaunce of his pleasing wordes.
The constant payre heard all that he did say,
Yet swarved not, but kept their forward way,        680
Through many covert groves and thickets close,
In which they creeping did at last display
That wanton lady, with her lover lose,
Whose sleepie head she in her lap did soft dispose.
 
LXXVII
Upon a bed of roses she was layd,
        685
As faint through heat, or dight to pleasant sin,
And was arayd, or rather disarayd,
All in a vele of silke and silver thin,
That hid no whit her alablaster skin,
But rather shewd more white, if more might bee:        690
More subtile web Arachne cannot spin,
Nor the fine nets, which oft we woven see
Of scorched deaw, do not in th’ ayre more lightly flee.
 
LXXVIII
Her snowy brest was bare to ready spoyle
Of hungry eies, which n’ote therewith be fild;        695
And yet through languour of her late sweet toyle,
Few drops, more cleare then nectar, forth distild,
That like pure orient perles adowne it trild;
And her faire eyes, sweet smyling in delight,
Moystened their fierie beames, with which she thrild        700
Fraile harts, yet quenched not, like starry light,
Which, sparckling on the silent waves, does seeme more bright.
 
LXXIX
The young man, sleeping by her, seemd to be
Some goodly swayne of honorable place,
That certes it great pitty was to see        705
Him his nobility so fowle deface:
A sweet regard and amiable grace,
Mixed with manly sternesse, did appeare,
Yet sleeping, in his well proportioned face,
And on his tender lips the downy heare        710
Did now but freshly spring, and silken blossoms beare.
 
LXXX
His warlike armes, the ydle instruments
Of sleeping praise, were hong upon a tree,
And his brave shield, full of old moniments,
Was fowly ra’st, that none the signes might see;        715
Ne for them, ne for honour, cared hee,
Ne ought that did to his advauncement tend,
But in lewd loves, and wastfull luxuree,
His dayes, his goods, his bodie he did spend:
O horrible enchantment, that him so did blend!        720
 
LXXXI
The noble Elfe and carefull palmer drew
So nigh them, minding nought but lustfull game,
That suddein forth they on them rusht, and threw
A subtile net, which only for that same
The skilfull palmer formally did frame:        725
So held them under fast, the whiles the rest
Fled all away for feare of fowler shame.
The faire enchauntresse, so unwares opprest,
Tryde all her arts and all her sleights, thence out to wrest.
 
LXXXII
And eke her lover strove: but all in vaine;
        730
For that same net so cunningly was wound,
That neither guile nor force might it distraine.
They tooke them both, and both them strongly bound
In captive bandes, which there they readie found:
But her in chaines of adamant he tyde;        735
For nothing else might keepe her safe and sound;
But Verdant (so he hight) he soone untyde,
And counsell sage in steed thereof to him applyde.
 
LXXXIII
But all those pleasaunt bowres and pallace brave
Guyon broke downe, with rigour pittilesse;        740
Ne ought their goodly workmanship might save
Them from the tempest of his wrathfulnesse,
But that their blisse he turn’d to balefulnesse:
Their groves he feld, their gardins did deface,
Their arbers spoyle, their cabinets suppresse,        745
Their banket houses burne, their buildings race,
And, of the fayrest late, now made the fowlest place.
 
LXXXIV
Then led they her away, and eke that knight
They with them led, both sorrowfull and sad:
The way they came, the same retourn’d they right,        750
Till they arrived where they lately had
Charm’d those wild-beasts, that rag’d with furie mad:
Which, now awaking, fierce at them gan fly,
As in their mistresse reskew, whom they lad;
But them the palmer soone did pacify.        755
Then Guyon askt, what meant those beastes which there did ly.
 
LXXXV
Sayd he: ‘These seeming beasts are men indeed,
Whom this enchauntresse hath transformed thus,
Whylome her lovers, which her lustes did feed,
Now turned into figures hideous,        760
According to their mindes like monstruous.’
‘Sad end,’ quoth he, ‘of life intemperate,
And mournefull meed of joyes delicious!
But, palmer, if it mote thee so aggrate,
Let them returned be unto their former state.’        765
 
LXXXVI
Streight way he with his vertuous staffe them strooke,
And streight of beastes they comely men became;
Yet being men they did unmanly looke,
And stared ghastly, some for inward shame,
And some for wrath, to see their captive dame:        770
But one above the rest in speciall,
That had an hog beene late, hight Grylle by name,
Repyned greatly, and did him miscall,
That had from hoggish forme him brought to naturall.
 
LXXXVII
Saide Guyon: ‘See the mind of beastly man,
        775
That hath so soone forgot the excellence
Of his creation, when he life began,
That now he chooseth, with vile difference,
To be a beast, and lacke intelligence.’
To whom the palmer thus: ‘The donghill kinde        780
Delightes in filth and fowle incontinence:
Let Gryll be Gryll, and have his hoggish minde;
But let us hence depart, whilest wether serves and winde.’
 
 
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